What is Terrestrial Photogrammetry? Applications of Terrestrial Photogrammetry

What is Terrestrial Photogrammetry? Applications of Terrestrial Photogrammetry

What is Terrestrial Photogrammetry?

Terrestrial Photogrammetry is a technique that creates a 3D point cloud. Terrestrial Photogrammetry uses photographs taken from different angles to create a three-dimensional representation of an object or scene, which is then measured and analyzed.

Terrestrial Photogrammetry is also often referred to as “traditional photogrammetry”.

The term terrestrial photogrammetry is used when cameras are used on the ground. Historically, this word referred to a surveying and mapping technique based on pictures obtained at ground stations.

Terrestrial photogrammetry is further classified as follows:

  • Close-range photogrammetry when the camera-object distance is between 1:10 m and 100 m
  • Macro photogrammetry when the camera-object distance is between 0.10 m and 0.01 m, and
  • As micro photogrammetry when the photos are exposed through a microscope.

Developments in Terrestrial Photogrammetry

In 1916 French naval officer Paul Louis Mercier revolutionized terrestrial photogrammetry by creating one of the first devices that could be used to take stereoscopic images from short distances.

Mercier named this device a “pilappareil”.

In 1927, James Wallace was commissioned to create the first aerial photo-mapping system for mapping Antarctica. This was the first time that an aerial survey had been performed in Antarctica.

The photo-mapping device used in this survey was similar to modern-day terrestrial photogrammetry equipment.

In 1924 the American George Rothstein invented a commercial aerial photography system, which was originally used to determine the properties of new instruments that were introduced into military aircrafts. This system was later modified to serve as a commercial aerial photogrammetry system.

In 1931, Vladimir Zworykin invented the kinescope, which is widely used by terrestrial photogrammetry users today. This device allows for the storage of photographic images.

In 1936, Glukhov and Shagin brought electronic flash photography to terrestrial photogrammetry, which was a major advancement in the field.

Many advances have been made since 1936, but flashes are still used in terrestrial photogrammetry today. Today, the field of Terrestrial Photogrammetry has many applications.

It is used to create 3D models of buildings and other infrastructure which is then used for modeling and simulation. It is also used to create 3D models of cars, airplanes, and other objects. It can also be used to help save trees from suffering from diseases such as Blight.

Terrestrial Photogrammetry Types

Terrestrial photogrammetry employs two fundamental camera types. There are two types of cameras: metric cameras and non-metric cameras.

Metric Cameras

Metric cameras are specifically developed and calibrated for photogrammetric measurement. It is usually a fixed-focus camera with a known and stable internal orientation.

Metric cameras also have a flash unit, a viewfinder and specially coated film. These cameras are mounted to the main survey instrument, whether it is from a plane or on the ground.

Non-metric Cameras

Non-metric cameras are used to capture images for visual interpretation and mapping. Non-metric cameras come in many different types – like the traditional 35mm camera which is the most common type in use today.

The main advantage of a non-metric camera is that it can be used in all weather conditions and the images will look extremely realistic because they are taken from a bird’s eye view or from a place where you cannot see, such as an aircraft hovering above.

Terrestrial Photogrammetry Applications

Photogrammetry is used in a variety of applications including:


In Geographic Information System (GIS), photogrammetry is used to perform mapping and data capture.

In networks

Networks employ Terrestrial Photogrammetry to map their properties and provide control over their networks.

The use of Terrestrial Photogrammetry in networks allows for the creation of accurate models about the network, which helps in troubleshooting problems with the network and assessing new projects that may affect the network.

In Mechanics

Mechanics use Terrestrial Photogrammetry to create models of cars, planes, and other vehicles.

This data can then be used to determine the fuel efficiency of the vehicle or to measure the safety of the vehicle in an accident.

In architecture

Architects use Terrestrial Photogrammetry for two main reasons. First, it is used to create blueprints of buildings that are being built.

Second, it is used to find flaws in a building before it is completely constructed.

In forestry

Forest Staff can use Terrestrial Photogrammetry when assessing a plant or tree for disease or other problems.

The use of Terrestrial Photogrammetry in forestry can save money, time, and resources because surveys of the trees can be conducted just as easily as taking photographs.

In archaeology

Archaeologists often use Terrestrial Photogrammetry to create a 3D map of an area. They then use this data to create a three-dimensional model of the area and determine the scale of the area.

