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Mapping at Night

Specialty Aerial Photo Missions

Posted on December 11, 2020

An Unusual and Challenging Project

Most of our flying is during the day, with clear skies in the late mornings or early afternoons, in order to get the best lighting possible. Every once in awhile, however, we need to fly at night. These night missions are much more technical, as the lighting is usually very extreme (very light and very dark with little in-between) and finding the project sites becomes a bit more challenging. Mapping the before and after photos of an municipal LED lighting retrofit was one of our more unique and memorable aerial photo missions.

The City of Temecula, California, is just one of eleven jurisdictions participating in the WRCOG Regional Streetlight Program, which will retrofit street lighting to energy efficient LED fixtures, saving the jurisdictions tens of millions of dollars in lower energy usage and reduced maintenance costs. Another benefit to new LED fixtures is how it redirects the light to the streets and away from the skies, reducing light pollution, which affects human health, wildlife behavior, and has become a global issue.

The City of Temecula in 2019, before the LED fixture retrofit

At first look it appears as if the LED retrofit made the entire city a bit darker and less well-lit, but upon closer inspection, it becomes evident that the LED lighting provides much more coverage on the streets below than the previous lighting fixtures. The reduction in light pollution is also instantly noticeable, as the LED lights are focused downward, reducing wasted light and maximizing each individual street light to illuminate as much road as possible.

As seen in the before and after photos above, the LED lighting is much more diffused than the previous lighting fixtures had been. The cooler color of the LED fixtures is also easier on the eyes, ideally providing improved illumination without impacting driver's night vision.

We hope to see more cities adopt the LED retrofits, as the benefits seem to greatly outweigh the disadvantages.

The City of Temecula in 2020, after the LED fixture retrofit