Kite Aerial Photography (KAP 2008-1)

Kite Aerial Photography has recently caught my imagination. Besides giving the opportunity to photograph from the air without having to hire a private plane, it has the added benefit of being able to go where no airplane can go – low to the ground as well as closer to many potential photographic subjects. There are safety concerns with regards to innocent bystanders (imagine several lbs. of camera and rig free-falling to the ground) not to mention yourself (hydro wires, etc) and your photographic equipment. Nevertheless, it seems like a lot of fun and a little bit off-beat.

I’ve been looking and thinking about KAP for about 6 months and I’ve been greatly encouraged by what I’ve seen and read in the Kite Aerial Photography photo pool and discussion threads, one of the web sites where KAPers come together.

So this winter I put a couple of KAP related items in my letter to Santa and to my surprise, Santa responded. In particular, my new 78″ Rokkaku kite, ideal for KAPing, was a joint gift from my girls. With that and a few other items from my wife, I set out almost immediately to order the KAP rig kit, a model-aircraft-style remote control unit, a new point-and-shoot and to fully equip myself with the bits and bobs of the trade such as anchor devices, carabiners, heavy duty gloves and a suitable backpack to get this stuff from place to place. Building the rig from the box of bits is quite the challenge for the uninitiated but help is “out there”.

My 78 This is the kite I use for Kite Aerial Photography. It is a 78″ Rokkaku (78″ tall by 60″ wide). If you see this kite, especially in the Ottawa area, it might be me at the end of the line so come say “Hi!”. If you look up …. be sure to smile. The camera rig is suspended from the kite line at least 100 feet below the kite, depending on wind conditions. I don’t have a picture of my rig in action to include with this article but I’ll probably include one at another time.

KAP1 – First KAP Outing – Westboro Beach, Ottawa

After Christmas we had a remarkable shortage of wind. Twice I went out for kite practice when common sense told all passers by that there was no hope. Even my breath stood still. Third time lucky though and after a single kite-only practice session I was ready for KAPing. Saturday, I met with an experienced KAP enthusiast, Matt Young. It was windy but not sufficient to raise Matt’s camera rig more than 3 metres, and that only for a few seconds … so I didn’t even try. So that became kite practice number two. Sunday, finally, proved to be a success – my first ever KAPing adventure. I walked to nearby Westboro Beach on the Ottawa River, where as you might expect in the the middle of January, I had the whole beach to myself. The beach is only a few km west of the downtown area, well within the city limits. The wind was variable but good enough for a great first experience before finally dying out again. Here are a few shots I took. More can be found on my website (link below).

Westboro Beach on the Ottawa River - January 2008

This is the Westboro Beach Pavilion where, in the summer there is a food concession, outdoor patio and changing rooms. The actual beach is under the snow in the foreground. The Ottawa River is on the left.

Westboro Beach, the Ottawa River Parkway, and the community of Westboro in the distance.

This is a view to the south-west from the river to the community of Westboro. The Ottawa River Parkway runs adjacent to the river from the west end of the city to downtown.

Icy Ottawa River looking north-west from Westboro Beach

This is a view to the west (away from Ottawa) looking upstream at the ice-covered Ottawa River.

As I am now a participating member of the Flickr KAP community, I am semi-obligated to produce a self-portrait from the first outing. Here it is:

Self portrait from my first Kite Aerial Photography session.

You can see additional pictures from this first KAP 2008-1 outing in the Kite Aerial Photography Gallery on my website.