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Maps & Aerial Photos

Five Local Counties: 1928-2010

Search our entire database of flightsIndividual photos from digitized flights can be viewed online.

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Oultine map of Central California Counties

Aerial photos may be viewed:

  • By Appointment - Temporarily suspended (due to COVIC-19) until campus reopens. 
    • Tuesdays, Wednesdays & Thursdays between 1- 4 pm 
    • Schedule appointments via the Orange button below
    • At least one day in advance
  • All Appointments
    • Check-in at the Media Desk, Digital Scholarship Commons, ground floor of McHenry Library (map).
  • Directions and Parking for McHenry Library

How to read an Aerial Photo

An aerial photo is any photograph taken from the air. Most aerial photographs in the UCSC collection are vertical images (straight down) and nearly all flights include stereo pairs. Each flight includes a flight data sheet that describes:

  • Geographic extent of the flight
  • Altitude of aircraft, scale of the resulting images
  • Format and other important data 
  • Read more: What is an Aerial Photograph?

Types of photos:

  • Black & White - Good contrast and detail. 
  • Color - Sometimes easier to identify familiar objects using the color. Earliest color photos are from 1973.
  • Color-Infrared - Shows landscape features that otherwise aren't very clear. See Understanding Color Infrared (CIR) Aerial Photography 

What is scale?

  • Scale is the ratio between the size of the object in the photo compared to the actual size of the object, indicated by: 1:4200, 1:7200, etc. The smaller the number after the colon, the closer to the ground the picture was taken. 
  • For examples, see UC Santa Barbara's explanation of Aerial Photography Scale 

What can you see?

  • Larger features (e.g. shores, mountains, the larger rivers, etc.)  If the scale is under 1:15,000, possibly roads, parks, individual buildings, etc.
  • Sequences of aerials of the same area 
  • See Introduction to Aerial Photo Interpretation 

What can't you see?

  • Small features if scale is over 1:15,000
  • Buildings and structures that might be obstructed by trees

Aerial Photos

Aerial photo of Santa Cruz California 1956-B Santa Cruz County Flight CJA 4R-92

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Using A Stereoscope

Find Digitized Aerial Photos