Introduction

A successful small-format aerial photography (SFAP) field survey often depends on the ability to react flexibly to a plethora of complications—the more of these that can be anticipated and planned for in advance, the more likely one would return with plenty of good images. SFAP can be undertaken quickly and spontaneously, for example, with a lightweight minimal kite system for an afternoon leisure hour at the beach to capture a bird's-eye view of that spectacular cliff above the churning blue-green surf. But it usually takes more time and effort to prepare and conduct the survey of a specific site for scientific purposes. The considerations related to planning a field survey, which are discussed in more detail in the following, include

• Travel and equipment logistics.

• Accessibility of the site, flight obstacles, wind, and other site characteristics.

• Personnel required (see Chapter 8).

• Flight planning considerations regarding the desired image area, scale, and resolution.

Some of these issues require that the location, size, and characteristics of the survey area are already fairly well known, but this is not necessarily always the case. There are many situations for which not much is known about a site where SFAP is being planned. The authors often have been invited along by other colleagues to take aerial photographs of biological test plots, archaeological remains, or architectural monuments at sites not previously familiar to us. In many cases, our hosts knew little or nothing about the logistical requirements of successful SFAP.

Often the initial information about the site is limited to a rough estimation of size and directions of how to get there. Luckily, in times of Google Earth and online map services, it has become much easier to gather information about remote areas around the world. Maps as well as satellite and aerial images can be extremely helpful in SFAP mission planning even for previously known sites, offering possibilities of distance measurements, ground control preparation, access planning, assessment of obstacle problems, and even flightline planning for autopiloted aircraft.

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