Tag Archives: photography

The View From Above: The Power of Remote Sensing

Humans have always sought the high vantage point above the landscape. Throughout history, whether from a treetop or a mountain peak or a rocky cliff, the view from above allowed our ancestors to answer important questions: Where is there water? Where is the best hunting ground? Where are my enemies? Aerial photography was first practiced by balloonist Gaspard-FĂ©lix Tournachon in 1858 over Paris. With the advent of both photography and practical air flight in the early twentieth century, the advantages of having the high ground led to a quantum shift forward and the field of remote sensing was born.

The technology came of age rapidly during World War I as a superior new military capability. From 1914 to 1918, aerial reconnaissance evolved from basically nothing to a rigorous, complex science. Many of the remote sensing procedures, methods, and terminology still in use today had their origins in this period. Throughout World War II the science and accuracy of remote sensing increased.

The use of aerial photography rapidly matured during the First World War, as aircraft used for reconnaissance purposes were outfitted with cameras to record enemy movements and defenses. At the start of the conflict, the usefulness of aerial photography was not fully appreciated, with reconnaissance being accomplished by cartographers sketching out maps from the air.

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