September, 2011

SUAVE SiteSeer    September, 2011

Welcome to the September 2011 edition of our e-bulletin, SiteSeer.

It’s been a busy summer so, in this issue, we have plenty of information to bring you about new aerial photography projects, new technology and new applications for photography, high definition video and photogrammetry using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV).

As ever, the archaeological, heritage and construction sectors account for the lion’s share of our work and you can read about some of our most recent case studies later in this newsletter. For many clients, the value of keeping accurate visual site records is still one of the prime motivations for commissioning aerial photography but we’re receiving an increasing number of enquiries relating to technical measurement, site interpretation and publicity.

Offering the ability to take more detailed images, from lower altitudes, at shorter notice and at a fraction of the monetary and environmental cost of conventional aircraft, UAV-based photography is no longer perceived as a specialist niche solution; it has now come to the fore as the most effective, practical and cost efficient means of securing high quality aerial photographs for almost any industry. If you’d like to see what we can do for you, please contact us on 07842 766679.


Contents

Hydro Thumb CamperJam ArcHeratige Overhead Openshaw

Flood Alleviation Project, Wigan
Morrison Construction

Heritage Sites and Public Events
Weston Park and Norton Priory

Interpreting a Mesolithic Excavation
ArcHeritage

New UAV Technologies

Site Remediation Project, Manchester
Buckingham Group Contracting

 


 

Flood Alleviation Project, Wigan
Morrison Construction

Early in the summer, we were commissioned to photograph an innovative (and indeed record-breaking) flood alleviation scheme in Wigan, where Morrison Construction has installed two of the world’s largest storm water flow control systems on the course of the River Douglas. Known as Hydro-Brakes, the conical structures each weigh 15 tonnes and one of their chief benefits is that they reduce the need to excavate large water catchment reservoirs in order to provide effective protection against flooding. This makes them a more sustainable alternative to earlier technologies, as does the fact that they operate without power, and their use by Morrison Construction has drawn significant media attention.

We carried out the initial photography in May 2010 and thereafter, made bi-monthly visits right through until September 2011 in order to record the work in progress. We captured the installation in great detail and produced high quality images that have since appeared in a variety of online and printed media. Hydro International, the British manufacturers of the Hydro-Break system, have been very impressed with the results.

 


 

Heritage Sites and Public Events
Weston Park and Norton Priory

If you’ve read previous editions of this newsletter, then you’ll know that we’ve carried out a good number of aerial surveys and photogrammetry projects at some very popular heritage sites across the UK. Over the summer, however, one or two of these sites have played host to some rather unusual outdoor events and sUAVe has been on hand to document the various goings-on.

Weston Park in Shropshire is a good example. Originally created as a medieval deer park, it now comprises more than a thousand acres of beautifully landscaped grounds – the work of the renowned designer ‘Capability’ Brown – and at its heart is Weston House, a grand manor house, built in the 17th Century. Nevertheless, it was not the park’s rich history that brought us to the site but a request from the organisers of Camper Jam 2011, a huge meeting of Volkswagen camper van enthusiasts. Seven thousand visitors attended the three day festival, with more than four thousand of them staying overnight in around 2,500 camper vans. Our UAV captured the scene with a series of impressive images, which delighted the organisers and which you can review here on the sUAVe website.

An altogether different event was held in June at Norton Priory in Cheshire, which hosted BioBlitz – a biodiversity event in which specialists and members of the public collaborate to locate and identify as many plant and animal species as possible in a 24 hour period. Hundreds of visitors and more than a hundred experts surveyed the 13th Century Priory estate and recorded more than 400 different species. Our aerial photographs recorded the event for posterity.

 


 

Interpreting a Mesolithic Excavation
ArcHeritage

Industrial archaeology has been an important part of our work over the summer. In Sunderland, we contributed aerial images to a preservation by record project undertaken by Oxford Archaeology on the site of a 19th Century glassworks. Similarly, we were commissioned by Salford Archaeology to carry out an aerial survey of a former cotton mill in Oldham, which was built in the 1840s. Both sets of images were required for photogrammetric purposes and 3D modelling techniques were used in Oldham.

