ES 555 Small Format
The final exam is scheduled for Dec. 9-13. It may be placed online Thursday to give students a head start. Check here or course schedule for a link.
Kansas UAS program tests drones for bridge and tower inspections.
|Low-height views of the eastern end (left) and central portion (right) showing numerous chalk buttes and erosional features.|
|Overviews looking toward the northwest (left) and northeast (right). The sinuous brown path in the background is the dry channel of the Smoky Hill River.|
|Closer shots of the intricate pattern of gully erosion. Left: gully heads eating into the upland surface. Right: the light patch across the bottom is an old chalk quarry.|
|Vertical shots of deep ravines and chalk buttes. Yucca plants dot the upper surfaces and tumbleweeds fill the gullies. Note two people in upper left corner on the close-up image (right).|
This week we continue with SFAP applications for wetland environments (see textbook chap. 14 & 15). Students should continue working on projects for short reports. Reminder: any late lab exercises are due by next week.
MS research: Megan Sprague will present her MS research project on The Geology and Geomorphology of the Area of the Mine Creek Battlefield Historical Site and the Effects of These Features on the Civil War Battle of Mine Creek, Kansas. Wednesday, 3 o'clock, SH room 123. She employed a combination of geospatial analysis and ground-based geology.
From Logan Sleezer: I ran across these exceptional drone coastline photos on a google news feed.
From Sawyer Green: I found this article which includes some very scenic photographs taken by SFAP methods.
|Green leaves of an oak tree (left) appear orange. Group photo (right); dark gray and black clothing appears orange. In these images, orange indicates high reflectance of the near-infrared band plus lesser reflectance of green.|
From Jack Faris: A compilation of some drone failures, with a comedic twist to lighten your day.
Participation bonus: November means literally the "ninth month," but it's the eleventh month of our calendar. How did this happen? Email your response by Tuesday noon for a participation bonus point.
From Liz Hagenmaier: Aerial photography was used for a USDA investigation on pinyon-juniper woodlands that are invading grasslands and reducing livestock forage in New Mexico.
Tentative plan for an optional field trip to Little Jerusalem. Drive out afternoon of Nov. 11 and stay overnight at Sunnyland B&B in Garden City (nice rooms and good breakfast included in price). SFAP at Little Jerusalem on Nov. 12, and either drive back to Emporia that evening or stay overnight again. A second nearby natural feature is Dry Lake, another of our long-term study sites that we have yet to do in 2016.
Detailed schedule and dates subject to change depending on weather conditions, which could vary from mild Indian summer to early winter blizzard; we go only with a favorable weather forecast. Any students interested in this trip need to contact your instructor now, so we can make preliminary room reservations.
|Central ESU campus. Plumb Hall (left), the main administrative building, and the newly renovated fountain (right) in the sunken garden. Images have an aspect ratio of 3:2, just like 35-mm film pictures. The pictures are clear and crisp with good color balance.|
The battery charges in the camera, but the only data port is an HDMI micro jack. This port is useful for connecting to a TV, but is not easily compatible with USB for computers. The simple solution is to remove the SD memory card from the camera and plug it into a USB card reader. 24-megapixel images downloaded from the camera average about 10 KB in size; when saved as high-quality jpg format they reduce to about 4 KB.
From Jack Faris: A chemical spill happened at MGP ingredients in Atchison, KS Friday morning, causing a plume of semi noxious gasses to envelop the town for a few hours. This video was taken by someone in town with a hobby drone of the thick fog. Go to KCTV5.
Note: we have potential for an additional field trip during the interval Nov. 11-13, depending on suitable weather conditions. In fact, we have just (today) received permission to conduct kite/blimp aerial photography at Little Jerusalem in western Kansas. Little Jerusalem is eroded chalk badlands on the southern slope of the Smoky Hill River valley in Logan County. This site is one of the crown jewels of Kansas geology. It has been in private family ownership for five generations and was recently acquired by the Nature Conservancy—see map.
This field trip is optional and, given the location, would require an overnight hotel stay. Transportation is furnished, but food and lodging would be individual expenses. All students are expected to participate in at least one class field trip or workshop experience. Please notify your instructor if interested in the Little Jerusalem trip.
