Land Use Aerial Photos Involve More than Point and Shoot

Land use or land survey photographic assignments often need to be carried out to support land use planning activities, sales of large packages or land, or in some cases to settle legal disputes. The accuracy required in both photos and videos is often a variable. The greatest accuracy requires vertical shots, or shots taken within 3º of vertical. Oblique shots are at times needed to provide additional information, but these types of shots are of lesser value or no value at all if exact locations or accurate distances are needed.

From Point-and-Shoot to High Precision

If one of our clients is only looking for an overall picture of the land in question, point and shoot photography is quite often acceptable. This is especially true if there are one or more landmarks in a photo or video that can be used as points of reference.

On the other hand, if the photos or videos are to be used for survey or planning purposes, and coordinates need to be determined with a significant amount of accuracy, either vertical videography or a sequence of vertical still shots will be needed. The flight path has to be well defined and strictly adhered to as well, and there will be times when a number of parallel passes will have to be taken.

Teamwork is Essential

The pilot and camera operator obviously have to work as a team for this type of work. These types can rarely be satisfactorily accomplished when the camera operator and the pilot are one and the same person unless the aircraft is equipped with specialized, high-automated photographic or videographic equipment, which more often than not will add to the cost of any given assignment. In addition, a hands-on approach to taking aerial photos of this nature generally produces higher quality results than does a fully-automated method.

One of the challenges we frequently encounter is when there is a need to compare present-day photographs of a certain area to photographs taken a year or two back. Land use planners and land developers often need this kind of information to support their efforts. In an area which has been highly urbanized for some time, the information is usually readily available, but in areas where urbanization or urban sprawl has been more recent, as is the case in much of the eastern portion of Northern Virginia, the most recent photos may be significantly outdated, showing farmland in areas that are now built up and more heavily populated.

At times it can be nearly impossible to correlate photos taken recently to images that are a decade or so old. In most cases however we are usually able to find one or more landmarks that have survived the test of time, and proceed to give our clients exactly what they are looking for. Overcoming challenges such as these is one thing we are very good at.

If you work in the planning or development area and have a need for our services we will be more than happy to spend the time with you to inform or advise you as to what will be involved and schedule a date or dates during which we will be gathering the data. The one unknown is the weather, and there are times during the year when data-gathering activity sometimes has to be postponed or rescheduled. We always do our very best however to acquire the photographic data you require in a timely manner.

 

Sources:

http://www.fao.org/docrep/x5345e/x5345e04.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aerial_photography

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