Notes on Kite Aerial Photography: Others
Simon Harbord holding an early rig, about 1986. This one used a bit of model aircraft thinking, pendulum suspension and rudder movement to swing rig..... Not a raging success according to Simon. (55K jpg)
Among the files Simon sent my way were a series of KAPisms or observations and tips about the pursuit of kite aerial photography. I thought these were great and can attest that many ring true in my experience with kite aerial photography.
Some UK type KAP observations:
The only times you fail to launch the kite first time are when people are watching.
You will trip over the shroud lines of a parafoil enough times to look a totally unprofessional, complete plonker if there are more than 4 bystanders. (Or even one if he or she is actually paying for the photos.)
You will forget to set the motordrive on single shot instead of sequence, and thus consume a roll of film on the first time you release the shutter.
You will inadvertently clip your glove onto the line along with the rig and watch it go up in the air with the rig. Most dignified.
You will trip over the winch while watching the rig through the binoculars. Executing a perfect back flip will gee up the bystanders no end and give them a laugh.
You will seriously consider having a special printed card to pass to bystanders which begins: I know which way its pointing because......
You will get to hear the name Heath Robinson quoted to you a lot. (I asked Simon who Heath Robinson was and he responded) Heath Robinson was a British "inventor" of (I guess) the 1940's who drew cartoon diagrams of fantastical machines, the sort of thing that are now embodied in the Wallace and Grommet animations, (if you haven't seen these, you must.) the kind of machine that makes your fried eggs and toast in the morning, the word "contraption" sums it up. People used to sidle up before I built the last rig, and say "does it work then? 'Looks a bit Heath Robinson to me.."
When things start to get hairy, your line walker will be on the ground two hundred metres away.
You will look a shambling fool when you fieldwalk with amateur archeologists with a kite and rig attached to various parts of your body. You cannot concentrate on your feet and a kite in the air at the same time in a recently ploughed field. As for climbing over fences and through hedges....
People will not think it, theyll know it - you are eccentric.
Some KAP laws:
Dogs chase kites.
Kite line has a field of invisibility around it as far as the public is concerned.
Kite line has a field of super visibility around it (whatever colour) as far as aerial photos are concerned.
The public have no concept whatsoever of danger from above.
But be sure:
You will get lost in the joys and frustrations of KAP - you will be up there with your gear.
If you have gear and tools you need on site, use a checklist to make sure you take everything. Going out without the tail drogue or camera film is a mite frustrating.
Use a preflight checklist if there are any switches to be switched before launching.
Always always always function check everything prior to launching.
If in any doubt, launch a small kite first to assess wind speed and direction aloft.
Keep a weather eye out for changes in wind, and ominous clouds.
If the pictures are for money, take twice as many as you think you need and then twice as many more from other locations. Film is cheap enough and opportunities are few.
Always carry a sharp knife to cut things free. Better to lose a kite and rig than a life. Hang the knife off your belt on a keyback chain.
Dogstakes are cheap and great for pegging your kite in different parts of the sky, but dont always work in hard ground, mountaineering shops have very practical alternatives. Put a few in your kit box.
Carry spare batteries.
Keep your expectations on hold until the films are developed, the pictures never turn out as expected, often they are better, sometimes theyre worse. The quirkiest shots can look marvelous enlarged to 20 by 30 inches.
Above all - know when to, and when not to give up on a shoot.
One last word, professional pride coming in here, despite the KAPisms and the exhortation to carry a knife; I never injured anything, (except my pride, but that doesn't count for much) or dropped, or damaged a rig but I had some very near misses...............................................!!!!
QUICK LINKS to other
Simon Harbord Pages:
Introduction to Simon Harbord
Simon's KAP Rig
A Gallery Page of Simon's KAP Images
Simon's Guiding Light
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All rights reserved. Revised: Saturday, June 26, 2010