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Types of Aerial Photography

You might think aerial photography is a fairly easy thing to define - taking a photograph from the air. We would agree with you for the most part, however, there are some subvarients of aerial photography that it is important to understand and there are also an increasing variety of photographic methods referred to as aerial photography that are not so obvious.

The two main branches of aerial photography are those known as "oblique aerial photography" and "vertical aerial photography"; the latter is sometimes also referred to as "overhead aerial photography". Above It All Aerial Photography supplies of both of these and further information on our oblique and vertical services can be found on their dedicated pages of this website.

Oblique aerial photographs are taken from some kind of aircraft whether this is a fixed wing aeroplane, helicopter or "lighter than air" craft (balloon). The subject is seen at an angle and therefore the photographs are perceived by the human eye as having depth and definition. As the name suggests, vertical aerial photographs are taken from directly overhead looking down vertically and they therefore produce a mostly flat image almost like a map. Both methods were largely developed for military purposes (see our article "The Rise of Aerial Photography" for more on the history) both also have many civilian uses. Oblique aerial photography is commonly used for aerial construction progress reports, archaeology, advertising and promotion work, in the sale of commercial and residential property and land, in legal disputes or just to produce a stunning aerial photograph for display. Vertical aerial photographs are most commonly used for mapping projects, for land use or geomatic surveys, farm evaluation, flood risk assessment and scientific studies.

A growing number of alternative photographic techniques are referring to themselves as aerial photography when in fact they may more properly be called "elevated photography". These techniques employ the use of various equipment to raise a camera (and sometimes the photographer) above the ground to an elevated position. The method used to raise the camera varies and examples include the use of telescopic poles or masts, kites or even the use of a portable raised platform on which the photographer can stand. If you are interested in using elevated mast photography, this is a service provided by Above It All Commercial Photography. If you wish to learn more about elevated or low level aerial photography we recommend that you read  this article written by Professor Gordon Petrie of Glasgow University Geomatics faculty.

The results obtained by a specialist aerial photographer such as Above It All will be very different from those of elevated or mast photographers. Each method is suited to different uses which is why we leave Above It All Commercial Photography to carry out our mast photography. If you are not sure which method is best for achieving your aims, then just ask us we are happy to discuss the merits of both.

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