Subproject PHOTO: Photogrammetric analysis of historical photographs

The PHOTO sub-project is being carried out in the research unit
Photogrammetry of the Department of Geodesy and Geoinformation at TU Wien
(Technische Universität Wien). Project leader is Prof. Dr. Norbert Pfeifer.

Modern geodetic methods are established as important tools for monitoring
and analysis of geomorphological processes. However, the earliest systematic
recordings with aerial photographs date back to the middle of the 20th
century. To reconstruct the alpine landscape before 1950, we are dependent
on other sources.

With the advent of alpine tourism and the availability of hand-held cameras
at the end of the 19th century, photographic documentation of the alpine
region began. These photographs, originally taken for touristic purposes,
can be used today to reconstruct the former state of the alpine space.

Based on prominent structures in the photographs (ridge lines, mountain
peaks) and a digital terrain model, the historical photographs can be
georeferenced and rectified. This means, measurements of 3D position in the
historic photographs can be performed. This process, called monoplotting,
makes it possible to draw interesting features (forest boundaries, river
courses) directly in the image as on a topographic map. Until now, this
process involved a lot of manual effort. This led to investigations
concentrating on individual processes or being spatially very limited. The
automatic solutions we develop make it possible for the first time to
process historical photographs of entire regions efficiently and
systematically and to include them in the analysis.