However, detailed aerial photography is equally useful in many other archaeological contexts and, by way of example, we recently supported a dig in Buxton, where ArcHeritage was investigating a Late Mesolithic / Early Neolithic site that had been uncovered prior to the early stages of a new construction project. Evaluation trenches had produced large numbers of flints and the archaeologists were required to carry out a thorough investigation over the rest of the site.

The photographs were used primarily to create a 2D mosaic of the site to act as a record of the ongoing work, but the images also proved very useful for helping staff to interpret the site. For example, they provided a clear indication of the location of rings (caused by cattle that had routinely gathered around relatively modern drinking troughs) and other, similarly recent marks on the land. In addition to helping to exclude certain targets, the colour detail also provided a useful guide to the location of the different soil types and thus, a suggestion as to where the areas of best preservation might be found.

 


 

New UAV Technologies

We’ve become increasingly ‘techie’ in recent months as we’ve geared up to meet the specialist needs of different customers. So much so, in fact, that we were recently invited to submit a paper to the International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ISPRS), looking in some detail at the use of UAVs and the implications of the introduction of more advanced vehicles, cameras and processing software.

Chester AmphitheatreThe paper used two case studies of recent projects in Chester to demonstrate that with the rise of UAVs and cheaper software, photogrammetry is becoming more affordable and widely available, and it provided examples of best practice of working in urban heritage environments. In particular, it looked at the constraints and applications of existing software packages, at the importance of image stabilisation and aerial positioning systems, and at the emergence of software that can automatically process literally hundreds of separate images in order to produce very high quality, textured 3D models.

This paper was very much based on our own experiences over the course of the last year and our adoption of new hardware and technologies. For example, we recently purchased a new Canon 5D MKII digital SLR camera, which combines a high quality sensor with the ability to take HD video footage. It can therefore capture images that are exceptionally detailed and perfectly suited to the needs of photogrammetrists, but it can also produce New Helibroadcast quality video footage that is ideal for use by marketing professionals and journalists.Moreover, since we are always looking for ways to improve our image quality, we have also recently invested in a new, highly advanced UAV that produces substantially less vibration than previous models, and which boasts computer controlled camera attitude stabilisation.

A PowerPoint summary of the technical paper can be viewed here. For details of how and where to obtain a copy of the full paper, please contact us.

 


 

Site Remediation Project, Manchester
Buckingham Group Contracting

UAVs have many benefits and advantages over manned aircraft but in the case of high altitude photography, the older, heavier technology sometimes wins out. So it was in the case of a site remediation project at Openshaw in Manchester, where Buckingham Group Contracting has been engaged in the remediation of industrial land prior to redevelopment. The land had been the site of chemical works and other industries, so the multi-million pound scheme has been undertaken to ensure that the ground is properly and professionally cleaned up in readiness for new construction.

The client has previously made good use of highly detailed, low level UAV based photography but, in this instance, it required a small number of higher level photographs that could be overlaid onto maps and CAD drawings. They were also to be used for project planning and to facilitate more effective liaison with local authorities, the emergency services and the company’s own clients. SUAVE therefore took the photographs from an ordinary helicopter at an altitude of 3,000ft using a high resolution digital stills camera. 3D OpenshawThe resulting photographs were very well received by the client and were supplied in a format that could be integrated with Google Earth as part of a complete geographic information system. Additionally, the photos were also used to produce a 3D photogrammetric model, which has proved particularly useful for terrain mapping. A low resolution copy of this model can be viewed here on the sUAVe website.

 


 

Further Information:

For details of all our latest heritage, construction and archaeological projects, please visit our online gallery. If you have any questions or if you’d like to discuss a project of your own, we’d be delighted to hear from you. Please call us on 07842 766 679 or email me at Greg@SUAVEAirPhotos.co.uk.

P.S. Please feel free to forward a link to this page to your friends and colleagues!

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