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Monday, April 21, 2008

Lets Go Fly a Kite

For many years I have wanted to use a kite to lift a camera into the sky and take pictures of the earth below. This is most often referred to Kite Aerial Photography or KAP for short. After doing a fair bit of research into the subject - I finally went out and purchased a camera mount (called a "rig") and a kite from a company in the States called Into The Wind Kites. There are a variety of different types of rigs you can construct - from ones that incorporate a remote control manuvering system (definately not for me!) to ones that are very basic and just hang from the kite line (definately for me!).

Friday April 19th was the first test of my KAP system, consisting of a Floform 8 kite, the KAP rig and a Nikon Coolpix L14 camera (less than $100 in case it came crashing to the earth). I live across the street from a huge park and so I have easy access to a flying zone on any given day, provided that the wind is sufficient. I don't have a wind meter - so I had to rely on my judgement - which as it turns out was bang on! If I had to guess, the wind was blowing at about 15 - 20 km/h.

Launching the kite and rig is basically a 2 person job. My wife and daughter joined me on the excursion to assist. Basically what you need to do is launch the kite as you normally would. Once the kite is up in the air about 75 feet, then you attach the rig to the kite line. My rig is usually referred to as a pendulum rig - it is configured in such a way as to allow the camera mount part to swing below the kite line, regardless of line angle (gravity....not just a good idea, its the law!). The rig allows you to position the angle the camera is shooting in any direction. For archaeological applications this can either be directly above the item of interest, or on an oblique.

Once the rig is on the line you allow the kite to slowly lift it to the desired altitude. This is the tricky part as wind gusts can be your enemy. My daughter was excellent in making sure the camera didn't come crashing down to earth, but rather into her expert hands! I set the camera to shoot video instead of taking pictures. While its fairly low resolution, it allowed me to focus on technique instead of content. Future test flights will experiment with picture taking. At any rate, you get the idea of what is possible just from the couple of pictures I have posted here. The first one is an "oblique" of the soccer field across from my house. The 2nd is an overhead shot with my daughter and I in frame for scale. So, all in all I am quite happy with my first experiment. I am hoping to use this setup in Jordan this summer to capture overhead images of not just our site (Kharaneh IV), but also Mudayna, Madaba and anywhere else they will let me "fly a kite".

1 comment:

Debbie said...

i'm so happy that it worked! i'm shocked the camera didn't come crashing down.. great job!

can't wait to see more pictures in the future

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(2008) Please do not use any of the images on this site without my permission first.

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