I have been working with Prof. Tony Stallins on a biogeography project which uses overlapping unmanned aerial photographs to construct dense 3D reconstruction of topography, a process known as structure from motion photography (SFM) . This summer was spent preparing for data collection through the ordering of materials and performing some field tests of the helikite (a helium-filled balloon/ kite hybrid) and time-lapse photography (a GoPRO camera mounted to the helikite). The work this fall semester involves refining the techniques and equipment handling necessary to collect and process data from a local landscape feature. This tentatively may be a rock outcrop or the topography around a sinkhole. If possible, we may undertake mapping of topography on a barrier island, likely Sapelo Island (Georgia) or one of the islands in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. This trip would be more likely to occur during a continuation of the project in the spring semester so as to ensure that our data collection techniques are refined and potential sources of error are mitigated.
The research involves the capture and use of aerial photographs to construct three-dimensional maps using freely available software. These maps can record horizontal and vertical positions of a surface at high resolutions, making it a low cost alternative for pricier, airplane-mounted LIDAR data collection. My goal is to utilize the aerial photos of a feature or landscape to perform a 3D reconstruction using VisualSFM and other shareware. This research fits into a larger research agenda involving the mapping of maritime dune plants and their topography.
Westoby et al