shrug-l: Aerial Photography Question

Barry Bitters bbitters at
Fri Mar 24 13:18:29 EST 2006

If you are concerned with the ground surface or objects under the canopy, in temperate regions this is the norm, to perform aerial photo missions during the leaves-off season.  In areas of purely non--deciduous, needle-leafed forests, there is really no optimal time to perform over flights.  This is also the case for areas of deciduous broad-leafed forests.  But, as you noted, there are some deciduous species in your region.   Even if there are forest stands that are a mix of non-deciduous and deciduous trees, as we have in much of coastal Florida (excepting areas of mangrove) it is still best for optimum penetration to perform aerial surveys during the leaves-off period.  If you want to see all the ground surface, or as much as is humanly possible from the air, then you do it at the height of the leaves-off period.  
In other areas of the world, those areas that do not have a winter season with leaves-off, it is customary to perform over flights at the end of the driest season - that time of year when there are minimal leaves on the trees.  Again, performing surveys during this time provides visibility of the greatest amount of ground area. 
It is interesting to note though, that for forest inventory purposes, aerial surveys are performed when foliage is present.  Much of the infrared imaging over flights by and for the timber companies are performed to analyze the canopy and they are not concerned with canopy penetration; nor with the ground surface. 
This is probably more than you wanted or needed to hear but...
Best regards,
Barry Bitters, Ph.D., GISP
Senior Research Scientist
Department of Environmental Studies
University of West Florida
11000 University Parkway
Pensacola, FL 32514
Tel [850] 936-1060, 474-2735
FAX [850] 857-6036
bbitters at


30° 26' 57.9" N  086° 55' 47.2" W


From: Tripp Corbin [mailto:tcorbin at]
Sent: Fri 3/24/2006 9:37 AM
To: shrug-L at
Subject: shrug-l: Aerial Photography Question

It has been common practice here in Georgia that you do not fly aerial photography outside a very limited window of January to March. The reason given has been to minimize tree cover. Now I was driving through South Georgia this week and noticing that 80 to 90% of the trees are pines. I also noticed that by and large the hardwoods, those that are near structures, are either far enough away not to interfere or are below the roof lines. That would seem to negate the tree cover issue. Given that logic, are we, at least in South Georgia, limiting ourselves for no good reason? My thought is we are.
I was wondering what others, especially those involved in Photogrammetry and tax parcel mapping, might have to say on this issue. I was also wondering what is the norm in Florida given the lack of a leaf-off season. 

Tripp Corbin, MCP, GISP

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