Hemispherical Photography as a Tool for Urban Sustainability Evaluation and Design
12 Pages Posted: 13 Sep 2010
Date Written: September 13, 2010
Hemispherical (fisheye) photography is a convenient indirect method for estimating leaf area index (LAI) a key indicator of vegetation primary production which offers a useful insight into a range of ecosystem services. Fisheye imagery is frequently used to establish the sky view factor or proportion of sky visible from street level, a major determinant of urban microclimate. Analysis of fisheye images also enables calculation of the fractal dimension of surrounding urban surfaces and skylines, which is associated with visual diversity and enables comparison of the character of different urban places. In this case study, hemispherical images taken with a digital camera from the centres of a sample of open spaces in a university campus in Sydney, Australia were analysed using public domain software. The resulting LAI, SVF and fractal dimension data were combined to assess the comparative environmental performance and physical ambience of the relevant areas of the campus. This exploratory research suggests that fisheye photography utilising minimal and inexpensive equipment can support a “fast and frugal” comparative environmental evaluation of urban places, and potentially inform the design of more sustainable places. Such an approach may have particular relevance to rapidly urbanising developing countries where resource-intensive methods can be problematic, especially in the context of climate change mitigation and adaptation.
Keywords: Fractal Dimension, Hemispherical Photography, Leaf Area Index, Sky View Factor
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation