What to do on a windy April day in Colorado? How about flying a kite high above an office building with a camera dangling precariously on the kite line in a poor man’s attempt to take some cool photos? That’s exactly what Lars and I did yesterday in my first foray into Kite Aerial Photography (KAP).
I first read about this in the premiere issue of Make Magazine several years ago. With my interest piqued about aerial photography, I began a slow quest that has led me to build a tethered balloon photography rig (still hasn’t flown though) and to launch a camera to the edge of space twice so far this year. On the eve of this year, I mentioned the possibility of getting into KAP, so with the windy weather and a CHDK enabled camera, it only seemed natural to give it a go yesterday.
The winds were at least 15-20mph with gusts much higher, so it seemed likely that my kite could lift the weight of the camera. I had never attached any mass to a kite line before, so the first experiment involved wrapping the taught kite line around a carabiner and clipping a wrench to it. The wrench was easily hoisted into the air as it swayed all over the place in the gusty air. Two minutes later and the wrist tether of the camera was clipped to the carabiner and it was up in the air wildly taking photos! Unfortunately, the battery ran out and it was only programmed to take photos once per minute, so back into the lab for battery charging and reprogramming. An hour later, the camera was back up in the air taking photos once every 10 seconds! I quickly walked the line down, reviewed the photos to make sure it was all working, and back up it went on its completely unstable tether to a height at least 200 feet above the ground!
Considering how little effort (and thought) went into this little aerial photography experiment, I would say it went extremely well. We actually got quite a few nice photos, the best of which is an extremely crisp photo of our neighbor CASA with the Flatirons in the background.
Be sure to check out some more photos in the photo album.
Of course, I couldn’t leave it at that, so last night I set about building a Picavet suspension to hold the camera level to the ground for the next time we have some nice windy conditions here in Boulder…
On another quick note, this trusty soldier of a camera is going to fly to the edge of space yet again this Friday as part of a documentary being produced by the Boulder History Museum. Let’s hope for its safe return!