Date of Award


Degree Name

Physical and Applied Science


College of Science

Type of Degree


Document Type


First Advisor

Ralph Oberly

Second Advisor

Anne Axel

Third Advisor

James Leonard


Many research projects require the use of aerial images. Wetlands evaluation, crop monitoring, wildfire management, environmental change detection, and forest inventory are but a few of the applications of aerial imagery. Low altitude Small Format Aerial Photography (SFAP) is a bridge between satellite and man-carrying aircraft image acquisition and ground-based photography. The author’s project evaluates digital images acquired using low cost commercial digital cameras and standard model airplanes to determine their suitability for remote sensing applications. Images from two different sites were obtained. Several photo missions were flown over each site, acquiring images in the visible and near infrared electromagnetic bands. Images were sorted and analyzed to select those with the least distortion, and blended together with Microsoft Image Composite Editor. By selecting images taken within minutes apart, radiometric qualities of the images were virtually identical, yielding no blend lines in the composites. A commercial image stitching program, Autopano Pro, was purchased during the later stages of this study. Autopano Pro was often able to mosaic photos that the free Image Composite Editor was unable to combine. Using telemetry data from an onboard data logger, images were evaluated to calculate scale and spatial resolution. ERDAS ER Mapper and ESRI ArcGIS were used to rectify composite images. Despite the limitations inherent in consumer grade equipment, images of high spatial resolution were obtained. Mosaics of as many as 38 images were created, and the author was able to record detailed aerial images of forest and wetland areas where foot travel was impractical or impossible.


Remote sensing.

Aerial photography.

Topographical surveying - Photographs.