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Photogrammetry Timeline

blog header history of photogrammetry

As part of my research into digital tools and community participation, I have been looking at photogrammetry. In particular because I will be using it as part of the Ogham in 3D project. I realised how little I knew about the history of photogrammetry, and wanted to delve in deeper. As a visual learner, I find just reading articles and papers, still don’t quite connect the dots for me, and constantly find myself muddled with dates and names. So, I decided to create a visual (brief) timeline of the history of photogrammetry, to get a better idea of its origins, its uses, and significance today.

Historically, a lot of inventions, such as photography, were invented by enthusiastic amateurs, who combined their passion, knowledge and hobby into creating new inventions, and consulting with other interested parties.  500 plus years from Leonardo Da Vinci, 177 years from the ‘official’ birth day of photography, we are again, joining amateurs and professionals through the use of crowdsourced projects. Low-cost photogrammetry provides the perfect opportunity for amateurs and hobbyist to join forces with professionals and academics, working together to help analyse, discover or re-discover. I am fascinated and delighted by this return to open-source and sharing of ideas and skills, we think it is a modern invention, but infact, is a old tradition we forgot (or was encouraged to forget) in the Nuclear era.

The high cost of  buying or renting professional photogrammetry tools, such as LEICA HELAVA DSW 100 photogrammetric scanner with PC DCCS for aerial triangulation data collection, ZEISS PLANICOMP P3 with ZEISS PHOCUS S/W on SILICON GRAPHICS W/S, etc, have prevented the use of photogrammetry for small-scale projects. Indeed, there are a number of constraints besides price,when using professional photogrammetric tools, such as ease of access, environment and light.

With the advent of cheaper digital photography tools, such as camera phones, and also open source software, for example MeshLab, GIMP, VisualSfM, to licensed software allowing cheaper licenses for education use of their software, for example Agisoft; the opportunity for professionals and amateurs to combine research is now at its greatest.

I will be talking more about community participation in archaeological projects, and the mechanics of photogrammetry, including using the various software, but for now, have a look at the Timeline, I have created. As you will see, there was a flurry of activity from the 1820’s-1930’s with the advent of the invention of photography and it subsequent reinterpretations and uses. From 2003 to the present day, there is some great activity in the use of low-cost photogrammetry in archaeology, and some fantastic crowd-sourced projects, currently being undertaken, such as ACCORD in Scotland, and Ogham in 3D in Ireland, etc.

Digital Artefact: Creating a Timeline of the History of Photogrammetry

Digital Tools Used: Timeline JS, Google Drive, Search Engines, Photo-editing Software

Skills Needed: Basic skills in spreadsheet knowledge, searching for information and images online. Image cropping, Copy and pasting. Easy to use and Navigate.

Level: Beginner with support, would suit very well as community/school project

Licence: Open-source. Free for non-commercial usage

Possible Use for Community Archaeology Project: Creation of an Ogham Stone Timeline, Timeline of Dingle Peninsula, Timeline of community project.


This timeline was made using TimelineJS. , developed by KnightLab.

It is an open-source tool that enables anyone to build visually rich, interactive timelines.

USING TimelineJS: Using a simple Google spreadsheet, to substitute your information for the information already there, without losing any of the TimelineJS core functionality. If you want to to write code to dynamically create or update your timeline, you’ll need to understand how to format the data using JSON (JavaScript Object Notation).

DATA PRIVACY: As TimelineJS is open-source, so to is the data you write into it, if you do not want your data to be public, you cannot use their standard embed code. iframeInstead, you must use JSON format for the data and instantiate the timeline directly using javascript. You can then use standard web server security measures to control who has access to your timeline and the data used to create it.

MEDIA: Not only text, but images, both foreground and background, links, pngs, gifs, even video, can easily be incorporated into the timeline. The visual images eg photo/video, need to be hosted online already, eg Flickr, YouTube, etc. With the wealth of images that are available open source, it is very easy to put an interactive timeline presentation together.

WORDPRESS: To embed TimelineJS into your site, you simple copy and paste the embed code into your post. Although it says in the frequent questions, that it doesnt work well for WordPress, I found it worked fine. Just make sure to adjust the width before getting the embed code, so it will fit neatly in your screen.


Comparison of Photogrammetry Software:

I was going to create a list of photogrammetry software, when I came across a Wikipedia entry of just the same thing. It lists the name of the software, its features, including: opensource/licence, platform, range, data source, etc. You can view it here.

If it doesn’t have software you have used, then sign up to Wikipedia and edit the page. It is a very valuable source of information, which could do with constant updates as software and software companies develop.

Print screen from a Wikipedia Page

































So, what do you think ?