Monday 30 October 2023

Jubilee River KAP (kite aerial photography)

  How Do All,

Looking Eastwards along the Jubilee River towards Slough (left), Windsor (right) and Datchet (middle'ish)

After a few weeks of not being able to get out due to my back hurting after work, and the lack of wind when I did actually try to go out, today I finally got out and flew a kite, Yay! though with hindsight of the impending doom I should have stayed in my little warm shed! 

I rode to and along the Jubilee River just outside of Windsor, to try and take some pictures of the river. It was nice when I left, sunshine and nice wind but by the time I got there it was grey, cold and blustery.

You can read about the jubilee river here:

My friend Adrian joined me and I'm not sure he expected so much fun in such a short time.

Me on the bridge, but not quite the angle of the bridge I had in my mind.

I had a bit of trouble launching my kite from a bridge I wanted to get in the photos, and due to the wind direction my intended idea of the bridge being in the shots was out of the window.

I made several mistakes today and learned some valuable lessons, I'm really good at that, but I find this the best way to learn, if a little costly sometimes!

Firstly in my haste to fly I fixed a lighter line than I usually use, and with the wind I should have known better, but at supposedly 110dan I thought I was covered. 

Next I managed to nick the line in the gate hook of my carabiner somehow but decided this was superficial fluff and carried on sending the camera up. 

The track on the right runs for 6 miles from Maidenhead to Datchet or vice versa if you like.

After a few minutes there was a little jolt and my kite  separated from the main line and flew off across a farmers field, camera still attached  just and headed towards a tree, the camera slid off the line and went down like it was floating, and the kite stopped in the top of a tree, sigh, I thought I had lost them both, I suppose I should be thankful they didn't fly off over the trees and out of sight across the Thames

Just after the line broke, the kite and camera are drifting across this nice muddy field.

Luckily the kite was facing the right way and the line attached was plenty and trailed across the field, I was able to fly the kite right out of the tree and saved it with no damage, Yay!

My friend Adrian helped look for the camera and luckily I eventually spotted it nowhere near where we thought it might have landed. 

The last picture the camera took before getting some  shuteye in the crops!

Sadly I have no pictures of the kite rescue as taking more photos was the last thing on my mind.

We decided to call it a day as it was so cold and windy and headed off to Windsor for a tea.

Out of 200 photos the last 123 exposures were of the ground from ground level in any case!

My friend Adrian on the bridge

Random passers by just as I launched the camera

Take care,
Barry (The Knotty Bear)

Simple KAP (Kite Aerial Photography) First attempt!

 How Do All,

At the moment I am not able to ride much due to back and shoulder issues, so I decided; to help keep the frustration of not riding everyday at bay I would get some of my kites out which I made many years ago and give KAP a try.
KAP stands for Kite Aerial Photography, and though kites and KAP have more or less been thrown by the wayside due to drones, I actually think the act of flying kite which I have hand made, and taking some haphazard photos with a camera dangling 90 meters off the ground much more satisfying.

I have never tried a drone and I probably never will, one of the reasons being my close proximity to Heathrow airport and Northolt air base, making flying a drone a non starter, and a short flight time due to batteries etc... Flying a kite on the other had can be undertaken pretty much anywhere without too much trouble, and the kite will stay up as long as there is enough of a breeze to give it lift. There are however height restrictions in the UK that I try to stick to.

I had an old Canon PowerShot SX200 IS which I have not used in quite sometime, so I built a suspension rig using an old bicycle gear cable, a sheet of battered aluminium which my dad found in the road, a mudguard stay and various bits of tat from my junk boxes.

I found on a KAP Facebook group a post about CHDK which stands for Canon Hack Development Kit, a program which you load into the camera via an SD card which changes the firmware, allowing you to program the camera to do all manner of things not possible with the basic camera.
I also added a KAP-UAE script which allows for fully automatic start up of the camera, taking as many exposures as needed at whatever intervals, and will also shut the camera down when the cycle is finished.
You can also interleave video between pictures and control loads of exposure settings of which I have no clue.

It was very windy and gusty when I took my rig out to test, and I decided to use my 1.5 meter Rokkaku kite, which immediately tried to fly up and vertically above me causing the camera to spin in circles around the kite line. I decide to add a fuzzy tail to the kite to lessen the line angle.

I took around 200 exposures and some videos, most of the pictures did not have a level horizon as the camera is constantly swinging, the use of a self levelling suspension rig called a Picavet might have helped a little but would also have made the set up more complex which I wanted to avoid.

Looking towards Heathrow Airport which fills the horizon, terminal 5 on the far right, and the control tower towards the left of the picture.

The trees that are just starting to come into leaf and look almost ghostly or powdery.

Walking the line down with a pulley to retrieve the camera and change the setting and angles of the camera. the end of the kite line is fixed to a screw in dog stake, this method makes for quick retrieval without having to reel 100 meters of line back in. it is also good for bringing down a strong pulling kite in high winds.

Using the pulley to bring the camera down from my perspective.

One end of the park.

Probably the most in focus exposure.

A view looking towards the city of London, Wembley Stadium is on the left of the horizon, and you may not be able to make it out but Canary Wharf and the Shard are also just visible, if a little blurry! the position of my house is marked also.

Playing ball.

A view looking towards Uxbridge, Hillingdon Hospital is quite visible on the right of the horizon.

One of the few exposures that had a fairly level horizon.

I love the shadows of the trees, a sight not seen on the ground.

Thank you for looking.
Take care, Barry - The Knotty Bear