Frequently Asked Questions

Why cant I see the photograph before I buy?
Why is the delivery time and pricing different for many of the photographs?
What do I get when I buy a photograph?
How big is a photograph?
Where do the photos come from?
What is an aerial photograph?
What size area does the photo cover?
What is a vertical aerial photo?
What is an oblique aerial photo?
What are aerial photos used for?
Why do we charge for the search?
Are there restrictions on what can I do with my photo?
What if there are no suitable photos in the archive?


Why cant I see the photograph before I buy?

The photography offered by the website is from a variety of sources and much of it only exists on original film. Although we are doing what we can to get as much as possible scanned, it is a huge, costly undertaking. However we now offer a preview service as advertised on the home page.

Why is the delivery time and pricing different for many of the photographs?

As discussed above the photography is sourced from different archives and due to this they command different prices and take different amounts of time to gain access to. We will endeavour to deliver any order ASAP though and would hope to get your product to you before the time stated in many cases.

What do I get when I buy a photograph?

When you buy a photograph from OldAerialPhotos.com we will send you an historic aerial photo or photos of your selected area. You can choose either a print, which will be printed on high quality inkjet printers from a scan of the original photo. Alternatively you can order a digital image, which will be a scan of the original film or print. It will usually be scanned at 20 microns, and the file size for a colour photo will be up to 370MB as a TIFF, so can be quite big. The scan can be delivered on CD or downloaded from our Servers (only JPG format so 70MB). We will also supply some software so you can view your image.

Prints are printed at the same size as the original negative (a contact print). This is usually 9 x 9 inches, but this varies for older photos. If you require an enlargement please call the office to discuss.

You are not actually buying the rights to the photograph, you are buying a licence to use that photograph within the licence restrictions. For a copy of the licence please click here

How big is a photograph?

This depends on what photograph you choose. Most of the photos are standard survey aerial photo size (9 x 9 inches), although older photos may vary, so a print will be this size. If you order a digital file, again it depends, but it will usually be a 20-micron scan that will be about 370MB for a colour photo and 135MB for a black and white photo. We can of course compress your photo using JPG compression. You choose this at the checkout stage. Over the coming months we will offer an enlargement service, so please keep a look out.

Where do the photos come from?

All of the photos on OldAerialPhotos.com are sourced from a range of highly respected archives across the UK including our own. We deal directly with all of the Archives on your behalf, so you don't have to. We have converted all of the information about these archives into one Master Aerial Database. There are other collections of aerial photographs available that do not have such readily available information. We are slowly converting this in to our Master Aerial Database in order to make it available online. So in the meantime if there is not a suitable aerial photograph, or you would like further options, please email info@oldaerialphotos.com

What is an aerial photograph?

There are basically two main types of aerial photograph, oblique and vertical. Both are taken from an elevated position above the ground, usually from an aeroplane or a helicopter. However other methods are used such as masts, balloons and kites for example.

As you might expect an oblique photograph is taken at an angle looking sideways out of the aircraft, which gives a 'landscape' view. Whereas a vertical aerial photo is taken looking straight down from the aircraft to the ground, giving a 'map' view. Traditionally oblique aerial photographs are used for pictorial purposes to give the viewer an idea of what is around a particular location and are not used to measure from, until recently. The vertical photograph is used for more technical purposes, i.e. mapping, and the cameras and lenses have to be calibrated to give accurate measurements.

There is a whole science behind aerial photography, known as photogrammetry, which is the practice of obtaining information about physical objects through the process of recording, measuring, and interpreting photographic images. More recently it has been used in the fields of architecture, archaeology, engineering, geology, underwater, and forensic work as well as aerial survey. It is a complicated mathematical subject and we will not go into it any further here!

Currently OldAerialPhotos.com only searches a database on vertical aerial photographs. It is expected that oblique aerial photographs will be included in mid 2008.

For an example of a vertical aerial photo please click here

For an example of an oblique aerial photo please click here

For a brief history of aerial photography please click here

Vertical aerial photographs have been used for many years in the map-making process. Until very recently aerial photographs were taken using special film and cameras mounted in aircraft, usually a fixed wing aeroplane. There is a standard size for an aerial photo that is used globally, which is 9 x 9 inches. In the early days there was a variety of film sizes (eg 5 x 5 inch and 8 x 7 inch). The majority of photos on oldaerialphotos.com are the standard 9 x 9 inch. The films themselves are up to 35 metres long enabling 500 exposures to be taken on one film.

