Aerial Photography FAQs

Do you have aerial photographs of my site?

We have aerial photography of all of Oregon and much of western Washington. Years and scales available vary depending on where your site is located. Please contact us for detailed coverage information for an area. You may get a general idea of coverage from our guides at: Cities, National Forests, BLM Districts. (These guides do not list full coverage for every area.)

What years are available?

Our earliest Oregon coverage is from 1929 but the majority of coverage is for years 1935 to 2005. If your site is in western Oregon, we may have coverage as far back as the 1930s. If your site is in eastern Oregon, our earliest coverage is likely to be the 1950s. We can provide you with details on years and scales that we probably have for your site before you request your photography.

Can I make a request if I am not a University of Oregon student, faculty or staff?

Yes! Fill out the "Public Request" version of our request form. Contact us with any questions. Public requests may be submitted by private individuals, companies, government agencies, non-profits, etc. A fee is charged to defray staff research and handling costs.

How do I request access to the aerial photographs?

Use the appropriate form to submit your request. Be sure to provide a map, so our researchers can quickly and correctly locate the aerial photography you request.

Academic Request Form (current UO student/researcher engaged in teaching or research [non-commercial] use. An email address is required)

Public Request Form (non-academic requests, fee-based)

What is an academic request?

Current students, faculty, and staff at the University of Oregon may request to view aerial photography for class work, teaching, or research related to their work at the University of Oregon. We do not charge research fees for academic requests. Academic requestors may work with UO Libraries staff to scan photographs in the Libraries or have Library staff deliver digital copies.

How long does it take to process my request?

Typical turnaround is 3-4 business days. However, large areas or in depth research may require more time.

What will I get when I make a request?

Public requestors receive scans of photographs in our collection that show their site and adjacent area. Scans are delivered via web download or mailed on a DVD if requested. File format is JPEG unless TIFF, or PDF are specified. Other file formats may be available upon request.

Academic requestors are notified when we have pulled the aerial photographs of your site. We will provide you with scans if a limited number of photographs are requested. You may request to work with the physical photographs in Knight Library under staff supervision.

What is the smallest object I will be able to view in the photograph?

The amount of detail you will be able to see depends on the scale at which the photography was flown, the quality of the film used, and the resolution of the scans we make. Many of our aerial photographs are at 1:12,000; 1:20,000; or 1:24,000 scale. The formula for ground pixel dimension is: inverse scale of photography ÷ 12 inches ÷ dpi resolution = feet ground distance per pixel.

The minimum sized object you'll be able to detect in a 1:20,000 scale image scanned at 600 dpi is 2.8 feet (that is 20000/12/600) and at 1200 dpi is 1.4 feet. This is theoretical and does not consider the quality/resolution of the film.

If you prefer a scale or range of scales, indicate it in the "Special Instructions" section of the request form.

Can I view the photographs before purchasing digital copies?

When submitting your request, check the "Do not scan" button in the Duplication and Delivery section. This tells us to pull the photos and contact you before scanning them. Do this when you are unsure of which years you would like for your site or if you would like to know pricing before the final processing of your request. You may make an appointment to come in and view the photographs under supervision of trained Library staff. You will not be allowed to scan or photocopy the items for the protection of the collection. If you request to view photography but do not purchase scans, you will still be charged the $35 set-up fee.

How long will I be able to access the copies I purchase?

We provide Online access to images we scan for 90 days. After 90 days they are removed from the file server. Please download and save the photos to your computer when you receive the link we send you. We cannot guarantee access beyond the 90 days without charging to re-do the research.

What is a "Phase 1" request?

Many of our researchers are doing environmental site assessment research reports for land purchase or development permits, and this is terminology typically used for that research. A Phase 1 request is for historic aerial images with approximately 10 year intervals between photos. Where we have a choice of images from different flights, we select the best resolution and quality. A Phase 2 environmental site assessment calls for approximately 2 photos per decade (every 5-7 years). Requirements for a Phase 3 are all available imagery.

What do the photo file names mean?

The standard file name format is [Year of Flight]_[Project Code]_[Roll #]-[Frame #]

If additional information is needed, indicate that in the Special Instructions area of the request form. There is no charge for providing basic additional information such as scale, exact date, and agency that flew the photographs. Exact date and scale are not always available.

What can I do with the aerial photograph scans I purchase?

  • You may store your images indefinitely, derive new data from them, and give the photos to your own clients. We understand that copies of the photos are included in environmental assessment reports and other research products. We do not consider this to be publishing the photos.
  • If you would like publish a photo in a book, journal, or online, please contact the Aerial Photography Research Service to negotiate a publication license for our imagery.
  • The images provided are for your personal use and storage. The University maintains copyright over the electronic scans we make and for some of the source imagery.