|Kite Aerial Photogrammetry. |
Digital Terrain Model on left and photomosaic with DTM on right.
My low altitude aerial photogrammetry work generates a lot of questions from the denizens of the internet. Primarily, they want a detailed explanation of how 3D models and photo-mosaics are created from simple point and shoot digital cameras. My regular work, as an archaeologist, normally keeps me too busy to answer these questions to everyone's satisfaction. At the urging of friend, Wonmin, I have created a two-part video that demonstrates the basic steps of how I use Leica Photogrammetry Suite (LPS) with low altitude aerial photographs to create geo-referenced and rectified images. Wonmin is an extremely talented aerial photographer, whose work at a South Korean archaeological site is the subject of the tutorial.
For LPS to perform accurately, a few things are required before the aerial photographs are taken.
- Several Ground Control Points (GCPs) should be placed across the area to be photographed. GCPs are objects that can easily be seen by the camera during flight. LPS requires a minimum of three GCPs but I have found that six or more, evenly distributed across the project area, yield the best results. The GCPs that I often use are cheap biodegradable paper plates, but those seen in the tutorial are nice yellow and black reflective markers.
- In addition to placing the GCPs, tight coordinates for each are required. This is accomplished with a Total Data Station (TDS) or traditional transit. Differentially-corrected GPS (DGPS) is not normally accurate enough with elevation values to be useful.
- After capturing several overlapping photographs of the subject matter from the sky, the photographs are ready for processing.
- For processing, a calibration report for the camera is also needed. While it is possible to spend a lot of money having this done professionally, I prefer a cheaper method such as using the camera calibration function in the PhotoModeler software*. PhotoModeler requires that several photographs of a printed grid be taken by the camera needing calibration. The software then compares the photographs with the grid and creates a report of the exact focal length, format size, principal point, and lens distortion parameters. These numbers can then be fed into LPS**.
and Part 2
What's not covered in the tutorial: How to remove radial lens distortion and creating large mosaics from dozens of images.
** It is worth noting, to spare others my frustration, that PhotoModeler measures principal point from the upper left of the lens while LPS measures it from the center.