As the name would suggest, aerial photography is the action of taking either still photographs or video footage from the air. That’s the simple answer, but you might be surprised to find out that there is a lot more to aerial photography than you think and that it has been around for more than a hundred years! It’s really a very fascinating subject and one that, not surprisingly, is near and dear to my heart.
While drone photography is the cutting edge, opening up a wide spectrum of potential uses for aerial photos, it is just the latest development in the field. There are any number of possible platforms for aerial photography, from traditional manned aircraft to balloons, kites, rockets and even pigeons. All of these and more have been employed throughout history to give us a unique perspective on our world from above.
The earliest aerial photography was taken in the infancy of photography in the mid to late 1800’s. These early photos were produced by using hot air balloons and kites with cameras mounted. Explosive charges on a timer were used to activate the camera from the ground, allowing for rudimentary still photos. In 1909 the first aerial motion pictures were taken using an early aircraft with a mounted camera.
While most of these early photos were simple geographical stills, the technology would take a huge step forward during WWI, when planes with cameras mounted on them were used to get aerial views of enemy camps and movements. This provided an invaluable asset to both sides, allowing much more complete views of their opponents, which in turn enabled them to better plan their attacks.
As both camera equipment and aircraft continued to develop, so too did the quality of aerial photography and the variety of its uses. The 1920’s marked the beginning of commercial aerial photography, with a focus on mapping and surveying. Clients including the Ordnance Survey took advantage of the new technology to produce detailed geographical maps using the principle of photogrammetry.
Aerial reconnaissance came to the forefront again during WWII, with improvements in both aircraft and photography equipment allowing for more extensive coverage. The RAF even created an entire Photographic Reconnaissance Unit who became pioneers in this field and invaluable assets to the Allied Forces. Other countries followed their lead and reconnaissance photography soon became a vital part of defense planning.
Aerial photography took another leap forward with the development of unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones. Unlike traditional photography from planes and other piloted aircraft, drones are smaller and lighter in weight and can fly and photograph at lower altitudes, allowing for a much broader range of uses.
Not only is drone based aerial photography used in cartography and land surveying, it has also been used for marketing, real estate, environmental studies, movie production, building and land inspection and even archaeological investigation.
Archaeologists can use drones to photograph dig sites and give them a much more detailed image of the entire area they are working with, which can help them to determine the precise locations for focused work. Similarly, land owners or buyers can use aerial photography to produce topographic maps that show precise property lines and any unique geographical features contained within a property. Both still aerial photos and videos can be used in the movie industry to add breathtaking angles and shots that can’t be captured with traditional cameras.
When it comes to marketing, aerial photography can be a particularly exciting tool. Whether you’re selling a commercial property, a home or even a luxury yacht, aerial photography can be a powerful addition to your marketing plan, giving potential customers a much more complete view than they could get with a traditional brochure or sales flyer. It’s one thing to look at pictures of a beautiful yacht, but quite another to see the kind of adventures you could be having if you’re at the helm.
Beyond selling, however, the use of low altitude aerial photography can also be of vital importance when it comes to maintaining a property. This can be particularly true for large scale commercial properties that often require a lot of expensive maintenance. Aerial photography accomplished with a drone can help you to access parts of your property, including the roof and roof top air conditioning units, that you can’t easily get to physically, and have an immediate view of any problems so that you can head them off before the expenses begin to pile up.
The addition of video technology has been the biggest development in recent years, expanding our ability to product ortho photomaps, maps that incorporate geometrically corrected photos and video footage. When combined with GPS technology, the result is the kind of comprehensive real time mapping used by Google Earth and other programs.
So now you’re beginning to see exactly what aerial photography really is. It’s a useful tool for surveying, military defense, marketing and property maintenance. It has played a crucial role in our history on so many levels, literally giving us a bird’s eye view of our world. Now modern technology has taken it to the next level with the use of WiFi, FPV (first person view) and other innovations that help to provide sharper, clearer images with a very quick turnaround. The possibilities are almost endless.
That’s what led me into this exciting field and now I’m putting my Remote Pilot Certification and photography skills together to provide aerial photography that can highlight your property or yacht and give your potential customers a whole new perspective. If you haven’t considered it before, perhaps now you should give some thought to adding professionally crafted aerial photographs and video footage to your marketing strategy.
Aerial photography can be taken and the final product produced within just a few days, making it as convenient as it is effective, especially since you’re not even required to be on site when the photos are taken. You can get exactly what you need with minimal disruption to your schedule. No matter how large or small your project, it can benefit from the addition of aerial photography provided by JR Resolutions.