From Logan Sleezer: Here's a link to an article about an interesting archaeological application of aerial photography. These Oxford archaeologists are using digital photography taken from a helicopter to preserve potentially important archaeological sites that are being destroyed in countries like Jordan.
Our last lab exercise deals with creating panoramic images—go to lab 6 (due next week). Enjoy the fall break!
|Inflating the helium blimp (left) and blimp in flight with camera rig attached to the keel (right). Blimp measures ~4 m long. At Fort Dodge under light wind in morning.|
|Flying the small delta kite and operating radio control of camera rig (left) at Kansas Veterans Cemetery. Assembling the large rokkaku kite (right) at Finney Wildlife Area. This kite is 7˝ feet tall by 6 feet wide.|
|View westward (left) with Fort Dodge in the foreground and Dodge City in the background. Looking toward the southwest (right) upstream along the dry channel of the Arkansas River, which flows behind Fort Dodge.|
|High-oblique (left) and low-oblique (right) views to the northeast across US highway 400 toward the Kansas Veterans Cemetery. New portion of cemetery to left; older portion to right.|
|High-oblique (left) and low-oblique (right) views over the new portion of the cemetery with the Fort Dodge water tower behind.|
|A prairie dog town (left) extends northward from the cemetery. Note power lines in lower left. Vertical shot (right) over tombstones in the older section of the cemetery.|
|Overview of lake and dam (left). Note algal bloom toward right side of lake. Airphoto crew (right) testing the camera as it is raised on the kite line in a brisk wind. Note long afternoon shadows.|
|Looking upstream (left) with extensive mud flat. Note distinctive mowing patterns. Close-up shot (right) of the mud flat showing dead trees and algae in the water.|
|Finney Wildlife Area in late June 2015, an extremely wet year. Morning view from the eastern side looking westward. Note high level of water and flooded trees on right. Some of these trees died as a consequence of drowning. Kite aerial photograph by SWA and JSA.|
Reminder: The mid-term exam will take place immediately after our field trip.
Yesterday your instructor took visiting professor Toshiro Nagasako to Cheyenne Bottoms in central Kansas. Once again, we were accompanied by former student Gayla Corley. We conducted kite aerial photography under nearly ideal weather conditions. After two wet years, the marsh complex is heavily overgrown with cattail.
|Overview toward the northeast (left) with kite flyers in lower right field of view. Overview looking westward (right) with city of Hoisington in the background.|
|Cattail thicket has a distinctly patchy appearance (left), as some vegetation begins to turn color in the early autumn. Close-up vertical shot (right) shows round and oval-shaped patches of vegetation. Vehicle track at upper left for scale.|
Note: we will take a hiatus for student blog contributions until after the class field trip and mid-term exam.
|Left: visiting professor Toshiro Nagasako (center) and Gayla Corley test a radio-controlled camera rig before launching. Right: overview of site. Areas with prominent ruts are marked (*).|
|Left: view westward with prominent ruts near scene center. Right: vertical shot showing multiple ruts, which are revealed by shadows. Mowed path at bottom is ~1 m wide.|
|Overview of small drainage way and meandering stream at center of site (left), and close-up vertical shot of bridge over stream (right). Bridge is ~2 feet wide. Notice the lush wetland vegetation.|
Tomorrow another optional field trip going to Cheyenne Bottoms in central Kansas. We will also stop briefly at the Lehigh site to collect some additional ground measurements and observations. Departure from the north parking lot at 8 o'clock. Any student who wants to go should notify your instructor! Bring your lunch and beverage.
From Logan Smith: Information about the Albuquerque International Balloon Festival.
Our class field trip is scheduled for Oct. 7-9. Plan for a noon departure from the north parking lot on Friday. We hope to do aerial photography at a site in central Kansas on our way to Ft. Dodge. Return to Emporia will be Sunday afternoon, again with a possible field site in route.
