Notes on Kite Aerial Photography: Others
A shot of Portsoy Harbour from earlier in the day (36K
jpg, Yashica Minitec Super)
On Sunday 6th June I was at Portsoy for the Traditional Boat Festival and had a marvelous day, I flew three times over the harbour area. The results, since developed, were great.
I drove home from Portsoy so swelled with pride at my own achievement of three good flights , that I thought I'd stop off at Huntly castle en route for a little extra KAP taking advantage of the perfect wind and sunshine. "Pride comes before a fall" as the old saying goes.
The location is a
classic castle problem, nice field for launching but with a major
bunch of trees close in. The aspect potential for shots in from
above the trees was brilliant. Without further ado I duly did my
usual technique, lofting the kite way up and moving in with the
rig about 50 to 100 feet over the trees.
I had the microvideo camera mounted and got the LCD TV viewfinder switched on as I was working blind from the field, from which I could see the rig and kite, but not the castle. The pictures of the castle in the viewfinder even in wobbly video black and white were spectacular. I snapped away about 15 shots from different heights and angles, until I looked up and noticed the line had just gently snagged around the topmost branch of one of the avenue of oaks. Nil problemo, I'd sorted this before.
Simon's nemesis (32K jpg)
Not panicking in the least, I started my set of actions, gentle tugs, little jerks, walking round to different angles,but all the time slowly but surely, the parafoil started to nose down and lose lift, bringing the rig into the tree. I would give the kite line, get it up lifting the rig up and away, but each time I tried to free the line things crept back towards the inevitable.... Then things got really bad...The rig disappeared into the tops of the trees...
Five minutes later though I had freed everything by using the "Simon - desperate - last - ditch - giant - tug" approach except, I noticed as the kite soared up, the rig remained in the tree.....
I stayed around another
hour, feeling desolate, adding up the cost, looking in the TV
viewfinder at the leaves, close up waving in front of the camera,
wondering when the batteries would fade out and the rig would die
in the rain. Grey clouds massed on the horizon.
Finally, leaving my address with the castle people in case the rig "descended" at a later date, I drove home.
Sue, bless her, did a role reversal, while I moped and felt emotional. She said; "Ring up the council ,hire a crane, do this do that." Then she said; "Ring Kate's husband, he's a tree surgeon. he'll get it down." Sue had no concept of the height of the tree besides, it would take days before he would be able to come, the rig would be rained on, useless, forget it....no good mope mope. Course this was Sunday evening, nobody would even go near until a weekday....The National Trust would never let someone up their trees, what about insurance, preferred contractors, damage, liability ....forget it, it's lost for good, I can at least look forward to building the new rig, mope, mope mope....Sue carried on; "Ring Steve, you don't know until you try, ring him, here's the phone, ring him, RING HIM."
Three quarters of an hour later suitably coerced, I'm back at Huntly as Steve (Kate's husband) drives up in his flat bed truck, complete with ladders, ropes , pole saws, climbing harness, this guy looks the professional top to toe. He peers up into the swaying thin topmost branches of the 90 foot tree (I kid you not !) and says," Yes, I can do it."
Steve - the man of the hour - with recovered rig in
hand (32K jpg)
An hour later we sit in the pub together, me and my new friend and aerial acrobat Steve. In the back of his truck is a piece of the evidence, a six foot branch he had cut off and lowered down to the ground. Nobody except kids playing football even asked what he was doing. No park keepers, no-one.
The rig came down on the
end of a rope from Steve into my waiting hands - unblemished. The
bit that failed and left it in the tree? The hosepipe attachments
that fit the picavet suspension rod to the kite line?
(intuitively the weak link) No - they and the stick came down
with the kite and line. Strangely, my last - ditch - desperate -
tug had frayed through the Picavet line (200lb dacron) which
stayed in the tree with the rig.
The big learning on this whole affair was not about flying over trees, that isn't a problem, (I'd be back at Huntly doing exactly the same shoot without a qualm), but simply not to get too engrossed in the video viewfinder (however exciting the images). What happened would have been corrected without a thought long before the line reached the tree tops if I'd been watching the stuff up in the air.
A shot of Huntly Castle from the day in question (28K
jpg, Yashica Minitec Super)
Steve asked me whether I could do a shoot for a tree surgeons magazine,(?!) with all his mates in the top of a tree waving at the camera!! Ah me, KAP dimensions seem boundless.
I got the film developed, the pictures have a special extra value to me.
Funny old world.
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All rights reserved. Revised: Saturday, June 26, 2010