Many people who visit our website wonder why we haven’t made a digital library for our large collection of aerial pictures. We have more than 10 million aerial photos, with some going back to the early 1960s. Turning each one of them into a digital file is a massive job. But we want you to know that we’ve thought about it. Even though we have lots of landmarks and well-known places stored digitally, many pictures of private properties or commercial businesses in the UK are only in our physical collection.
To understand how we find these old pictures, let’s look at the process step by step.
Step 1: Finding the Location
When we start searching for these old pictures, the first thing we need is to know where the place is. It could be a cosy cottage in the countryside or a smart townhouse in a busy city. Finding the exact spot is really important.
You help us with the first step by sending in your requests. When you do that, you tell us valuable information about the image you are looking for. You might give us the place’s name or its postcode. You might even describe it in detail. We use all this information, along with postcodes and maps, to find out exactly where it is.
Step 2: Matching with Flight Paths
Once we know the postcode and location, we use flight records to match the information to our archives. The flight records are maps that show us where and when we took the aerial photographs.
We have several thousand flight record maps dating back to the early 1960s from which we can identify the years in which photographs were taken.
Step 3: Finding the Picture in our Archive
Once we have the time frame, we go to our physical archive, all organised by the flights they were taken on. Each flight has a special code and usually represents one trip from an airfield to a place on a certain day. We use the flight info and the date to start searching for the picture in our stacks of stored film.
Step 4: Scanning & Enhancing
After we find the photo, we move to the digital part. We carefully take out the picture and get it ready for scanning. We’re careful to capture every tiny detail, even the smallest things. Once it’s digital, we use modern technology to enhance the photograph. We highlight all the rich details and make the colours look great, especially if they’ve faded over time.
Step 5: Printing
The last part is printing. We turn the improved digital image into a poster, canvas or framed photograph with varying sizes depending on what you want! This printed picture is a piece of history you can hold in your hands and can make a great conversation piece in your home or an even better gift to a loved one.
In the end, our journey to find and preserve these aerial pictures is a detailed process that has been going on for years. We mix technology with the classic art of photography. We’re proud of the work we do, making sure these old pictures are available for people who want to see them. Finding these images can be a bit tricky, but we’re excited and dedicated to doing it. So, whether you’re a history fan or just curious about the past, know that our collection has lots of amazing pictures waiting for you to discover.
If you want to request a search for an old aerial image of either an old childhood home or a special location feel free to contact us today!