Understanding Underwater Photogrammetry

Written by Patricia Sestari

January 26, 2024


Submerged beneath the surface of our oceans lies a mysterious world teeming with life and secrets waiting to be unveiled. As technology advances, so does our ability to explore and understand the underwater realm. One such technological marvel that has revolutionized underwater exploration is underwater photogrammetry. In this blog post, we will delve into the intricacies of what underwater photogrammetry is, how it works, and the fascinating process of creating photogrammetric models with an underwater stereo camera. 


Understanding Underwater Photogrammetry 

Photogrammetry is the science of making measurements from photographs. Underwater photogrammetry applies this technique to the aquatic environment, allowing researchers, marine biologists, and archaeologists to capture detailed three-dimensional models of underwater structures, terrain, and marine life. 


How Underwater Photogrammetry Works 

Underwater photogrammetry relies on the principles of triangulation, which involves capturing multiple overlapping images of a scene from different viewpoints. The process typically involves the following steps: 

  1. Image Capture: Utilizing specialized underwater cameras, a series of high-resolution images are taken from different angles, ensuring significant overlap between each frame. 
  1. Camera Calibration: Before processing the images, the underwater camera must be calibrated to correct for distortion caused by the water medium. Calibration involves understanding and compensating for factors like refraction and color distortion. Every Discovery Stereo Camera comes pre-calibrated, and users have access to colour corrected images in real-time.  
  1. Image Processing: The captured images are then processed using photogrammetry software. The software identifies common features in the overlapping images and calculates the position of these features in 3D space. 
  1. Point Cloud Generation: The software generates a point cloud, which is a dense collection of points in three-dimensional space representing the surface of the underwater scene. 
  1. Mesh and Texture Mapping: From the point cloud, a 3D mesh is created, providing a detailed representation of the underwater environment. Texture mapping is then applied, enhancing the visual realism of the model. 
  1. Model Output: The final output is a photorealistic, highly detailed 3D model of the underwater scene, allowing researchers to explore and analyze the environment remotely. 


Creating Photogrammetric Models with Underwater Stereo Cameras 

Underwater stereo cameras play a crucial role in achieving accurate photogrammetric models. These cameras are equipped with two lenses, mimicking human binocular vision. This binocular setup enables the calculation of depth information by comparing the disparities between the images captured by each lens. 

The stereo camera‘s ability to capture images from different angles enhances the accuracy of the 3D reconstruction process. This results in more precise measurements and detailed models, making them invaluable tools for scientific research and exploration. 

In conclusion, underwater photogrammetry opens new frontiers in our understanding of the underwater world. As technology continues to advance, the marriage of sophisticated underwater cameras and state-of-the-art photogrammetry software promises to reveal even more secrets hidden beneath the waves. Whether for marine biology, archaeology, or environmental monitoring, the applications of underwater photogrammetry are vast, providing us with unprecedented access to the mesmerizing depths of our oceans. Dive in and explore the wonders that underwater photogrammetry unveils, as we continue to push the boundaries of underwater discovery. 


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