Photography has been classified into aerial and terrestrial. In 1981, Paine quoted in Classification of Photographs (1) advanced the most common method of classifying photographs where he groped them under terrestrial and aerial categories. The terrestrial photos are normally captured on the ground and have oblique and horizontal subcategories. Aerial photos are ground pictures taken from the air and are further classified into vertical oblique and oblique photos. The vertical oblique photos are further divided into true low and tilted. True low vertical oblique photos are truly vertical while tilted vertical oblique are tilted to a distance usually less than 3 degrees from the vertical. Oblique photos normally are taken with a 3 to 90 degrees angle allowance from the vertical and are divided into low oblique and high oblique. Low oblique aerial photos are those in which the horizon is not visible while high oblique aerial photos have the horizon visible. Regardless of the angle, all aerial photos are taken from above.
Terrestrial photography entails taking the photos with cameras on the ground. The camera taking the photo may assume either the horizontal or the oblique orientation depending on the location of the focal point. The orientation is determined at the point of exposure. The photos may be focused horizontally on things on the ground or obliquely on things in the atmosphere. In addition, these photos which are taken from different points on the surface of the earth can be useful for measurement and surveying purposes. However, these photos are less accurate as compared to aerial photography. Media College.com states that aerial photos are taken with a camera which is not attached to the ground in any manner. This implies that a bird’s eye view is a characteristic of this type of photography. The photos may either be taken by a human being or by a system that is remotely controlled. Aerial photography may be done from helicopters, aircrafts, balloons, rockets, and kites among others.
The photos taken from the air lend themselves to metrical and interpretive areas of photogrammetric specialists. Both aerial and terrestrial photography are used in the photogrammetric field where information about the environment and physical objects is acquired. The aerial and terrestrial photographs are recorded, measured, and interpreted. In metrical terms, the photography allows the surveyor to determine distances, volumes, areas, and cross-sections. Under the interpretive element, the photography offers the surveyor the shape of objects, patterns, shadows, and sizes. These metrical and interpretive elements lack in terrestrial photos hence aerial photos are better for surveying purposes.
Aerial photos have several characteristics that make them stand out. The bird’s eye view from which they are taken allows to capture a larger area. The aerial photos allow observing spatial surface features. Secondly, the photos can be used as permanent records of the conditions existing on the surface of the earth and later referred to. The stop action view of these photos is useful in studying phenomenon that is dynamic, for instance, traffic or flooding. The stereoscopic view (three dimensional perspectives) of the earth’s surface which is presented by the photos enables people to make vertical and horizontal measurements (Thomas).
Aerial photos are set apart from terrestrial photos by some advantages such as providing views of large areas and being cost effective in the interpretation and management of natural resources. Being able to view larger areas allows the observer of the photo to interpret objects relative to others and determine extant spatial relationship. Terrestrial photos are not sophisticated since they normally show one side compared to the multiple dimensions in aerial photos. Aerial photos are also more useful in data analysis and making maps compared to horizontal photos. The different classes of aerial photos can be combined to give a very comprehensive account of the details of a landscape under study. Combination of pictures taken from different angles and altitudes yields comprehensive information compared to single shots. The purpose and kind of application for which the photo is intended is used to determine the formats and sizes.
Aerial photography is very useful in many fields such as commercial development, archeology, environmental studies, town planning, and cartography. It is also a critical factor in the study of the celestial bodies such as the Earth and the Moon since pictures of these are taken from space (Media College.com). The advantage of the airborne cameras in surveillance is that there is no need of physical presence especially in hostile environments hence it is less costly to personnel and equipment. Aerial photography has also been handy for engineers, planners, and designers.
Photography is classified according to the location the camera used. This leads to the emergence of the aerial and terrestrial classes of photographs. Aerial photographs are more versatile in gathering data about the Earth’s surface compared to terrestrial photography. Terrestrial photography is nonetheless useful in surveying though to a limited extent of success. Both classes of photography and the respective subclasses have to be understood well by aspiring photographers to achieve the best results.