Historically, aerial photos and video have been taken using a number of different platforms, including balloons, kites, planes and helicopters.  These days, while planes and helicopters are still used for higher altitude photography, the most common method for aerial photography is the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones.

No matter which type of platform you employ, the basic method is the same: a camera, either handheld or mounted to the vehicle, is taken up into the sky and from there it captures a series of images. Of course, there are many specific types of plane, drone and camera that can be used, all of which can have a direct impact on the final product.

The amount and precise type of photos taken will depend on the particular need. Photos taken for mapping purposes can be entirely different than those used to market a luxury yacht. You can pinpoint a specific item or place such as the rooftop of a building to see whether there is any damage that needs to be repaired. Or you might want to take broader images to produce a 3D or high res map of an entire property.

There is almost no limit to the possibilities when it comes to aerial photography, which is what makes it such an exciting field.  Unfortunately there are some limits in terms of weather conditions and, in the case of drones, particular rules that must be followed. Most countries have their own specific rules for the use of drones but generally speaking the drone must always be within the pilot’s line of sight, should only reach a maximum height of 400 feet, never fly anywhere near airports or other no-fly zones and always respect the privacy of others.

With those basics in mind, it is possible for an experienced aerial photographer to get some great results that would otherwise be out of reach using a traditional, land based camera.  Technological advances including the integration of smartphones for enhanced viewing capability, a full range of camera controls including auto or full manual, RAW capture and time-lapse, and a built-in RTH or automatic return-to-home feature that is basic to most drones, allow for a wide range of photographic styles and techniques.

When using a plane or helicopter for aerial photography, you can either use a handheld camera or mount a camera directly to the vehicle and trigger it remotely or automatically. With a drone, everything is done remotely with the operator watching from the ground through a smartphone or other viewing device and automatically triggering the camera. Video footage is taken in much the same way, with most drone cameras designed specifically for shooting videos.




In most cases, drone cameras have tiny sensors similar to the ones on high-end phones or compact cameras and wide-angle lenses with a fixed focal length.  Drones have a maximum ceiling of 400 feet but for many purposes, including real estate photography or other marketing photography, an altitude of 100-150 feet is recommended. This ability to take high quality low altitude photos and videos is one of the major advantages to using a drone.

While the natural inclination for most professional photographers is to shoot in manual mode so that they control all of the various factors, with a drone-mounted camera you can often get better results by relying on the built-in auto-mode functions, especially if you’re new to the process. The more experienced a photographer gets with drone-based aerial photography, the more he can incorporate manual functions and manipulate settings to get specific results.

While there are some aerial photography cameras that still use film, the greater majority of aerial photography these days is done digitally, using what is called a Charge Coupled Device (CCD). A CCD is a rectangular array of pixels that respond to light and record specific parts of the electromagnetic spectrum. Multiple CCDs may be used with a single lens or multiple lenses to produce a complete photographic image.

Since most basic aerial imagery is taken from a bird’s eye view that can leave you with a distorted image that doesn’t take specific geographical characteristics into consideration. The science of measuring and applying those characteristics to bird’s eye photos is called photogrammetry and it is the basis for all aerial photography. Through the application of photogrammetry we can get an accurate 3D image of an area that includes exact measurements of roads, elevations and other features. These are the kind of maps used by Google Earth and other mapping programs.

These geometrically “corrected” maps are called orthophoto maps. These images simulate a photo taken from an infinite distance with the perspective removed and variations in terrain corrected. Accurate orthophoto maps can help to depict an area in real scale, with distances, elevations and other measurements included. This can have a variety of uses, from giving traveling directions to determining property lines and plotting out the exact size of land and real estate holdings.

Orthogonal technology can also be applied to videos, to produce comprehensive video maps that incorporate GPS. This combination of location and date-time information via GPS with digital media such as still photos, videos and panoramic photos is called “Spatial Multimedia”. It is captured using low altitude photography from drones and can have a wide variety of uses, from marketing campaigns to property maintenance to land mapping.

As you can see, there’s a lot that goes into aerial photography and when it is produced by an experienced professional it can be a tremendous asset to any business. The right set of aerial photos or a perfectly shot aerial video can give your customers a whole new perspective on what your business has to offer…quite literally. It’s a marketing tool that can’t possibly be underestimated and it’s what makes JR Resolutions stand out from the pack.

We put our equipment and expertise to use getting high quality aerial photographs or video footage of your building, property or yacht. These images can then be incorporated into your overall marketing plan to enhance your website and highlight what you have to offer. We genuinely love what we do and we use this exciting technology to help bring your business to life in ways you’ve never imagined.


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