Photography vs. Photogrammetry

Photography vs. Photogrammetry


Photogrammetry is making measurements and models from photographs. It’s been around almost as Photography. It’s at the heart of what makes something like Matterport tick. You capture a lot of photographic data and it gets (almost) magically reconstructed as a series of 3-dimensional points. This is what allows something like the Dollhouse View to be possible.

So, in a sense Photogrammetry requires Photography, but it’s only one piece of the puzzle.

With traditional “old school” photography, you are capturing one single shot as perfectly as possible. You line up the camera, zoom, focus, all that jazz. Don’t even get me started on camera settings we’ll be talking about f-stops all day. You are a master of light and shadow, and you carefully add artificial light to the scene to create the perfect image. It’s all about that one shot, that one moment. And if it’s commercial photography most of the time it’s nothing close to reality. But darn it looks good.

Now imagine trying to photograph every angle, every square centimetre, from as many angles as possible. That’s Photogrammetry in a nutshell. At least that’s how I try to explain it. Photogrammetry is about the entire space, not just the best version of that space in one 2D snapshot.

Wikipedia describes what I do like this:

“Stereophotogrammetry is emerging as a robust non-contacting measurement technique to determine dynamic characteristics and mode shapes of non-rotating[5][6] and rotating structures.”

That really gets people energized at networking events.

I adopted the moniker of “3D Photographer” because I think it neatly and simply explains what I do. I’m still doing Photography; I’m capturing a space using light and space. But I have to move through the space and capture every angle, every detail. I take millions of shots going through a space, not just a couple dozen.

This is what I love to do: To capture a space in its entirety, and render it in a way previously impossible.

I consider 3D Photography (aka ‘Photogrammetry’) to be the next evolution of Photography, like Film or the DSLR. We are going to be using it in our every day lives before too long, and once you know about it, you’re going to start seeing it everywhere.