Aerial photos are taken at different scales (for example 1:10,000 scale). This known as the nominal scale, and is often approximated. The scale is a function of the size of the negative (9 x 9 inches or 22.86 cm), the flying height and the length of lens. Most lenses are either 6 inch (15cm) or 12 inch (30cm). For example flying at 10,000 feet with a 12 inch lens will give a 1:10,000 scale photograph.

Much of the historical aerial photography is black and white as colour film was only adopted more recently and even then some surveyors still preferred black and white.

What size area does the photo cover?

When you search the database on OldAerialPhotos.com you will be shown a map with a series of icons, which depict the centre point of each photo. If you select one of these icons it shows you a grey box, this shows the approximate coverage of that photograph on the ground. Please note that this box is approximated and may not be exact. So please choose a photo where the centre point is nearest to your area of interest. The table below shows

Table showing coverage (for a 9 x 9 inch negative)

Scale Approximate Distance covered on the ground (km)
1:3000 0.69 km
1:5000 1.14 km
1:10000 2.29 km
1:12000 2.74 km
1:15000 3.43 km
1:20000 4.57 km
1:25000 5.72 km

What is a vertical aerial photo?

A vertical aerial photo is taken looking straight down from the aircraft to the ground, giving a 'map' view. Example.

What is an oblique aerial photo?

An oblique photograph is taken at an angle looking sideways out of the aircraft, which gives a 'landscape' view. Example.

What are aerial photos used for?

The applications for aerial photography are vast. In any circumstance where one might use a map, an aerial photo could also be used.

Land Issues and Boundary Disputes - This is a surprisingly common issue in the UK. The ability of being able to clearly see where a boundary was several years ago can be irrefutable evidence in boundary or right of way disputes. This is exactly what aerial photography gives you.

Legal - As well as boundary disputes, there are a host of other uses for aerial photography in legal cases for example scene of crime or incident, route taken, evidence of land cover.

Planning Applications and Property - when buying or selling land or property it is important to know what the lie of the land was decades before your property was built, for example was there a factory, or a quarry nearby? Either may have in impact on the environment and possibly the resale value.

General Interest - With growing interest in genealogy and family history, an aerial photography shown a family's home ground is always fascinating, as well as being a fantastic catalyst for reminiscing! They also make a great gift.

Environmental - It is key to know the history of an area in order to plan the future. Knowing what was there aids the decision making process, ensure a safe and sustainable world.

Insurance Companies - Knowing what was in an area over the previous decades helps with decision making during risk assessment and claim. Deforested areas can cause subsidence; paint factories may have contaminated the land. There may even be unexploded bombs in the area.

Local and Central Government - Planning our environment requires every tool available. A view of history can enable Government to learn from the past and make the correct decisions now.

Archaeology - The older the photo, the better! Aerial photos of a pre-built environment can reveal a lot about the previous inhabitants of the area, making aerial photography and invaluable tool.

Exhibitions, Visitor Attractions, Visual Media - People are always fascinated by an aerial photo, it is a totally different perspective of a place they are often very familiar, and can act as a great focal point for an exhibition or visitor centre.

Why do we charge for the search?

We might make a small charge for requesting a detailed search report in order to cover the cost of the ongoing maintenance and updating of the aerial photo database which is at the core of the website.

However the price we charge is a fraction of the cost of searching each archive individually or commissioning an expert to conduct a search on your behalf.

Are there restrictions on what can I do with my photo?

You can use your photo in accordance with your licence agreement, which you can see here. To summarise you cannot resell the photo or use the photo to make other products for commercial gain without written authorisation from the Licensors. If you do wish to do this please contact us and we will sort out an extended licence. You also cannot display the photograph on the Internet without written agreement from us.

What if there are no suitable photos in the archive?

We have many hundreds of thousands of aerial photos in the database, so hopefully there will be one to suit you. In the event that you want something different or more specific, please email us on info@oldaerialphotos.com and we will be able to look through offline archives. This is a manual process and therefore we have to make an additional charge, although the search fee you may have paid on the website will be deducted.

 
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