Wednesday, April 08, 2020
Aug 14 2014
Article by: Tampa Architectural Photographer Brian Swartzwelder
Project Location: Tampa, Florida

Aerial Photography has certainly changed over the last few years. Where it used to be cold and indifferent, like photographic mapping, now it is lively and close up. We hover over the trees like birds. We swing low, nearly landing but the rising over the roof of the house.

Nowadays the aerial photographer can give you a fuller, richer look at a neighborhood or a town. You can get an intimate yet unbiased view. You can flip between a precise aerial map and a peek into an active living room, like a fly at the window.

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Aerial photographers are endlessly ingenious now. We use remotely controlled cameras mounted on kites, miniature blimps, even long poles, or from drone aircraft that hover like humming birds. We take our long lenses on helicopters or small planes. Or we capture the sweep of the surroundings with our fisheyes.

Sharp and clean, the homes and communities are caught in the low light of dawn or sunset. We enable everyone to see how beautiful they are. We put together moving displays that summarize places in ways no ground-based tour could. We provide perspectives that make you see a place for the first time.

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People have always been envious of birds. We dream about the power to lift above the ground and over the tallest things we know, the grace of gliding, reading the movements of the air. Aerial photography achieves that for us. The aerial pictures, when done well, attract attention to the beauty of a place. 

Aerial photographs can be deadly useful as were the reconnaissance photos taken from Samuel Franklin Cody's "man lifter war kites" in 1890 or the stereographic images taken from the British dirigible Beta in 1912 or the pictures from the French Blériot observation aircraft in 1913.

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For more than a century, almost since the invention of film and the invention of flight, the camera and the flying machine have been paired. Images taken from the air have always been stunning. Now the art of aerial photography has come close to perfection.

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