Aerial Photography occupies a special place among the many segments of photography. Not only because of a history dating back
to the earliest periods of photographic discovery but also for the images aerial photographers have captured. Images that would have been unattainable from any other viewpoint. Scenes such as the famous image of
Earth, floating in the blackness of space, taken by Apollo 17. Images that have had a profound impact both on how we view ourselves and how we view the world around us.
From earliest times mankind has held a fascination with the view from above. The "bird's eye" view of mythology and
dreams. Therefore it's not surprising that, not long after the discovery of photography, photographic pioneers began to turn their attention to the aerial view.
However, it was not an easy task for these dedicated souls. At that time most photographers used a Collodion or "wet
plate" process where the plate must be developed while still moist. This required all steps, from sensitizing the plate, to exposure and development be accomplished within 20 minutes. When used for aerial
photography a darkroom and all gear, including a supply of water, had to be fitted into the basket of a balloon.
The first to successfully accomplish this feat was Gaspar Felix Tournachon or "Nadar" in 1858 when he photographed
the houses of the French village of Petit-Becetre from a balloon tethered at a height of 80 meters. That first image has unfortunately been lost, but Nadar went on with his experiments becoming the first to
photograph Paris from a balloon in 1868.