Will I be able to see my house in an aerial photograph? Will enlarging the image let me see more detail?

It will depend on the resolution and scale of the imagery. High Resolution Orthoimagery and National Agriculture Imagery Program (NAIP) imagery both have a resolution of 1 meter or less so you should be able to see objects as large as houses. 

What you can easily see in an aerial image is mostly a function of scale and resolution. Film resolution is dependent on film type, camera, lens and flight height. Please use the scale field to help search for the resolution that fits your needs. Scales of 1:500 to 1:24,000 are best for identifying buildings. Scales of 1:20,000 to 1:80,000 work well for agriculture and geologic interpretation. Scales in excess of 1:100,000 provide regional assessment information.

Enlarging an aerial photograph will only make the object bigger; it will not add more detail in the object. Photographic resolution (image resolution) deteriorates with each enlargement

Related Content

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Are the scanned aerial photographic images georectified?

The question refers to scanned images of traditional aerial photography film products, and these scans are not georectified. If a customer needs them georectified, they will have to do the registration themselves or have that process performed by a provider of value added services. The USGS does serve other kinds of georectified aerial imagery...

How do I download orthoimagery products and what are the available formats?

Orthoimagery can be downloaded through the Earth Explorer website and The National Map download client . For information about orthoimagery available through EarthExplorer, please look in the “Aerial Photography” category on the EROS - Products Overview website. General information for NAIP orthoimagery available through The National Map download...

What are the prices of aerial photograph products?

USGS/EROS has created medium resolution digital scans at 400 dpi and high resolution scans at 1,000 dpi of the aerial photography products. Both the medium and high resolution aerial photography products can be downloaded at no cost via EarthExplorer or Glovis . A segment of the USGS archives remains on film media that has not yet been scanned...

What do the different colors in a CIR aerial photograph represent?

Color-infrared (CIR) aerial photography - often called false color photography because it renders the scene in other than the normal colors seen by the human eye - is widely used for interpretation of natural resources. Atmospheric haze does not interfere with the acquisition of the image, therefore is well suited to aerial photography. The red...

How much area does an aerial photograph cover?

The area covered by an air photo depends on the scale of the imagery. Most aerial photos were taken on 9 x 9 inch film. The chart below reflects coverage for a variety of photographic scales. Scale 1 inch = feet 1 side (miles) Area (square miles) 1:12,000 1000 1.70 2.9 1:20,000 1667 2.84 8.1 1:24,000 2000 3.41 11.6 1:40,000 3333 5.68 32.3 1:58,000...
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Date published: October 21, 2019

Aerial Photo Scan Reveals Rare Image of Two Airplanes in Flight

Every work day at the USGS Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center, contractor Mike Austad pulls up a chair and begins scanning aerial photographs of the Earth’s surface into the massive public database that is EarthExplorer.

Date published: August 27, 2018

Hazards Data Distribution System Releases Thousands of Aerial Images of Kilauea Impact

The eruptive behavior of the Kilauea volcano that began in May 2018 on Hawaii’s Big Island has created an unparalleled opportunity for understanding volcanic systems.

Date published: November 1, 2016

USGS National Map Orthoimagery Map Services Transition and Other Map Service Changes

As part of The National Map transition to cloud hosting, several of the National Map NAIP Orthoimagery Services will be provided under new URLs.

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Orthoimagery of the Maryland State House, Annapolis, Maryland.
October 31, 2016

Orthoimagery of the Maryland State House, Annapolis, Maryland.

Orthoimagery of the Maryland State House, Annapolis, Maryland.

National Agriculture Imagery Program (NAIP)
July 2, 2011

National Agriculture Imagery Program (NAIP)

A full NAIP scene (top) along with a close-up of the landscape detail from this 2011 tile near Waitsburg, Washington.

Before and after images of coastal change in Cape Lookout National Seashore caused by Hurricane Dorian.

Before and after images of coastal change caused by Dorian in NC

The Longpoint Cabin Camp in Cape Lookout National Seashore was heavily impacted by Hurricane Dorian’s waves and surge. All of the cabins were damaged and one pavilion is gone altogether. The area is now inaccessible  due to the cut from the harbor to the cabins. These cuts were likely formed when surge flowed over the island from the sound side. The dunes in front of the

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National Agriculture Imagery Program aerial photograph (2014) of part of the Upper Missouri River near Poplar, Montana

National Agriculture Imagery Program aerial photograph (2014)

National Agriculture Imagery Program aerial photograph (2014) of part of the Upper Missouri River near Poplar, Montana. The river is flowing from left to right. The complex channel may promote retention of boats as well as drifting pallid sturgeon larvae.