Bluesky is accelerating the digitisation of its archive of historically important aerial photographs of the UK following the acquisition of a new camera from the same range used by NASA on the Apollo space missions. The high end DSLR Hasselblad camera is being used to photograph original survey films dating back to the 1940s in order to make the images available to view and purchase online. Using the new camera Bluesky can capture high resolution images in a fraction of the time it currently takes to scan each frame meaning they can be offered at the lowest ever price.
“Using the Hasselblad we can process an entire film in a matter of minutes compared to the many hours it would take to scan,” commented James Eddy, Technical Director of Leicestershire based Bluesky. “This means that we can make more images instantly available for visitors to the OldAerialPhotos website to preview and offer them for sale at a reduced price. While this production method is suitable for 90 per cent of customers we can still offer scanned images for more technical applications as well as hard copy prints together with letters of authenticity and other professional services.”
Hasselblad cameras are considered market leaders and almost all of the still photographs taken during the Apollo space missions, including the first man on the moon, used modified Hasselblad cameras. The H4D-50MS being used by Bluesky has an extra large sensor – measuring twice the physical size of the largest 35mm DSLR sensors, as well as True Focus with Absolute Position Lock (APL) for accurate composing at close range with shallow depth-of-field. Combined with a high performance lens – the Hasselblad HC Macro 4/120mm – and a dedicated Apple iMac computer, Bluesky is achieving ultimate image quality and maximum performance.
“Each frame of film produces a photograph that is about 150Mb,” continued Eddy. “Our first priority is those films already referenced on the OldAerialPhotos website and we estimate these films will result in approximately 70Tb of data. The entire archive – currently over 1.5 million images dating back as far as 1917 – will be about 250Tb, more than four times the volume of all the images for Google Earth!”
The films being photographed using the Hasselblad camera and lens form part of an historically important archive that includes some of the earliest commercial aerial survey images. Offering a record of most major UK cities and towns, transport and utility infrastructure and commercial property developments, the images being made available on http://www.oldaerialphotos.com are an invaluable resource for anyone with a personal or professional interest in local studies, genealogy, boundary disputes, environmental land use research or town planning. “As we will be updating the site with images on a regular bases we recommend visitors check in from time to time to see if their area of interest is covered,” concluded Eddy