Ground-Based Photographic Monitoring
Land management professionals (foresters, wildlife biologists, range managers, and land manages such as ranchers and forest land owners) often have need to evaluate their management activities. Photographic monitoring is a fast, simple, and effective way to determine if changes made to an area have been successful. Ground-based photo monitoring means using photographs taken at a specific site to monitor conditions or change. It may be divided into two systems: (1) comparison photos, whereby a photograph is used to compare a known condition with field conditions to estimate some parameter of the field condition; and (2) repeat photographs, whereby several pictures are taken of the same tract of ground over time to detect change. Comparison systems deal with fuel loading, herbage utilization, and public reaction to scenery. Repeat photography is discussed in relation to landscape, remote, and site-specific systems. Critical attributes of repeat photography are (1) maps to find the sampling location and of the photo monitoring layout; (2) documentation of the monitoring system to include purpose, camera and film, weather, season, sampling technique, and equipment; and (3) precise replication of photographs. Five appendices include (A) detailed instructions for photo sampling, (B) blank forms for field use, (C) specifications and photographs of recommended equipment, (D) filing system alternatives, and (E) suggestions for taking photographs and analyzing change over time.