Aerial Photographer

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Aerial Photographer


If you have ever been in an airplane or helicopter and looked out the window, you will notice that everything looks small and boxy. From a bird's eye view, cars look like ants and corn fields like square patches. Photographing this point of view is the goal of the aerial photographer. These photographers shoot pictures from aircraft for news, scientific research, town planning, rural development, cartographic, economic or military purposes. They use various types of photographic and sensory equipment to produce black and white, infra-red, color and three-dimensional aerial photographs and images for various purposes. They work aircrafts with specialized photography equipment.

Aerial photographers take a series of precision Global Positioning System (GPS) controlled high and low altitude aerial photographs of subdivisions of homes for realtors, industrial sites for corporate brochures, altitude and area mapping for surveys, or horse and cattle operations for advertising purposes, amongst other purposes. Also, during times of natural disaster and war, aerial photographs of places, buildings, landscapes and terrain that cannot be reached with ease are commonly used to help governments strategize military tactics.

Unlike maps or photographs, which portray physical and cultural landscapes, aerial photography reveals the terrain as it exists in nature. All buildings, bridges, roads, urban and rural areas, and other fabricated features are depicted as they were at the time of photography. Physical features, such as vegetation type and distribution, river widths and courses, shorelines and landslide areas are shown with detail that no map or photograph can depict. Aerial photography is therefore extremely useful both for specific site evaluation and regional analysis, as well as for historical perspectives. It is used by engineers, architects, city and regional planners, geographers, geologists and historians.

Aerial photographs are sent to special film laboratories for processing with the proper equipment that develops such photographs. It is possible for aerial photographers to develop their own work, however they must have the specific equipment, which is very costly. With recent advances in electronic technology, an aerial photographer can develop and scan this film and use flatbed scanners to produce computer-readable, digital images from film. After converting the film to a digital image, photographers can edit and electronically send aerial images, making it easier and faster to shoot, develop, and transmit pictures from remote locations. These images can be stored on compact disk the same way as music.

Although most aerial photographs are taken to help conduct a study or used for the government, computers and specialized software allow photographers to manipulate and enhance scanned and digital images to create a desired effect. Because aerial photography now involves the use of GPS computer technology, aerial photographers must have hands-on knowledge of this software and other related computer editing software. Employers usually hire aerial photographers with experience, a good eye and a technical understanding of photography.
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