In recent years, aerial photography has gained an important space for all lovers and enthusiasts of visual art and open spaces . But they are not the only ones, professionals in science, geography, geology, archeology, in general environmental, military and historical sciences, have used this type of photography for various studies and planning.
With multiple approaches and diverse uses, aerial photography is one of those types of photography where many disciplines coincide, and it can be given multiple meanings, depending on the approach with the one that is observed, scientific, artistic, commercial, military, etc.
In this article we will explore a little about its uses, definitions, its origin and evolution over time. Read on and learn more about this incredible type of photography.
What is aerial photography?
Aerial photography is the technique of reproducing images from the air . Its main objective is to capture large spaces, thus offering an extensive view of the surface to be imaged. In its application it allows us to capture large areas of reality, and the intended use of said image will depend on the intention of the photographer.
History of aerial photography
Soon after the invention of photography, people became interested in capturing large spaces in images. It was then in the middle of the 19th century when Gaspard-Félix Tournachon , better known by his pseudonym Nadar , captured the first aerial photograph using a hot air balloon.
This is how the concept of aerial photography began to develop, sparking interest especially for military applications . At the beginning of the 20th century, racing pigeons began to be used to capture all kinds of aerial photos. Small and light cameras were placed through them for photography using an automatic synchronization system. However, the technological advance of aviation arrives that made this peculiar way of taking aerial photos completely discarded.
The first photographs captured from an airplane arrived in 1909 by Wilbur Wright, an American aviator and engineer, this is how aerial photography began to be used for military reconnaissance. In the first and second world wars, cameras were installed to capture photos of enemy military bases, and even later during the cold war and even today, it is a commonly used practice.
After the war, aerial photography began to be used in multiple sectors with different purposes, giving a realistic perspective to the people of the world that surrounds them, also in the hands of the mass media. In the field of earth sciences, aerial photography plays an important role for the production of maps and cartography, displacing traditional land surveys due to their high costs.
It then begins to be used for civil engineering development, city building, land planning, and agricultural development. Aerial photography has contributed in an endless number of areas where its application has promoted technological, artistic, spatial, urban, military and scientific development since its origins.
What is the difference between a satellite image and aerial photography?
It is necessary to remember the clear distinction that exists between aerial photography and orbital photography, also known in the scientific field as «satellite image». Aerial photography, despite being taken from the air, covers a much smaller area of space than orbital photography.
The latter are made with space vehicles and artificial satellites that orbit the earth, and the photos that are generally are of a scientific nature. They are carried out in this way, for the exploration and study of large areas on the planet, such as those carried out for example, for the Google Earth software.
How are aerial photographs made?
As we have seen, aerial photography in its historical journey has constantly evolved, where different photographers have experimented with various ways of approaching this type of photography. In its beginnings they were carried out mainly through the use of hot air balloons.
Then carrier pigeons were used which were also used to capture photos from the air using automated systems. Already later with the development of aviation, pigeons were put aside to include in airplanes, automated cameras to capture open spaces from the air. Some of the ways in which they are currently carried out is through airplanes or hot air balloons
There is also an alternative way of taking aerial photos that is on the rise among photographers, it is the one that is done through the use of drones or for its acronym (UAV) unmanned aerial vehicle . A drone is a light and very small vehicle, compared to other vehicles, it is unmanned, reusable and efficient in terms of its flight capacity for photographic purposes.
Drones were originally created and used for military purposes, but their use has become so popular that they are now used for all kinds of purposes, commercial, scientific, investigative , surveillance and tracking, and even for fun. The use of drones opened new opportunities for photographers to take these types of photographs, since the cost of getting to the air is very high and only the big brands and companies could afford to take them.
How to take an aerial photograph?
There are different ways of taking this type of photography , if you are evaluating the possibility of taking them, you must take into account different factors when deciding how To make your capture as professional as possible, here are several options to consider:
From an airplane
The first of the options and the cheapest, but with its limitations, such as excessive height that will only allow you to take photos of clouds. In addition, when taking them through the airplane windows, your photography will not be completely sharp and you can even capture reflections, thus spoiling your image, which is not recommended if you want to do them professionally .
From helicopter or plane
Through both modes of transport, you can take advantage of incredible views for professional photos. What would be the detail? The cost . Getting on a plane or helicopter can be very expensive and not within your reach, however, it is a very good option regarding what you can achieve from photography. There are also private flights, where the pilot can go through the areas that you indicate with perfect heights for ideal shots, you only have to consider the cost.
From a hot air balloon
The first of the ways in which aerial photography is done is still valid today . Its drawbacks? Getting on a hot air balloon is not available anywhere, so you should investigate which places near you have the service or the option to enjoy incredible views through this peculiar way of transportation.
Also consider that hot air balloons are slow, so if you want to get pictures with different angles it may take you some time. In relation to what it could cost to get on one of them, it is much cheaper than a private plane or helicopter, and you can get affordable prices for incredible photos.
From a paraglider
If you like adrenaline, this option is perfect for you. It can be a cheaper way to take your photos than the previous ones, you just have to consider a few details. You will not be able to carry all your photography equipment with you, you must have only the essentials, camera and lens. It is also recommended that you can protect your camera to prevent it from being dropped or when landing, for example with a shockproof case and a safety strap. You must also take into account all the security measures to ensure a successful flight, and that your photographs can be taken without skipping the measures.
From the top of a building
An option to consider if you don’t have resources, although it loses the sense of aerial photography , since these are from the air to capture spectacular shots . Go to the tallest building in your town and try it from different angles and effects to make it as close as possible to an aerial photograph.
From a drone
Taking photographs from drones is an option on the rise today , but you still have to consider certain aspects. Depending on your purchasing power, a drone can be more or less expensive for your photos than other alternatives. You can also compare between all the existing options, both professional and basic drones, there are all kinds to evaluate between prices. There are also drone rental services that you can take advantage of to acquire them momentarily and take your photos.
Unlike other methods, you can see the drone as an investment, you only have to buy it once and take care of it, to use it as many times as you want and take your photos when you see fit do it
Once you get it it is recommended to learn to fly it before placing it in the skies. With this you will avoid any accident that could damage both him and him. to your camera. Seek the advice of a professional with experience in the vehicle and do not expose it to high altitudes without first knowing how to fly it at low altitudes. Then you’ll be ready for those amazing aerial photography photos waiting for you to take.
If you are beginning to explore or consider this type of photography, the use of a drone may be the most viable option to carry them out. Once taking this into account, there are certain restrictions for the handling and use of drones, which you should inquire about in your country or area where you are . In general, there are urban areas where the use of drones is not allowed for safety reasons, and in some parts a license or permit certified by local authorities is required.
Types of aerial photographs
While it is true that we could consider any photograph taken from the air as aerial photography, there are two main types or classes of aerial photographs:
Oblique photos are those in which the axis of the camera is inclined with respect to the surface . This type of aerial photography is preferred to capture spaces for artistic, commercial or advertising purposes. The inclination of the axis allows to capture a more extensive space, also including the horizon in the image, with which it can give a more scenic touch to the capture.
Vertical photos, as their name implies, are taken with the axis in a vertical position with respect to the surface.. It is mainly characterized by being a photograph where it denotes the absence of the relief of the surface to be captured, as well as a small portion of the covered area. This type of aerial photography is often used more for scientific and military purposes, such as for soil study and cartographic purposes
Aerial photography is one of the most popular photographs, especially in the area of advertising, marketing and communication, where you can get many opportunities. Do not forget to stop by our photography courses and if you want a course that prepares you professionally for this type of photos, let us know!