A fee of $32 is due prior to the trip (cash or check). Our rooms at Ft. Dodge are basic barracks style with beds only. There are two shower rooms and two common rooms with TVs and furniture. WiFi is available. Breakfast and sack lunch are provided; we will eat dinners at local restaurants at individual expense. The primary target for aerial photography is Ft. Dodge itself; other potential targets include Horse Thief Canyon reservoir and Finney County wildlife area as well as other sites of opportunity, depending on weather conditions.
Optional field trip with visiting professor Nagasako (see below). Monday we plan to visit a Santa Fe Trail site near Lehigh in Marion County and possibly ESU natural areas in the Flint Hills. Meet at north parking lot at 8:45 o'clock; bring your lunch and beverage. Any student who wants to go should notify your instructor! Otherwise, Wednesday could be another field-trip day.
Thursday, Oct. 6, from 10 - 11:20 o'clock in SH 123 representatives from the Kansas Board of Technical Professionals will visit the Environmental Geology class to discuss Professional Geology licensure. Students from other courses are welcome to attend; this is an excellent opportunity to learn more about professional geology.
|During the first week of October, your instructor will host Assoc. Prof. Toshiro (Toshi) Nagasako, who comes to us from Kagoshima University, Japan. His field of expertise is geography, and he is most interested in learning about kite aerial photography (KAP) for environmental investigations. He will be on campus Oct. 3-6. He hopes to sit in on some class sessions and to take some local field trips.|
KAP field trips would depend on suitable weather conditions and could include ESU natural areas, the Nature Conservancy at Cheyenne Bottoms, and similar sites. Students from ES 555 and 771 are welcome to accompany us on field trips, but space is limited to only two students per trip (due to vehicle restrictions). These trips are optional and would count toward class participation. Time and date of trips will not be known until just a day or two beforehand, based on favorable weather forecasts.
|Drone took off and landed from the folding table at scene center (left). Launching and landing were manually controlled, and the rest of the flight was automated. Notice sun glint from water in wheel rut at upper right. Typical shot taken over a portion of the study-plot area (right). All images rotated so that shadows fall from top to bottom.|
|Cropped in portion of previous image at full resolution (100% display). Notice the bright pink appearance of some people. Certain fabrics and dyes (such as blue jeans) are strongly reflective in near-infrared. Challenge: what is the interpretability rating for this image? Email your response by Wednesday for a class participation bonus point.|
|Mosaic of study-plot area assembled from several dozen vertical shots taken during the drone mission. Take-off and landing site on right; study plots on left. Mowed paths form boundaries between individual study plots. Each plot is approximately 30x30 m in area. Notice ghost image of mowed path beneath trees across top left edge.|
From Logan Smith: Check out the aerial photo index of the United States Antarctic Resource Center.
The UAS (drone) workshop this past weekend featured the Iris platform by 3DRobotics with field demonstration at Ross Natural History Reservation. The main emphasis was on color-infrared photography for analysis of vegetation. The workshop was put on by Deon van der Merwe of Arrow Consulting.
|Mounting a Canon S100 camera on the bottom of the Iris drone (left). The camera takes pictures at a predetermined timing interval, while the drone follows a flight path over the target area. Iris drone lifting off with camera in fixed vertical position (right).|
Following the drone workshop on Saturday, your instructor went to ESU's Ross Natural History Reservation to conduct solo kite aerial photography. The primary target was the newly renovated main building and surrounding facilities. Conditions were nearly ideal—sunny sky, moderate temperature, and NW wind at 10-20 mph, which allowed placing the camera to the south for optimum lighting.
|GPS-enabled Nikon radio-controlled camera rig. High-oblique views looking toward the northeast; both pictures were taken at approximately noon (sun time). Low-height view (left) includes the shadow of the kite in lower left corner. Numerous dead trees (both views) were killed during a wildfire in July 2012.|
|Canon S70 autoKAP camera rig. Overview to the north (left) includes Gladfelter Pond in the left background. Close-up shot (right) depicts the main building and associated structures. The earth science trailer shelter is marked (*). Notice the Internet communication tower on the right; it stands 96 feet tall.|
|Special lighting conditions include the shadow of the kite (>) and the hot spot at the antisolar point (<). Kite flying base station is the mowed area around the telescope mount west of the main building.|
Reminder: the 3RD platform workshop is Sept. 16-17. We need a firm head count of students who plan to attend either or both days. Email your instructor now.
