Aerial photography is defined as the taking of photographs from the air with a camera mounted or handheld on an aircraft, helicopter, spacecraft, balloon, rocket, kite, skydiver or similar airborne vehicle. Aerial photography is an important artistic and commercial skill, which was first developed by a French airman by the name of Felix Nadar who took his first aerial photos with perspective from a hot air balloon 1858.
This new technology was first used extensively during World War I. Throughout World War II aerial photos were used extensively for military operations to spy on the enemy and assess their installations and ground fighting capabilities. These photographs provided realistic impressions of the topography as well as troop movement on the ground and potential targets in perspective. Once an attack against the enemy was complete aerial reconnaissance photographs were used to assess damage and to form an opinion as to the success of the mission.
In 1957, aerial photography reached new heights with the Russian’s first satellite launch of the Sputnik. This was the beginning of satellite imagery. Then in 1972, with the first launch of Landsat satellites by NASA satellite imagery was sold commercially for the first time.
There are many potential commercial and non-commercial uses for photographs taken from above. Today they are used for developing topographic maps, planning land use, archaeology, production of movies, espionage, environmental and weather studies, commercial color advertising for magazines, billboards, posters and postcards, hobbies, and many other fields.
The use of technology has also ventured into this field of photography. Advances in radio control technology have allowed for the use of aircraft models which are controlled from the ground to conduct low-altitude photography. This solution is primarily used for advertising and in the real estate industry to address safety regulations that prohibit manned aircraft from flying at low altitudes over populated areas. These radio-controlled aircraft work well in this environment and offer a low-cost solution to the photographer.
Aerial photographs are public domain because the photos are taken from aerial views which are considered public places. As a result, you will find that there are many ways to view aerial photographs on-line. One of the most popular today can be found at Google Earth. It can be used to identify the best routes for reaching a given destination. You can also view the aerial photographs by tilting and be rotating them on screen.
If you are interested in learning more about this topic you can browse through some basic materials at your local library or use the Internet, which offers a wealth of information on the history, benefits, and commercial service providers.