Photogrammetry has even helped in locating ancient civilizations that have been buried under snow for centuries. It has also helped in finding lost tombs and other structures that have been buried for thousands of years.

In insurance

Insurance companies use Terrestrial Photogrammetry for assessing damage to homes and businesses. They use it to help determine the amount of money that will be awarded in compensation.

In medicine

With all the advances in medical technology, there is still a lot of information that a doctor can gather through the use of Terrestrial Photogrammetry.

Terrestrial Photogrammetry is used by doctors to provide patients with a better understanding of their condition and how treatment can help them.

In film and television

Terrestrial Photogrammetry is used in films and television as a method of creating scale models for shooting. It is also used to help create visual effects for films and television shows.

In 3D printing

3D printers use Terrestrial Photogrammetry to assist in 3D modeling. They are used in the development of parts that are manufactured using plastic, metal, or other materials.

Difference between Aerial and Terrestrial Photogrammetry

  1. In aerial photogrammetry, the camera is mounted on an aircraft and it takes pictures from above. The ground and all the objects are photographed from a bird’s eye view, which makes it a three-dimensional picture. The aerial survey also enables to capture of inaccessible areas. While in terrestrial photogrammetry is conducted on the ground. The camera is mounted on a tripod, allowing for more control and accuracy over the angle of the photo as well as when it was taken.
  1. In aerial photogrammetry, the ground is photographed from a very high altitude. This can be done by using a helicopter or even just a plane. The image is then given to the operator and he/she analyzes it to obtain information concerning the area being inspected. While in terrestrial photogrammetry, photographs are taken on the ground, and they have three dimensions that can be measured to compare them with other data points such as a map.
  1. Cost: The cost of aerial photogrammetry is more than terrestrial photogrammetry because it requires an aircraft, which has to be rented. Also, the camera and other equipment used for aerial photogrammetry is more expensive than the camera used for terrestrial due to the complexity of the system and the cost of developing it.
  1. Accuracy: Aerial photogrammetry offers higher accuracy than terrestrial photogrammetry. This is because the image taken is a bird’s eye view and therefore there is no chance of getting errors when measuring distance, area, and volume.
  2. Time: Terrestrial Photogrammetry takes longer than aerial because it requires more time to take pictures at different angles. However, aerial photogrammetry can be done quickly but capturing the right angles requires more time.
  3. Scale: Aerial Photogrammetry is better for measuring large areas than terrestrial photogrammetry because aerial survey data can be easily applied to geographical maps.
  4. A terrestrial photogrammetric survey can be done in all weather conditions, including bad weather, whereas aerial survey is not possible under poor weather conditions.

Terrestrial Photogrammetry Surveying

The goal of a terrestrial photogrammetric survey is to provide exact data on the shape, size, and position of a specific structure or monument at a given period in order to evaluate its current circumstances and architectural characteristics.

Surveys are classified into two types: general surveys and detailed surveys.

General Surveys- These methods are used when the size of the area is not too large but the shape or boundaries are not clear.

Detailed Surveys – These methods are usually used for small area surveys. They are based on using a tripod, spotting telescope, and GPS or other electronic equipment to take precise photos at different angles.

Terrestrial Photogrammetry Advantages

They include:

  1. It can be used in all weather conditions and it does not require an aircraft.
  2. The three-dimensional view captures the various shapes of objects in the area being surveyed.
  3. The camera used in terrestrial photogrammetry is relatively easy to use, and therefore fewer errors are made while taking pictures, resulting in better accuracy and quality of data obtained.
  4. Terrestrial and aerial photogrammetry data can be combined for detailed analysis, presentation, and reporting.
  5. Terrestrial photogrammetry is less costly to carry out than aerial photogrammetry.

Limitations of Terrestrial Photogrammetry

They are as follows:

  1. It does not provide a bird’s-eye view of the area as in an airborne survey
  2. The equipment used for terrestrial photogrammetry is more complex than the equipment used in airborne survey, hence it requires more time to set up and operate.
  3. Terrestrial photogrammetry is more complex, and therefore there is a need for special training to be able to carry out a survey.
  4. Aerial survey has the advantage of higher accuracy and it is faster when taking photos from above, while terrestrial photogrammetry data are only as accurate as the person taking the pictures.
  5. When an image is taken at a steep angle, there is distortion due to lens geometry. This affects the accuracy of measurements in the target area.
  6. The operator may move when taking the pictures from different angles, resulting in inaccuracy when calculating the area of a particular object.

