Aerial photography is the taking of photographs of the ground from an elevated/direct-down position. Usually, the camera is not supported by a ground-based structure.
Platforms for aerial photography include fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicles, balloons, blimps and dirigibles, rockets, pigeons, kites, parachutes, stand-alone telescoping and vehicle-mounted poles. Mounted cameras may be triggered remotely or automatically; hand-held photographs may be taken by a photographer.
Aerial photography should not be confused with air-to-air photography, where one or more aircraft are used as chase planes that “chase” and photograph other aircraft in flight.
Aerial photography was first practiced by the French photographer and balloonist Gaspard-Félix Tournachon, known as “Nadar”, in 1858 over Paris, France. However, the photographs he produced no longer exist and therefore the earliest surviving aerial photograph is titled ‘Boston, as the Eagle and the Wild Goose See It.’ Taken by James Wallace Black and Samuel Archer King on October 13, 1860, it depicts Boston from a height of 630m.
World War I
The use of aerial photography rapidly matured during the war, as reconnaissance aircraft were equipped 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 with map sketching from air.