Photogrammetry is the art and science of obtaining reliable measurements by photography (metric photogrammetry) and qualitative evaluation of image data (photo interpretation). It includes use of terrestrial, close-range, aerial, vertical, oblique, strip, and space photographs along with their interpretation.
In the simplest example, the distance between two points that lie on a plane parallel to the photographic image plane can be determined by measuring their distance on the image, if the scale (s) of the image is known. This is done by multiplying the measured distance by 1/s.
A more sophisticated technique, called stereophotogrammetry, involves estimating the three-dimensional coordinates of points on an object. These are determined by measurements made in two or more photographic images taken from different positions (see stereoscopy).
Common points are identified on each image. A line of sight (or ray) can be constructed from the camera location to the point on the object. It is the intersection of these rays (triangulation) that determines the three-dimensional location of the point. More sophisticated algorithms can exploit other information about the scene that is known a priori, for example symmetries, in some cases allowing reconstructions of 3D coordinates from only one camera position.
The 3D co-ordinates define the locations of object points in the 3D space. The image co-ordinates define the locations of the object points' images on the film or an electronic imaging device. The exterior orientation of a camera defines it's location in space and it's view direction. The inner orientation defines the geometric parameters of the imaging process. This is primarily the focal length of the lens, but can also include the description of lens distortions. Further the additional observations play an important role: With scale bars, basically a known distance of two points in space, or known fix points, the connection to the basic measuring units is created. Credit: Georg Wiora (Dr. Schorsch)
Photogrammetry is used in different fields, such as topographic mapping, architecture, engineering, manufacturing, quality control, police investigation, and geology, as well as by archaeologists to quickly produce plans of large or complex sites and by meteorologists as a way to determine the actual wind speed of a tornado where objective weather data cannot be obtained. It is also used to combine live action with computer-generated imagery in movie post-production; The Matrix is a good example of the use of photogrammetry in film (details are given in the DVD extras).
Algorithms for photogrammetry typically express the problem as that of minimizing the sum of the squares of a set of errors. This minimization is known as bundle adjustment and is often performed using the Levenberg–Marquardt algorithm.
Scale formulas are as follows:
f = Focal length of lens, in (m) H = Flying height of airplane above datum (usually mean sea level), ft (m) h1 = Elevation of point, line, or area with respect to datum reference, ft (m)