The APIS workshop on Friday and Saturday was quite successful and useful. Demo flights were conducted Friday afternoon on the soccer field, while the marching band practiced nearby. Two DJI Phantons (versions 3 and 4) were flown.
|Left: radio-control manual operation. Note the sun shade around the smart phone display. Right: close-up view of DJI Phanton (version 3) in flight.|
|Left: close-up shot of students and other participants watching a flight demo. Right: typical vertical (nadir) image taken over one corner of the soccer field.|
|Left: high-oblique shots are likely to include the drone blades. Right: DJI Phanton (version 4) lifting off with marching band in background. Note: drones did not fly over the band practice area.|
|Challenge: Cropped, full-resolution (100%) display from a vertical (nadir) shot. Examine this image and notice different features. What is the smallest item that you can identify visually? Check the NIIRS criteria for image interpretability. What level would you rate this image? Send your response by Tuesday morning for a class participation bonus point.|
From Logan Smith: Photographs (aerial and ground) of Mt. Kilauea in Hawaii from USGS.
The DJI Phantom workshop is coming up Sept. 9-10. We need a firm head count of students who plan to attend either or both days. Email your instructor now.
Likewise the 3RD platform workshop is Sept. 16-17. We need a firm head count of students who plan to attend either or both days. Email your instructor now.
Finally our weekend field trip to Fort Dodge is just a month away, Oct. 7-9 (see field trips). Cost of accommodation is $10 per night for two nights. Breakfast and a sack lunch will be provided for Saturday and Sunday at $3 each. Please give a check or cash to your instructor for $32 to cover this cost. Other meals will be at restaurants at individual expense.
Each student will have a single room; nothing fancy, actually old military-style barracks. Bedding and towels are provided, and the showers and bathrooms are common areas. Once again, We need a firm head count of students who plan to participate. Email your instructor now.
From Sawyer Green: I found this article talking about an insurance company using drones to inspect homes in Texas.
Instructor's comment: Under FAA rules that went into effect Aug. 29, this activity would be prohibited under most circumstances for several reasons. Flying a drone in this manner would require a certificate of waiver from the FAA. We will discuss this in more detail later in the semester under legal issues of SFAP.
From Scott Flax: I think this would be something cool to share on the blog. I liked the image of Jeju Island in South Korea (#28) and the photo of the grand canyon from space (#32). Check out astounding photos.
Notice: Your instructor has announced to faculty colleagues and administrators that this will be his last year as a full-time professor at ESU. Retirement will take place at the end of this academic year, May 2017.
Last week your instructor conducted solo KAP from an alluvial fan on the flank of the Sangre de Cristo Mountain range. The weather forecast called for moderate south wind. The reality was wind from the northwest, north and west, and wind speed varied from near-calm to 20-25 mph. In spite of these challenging conditions, good airphotos were acquired with an autoKAP camera rig.
|Left: Blanca Peak reaches 14,345 feet; alluvial fan in foreground is ~7800 feet. Blanca Peak Road is on the left; note vehicle and trailer for scale. Right: alluvial fan sloping from Blanca Peak down into the San Luis valley.|
|Field hazards. Left: deep burrows of a prairie-dog town are a danger for feet and wheels. Right: the alluvial surface is covered by ant hills and prickly pear cactus, which make for difficult walking.|
|The low-height camera casts a shadow on the ground, which is known at the shadow point. Note the bright halo around the shadow, which is called the hot spot, also known as the opposition effect, where no shadows are visible. This happens when the camera is in direct alignment between the sun and the point on the ground. All photos © JSA.|
For a complete summary of kite aerial photography last month in June, go to Slovak KAP.
