Gloucestershire and West Lothian Aerial Archaeology


John Wells DPhil (Oxon) FRSB FSRP


Kite Aerial Photographer

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Retired Research Radiation Biophysicist

Armadale (Scotland) & Stroud (England)


docjohnwells gmail.com

Linkedin


Primary Interest

Archaeological Aerial Thermography and Near Infrared Photography


I have been interested in photography since the 1950s. In the 1960s and early 70s (working with fully manual cameras) I enjoyed capturing night scenes, one of which won a national competition. The prize was an auto-exposure SLR, a technology that was not overly helpful for long exposures due to reciprocity failure. Wet streets following rainfall were often a key ingredient of the nightscapes, a consideration that would reappear for thermal imaging over 40 years later.







My training and profession have involved a range of image gathering techniques ( X-ray crystallography, photomicroscopy, corona discharge photography and autoradiography etc). Geophysical methods of investigation often involve logging soil resistance or magnetic data points, one at a time, which are used to form an array of 'pixels', which is then refined through appropriate processing to form an image. Both within and outwith the visible spectrum, imaging is mass data point collection and should be performed under optimal conditions (for the technique and site of choice) and the resulting images processed to extract the maximum amount of inherent information. Standard photographic visualisation is only a starting point.











John and the late Rosie Wells are the yellow dots (Cairnpapple 2011)


  Our Register of Kite Aerial Photographers and Kite Remote Sensing Specialists




Cairnpapple 2009



West Lothian Archaeological Trust 2012-2019 Archive


Rathrar, Rathbarna Quadrivalleted Enclosure Complex, Co. Roscommon, by SNAPS recipient Christy Lawless.


Our Scottish National Aerial Photography Scheme (SNAPS - UK & Ireland) 2013-2016 Archive




Helicopter aerial photo over Bussage village

Family outing in a helicopter over our village, Bussage, Gloucestershire, in the 1980s.


Chichen Itza, another aerial image before we did kite aerial photography.

(Note the nostalgic scratch from the days of film)



Archeoscan Excavation of a Roman building at Nesley Farm, Gloucestershire, in 2011.

John is on the right and Rosie is out of shot flying the kite.

(click on image for larger version)



How We Started Doing Kite Aerial Photography


2006 - 2012



A section from one of six West Lothian Council display boards on our work.


2012





West Lothian Aerial Archaeology


West Lothian Aerial Archaeology Archive 2007-2018


with Cade Wells

Cade is a Chartered Engineer with an MEng in Computer Systems Engineering awarded by the University of Bangor and a Doctorate (Image Processing and Machine Vision SoC) awarded by the universities of Edinburgh, Glasgow, Heriot Watt and Strathclyde. Additionally, he has a postgraduate certificate in business administration (Edinburgh) and a graduate certificate in psychology (BCU), along with training in digital forensics elsewhere, including Shrivenham (Cranfield University).


Left to Right - Rosie, Cade and John Wells, Jim Knowles and Heidi (Wells) Walker on Cairnpapple. Jim was the only qualified archaeologist in the group. He also has an MSc in computing.

2012


Kinneil Roman fortlet with excavation features on the extreme right (North) from ~30 year before.

An inverted, near infrared kite aerial photo captured in wind-free conditions.

2011



Peace Knowe hillfort viewed from the northern side.

2010


Gloucestershire Aerial Archaeology

with Heidi Walker

Heidi is a design manager who initially studied at the Stroud School of Art, with some time at The Slade, followed by degrees in illustration and design at the universities of The West of England and Brighton. Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator are areas of expertise.


A field east of Coaley: Google data, Houseprices Lidar Map and the same emphasised with GIMP.*

2017

* For example, load the image into GIMP. Go to the drop-down menu headed FILTERS. Go down to EDGE DETECT and select DIFFERENCE OF GAUSSIANS.  Deselect INVERT and wind up RADIUS 2 until you can see the feature in the preview box and click OK. Then go to the COLOURS drop-down menu, select AUTO and click on EQUALISE. Then go back to the COLOURS menu and go down to LEVELS and select AUTO.
When out and about, you can use DETAILS or ACCENTUATE (several times) in Snapseed on your phone to produce a similar result.


Parch marks at Gyde House, Painswick, emphasised with GIMP by manipulating the colour channels.

2018



A vertical view of Whitfield's Tump (centre) through an 850nm infrared filter with a golfing green below (west) and the site of the old Stroud Water Company reservoir to the top right (south-east).

2019


Another Way to Take Aerial Photos

North Cerny

Heidi 'Wing' Walker

2017


Heidi in flight



The Simplest Approach to Aerial Thermography and Photography


The simplest way to start kite aerial photography is with an ActionCamera, selfie stick (2) and ~1m2, or larger, kite. A larger ~3m/9ft delta with fuzzy tail is a good general purpose kite, eg 1 & 2.



GoPro type set-up and variant for a phone, with or without a Flir One thermal imager which must be secured, eg with PVC tape. The larger stick has lockable sections.

 


Heidi, John and Cade.

2019


http://drjohnwells.uk