Terrestrial Photogrammetry FAQs

What is Terrestrial Photogrammetry?

Terrestrial Photogrammetry is the process of analyzing photographs and measurements to create scaled maps, plans, and 3D models.

Who uses Terrestrial Photogrammetry?

Commercial:  Many construction companies use it when they want to build a new shopping mall. They also use it when they want to expand their current mall outlets.

Residential:  Homeowners use it when building a house on empty land or renovating their kitchen and bathrooms. They also use it when they want to repair the roof of their house.

How is Terrestrial Photogrammetry done?

The camera used is fixed on a tripod and the lens, for both aerial and terrestrial photogrammetry, can be adjusted.

The operator then rotates the camera perpendicularly to the ground, looks through the lens, makes adjustments, and takes enough photographs in order to obtain reference points from which he/she can calculate areas or distances.

How is Terrestrial Photogrammetry useful in my area?

It can be used for residential, commercial, and industrial development. It can be used for determining the location and size of buildings.

When a building is being constructed or renovated it can be done through different levels, such as a foundation level.

What are the differences between Aerial and Terrestrial photogrammetry?

Terrestrial photogrammetry gives you 3D information about an area. Aerial photogrammetry gives you perspective information about an area.

Terrestrial photogrammetry is used to find out the size of a building and estimate the area. Aerial photogrammetry is used to take a bird’s-eye view of an area. Terrestrial photography is done from a position above ground level and aerial photography is taken from above.

What is the use of a photogrammetric survey?

Photogrammetric surveying helps the surveyor to be more efficient in creating a model or map. Surveyors hire a company to oversee the process of photogrammetry in order to make the survey accurate and efficient.

How is Photogrammetric data used on Google Earth?

Photogrammetric data are used in mapping software’s and satellite navigation software such as Google Earth. The data is usually provided in the form of SRTM or DEM.

What are the differences between photogrammetry and surveying?

Photogrammetry is the combination of different types of angular measurements to create a 2D or 3D scale model.

Surveying involves measuring the exact height and distance between objects in order to create a surveyor’s report.

What instrument is used terrestrial photogrammetry?

Photo theodolite – Terrestrial photogrammetry makes use of a photo theodolite, which is capable of covering a large area in a short period of time. It is also capable of creating precise values that are suitable for producing the desired outcome.

How accurate is terrestrial photogrammetry?

Terrestrial photogrammetry offers varying degrees of scale from 1:500 to 1:5000, depending on the accuracy of the equipment being used.

What is the benefit of terrestrial photogrammetry?

It is a simple process that does not require any complex machines. It can be done efficiently when photogrammetric experts are hired. It gives the surveyor an exact measurement and it is used in many fields, like construction, roads, and homes.

How accurate is photogrammetry?

It is very accurate, but it is up to the surveyor.

What are the advantages of terrestrial photogrammetry?

  • It is simple and easy to operate
  • It does not require an aircraft due to its accurate measurements
  • It does not require any special training as there are no complicated instruments, equipment or software (you can usually simply download someone’s program and carry it out)
  • It can be used in all weather conditions and it does not require an aircraft.

What are the disadvantages of terrestrial photogrammetry?

  • It only provides a 2D image, and it is not useful for surveying
  • It requires time and patience. If the surveyor is inexperienced, results are not as accurate as with an experienced surveyor
  • The equipment used for terrestrial photogrammetry is complex and more expensive, requiring more training to operate
  • There are times when the operator may move during the process of taking photographs, and this might affect the accuracy of the results.

What is the most accurate method of measuring?

Photogrammetry is considered to be much more precise than using a tape measure.  It is up to how skilled and experienced one is at photogrammetry, but in general, it is considered to be a precise method.

How much does photogrammetry cost?

All of the costs listed above are in US dollars. It is worth noting that a full high-end photogrammetry system costs between $US 20,000 and $US 30,000, whereas simply the sensor for manned LIDAR costs around $US 100,000. Lightweight drone LIDAR payloads alone cost between $US 65,000 and $100,000.

What companies use terrestrial photogrammetry?

Many companies that use aerial photogrammetry also use terrestrial photogrammetry.

What is the difference between photogrammetry and GIS?

Photogrammetry uses imagery, whereas GIS makes use of geographic locations and data. GIS can be used with photogrammetry to create a 3D model of an area, but this requires much more work.  GIS can also easily be used to change the scale of an area.

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