Window Seat: Mapping The California High Speed Rail

All Aboard! Time to Map The California High Speed Rail

Hey Window Seaters, today we’re focusing on another one of our monthly projects, the California High Speed Rail. We started photographing the HSR in late 2014 but are only documenting Construction Package 1 (CP 1). There are three other CPs. The CP 1 area is a 32-mile stretch between Avenue 19 in Madera County to East American Avenue in Fresno County. The project includes 12 grade separations, two viaducts, one tunnel, a major river crossing over the San Joaquin River, and the realignment of State Route 99. 

For more information on the other HSR CPs click here!

Our mapping system consists of a flight planner and flight management system to visualize the flight lines and shoot points. The remote display is used by the pilot to fly each line accurately and fire the camera. Our camera sits in a custom manufactured mount at the rear of the aircraft on the floor of the baggage compartment. Our camera of choice is the new 100MP Hasselblad A6D, but because we started shooting the HSR in 2014, we continue to use our Nikon D800 for this project.

Learn more about our mapping system in the video below!

As we near the Madera airport, I make my photo request to Fresno Approach. After that we start setting up the flight computer and my remote monitor is attached. Like most of our photo missions, this is a two person job. One person flying the flight lines and the other to operate the mapping software and help look for traffic.

A photo of me flying a flight line using my remote monitor

Once Fresno Approach is briefed and our mapping software is up and running, we line up for our first flight line. Our HSR flight plan has only grown in the last 6 years and currently consists of not only the 32-mile HSR track which gets flown last, but also small sections of Ave 12, Ave 17, Road 27, and Road 26, flown in that order at 2300ft AGL. Mapping the California High Speed Rail CP-1 project takes 2 hours and produces 815 images.

Once home I move the 815 images from the card to my computer, rename and export them as full size jpgs. I take those images and import them into my Geocoding software. I tell the software to stamp the images with a geotag and the resulting images come out looking like this. 👇

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Once the stamped images are finished, I resize them for google earth and use these images and the geocoding software to create a .kmz. The client can use these files to easily navigate and review specific areas of interest. In the example below I zoom in to show the image we just looked at above.👇

All that’s left to do now is deliver the stamped images and the .kmz to the client via ftp. 


Mapping the California High Speed Rail!

I hope you enjoyed learning a little bit more about what we do at The 111th! Be sure to check back soon to see What’s New at The 111th Aerial Photography!

For more information about our Precise Aerial Survey service or to book us for a shoot contact us at [email protected] or our online form