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  • Photography and photomontage in landscape and visual impact assessmentLandscape Institute Advice Note 01/11

  • Landscape Institute Photography and photomontage in landscape and visual impact assessment

    Advice 01/11 Page 1

    Contents

    1.0 Purpose and background

    2.0 Current guidance

    3.0 Principles of photography and photomontage3.1 Objectives3.2 Criteria for photomontages3.3 Viewpoint selection3.4 Field of view

    4.0 Photography 4.1 Cameras4.2 Lenses 4.3 Setting up and recording data

    5.0 Printing and viewing images5.1 Producing the photomontage5.2 Producing photomontages

    6.0 Summary

    References

    Technical appendix: Digital photography

  • Landscape Institute Photography and photomontage in landscape and visual impact assessment

    Advice 01/11 Page 2

    1.0 Purpose and background

    The purpose of this Advice Note is to provide advice to the landscape professional on photography and photomontage methods in landscape and visual impact assessment. It does not consider the use of photography or photomontage for other purposes, such as promoting or exhibiting a scheme.

    Photographs and photomontages often form an important part of planning applications and Environmental Statements, in which the preparation and presentation of reliable visual information is integral to the assessment of landscape and visual impacts. Photographs and photomontages are technical documents in this context, and should be produced and used in a technically appropriate manner.

    It is essential to recognise that: Two-dimensional photographic

    images and photomontages alone cannot capture or reflect the complexity underlying the visual experience, and should therefore be considered an approximation of the three-dimensional visual experiences that an observer would receive in the field;

    As part of a technical process, impact assessment and considered judgements using photographs and/or photomontages can only be reached by way of a visit to the location from which the photographs were taken.

    This Advice Note was prepared by members of the Landscape Institute (LI) Technical Committee, in consultation with LI members and technical experts experienced in photography, photomontage and landscape and visual impact assessment. It will be reviewed and updated as necessary to reflect the rapid pace of change in digital photography and related technologies.

    2.0 Current guidance

    This Advice Note supersedes LI Advice Note 01/09. The LIs guidance on photography and photomontage in landscape and visual impact assessment in Appendix 9 of Guidelines for Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment 2nd ed (2002) remains relevant.

    Scottish Natural Heritages Visual representation of windfarms: good practice guidance states that the guidance may also be applicable to other forms of development or within other locations (SNH 2006, para 15). The LI endorses this guidance and strongly advises members to follow this where applicable in preference to any other guidance or methodology.

    When regulatory authorities specify their own photographic and photomontage requirements, the landscape professional should carefully consider whether they are justified, or whether they would under- or over-represent likely effects, in the professionals opinion. Consideration may then be given to adding images to the impact assessment, or omitting them, and explaining the reasons for doing so.

  • Landscape Institute Photography and photomontage in landscape and visual impact assessment

    Advice 01/11 Page 3

    3.1 ObjectivesThe overall aim of photography and photomontage is to represent the landscape context under consideration and the proposed development, both as accurately as is practical.

    The objective of photography for visual and landscape impact assessment is to produce printed images of a size and resolution sufficient to match the perspective and, as far as possible, the detail in the same view in the field (SNH 2006, para C12-21) and which can also serve as an accurate aide-memoire once the observer has left the field.

    The objective of a photomontage is to simulate the likely visual changes that would result from a proposed development, and to produce printed images of a size and resolution sufficient to match the perspective in the same view in the field.

    3.2 Criteria for photomontages Photomontages use photographs of an actual scene modified by the insertion of an accurate representation of the visible changes brought about by the proposed development. They are subject to the same inherent limitations as photographs, for example only showing the scene as it would appear under the same conditions that prevailed when the original photograph was captured. A properly constructed photomontage can serve as a useful means of indicating the potential visual effect of a future development, however.

    The LI recommends that for landscape and visual impact assessment purposes a photomontage should:

    be reproduced at a size and level of geometric accuracy to permit impact assessment, which must include inspection at the location where the photograph was taken;

    be based on a replicable, transparent and structured process, so that the accuracy of the representation can be verified, and trust established;

    use techniques, with appropriate explanation, that in the opinion of the landscape professional best represent the scheme under consideration and its proposed environment accurately as possible;

    be easily understood, and usable by members of the public and those with a non-technical background;

    be based on a good quality photographic image taken in representative weather conditions

    3.3 Viewpoint selectionThe landscape professional should select a set of photographic viewpoints which are considered representative of the range of likely effects, viewing experiences and viewers, ensuring that none are under- or over-represented. Viewpoints should be agreed with the regulatory authority or authorities where possible, and with other parties as considered necessary.

    3.4 Field of viewThe most appropriate combination of lens, camera format and final presentation of image should be deployed to represent the relevant landscape. This is likely to include both the site of the proposed scheme and its context, so that a schemes appearance and its place within its environment can be recognised and understood. The proposal under consideration and its relevant landscape context will determine the horizontal field of view required for photography and photomontage from any given viewpoint. This will in turn determine whether a single-frame image will suffice or whether a panorama will be required.

    While a standard lens giving a horizontal field of view of about 40 degrees may be suitable for some purposes, a single-frame photograph based on this field of view is unlikely to convey the breadth of visual information required to represent a proposed development and relevant context. If the required field of view is only slightly greater than 40 degrees, a wide-angle lens or wide-angle setting on a zoom lens may be appropriate. Where it is much greater than 40 degrees, a panoramic image produced by the careful stitching together of single-frame images, or the use of a suitable true panoramic camera, can provide a more informative representation of the effect of a development in the landscape (SNH 2006, Technical Appendix B).

    The horizontal field of view is usually more relevant to representations of rural and peri-urban landscapes. The vertical field of view may be more important in urban landscapes, however, in which case it may be necessary to use a wide-angle lens or wide-angle setting on a zoom lens. The camera may be used in portrait orientation for panoramic as well as single-frame images.

    3.0 Principles of photography and photomontage

  • Landscape Institute Photography and photomontage in landscape and visual impact assessment

    Advice 01/11 Page 4

    4.1 CamerasA good quality camera and lens are essential to the production of photographs and photomontages for landscape and visual impact assessment work. Many good quality digital cameras are suitable, but it is essential to consider the whole process from field procedure to post-processing to printing in order to choose equipment which will give results of the accuracy required.

    A camera with a fairly high resolution will be required to produce sufficiently good-quality images to be reproduced at the size required: a 12 megapixel sensor is usually sufficient. This resolution outperforms 35mm colour print film in terms of both image resolution and graininess. The lens used must be of a sufficiently high optical quality to take advantage of the sensors resolution.

    Change in all aspects of photography and photomontage have taken place over the last ten years. 35mm colour film and the associated cameras and lenses have been almost completely supplanted by digital cameras; digital image processing is now a fundamental element of photography, both within the firmware of the camera and as a subsequent operation on a computer, and printing has become wholly digital, using a wide variety of devices offering different qualities of output. Future changes will undoubtedly further change the parameters for landscape photography.

    4.2 Lenses The use of 35mm film and a 50mm focal length standard lens as a reference standard, while still valid, is now somewhat outdated. That combination of lens and film gives a horizontal field of view of a little under 40 degrees.

    Use of a fixed focal length lens ensures that the image parameters of every photograph are the same, simplifies the construction of panoramas, and ensures compatibility of photography for all vi