Close Range Photogrammetry

Principles, Methods, and Applications


by Thomas Luhmann, Stuart Robson, Stephen Kyle, Ian Harley

Whittles Publishing, 2006


Reviewed by

Kai Huang (Australia)

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Photogrammetry is a fascinating subject whose aim is to derive the shape and location of an object from one or more of its photographs. This is achieved by constructing a three dimensional digital model of the object. As the authors describe, "the task is to determine a number of unknown parameters of a model from a number of observed (measured) values which have a functional relationship to each other."

Using interesting examples and illustrative figures, the authors begin with an overview of the fundamentals of photogrammetry, explaining the basic principles of photogrammetric systems, the general procedures of constructing mathematical models from objects, the applications of photogrammetry, and cast glimpses at this technology from the historical perspective.

The authors carry on to: elaborate the mathematical fundamentals of photogrammetry; present details about the coordinate systems and the transformations of image, camera, object, model, and 3D instrument; discuss the general techniques of model parameter adjustments for improving the accuracy of photogrammetric measurements; and enumerate the common geometric components used in object modelling and their mathematical parameters in equation form. This information sets the frame of reference in accurate mathematical descriptions, and is very valuable to readers new to this field.

An extensive survey on imaging technologies follows, in which the authors describe a wide variety of applications and instrumentation used in capturing accurate object images for photogrammetry. Apart from the commonly found imaging concepts such as single and stereo imaging configuration, optical imaging lenses, and cameras, the authors elaborate on numerous analogue and digital imaging equipments and detail their applications and strengths and weaknesses to help readers to select the right tool for the job. I especially value the information provided by the authors on the sources of imaging errors, e.g. optical distortion and sensor deformation, and thermal effects including drifting, blooming and smear. These are scattered at various places in the text associated with the corresponding types of instrumentation, and they provide fascinating insights into how to minimise the effects of these system errors. A few selectively included numerical examples also help to enhance the understanding of the functions of various imaging system parameters.

The authors present a substantial collection of analytical methods for photogrammetric measurements, which are essential for calculating the orientation parameters, object coordinates, and its geometric elements. These methods are classified from several perspectives: according to the number of images involved, e.g. single images, stereo image pairs, and multiple images; according to the type of photogrammetric settings, e.g. straight lines optics, multi-media where light refraction occurs at media interfaces, and panoramic techniques; and according to the type of parameters to be estimated, e.g. orientation, bundle triangulation, and object reconstruction. This is the most difficult part of the whole book, and I am still puzzled by how bundle adjustment actually works. Many readers would probably need to go through this chapter carefully more than once to fully understand it. Here again the clear illustrations and the inclusion of selected numerical examples in grey boxes greatly enhance the material described.

Next, digital image processing techniques that are useful in photogrammetry are discussed. These include image pyramid, image compression, image transformation, histogram- and filter-based image enhancement techniques, e.g. contrast enhancement, edge extraction, morphological operations, 3D visualisation and reconstruction, and image matching techniques. The authors provide adequate general introduction of digital image processing. Moreover, the techniques closely related to photogrammetry, such as contour following, feature point extraction, and image matching under geometric constraints, are appropriately emphasized.

In the survey of practical photogrammetric measuring systems, the authors classify them into comparators, single camera systems, stereoscopic processing systems, and multi-image measuring systems. The operating principles of representative systems are illustrated well with clear figures, and photos of actual instruments are also provided as appropriate.

The chapter on measurement concepts and solutions in practice enumerates the set of general principles to follow in order to achieve good calibration for photogrammetric measurement accuracy. In addition to the static settings, this chapter also touches upon dynamic photogrammetry and close-range aerial imagery. The chapter is relatively short.

The last chapter on example applications gives a list of tasks accomplished with close-range photogrammetry and also a taste of things to come. Analytical stereo instruments and increasingly digital multi-image systems are being employed on the architecture and cultural heritage fronts. Photogrammetric reconstructions of the Siena Cathedral and the historic Gunpowder Tower in Oldenburg are two stunning examples. Similarly, for engineering surveying and civil engineering, the applications include measuring shape and deformation of large structures, such as steel converters and underground tunnels. Power stations and industrial plants utilise 3D photogrammetric techniques to record the complex structures and arrangements of pipes and machinery. There are also numerous applications in car, ship, aircraft and space industries, as well as examples in medicine and forensics.

There is a list of references at the end of each chapter for readers to dive in for more details. The references are mostly journal and book publications before or near the year 2000. The book also includes several coloured brochures at the end from companies that provide 3D photogrammetric measurement systems and services, followed by an index of the technical terms.

This book contains much useful background information and reference material. It is easy to read mostly due to the well presented illustrations and large figures and diagrams that intelligently employ the use of red ink lines and markings to good effect. I especially value the inclusion of practical aspects in this book, e.g. the 3D model parameter adjustment and bundling triangulation techniques for improving modelling accuracy. However, the chapter on solution in practice is a bit too short. Interested readers can make good use of the list of references. In my opinion, this book is a good starting point for sourcing information on close-range photogrammetry. It is suitable for academics and engineers who wish to understand how it works and look into applying photogrammetric techniques in practical situations.

Click above to go to the publisher’s web page for more information about this book.

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