Aerial photographs are made form the air using camera that are either handheld or mounted on an aircraft, helicopter rocket, balloon, kite or sky diver. Aerial photographs are produced for use in map making, movies, environmental studies, spying, archaeology, for advertising and are indispensable in real estate.
Airplanes that are used in aerial photography have special features. Because large airplanes that have to be manned are prohibited from flying low or flying too slowly, miniature size aircraft are a good alternative to use as they can fly low and provide good detailed close to the ground photographs needed more in real estate and in advertising.
The problem with small aircraft is that they cannot make long flights, are unable to carry lots of equipment or go higher in the sky. There is another choice to making low altitude photographs using radio-controlled small aircraft but which cannot cover big areas either but may be quite useful for small areas or amateur photographers. Using radio-controlled aircraft to make aerial photographs is cheaper as no airfield will be required and they are quite. They can produce clearer photographs but they may be disturbed by wind and obstacles like trees.
Helicopters are a good choice for aerial photography as they can fly low and make long flights and a plus is that it can be flown with the door open or removed and this gives the photographer a wider angle to work with. Cessnas are also very good choice because they fly slow and have wide windows which also open up. Cessnas are in use in many parts of the world for aerial photography. Helicopters can also hover over an area something that other planes cannot do. The use of telephoto lens to single out objects of interest is eliminated with helicopter's low flying abilities.
Most photographers have to hire an airplane to make aerial photographs. If they cannot fly then they have also to pay the pilot who will fly them. Hiring an airplane is expensive but so are aerial photographs. For amateur photographers they can always mount equipment on kites and or model airplanes. Another cheaper alternative is to try flight training schools as they may be in need of supplementing their income and providing students with flying time practice hours.
Taking aerial photographs is challenging for the following reasons; the cameras which may be handheld or mounted are usually at an angle therefore the resulting photographs are usually a little distorted in perspective and needs to be corrected through 'rectification' before they can be used for scientific purposes. Another challenge concerns the fact that to produce photographs of a large area 'stitching' has to be done from a combination of photographs. This means taking photographs of the area in question from different positions ensuring to cover it adequately which are then put together to make a complete photograph.