How Aerial Photography Has Influenced Mapping

Aerial photography is simply taking photos while in the air, whether in a hot-air balloon, a drone, a helicopter, or a plane. Mapping is the process of obtaining an accurate, scaled representation of a geographical area. In recent times, the efficient and easy capture of images from the air has had a significant impact on mapping. 

Aerial photography has influenced mapping by making it easier and faster to create accurate maps. Airplanes typically cover large distances in short times, revolutionizing the mapping of large areas. Aerial photography also allows the increased use of software in the mapping process, making the whole process more efficient. 

The significant effects of aerial photography in mapping are made possible by several technological advancements, including the development of cutting-edge photography solutions like the Phase One pas880i. 

Read on to see how aerial photography has transformed mapping and see the impact of technology like the Pas 880

 aerial mapping

The Rise of Aerial Mapping

A map gives a detailed relationship about different points in an area. This relationship is characterized by information like distance and direction. On the other hand, the typical photograph gives an overview of the relationship of objects and points in an area. 

The biggest difference between a map and a photograph is the level of detail. A map will tell you that point A is 200m north east of point B. A photograph can only give you an estimation of the distance and direction. 

Despite this difference, aerial photography is used to create maps. Photographs are taken from the air and, eventually, you end up with a map. How does that happen? 


Photogrammetry can be described as the stitching of multiple 2D photos to come up with one 3D photo. Just think of how your eyes work. You are able to see the world in 3D because your brain combines the overlapping images from each of your eyes. 

Photogrammetry is one of the most effective techniques of generating three-dimensional representations. With the help of specialized software, you can take multiple photos of an object from different directions and come up with an accurate 3D model. 

And that’s how we get maps from aerial photographs. You capture multiple overlapping aerial photographs and stitch them together in a process called aerial mapping

The Technology That Makes Aerial Mapping Possible

With the typical camera, the farther away you are from an object, the blurrier and more useless your image is. Aircraft operate at hundreds and at times thousands of meters from the ground. How is it possible for the images they take to be usable? 

To complicate matters further, the process of photogrammetry only works with high-quality images. Whether you are trying to come up with a map or a 3D image of a toy, if you don’t have high-quality photos, you won’t succeed. 

The solution to this problem is advanced technology, especially sensors. 

High-Quality Sensors Are Indispensable

The use of aerial photography in mapping is typically when dealing with large areas, such as cities. 

To map a city, you fly over it with an airplane equipped with imaging technology. The plane will be traveling fast. And it will be flying at a significant height. 

To get high-quality imagery that you can stitch into a map, you need an advanced sensor with features like the following: 

  • A high capture rate to ensure maximum overlap at high speed. 
  • A high shutter speed to avoid motion blur. 
  • A pixel rating that will enable you to take crisp images in any lighting conditions. 
  • A high resolution to enable the clear viewing of details on the ground. 

The Phase One pas880i embodies the above requirements and is the perfect example of a sensor that’s up to the task. 

In addition to the above features, the Pas 880 comes with a combination of RGB and NIR sensors set up to take both nadir and oblique imagery. Such a versatile setup enables you to take the most appropriate photos for each mapping use case. 


Aerial photography has revolutionized mapping. There’s no doubt about that. Advanced technology in aerial photography has played a crucial role, allowing aerial images to be used in mapping. 

Technology continues to evolve further. For example, it’s possible to take aerial photographs with 280 MP sensors, a feat that was impossible years ago. Additionally, computing technology, including the use of artificial intelligence, has made it possible to process photos and stitch them together into three-dimensional images. 

As technology improves, so will the impact of aerial photography on mapping.