Wednesday 18 April 2018

Infrared photos on 'Britain from Above'

My attention was recently drawn to an amazing, and freely viewable, archive of aerial images on the Britain from Above site. This features images from the Aerofilms collection of 1.26 million negatives dating from 1919 to 2006 which also includes the AeroPictorial (1934-1960) and Airviews (1947-1991) collections.

As you probably expect, I tried a search on infrared and up came 39 hits, all from the 1930s. This is the link to that search and here is an example image ...

The photograph shows the River Thames in London from Westminster Bridge to the sea, seen from the west, and was taken in 1934.

As with all the images here, there is some patterning from the original negatives but they look to have been taken from the open cockpit of a biplane (wing struts are visible in some) and date from 1932, 1934 and 1937. In 1932, off-the-shelf infrared plates were just appearing in shops, from Kodak and Ilford (and possibly others) so this is really early days. The earliest images in the collection predate the aerial shots published in the Times, and are not of such good quality, but I count them as historic nonetheless.

If you're interested in further aerial infrared adventures from the 1930s then please check out my post Biggles shoots infrared photographs over Mount Everest.