You’ve likely heard of aerial photos and might be wondering what they are for. Aerial photos are photographs taken from the air, usually from a drone, a helicopter, or an airplane.
Why would someone hire a helicopter or fly a drone to take images from the air?
The reasons are many. In fact, the reasons are many enough that businesses have emerged to offer services in the area. High definition aerial photos are in high demand.
The businesses that capture high quality aerial photos for clients charge a premium. For example, you would have to part with $200 an hour to use a drone photography service.
Chartering a helicopter to take aerial photos for you is even more expensive. Hiring a three-passenger helicopter to take aerial photos for you costs around $700 an hour.
In this article, I’ll show why people pay such high amounts for aerial photos.
Cinematics is one of the most basic uses of aerial photography. When I say aerial photography, I am also referring to videos taken from an aerial vehicle.
To increase the quality of a video, photographers find aerial shots useful. They help convey a more entertaining and comprehensive record of events.
This is the case in many industries.
For example, in sports, using a drone can capture epic footage of a goal being scored, footage that would otherwise have been unavailable. One of the main goals of sports is entertainment, and capturing the action from every possible angle significantly enhances the value of footage.
Another example that you may be even more familiar with is the production of movies. Drone shots serve to make the movie more engaging.
At a personal level, aerial imagery is also useful. For example, using drone cameras while covering events like weddings has become standard practice.
At a more advanced level, one of the most important uses of high definition aerial mapping is inspection.
Imagine a pipeline operator with thousands of miles of pipelines. As part of maintenance, they have to inspect the pipelines to ensure any defects are noted in time to avoid catastrophes.
One option is doing the inspection manually, with ground personnel. But a quick glance at this tells you that it’s infeasible. It’s expensive and remarkably time-consuming.
Another example is the inspection of an offshore oil rig. To start with, such an inspection is dangerous. The person that does it will have to be careful and follow a slew of safety regulations.
Also, when inspecting the oil rig, you might need to note millimeter-sized damage on crucial parts. Balancing that with safety can be quite the tricky task.
In both examples, high definition aerial photos come in extremely handy.
With aerial vehicles, the pipeline operator can fly over the pipeline network and inspect it sustainably. And since the result is high quality aerial photos, they can be analyzed to reveal the minutest detail of damage, usually with the help of artificial-intelligence-powered software.
Another major use case of aerial photos is mapping. Large format mapping has especially benefited from the use of high-quality sensors.
How do aerial photographs result in maps?
To answer that, let’s first look at the distinction between maps and photos.
If you take a normal aerial photo, it will show an area clearly. You’ll be able to note physical features and the general direction of specific points.
But you won’t be able to tell the accurate distance between points. And that’s one of the things that a map can help you do since it’s a scaled representation of an area.
Aerial mapping often involves a technique called photogrammetry, especially when it’s 3D aerial mapping.
Photogrammetry is where multiple 2D photos are stitched together to come up with a 3D photo. The stitching is done with the help of specialized software.
And thanks to advanced payload solutions, you can fly a plane over a whole region and map it. The process takes only a fraction of the time that would have been used to map the same region before aerial imaging came into play.
Such technology is useful for applications such as large format mapping.
The sensors used typically have very high resolutions, up to 280 MP. It is therefore possible to obtain high-quality maps.