Getting a Lay of the Land Using Aerial Maps
Aerial maps are basically photographs taken from above, generally from an airplane. These maps show detailed information about specific areas or topography. Online aerial maps do the same thing as traditional printed aerial maps, except that you can manipulate them more. For example, you can pull up aerial photographs of certain cities, and then zoom into a particular neighborhood. Then, you can see the layout of houses, streets and commercial buildings.
Using Aerial Maps for Monitoring
You can use aerial maps for different purposes. One way to use them is to monitor certain areas, which is what agencies like the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forestry Service do. They can zoom into a particular camping area and determine whether or not camper use is affecting the area.
Officials will watch how the grasses have changed and whether or not the area has been affected by erosion. This helps them decide whether or not they should allow the camping area to remain open to public use.
Using Aerial Maps for Scouting
You can also use aerial maps to scout out certain areas. If a photographer is looking for a place to set up to take photographs of a certain type of city layout, they can zoom in and out of areas of their city to determine where they can find this exact layout.
Another way to use aerial maps for scouting is when you are searching for places off the beaten path. As a photographer, sometimes you want to get to places where people do not normally go. For example, some lakes in Canada can only be found by GPS. So, you need to know what you are looking for before you go searching. Further, many aerial photographs will provide you with both the topography and the coordinates.
Where to Find Aerial Maps Online
Google Maps, Bing Maps and TerraServer.com all offer aerial maps. Most of these sites are free. But, if you want really detailed maps, you will probably have to purchase them.