On February 21, 1849, French-Canadian surveyor Édouard-Gaston Deville was born. Deville perfected the first practical method of photogrammetry, the making of maps based on photography.
Édouard-Gaston Deville served in the French navy and conducted hydrographic surveys in the South Sea islands and Peru. In 1874, he moved to Canada. one year later, Deville became surveyor and astronomer in Quebec and was soon appointed the province’s top surveyor, Inspector of Surveys. Édouard-Gaston Deville was designated Dominion Topographic Surveyor and in 1880 he joined the survey for homesteads in the Prairie provinces with the Department of the Interior in Ottawa. Deville was occupied with directing Canadian surveying activities.
In order to be able to meet the challenges of surveying in the Rocky Mountains, Édouard-Gaston Deville began experimenting with mapping methods developed by French army engineer Aimé Laussedat. Deville made use of Laussedat’s principle of elevated photography, and refined a technique of creating large-scale maps from these photographs. Deville then began to design and construct a lightweight field camera that could be carried long distances.
Deville’s camera probably was used for the first time in the Rocky Mountains in 1886. To use it, the surveyors would place the camera on a mountain peak, point the lens at the horizon and take panoramic shots of the surrounding peaks. Each view would be measured in relation to the survey station. Surveyors took photos in the short summer season, then would complete their calculations and mapping in their offices during the winter. This allowed larger areas to be surveyed more accurately, in less time, and at one-third the cost of conventional surveying.
Édouard-Gaston Deville first introduced his new mapping technology at the 1983 Chicago World Fair and it soon became known as phototopography or photogrammetry.
The American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing defined photogrammetry as the art, science, and technology of obtaining reliable information about physical objects and the environment through processes of recording, measuring and interpreting photographic images and patterns of recorded radiant electromagnetic energy and other phenomena. With the arrival of fixed-wing aircraft, surveyors could use Deville’s camera to create aerial photographs for surveying flat and remote parts of the country, as well as regions with high elevations.
Photogrammetry had a large effect in the field of topographic mapping, architecture, engineering, manufacturing, quality control, police investigation, geology, meteorology, and even film. For instance, by means of photogrammetry meteorologists are able to determine the actual wind speed of a tornado where objective weather data cannot be obtained. Photogrammetry was used in The Matrix to combine live action with computer-generated imagery and also Star Wars Battlefront applied the technology.
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