Help with estimating real dimensions from historical photograph


I am hoping to measure the dimensions of fishing gear components from a historical photograph but unsure about the best way to approach this. I know the length of the boat and the wooden beam (22 feet) but it’s not in full view of the photograph. If anyone can shed any light on how I may be able to do this, that’d be great.


A challenging problem due to multiple perspective distortions and lack of good references. Perhaps you can key off the human figures, estimating average head height and width? Or torso height? Each person is at a different depth (distance from camera) so you’ll end up with multiple scales at each corresponding depth. Can you determine what the boat’s waterline height would be, roughly? That would yield another set of approximate vertical scales (varying scales at different depths into the scene).

Do you have other photos of the boat?

Yes, I do and I have other photographs of the beam trawl being hauled up from the port side of the boat. I know that the boat was 28.7 metres long and 5.7 metres wide (depth 2.9 metres). But I am not sure about the boat’s waterline height unfortunately. I’ve added a couple more photos and two more of the boat (used in the other pictures where the men are lifting the trawl) but not sure if these are of use.

I think my best option might be to use the sizes of the two men that appear to be a similar distance from the photographer as the nearest trawl head and side meshes.



Fantastic photos, but not really compatible with the PhotoMatch feature. It is designed to work mainly with rectangular objects that have been photographed diagonally, so that two clear vanishing points can be distinguished.

bottom of scuppers (deck line) to top of gunnels (gunwales) would be one possible reference point. Gunnel height above the deck looks to be at or just above the knee. Interesting photos.

Is it possible that it’s a converted steamboat, and would have similar dimensions to this one?:

it looks like a paddle steamer tugboat, built in Glasgow…

it’s a favourite with model boat builders, so plans are around…

click here for some plans


Thank you for your comments. I know the dimensions (length, width and depth) of the paddle tug but I don’t think I can use these dimensions to scale the first photograph, where only part of the boat is visible. I need to estimate rough estimates of the trawl heads and diameter of the beam.

The steamer was registered in North Shields. I managed to find details at

Thanks, @mics_54. I know the depth of the boat but the waterline makes it difficult (in the first picture with the beam trawl).

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