Kite Aerial Photography
This page discusses the hobby and techniques of Kite Aerial Photography.
Before the invention of airplanes, kites and balloons were the only way that humans could fly. The kite was by far the first method, having been invented in ancient China over 2,000 years ago.
As with most technological innovations, man carrying kites were first used for military purposes. The Chinese discovered that they could build kites large enough to lift a soldier. The soldier would be raised high above the ground by the wind and he would be able to see far in all directions. It was like having an observer on top of a hill. The scout would then be lowered to the ground and report what he had seen.
The technique of raising military scouts into the air to monitor enemy movements was eventually adopted by Europe and as late as the start of the First World War, the French and other nations were using kite-borne soldiers as observers.
In the late early 1800s and early 1900s it became possible to use cameras instead of human observers, and so kite arial photography (or KAP) was born. The first kite aerial photograph was taken by Arthur Batut in France in 1888. In 1906 George Lawrence used a large panoramic camera and a stabilizing rig to harnessed to a kite to take incredible pictures of the devastation suffered by San Francisco in the Great Earthquake.
With the advent of the airplane, kite photography became less useful and it is now mainly a hobby enjoyed by many kite enthusiasts.
Today's light weight cameras and video cameras make it even easier to raise a camera into the sky using a kite. The key is to use a stable kite, high speed film or a digital equivalent, in order to reduce blur. Once airborne pictures can be taken by either pulling on a string or by setting the camera or video camera to automatically take pictures.
There are a number of groups as sites on the internet where Kite Arial Photography enthusiasts exchange ideas and photographs. Flickr.com has a group that exchanges examples of camera rigs that they have built to hold the cameras to their kites. Some of the devices look quite complicated and you may need some technical know how to build one yourself. The only book on the market that I could find that actually explains some of the techniques is View from a Kite: Kite Aerial Photography How to Attach a Camera to a Kite and Take Stunning Aerial Photographs by Carl Hanson.
Another book that might be of interest is Hanging by a Thread: A Kite's View of Wisconsin
Aerial Camera Kit
This kit makes it easy to attach a camera to a kite or helium balloon so that you can take photographs of your house or surrounding area. It makes for a great craft activity for older kids. More ...
In the video below someone taped a Nokia N95 cellphone to duct taped to a kite to do aerial video recording. The result is an interesting kite-eye view of the ground that feels as if you were riding on the kite. Not recommended for anyone suffering from motion sickness!
Hanging by a Thread
This is a book full of photographs of Wisconsin taken from the viewpoint of a high flying kite. The pictures record famous landmarks as well as people and festivals throughout the State. The book is interesting as a record of Wisconsin life, but also beautiful in its own right as it offers us a glimpse of what our world must look like to birds. The pictures obtained by Kite Aerial Photography are very different than the kinds of photographs obtained from an airplane, and they give us the impression of soaring above the ground. More ...
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