Aerial photography is that segment of photography in which the camera is elevated high above the subject. Some photographers go up in airplanes, helicopters, hot air balloons, or gliders to take their aerial photos. In other forms, the camera itself is sent up by balloon, tall pole, or kite, and the photo is taken by remote control. High level photography can be taken from blimps and dirigibles, rockets, space stations, satellites, or parachutes. Not all aerial photo shooting involves a person going up in the air with the camera, because automatic or remote controls can do the job needed.
Common uses of aerial photography include surveillance, real estate, environmental impact studies, motion picture production, architectural studies, mapping, and military planning. Most people are familiar with seeing the live blimp videos taken over football stadiums. Actual photos taken from the air are used in real estate sales, land use planning, and commercial advertising. Some newer uses are for property and animal surveys, internet searches, pollution verification, and art.
Panorama views from the air can be made by “stitching” together photos to make one large grand photo of an area. The end result is a seamless image. A few problems occur with aerial photos that do not appear in land based photos because of the larger areas included, and that would be perspectives and registration. Model airplanes are used for some photos. Both still cameras and video cameras can be used with remote controls for above ground photography, with or without an operator present.
There are professionals who do this type of photography, and some businesses with access to airplanes may want to shoot aerial photos of their own business buildings and grounds. Amateurs can enjoy this aspect of photography also, and like to experiment with smaller ways to produce these photos, such as using kites, poles and model airplanes. Panorama cameras have a special place in aerial photography, providing the extra wide angle long shots without need for stitching together images.
For traffic control, raised cameras provide an aerial view of busy intersections, and even inside cameras such as those found on casino or store roofs, might also be considered to be aerial cameras. The true aerial camera is not connected to the ground, however, and offers a bird’s eye view of the ground subject. To imitate aerial views, land cameras can use a wide angle lens, often referred to as a bird’s eye lens, because images taken with it give the impression of having been taken from above, due to the perspective changes in the resulting image.
Weather professional and NASA use aerial photos for storm watching, surveillance, tracking, and weather predicting. Users of the internet can access maps in both street views and aerial views. Aerial photography, the beginnings of which are attributed to French balloonist Nadar (Gaspard-Félix Tournachon) in 1858, has moved from extra ordinary to commonly used or seen by most people. The images can be as beautiful as they are useful, and they are always interesting.