Tel: 01434 673111Historic Aerial Photography
Air Images Aerial Photography



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UK Aerial Photography
Frequently Asked Questions

Will you have an aerial photograph of my house or land?
Absolutely yes! We have never failed to find an aerial photograph of any property in the UK. For the majority of locations you will be able to choose an old aerial photo from various decades.

Will an old aerial photo help with boundary disputes?
Yes. Our historical aerial photographs will show the existence of buildings, structures and land use at a certain point in time. All of our aerial photography is provided with the exact date that it was taken.

Can I see the previews of the aerial photographs?
More often than not we can provide a preview of the aerial photography.

How long does it take to provide old aerial photographs?
This depends on the image required; it can be almost immediate and no longer than 7 days.

How much does it cost?
This depends on the particular old aerial photo you require please telephone us on 01434 673111

Can I buy online?
Not at present. We use our expertise and experience to offer a totally bespoke service which is tailored to meet individual needs, that way we get it right first time! Please telephone us on 01434 673111 to discuss your old aerial photo requirements; it is a quick and easy process.

Where does the aerial photography come from?
Air Images has a massive aerial archive of over 10 million oblique and vertical old aerial photographs, we can access many other historical aerial photography archives to fulfil your request and provide the old aerial photo you require.

What level of detail can I expect to see in the photographs?
Our old aerial photographs are the highest quality you will find! Obviously individual photographs have variables such as time of year, time of day, weather conditions, altitude etc. but to give you an idea of the quality, you will clearly see small features such as white lines on roads, roof tiles, post boxes etc.

Do I get a print or a digital copy aerial photograph?
For any aerial image ordered from our archive we usually provide a digital copy and an A4 size print, but the choice is yours.

What information do you need to find my old aerial photo?
Firstly we need the address and postcode of the site, to allow us to complete an archive search. Should you then decide to order an image, we request, if possible, that you provide a copy of a land registry map, or similar visual, clearly marked with the building, area or boundary of most interest. Once we have this we can concentrate on providing the best aerial image for purpose. Initially it is best to telephone us on 01434 673111.

Are your aerial photographs in black & white or colour?
Obviously very old photographs will be black and white. Until quite recently, most UK aerial photography was taken on black and white film, although most of it is now captured in digital colour format. The majority of scenic oblique aerial photography captured pre 1980's will be black and white, after that period it was mostly taken in colour.

Why were the aerial photographs taken in the first place?
Aerial photographs are taken for a huge variety of reasons, for example: general mapping, crop surveys, coastal surveys, forestry surveys, pipeline routes, power line routes, military reconnaissance etc.

What is aerial photography?
Aerial Photography defines the practice of taking photographs of a subject or site from an elevated position above the ground, usually from a fixed wing aircraft or a helicopter. Alternative platforms are sometimes used, including balloons, masts and kites. There are two main types of aerial photograph; oblique and vertical.

What is the difference between oblique & vertical aerial photography?
An oblique photograph is taken at an angle, usually from the side of the aircraft, which gives a 'landscape' view. There are two types of oblique photography: close oblique which is used to photograph a relatively small site such as a house, farm, factory, industrial unit etc, no horizon is visible. High oblique photography as the name suggests, is taken from a higher altitude and usually includes the horizon. Oblique photography is widely used for scenic views where scale is not important. Whereas a vertical aerial photograph is taken by a fixed, mounted camera looking straight down from the aircraft to the subject area to produce a map or plan view. Vertical aerial photography is generally taken for more technical applications such as surveys of larger and more diverse sites, for example, pipelines, road routes, mapping, rivers, power lines, forestry, land surveys etc. The photography can capture a large or small area, depending on the detail and scale required. Cameras and lenses have to be calibrated so that the photography can be used to obtain accurate measurements for interpretation, using the process of photogrammetry.*

* Photogrammetry is the practice of determining the geometric properties of objects from photographic images. Photogrammetry is as old as modern photography. (Wikipedia).

What can our UK aerial photography be used for?
Aerial photography can have a variety of applications. In addition to the most obvious uses such as mapping, risk assessment, development monitoring, coastal surveys etc. here are some alternative uses for aerial photos:

  • Aerial photographs can be vital in settling Land Issues and boundary disputes. Being able to clearly prove the historical location of a boundary line, path or access point can be valuable evidence in boundary, land use or right of way disputes.

  • Aerial photos can be used in many other legal cases, such as 'Right of Light', environmental issues, planning disputes etc.

  • Aerial photography is often used to market a property. A single aerial photograph can show the full extent and surroundings of a property, and is particularly useful for large properties with substantial grounds.

  • Aerial photographs are extremely useful for planning permission applications. If you are planning an extension to your home an aerial photograph is a simple way to illustrate the location & size of the proposed extension. Also, historical aerial photographs can provide irrefutable evidence as to the existence of buildings in the past, even though they may have long since been demolished.

  • Aerial photographs can unlock the past of your local area. Historical interest is very much a popular hobby, along with genealogy and family history. Old aerial pictures can show long gone buildings, industry, roads, railways etc. along with showing changes to coastlines, increased housing, shopping centres and leisure developments. They are also of course, widely used in archaeology.

  • Aerial photography is widely used for marketing and promotion. In this computer age, many companies and attractions display an aerial photograph of their location on their website, as well as using them for exhibitions and displays.

What is the brief history of aerial photography?
Two recognized early aerial photography practitioners were Nadar and Fred Zinn. In 1858 Nadar, became the first known person to take aerial photographs commercially. A keen balloonist, he flew his hot-air balloon over Paris, took photographs of the city and began a successful business selling the aerial photos to the general public. In 1860, not long after Nadir's first attempts, James Wallace Black is successful in photographing Boston from a balloon. This is the oldest aerial photograph known to still exist.

Camera improvements meant that platforms, other than balloons could be used.
In 1903 Julius Neubronne patents a breast-mounted camera for pigeons and in 1906 Albert Maul uses a rocket powered by compressed air to loft a camera which then parachutes back to earth! Also in 1906 a famous photograph depicting the aftermath of the San Francisco earthquake was captured by George Lawrence who used a string of kites to lift a panoramic camera aloft.

The military were quick to see the value of airborne cameras for reconnaissance.
There are accounts of aerial photographs being taken from balloons during the American Civil War. By the First World War aerial photography had become well established. Fred Zinn was a pilot during the First World War, who flew first with the French Armée de l'Air, then with the American Lafayette Escadrille and then with the U.S. Army Air Service. He began taking taking aerial reconnaissance photographs of enemy positions while out on bombing missions. Zinn's photographs, often taken while flying directly overhead enemy lines, were far superior to those already being taken from hot air balloons. Fred Zinn went on to be decorated by the French government for his enterprising spirit and bravery! By 1918 French units were printing as many as 10,000 photographs a night during periods of peak activity.

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Tel: 01434 673111 Fax: 01434 673112 Email:
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