Aerial photography (or airborne imagery) is the taking of photographs from an aircraft or other flying object. Platforms for aerial photography include fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs or “drones”), balloons, blimps and dirigibles, rockets, pigeons, kites, parachutes, stand-alone telescoping and vehicle-mounted poles. Mounted cameras may be triggered remotely or automatically; hand-held photographs may be taken by a photographer. Aerial photography should not be confused with air-to-air photography, where one or more aircraft are used as chase planes that “chase” and photograph other aircraft in flight.
Vertical aerial photography is used in cartography (particularly in photogrammetric surveys, which are often the basis for topographic maps), land-use planning, aerial archaeology. Oblique aerial photography is used for movie production, environmental studies, power line inspection, surveillance, construction progress, commercial advertising, conveyancing, and artistic projects. An example of how aerial photography is used in the field of archaeology is the mapping project done at the site Angkor Borei in Cambodia from 1995–1996. Using aerial photography, archaeologists were able to identify archaeological features, including 112 water features (reservoirs, artificially constructed pools and natural ponds) within the walled site of Angkor Borei. In the United States, aerial photographs are used in many Phase I Environmental Site Assessments for property analysis.
With advancements in video technology, aerial video is becoming more popular. Orthogonal video is shot from aircraft mapping pipelines, crop fields, and other points of interest. Using GPS, video may be embedded with meta data and later synced with a video mapping program. This “Spatial Multimedia” is the timely union of digital media including still photography, motion video, stereo, panoramic imagery sets, and immersive media constructs, audio, and other data with location and date-time information from the GPS and other location designs.
Aerial videos are emerging Spatial Multimedia which can be used for scene understanding and object tracking. The input video is captured by low flying aerial platforms and typically consists of strong parallax from non-ground-plane structures. The integration of digital video, global positioning systems (GPS) and automated image processing will improve the accuracy and cost-effectiveness of data collection and reduction. Several different aerial platforms are under investigation for the data collection.
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