Main Content

Airborne Photography

To view an extract of the FEMA instructions, click here: CAP FEMA Uploader Instructions - 23 APR 2021. To get the latest on Operations Training (including the latest on the Garmin Virb camera's mounted on the wing of the aircraft), follow this link: OPERATIONS TRAINING WEBINARS.

With current CAP photo processing, we are no longer supposed to brand any images with CAP logo's or lat/long, altitude, direction of flight or anything like that. That information is now to be imbedded in the Exif data that is hidden inside the photo. This means the old CAP Image Processing program that required the separate spreadsheet is a thing of the past.

We now have a new upload process. It is one in which we work with FEMA to upload the photos. This program is written in Harman's Adobe Air which means it is portable across Mac's and PC's. Sorry, there is no tablet version.

You will need the latest version of Harman's Adobe Air which can be found by following this link and installing the software:

If you already have a CAPUploader, IEUploader, or ImageUploader, please uninstall it. You can obtain the current version of this program by clicking on this link: FEMA ImageUploader. Feel free to share it with other AP's or AP trainees. When you open the FEMA ImageUploader file, it will create a IEUploader.air file that is dated Sept 10, 2014. Double click on the IEUploader.air file and it will install the ImageUploader program on your computer. After that you can delete the ExifTool*.xxx, and IEUploader.air files if you wish to save disk space.

  • Windows:

    • On Windows 64 bit systems, ImageUploader will install into C:\Program Files (x86)\ImageUploader.

    • On Windows 32 bit systems, ImageUploader will install into C:\Program Files\ImageUploader.

    • In both cases, a shortcut will be created for ImageUploader on your desktop.

  • Mac:

    • ImageUploader will be placed in your Applications folder.

Once you have CAPUploader installed, open the application and click on the Settings tab. The Upload URL: field should set to For security purposes, the Illinois Wing Token: is not provided here. Contact me for that value. I recommend copying and pasting the values to avoid typo's. After that, click on the Save Settings button.After these changes, you should be able to click on the Upload tab, then the dropdown arrow of the Event field should display values. If it does not, 1) Verify the Settings, 2) Restart the program (ImageUploader), 3) Restart your computer.

Step 1 for using ImageUploader: Unless instructed otherwise, we will upload our training photos to Event: CAP Training,  Team: mission number, Project: your sortie number. If this is a real mission (not training) like the IL Ice Jams, flooding, or tornadoes, the IC's may provide us with a specific "Event" from the NOC. The Mission Number will always be the key.

Step 2: Browse to the folder that contains all of your photos. You will not see the images lists.

This next step depends on the mission in question. Prior to uploading, review the photo's and remove any non-relevent photo's. For example test photo's. Once the photo's are uploaded to the FEMA web service, they are in the public domain. For all customers consider the legality of deleting any customer photo's without the express consent of the customer.

Step 3: Upload the files. Depending on the numbers of photos taken, this can take several hours on a high speed internet connection, obviously longer on a slower speed connection. Remember the images are JPEG Fine and therefore are in the neighborhood of 4M each. (No need to be shooting RAW images or any other format.) Do not attempt to upload WALDO or any Mosaic processed photos.

After the photos are uploaded (remember to allow multiple hours), they can be viewed:

In summary:

One last item worth mentioning:

The Nikon GP-1 GPS unit has a tendency to loose it's signal when the camera goes to sleep. We found a great article on that talks about how to overcome this problem:

Nikon GP-1

Actually my GPS unit works great and the suggestion of the wing placement causing interference often mentioned is usually really caused by a camera setting I've rarely seen taught in training materials other than my own that I use for my CAP AP classes.

With a Nikon DSLR using a GPS unit the GPS unit draws its power from the camera. It only draws the power for the GPS while the cameras meter is active; and to acquire and hold the GPS lock the GPS needs power.

The camera if left alone with the default settings will shut down the meter power several seconds after the shutter button has been depressed halfway in order to conserve the cameras battery. This is usually not enough time for the GPS unit to make its initial acquisition of a solid GPS lock, indicated by a solid green indicator light. The GPS unit will also lose its GPS lock between shots due to the meter power shutting down between exposures if they are spaced apart and not in a rapid sequence.

To avoid this problem of the GPS losing its power there is a menu setting on the camera that needs to be set. This optional setting only appears on the cameras setup menu when the GPS is physically connected to the camera body.

With the GPS connected to the body look in the Camera's Settings menu for GPS>Autometer Off. Set this menu item to Disabled. By camera default it will set to Enabled. By setting this to disabled you are telling the camera to keep the camera meter powered on at all times, which will also feed power to the GPS continuously.

Doing this will also drain the camera battery faster than normal, so make sure you always keep a couple of charged spare batteries with the camera at all times. To help reduce the effects of battery drain simply turn the camera completely off during periods of long inactivity, and turn it back on when you are in the target area. When you are ready to use it again be sure to check for solid green GPS lock indicator on the GPS and solid non blinking GPS indicator on camera body.

The second alternative mentioned, (which probably won't help you in the current circumstances) is to not use the Nikon GP-1 for the GPS unit but rather acquire one of the third party units like the Solmeta Geotagger 3. It has more features, newer tech with better signal acquisition and retention, and better battery management. It also retails for less. I only mention this for the sake of persons who do not have a GPS unit yet, but are looking for one. Read the reviews.

Using my Solmeta GPS with my Nikon DSLR to prove the point I've shot GPS tagged images with it for classes inside of buildings numerous times with solid roofs over my head. Most recently I took an image of CAP members indoors in the middle of a Red Robin Restaurant to demo the principle. The most extreme example of this was shooting from the interior 2nd floor apartment of a 4 floor apartment building. Granted it did take a few minutes to get the initial solid GPS lock in the apartment, but it did succeed and the GPS lock held once acquired.;wap2.


If you have a choice of GPS units in your CAP Camera Kit, use the Solmeta GPS.

Maj Edward Danley, CAP



Last reviewed: 15 Feb 22

© 2022 Civil Air Patrol. All rights reserved.