Perhaps you’ve seen them outside London’s Natural History Museum last summer, or else in a Stockholm park, or in any number of places around the world — a travelling exhibit with stunning aerial photographs by Yann Arthus Bertrand. They’ve just now also shown up in Google Earth’s Global Awareness base layer — over 400 of them. Here’s the layer’s official site, and here is the blog announcement.
These photos provide hours’ worth of ogling pleasure. Until now, my main frustration with them was wondering where they were taken. No more. My new frustration with them is that they are georeferenced but not — we need to neologize here — geopositioned, by which I mean placed as overlays in Google Earth with the tilt and roll and zoom and field of view set just so, so that we can see exactly where the shot was taken from.
To show you what I mean, I took a photo of islands in a lake in Egypt’s Siwa oasis and positioned it in Google Earth so that when you fly into the picture, it “exactly” matches the view in Google Earth. Here is the KMZ file.
I confess it took me a long time to fidget with the controls to get that image to fit, but I was trying to make a point:-) Use the opacity slider to check the accuracy.
Geopositioning all photos is not really a scalable proposal — unless we all did one each, of course. Also, not all images lend themselves to this treatment — some are too close, others are of inconstant patterns such as drifting sandbanks.
Voila, yet another way Google Earth will quash your productivity — unless you can call it “research” for a blog post:-)
[Update 17:10 UTC: It just struck me that it would be very cool if there were to be a button in Google Earth that let you "paint" that photo from that perspective on top of the base layer, taking into account the height mesh (DEM) data and buildings, so that you could subsequently fly over it. I have no idea whether that would be a trivial feature to implement, but it is definitely where research projects are headed, and it would make for a great way to turn 2D images into 3D images. Google's PhotoOverlay controls are obviously sufficient to accurately geoposition such a shot. Scalability remains the main problem, here, I think.]