|Your instructor is now in Poland in connection with the International Planetarium Society conference in Warsaw. It turns out radio-controlled model airplanes, helicopters, and other vehicles are quite popular here, as shown by this van parked outside a model shop.|
One of the issues faced when traveling abroad is different electricity. In the U.S. and Canada, standard outlet electricity is 120 V and 60 Hz. But this varies greatly in other countries around the world ranging from 100 V/50 Hz (Japan) to 240 V/50 Hz (Kenya)—see global electricity. For western and central Europe, the standard is 230 V and 50 Hz. Most portable devices (laptops, tablets, cameras) have transformers that can accept a range of voltages and cycles, but this still leaves the problem of diverse outlet designs.
|Typical power outlet sockets and plug for Slovakia and Poland along with some adapters for American plugs. American plugs include types A and B; most of Europe utilizes types C, E and F—see plug-and-socket types.|
|Complete dji Phantom drone setup with manual radio control, smart phone, drone, and carrying case. The drone can be flown manually or via smart phone programming of flight path and photography. Flight time per battery is a maximum of 15 minutes. The complete package including extra batteries costs about $1500.|
|Drone in flight (left). It weighs about 1˝ kg including camera and battery and can climb to >100 m height. Close-up view of camera (right). A tiny GoPro type of camera with a superwide-angle field of view (140°).|
|Large Aibotix hexacopter drone in the lab. It spans about 1 m and has a payload capacity of 2˝ kg, which could accommodate an SLR-type camera or other thermal or hyperspectral sensors. This high-end drone requires a fully licensed pilot to fly. Cost for the drone and controller is about $18,000; cameras, other sensors, and software are additional.|
|Flight and camera controller (left) and close-up view of copter blade (right). The radio control operates on 2.4 GHz frequency. In contrast, your instructor uses the 72 MHz-band for radio control of kite aerial photography. Both the 2.4 GHz and 72 MHz bands are designated for radio-controlled aircraft in the United States. Check out radio-control frequencies.|
|Vineyards extend across southern slopes of the Zemplinske Hills (left) near the border with Hungary. Individual fields form intricate patterns on the landscape (right). Note small tractor in lower right corner; it is pulling a sprayer between rows of grape vines.|
|Vertical shot (left) and ground view (right) showing alternate row scheme. Every other row is bare for tractors, and intervening rows have plant cover (clover and grass) for walking. Rows are spaced ~2 m apart, just wide enough for a small tractor to pass through.|
|Tokaj Viewing Tower overview (left) and close-up shot (right). The tower is a Swiss-Slovak project constructed in 2015 to resemble a traditional wine barrel. The top platform stands 12 above ground level, which allows panoramic views of surrounding hillside vineyards.|
|Overviews looking toward the Tatry Mountains (left) and across agricultural fields (right). The mountains are part of the larger Carpathian Mountain system of central Europe. Highest peaks are in the clouds and exceed 2600 m (>8500 feet). Agricultural fields in the foreground are developed on fans of glacial outwash gravel.|
|Left: two types of agriculture. Large fields represent cooperative farms that date from Soviet times. Smaller fields are privately owned. Right: long narrow stripes, knowns as "noodles," are each owned and farmed separately. This pattern of farming is a legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.|
|KAP conducted from a fallow and weedy field next to a water-treatment plant (left), and close-up shot of KAP team bringing the camera down (right). The kite-line reel is secured to the car's bumper.|
One aspect of the exchange is to conduct kite aerial photography (KAP) of interesting geological and environmental situations. Traveling overseas with various cameras, kites, radios, batteries, and other equipment is complicated in today's security-conscious world. Furthermore many airlines have restricted number and weight of baggage. Not to mention that each country has different regulations for small-format aerial photography.
|KAP equipment for Slovak faculty exchange. Cargo box and camera case (left). The cargo box contains all kites and associated items, tools, and spare parts. It weighs about 48 pounds (~22 kg) for checked luggage. Camera case (right) has two complete KAP rigs and accessory equipment. This is carry-on luggage weighing only 9 pounds (~4 kg).|
Field trips will be scheduled during selected weekends and Veterans Day depending on suitable (fair) weather. Campus and distance-learning students located in Kansas and adjacent Missouri and Oklahoma are expected to participate in field trips. Other students should consult with your instructor for individual arrangements.
Return to SFAP syllabus or schedule.
ES 555 © J.S. Aber (2016).