Aerial Photography and Visualisation for Built Heritage - PhD Portfolio by Kieran Baxter
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Friday, 30 September 2011

New Kite & Camera Rig

Just purchased a new Fled kite- a sparred version of a sled. At 1.5 x 2 meters across the hope is that I'll no longer be frustrated by very light winds, a quick test demonstrated enormous lifting power. That's it below on the right.

Another recent addition to my KAP kit is a Brooxes Simplex rig, compatible with my Panasonic LX3. This is the first time I have bought a rig rather than built one. Although I found it very well made, with some ingenious features such as Kaphooks for attaching to the line, it is still heavier and more bulky than my own rig. When I have the time to develop handmade rigs is a lot of fun and perhaps worthwhile too.

The photograph below of Dundee's Law Monument was taken on the first flight of my LX3. Although until now I have used Canon Powershots, this camera's 25mm equivalent lens makes for very pleasing results.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Investigating KAP and Photogrammetry

I have been building a portfolio of Kite Aerial Photographs, using a handmade auto KAP rig and a compact camera, since 2007. As part of my MSc Animation & Visualisation I am looking at ways of using these still images to generate 3D environments for historical visualisation.

Photogrammetry is the process of comparing features in a number of photographs of the same subject from different angles, and resolves them into 3D space. A number of software solutions for photogrammetry applications are discussed here.

This method of recording geometric data suffers in reliability compared to laser scanning techniques as it depends upon surface texture and lighting conditions. It also relies on adequate parallax between the images used (making it suitable for KAP where there is often plenty of lateral movement).

Photogrammetry has the advantage of being able to be captured with low cost lightweight cameras which can be used where a scanner might not be able to reach and at any scale.

The Discovery Program (an Irish institute for archaeological research) has used Photogrammerty from a Helikite in conjunction with terrestrial laser scanning to recreate historical sites, see article here.

Greg Downing has also used a combination of KAP and photogrammetry to document an archaeological site in Egypt, where obtaining permission to fly an aircraft for photography proved too difficult. He used an auto KAP rig to capture around 300 images, resolved into this 3D point cloud.

I continue to search for for a historical site which would be well suited to KAP and Photogrammetry techniques, as well as having a strong story which the resulting animation can be orientated around.

Photos from the third annual Digital Documentation conference in Glasgow. The conference focused on laser scanning and other documentation techniques for heritage sites, featuring the Scottish Ten Project among many other guest speakers.