Historic aerial photographs (often called ‘vertical photography’), are some of the most useful, yet frustrating to use print geographic resources because they are very large scale (i.e. they often cover relatively small areas), and lack any labeling to help users orient themselves to the historic landscape that is depicted. What’s more, they lack geographic reference information and contain distortions that limit their use for anything other than qualitative visual comparison. This is in contrast to contemporary orthoimagery from multiple sources (satellites, fixed wing aircraft and UAVs), that have become primary basedata sources of geographic information.
We have several on-going projects to:
- Inventory the historic aerial photographs that are available in Pennsylvania. See here for a map view of available historic photography for Pennsylvania.
- Acquire higher quality digital copies of vertical photography of Pennsylvania than are currently publically available (e.g. these color-infrared photos from the NHAP program, 1947-1952 USDA black and white photos 1:20,000)
- Develop semi-automated methods to convert large collections of historic aerial photography into research quality geospatial data for public use (results forthcoming).
Our hope is that in the next few years we will begin to produce basedata layers of pseudo-orthoimagery for historic time-periods for the state of Pennsylvania.
If you’re interested in these projects, please contact Nathan.
Nathan Piekielek, Zhiyue Xia, Colin Grube, Miranda Waldman, John (Jack) Swab, Michael Price, Karen Schuckman, Heather Ross, Tara LaLonde, Brittany Waltemate, Jamie Friedken
Ross (2019, WAML Lightning Talk
Support for this project has been provided by the Penn State University Libraries Innovation Microgrant, Graduate Research Assistantship, and Bednar Internship programs.