One very useful tool for the amateur scientist is the digital camera. Lots of things can be recorded or documented with a camera. But sometimes it is difficult to position the camera to get the view needed. That is where kite aerial photography could come in handy. A desire to be able to locate the drainage tile in my field got me to working on building a very simple kite photography rig. I noticed this spring before the hay was cut for the first time that the grass was growing longer just over the tiles. So my desire was to take an aerial photograph of the field to document the location of the tiles. I really don’t know why the grass was longer over the tiles. Usually dug up soil will have greener or longer grass due to the nutrients turned up by the digging. In this case the tile has been in the ground for at least 50 years or so. I suspect the extra moisture in the tile was causing the extra growth. So one nice breezy day I just attached my little Nikon point and shoot camera to the bridle of my delta coyne kite and flew it over the field with the camera set to take a picture every 15 seconds. Well that did not work too well. I got some rather artistic pictures but nothing of scientific value.

So off to the WEB to find out how the big boys do it. The most common camera support for kite aerial photography is called the Picavet suspension. Also the attach point is down the string about 50 feet to get away from the vibration of the kite.

Here is my mount hanging from a string to show how it hangs. The idea is that the string arrangement along with the weight of the camera and mount causes the platform to stay level even with changes in the angle of the kite string.

Here is a clever little device that I found on one web site that lets you attach the Picavet rig to the kite line without any knots. By this time the hay had been harvested twice and there was not sign of the tile in the new growth. So what to take a picture of to try the rig out. The roof of my house is in rather bad shape and I am planning on having it replaced soon so I thought before and after pictures would be nice. It took a couple of tries to get everything right. The first flight I forgot to check the camera battery and no pictures were taken. Then just like the peanuts cartoon, trees have an affinity for kites. Finally on the second day of trying we got one usable picture of the house.

Reminder to self, tie up the camera strap next time. Here you can see the house, garage and an old water tower. We will see about photographing the tile location next spring, now that I have the rig.

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1 Response to KISS KAP

  1. First class photos. One of my columns in “The Amateur Scientist” in SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN was on how to make aerial photos from kites and balloons using a radio-controlled camera. I’ve got hundreds of photos from that work and have been planning a new series.

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