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Digital orthophotography: mapping with pictures

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Aerial photographs and maps would seem a natural combination to record and analyze geographical information: maps provide geometric information and photographs add realistic, timely detail. But cameras record images on a flat plane, whereas the earth is curved and its terrain takes on many varied shapes-all of which distort the image geometry and render it invalid for mapping and geographic analysis. Digital orthophotographs solve this problem. A digital orthophoto starts with a rasterized (scanned) aerial photograph; a process called rectification (described below) removes distortions arising from the camera lens, the aircraft's position, and elevation and other topographical features. This transforms aerial photos into high-resolution digital images that correctly represent the geometry of an area and its terrain. These images can be used as standard true-scale representations of geographic sectors-a function already served by analog orthophotos, which must be painstakingly scanned and rectified in small strips or patches. Their fully digital format makes digital orthophotos useful as base maps in geographical information systems (GIS) used for creating and revising topographic and planimetric maps, vegetation and timber management, environmental impact assessments, and infrastructure assessment

Published in:

Computer Graphics and Applications, IEEE  (Volume:17 ,  Issue: 5 )