pigeon photography

History of Aerial Photography

What is Aerial Photography?

Aerial Photography is the task of capturing photographs of an area from air borne platforms such as aeroplane, drone or helicopter etc.

History of Aerial Photography

The origin and history of photography dates back to 15th century. Leonardo Davinci worked on the concepts related to geometry and physics of photography during 1480. He also worked on physics of fixed and rotary wing aircraft.

But, only after 3 centuries his dream of human flight is achieved by means of a hot air balloon. (more information about hot air balloons).

First Aerial Photograph Using Balloons:

The first aerial photograph was captured by Gaspard Felix, a french photographer and caricaturist in 1858.  He used a camera on board the hot air balloon over Bievre valley, France. Gaspard Felix more popularly known as Nadar also patented the idea of making maps using aerial photographs. However, it took him 3 more years of experimental work to capture the photograph. Unfortunately these photographs taken by Nadar are lost and not available at present.

James Wallace Black captured Boston city using an aerial photograph in 1860. This is the oldest aerial photograph available at the moment.

Boston Aerial Photograph Captured Using Hot air balloon

Boston aerial photo Captured using hot air balloon After the invention of dry photo process, more developments took place and first free flight photo mission was carried over the city of Paris by Triboulet in 1879.

Aerial Photography Using Kites and Pigeons:

Arthur Batut have experimented with kites for acquiring aerial photographs. He was successfully imaged Labruguiere, France using timer based camera mounted on Kite in the year 1889.

Then in 1903, Julius Neubronner has attached cameras to the peigeons for capturing photographs. These pigeons were called Bavarian   pigeon corps and are used in the war field for spying on the enemy territory.

pigeon photography
pigeon photography

Pigeon Photographs

Then heavy cameras are sent into air using several kites together  by George Lawrance in 1906 over the city of San Francisco to study an earthquake.

Thus several developments in aerial photography took place with involvement of kites.

Modern Era Aerial Photography Using Air Planes, Drones, Helicopters etc:

After invention of air planes, aerial photography reached a new dimension in terms of development. Wilbur Wright took the first photograph from air in the year 1909. But still there are certain problems such as lens positioning and capturing, lens speed etc., associated with aerial camera. It was only at the end of first world war, a true aerial camera system was developed by Sherman Fair Child.

Additional Reading:

  1. https://rscc.umn.edu/lessons/lessons-intro/whatisrs
  2. http://mentalfloss.com/article/16649/history-aerial-photography
  3. https://papa.clubexpress.com/content.aspx?page_id=22&club_id=808138&module_id=158950




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