Historic Aerial Photos

I was wondering if there is anyone else out there that has a interest in historical aerial photos. Once in awhile I have the opportunity to look thru collections of negatives and have to photograph them on location.

Yes, aerial photos are an excellent historical resource. I’ve mostly worked with prints rather than negatives (much easier to photograph, of course) and have loaded them into geographic information systems for additional use and analysis. With the right GIS-related tools (there are even open source GIS systems like QGIS https://www.qgis.org/en/site/), you can fairly easily geocode and rubber-sheet the images and rectify them to some extent to better match standard map resources. (With better tools, you can create orthophotos that function as maps, but that’s a much higher level of sophistication and required equipment.)

If you’re dealing with transparencies (positive or negative), I expect you’d want to use a light panel large enough to handle the (usually) 9 inch square transparencies, plus some kind of diffuser and of course some way to properly stabilize the camera (if you’re traveling to where the images are, that’s probably going to be a tripod.) Others here can likely give good advice on appropriate lens/camera selection.

If you intend to do this for a number of images, you’ll need a good cataloging system (more properly, digital asset management software). This would likely be based in part on the numbering system used in the original aerial photos. The DAM would be crucial in being able to do things like comparing images for land use change analysis over time (even just things like when particular structures were built).

Good luck! It’s easy to go down the rabbit hole on this subject.