June 14, 2021 00:39

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Why All This Fuzz About Kite Aerial Photography?

If you're a frequent user of the AERIALIS Kites' website, I'm pretty sure you have noticed my growing interest of Kite Aerial Photography, or KAP for the sake of convenience.

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Because it is true, my interest in KAP (let’s just call it that, shall we?) definitely has grown significantly in the last months. What started back – it must be 12, maybe 15 years ago has now become another ingredient in my passion for kites.

Hey, what are you saying? 12, 15 years ago?

Yes, I bought a KAP-rig online all those years ago, after I shot this video (sorry for the terrible soundtrack, I don’t know what I was thinking 😱) My plan was to dig a little deeper into this KAP thing, but it all just faded out.

KPA-rig with GoPro Camera
My current KAP-rig

For most of those years, it’s been sitting in my basement collecting dust. However, a couple of years ago, while cleaning up some stuff, I stumbled upon it again, dusted it off and took a closer look at it. Hmmm… Could this old rig still work with my video camera, now shooting oh so much better quality compared to my cameras of fifteen years or so ago? I decided to check it out.

Well, the first attempts didn’t work out very well, so it kind of faded away once again.

But last summer (2020) I decided to give it yet another go, and this time for real! So I did some tweaks to the rig, added a wind-vane’ish stabilizer and up it all went! One thing lead to another and I’m now enjoying every moment of my new interest, Kite Aerial Photography and Videography!

Well, it’s all about flying kites

Power Sled 36 - Preimer Kites

Since I re-discovered kite flying way back in 1998, it has been one of my favourite hobbies. No, my level of activeness has varied, but I’ve always enjoyed going to the field to fly kites. And when you boil it all down, that’s where it’s at; it’s all about kite flying. No, it’s not steerable dual or quad lined fun, but it’s another aspect of flying.

And like Leonardo DaVinci supposedly said way back when (even though later research may have found he is not the originator of this quote) “Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward. For there you have been, and there you will always long to return.” And he, or whoever said this, is undoubtedly hitting the nail on its head!

Combining my interests in kites and photography

Another hobby of mine is photography and videography, two activities that go very well with kite flying. As you can clearly understand if you browse by the AERIALIS Kites’ YouTube channel, I’m kind of obsessed πŸ˜‰ with making new kite videos. I really enjoy it and currently, I’ve tipped 500 videos on that channel!

New Video Camera
One of my cameras

I’m making all kinds of kite related videos, just flying, tutorials, vlogs, and all kinds of stuff. And of course KAP! For your convenience, I’ve made a YouTube playlist containing all my KAP videos. Currently, you’ll find 21 videos in that playlist and the number is growing.

KAP is a great way of combining my two interests, flying kites and take photos/shoot video. I’m always looking for interesting places to fly and shoot because gitting those shots from up above adds another dimension to the location your flying! …and it’s way cheaper than drone flying! πŸ˜‰

What does it look like from up there?

A view from up above

Like said above, KAP will add another dimension to your flying location. I find it really interesting to see the ground with all its details from (way) up there. I especially enjoy the contrasts between the water and the land and looking for the impact the water, the waves, the tide will have on the landscape. You can get some pretty interesting and cool images caught on that memory card!

Depending on the weather and the time of day, you can experiment with the light as well adding yet another dimension to this kind of flying. You know, getting out there when the sun is about to set capturing those long shadows created by the sinking sun. Now, that’s something!

Discovering new locations to fly

When I re-discovered kite flying many years ago, I quickly grew very fond of dual lined sport kites. Being the nerd I am, I of course went all in! I spent literally hundreds of hours each year flying and exploring every corner of freestyle and trick flying.

Launching a Power Sled in gusty winds
Never flown here before!

Then I discovered quad lined kites. Thank you, John Barresi! πŸ‘I joined John’s Quad Line Clinic in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2017 and I was hooked…again!

When flying dual lined kites I opted for a large field for the kiting fun. You know, something (at least) fifty by fifty meters. Flying using a 30m lineset surely require some space. When flying quads I found I could fly in totally different places. I didn’t need that much space anymore. This is because of two main reasons, shorter flying lines and total control over the kite.

So I no longer needed that large space for flying anymore.

With KAP I’m looking for other qualities when finding a place to fly. Yes, it’s nice to have plenty of space on the ground, but what is more important is to find interesting details to capture. Anything from details in the landscape to cool buildings … and everything in between.

I’m using Google Maps a lot to look for places for my KAP’ing. Based on the forecasted wind direction and browsing in satellite mode, I’ve come across several new places to fly. And some of them caters for both dual and quad lined flying too! Now that’s three for the ‘price’ of one!

Experimenting with kite related stuff

Can I do this…and how? Now, that’s a question I often ask myself. So I just give it a go. Like flying a quad in stormy conditions in the middle of the night, flying inside a pitch-black riding arena using a headlamp only to see the kite out there at the end of the lines.

Shot from my KAP-rig
Shot from my KAP-rig

Just to see if it works. And if not, what can I do to make it anyway?

KAP is no exception! Because there’s more to it than just fixing the camera to the line, get it all up there and record some … stuff!

Can I use my KAP gear to fake a drone shot? Well, let’s give it a shot and see how it goes!

Can I film myself flying another kite using my KAP gear? Well, sure I can try to do that as well,

And yes, it sure is possible! You might not get it perfect the first time, but you will get s pretty good feeling on what to do to make your second or third attempt more successful!

Experimenting makes it all so much more fun!

I’m a bit of a tech geek

Tripod adapter for GoPro
GoPro accessories

Yes, I must admit it. I really like new gadgets. And getting into KAP gives me another opportunity to spend my hard-earned money on … new stuff! πŸ’ΈπŸ˜‰

The GoPro camera is just one of several examples. I started out by using my ordinary video camera for this KAP thing. But that camera is kind of fragile, it’s definitely not waterproof and it’s heavier than that GoPro cam. Ans with the release of the GoPro 9, the price of the GoPro 7 dropped significantly. I bought it second hand and it works like a charm!

…and the people over at GoPro have surely built up a nice infrastructure. There are so many accessories you can choose from. You know, camera covers, selfie sticks, selfie tick extensions, all kinds (and then I really mean all kinds) of mounts so you can fix that camera on to almost everything, extra batteries, memory cards and…. yeah I could go on, but I won’t. We don’t have the time! πŸ˜‰ But I guess you get the picture!

I now have a big box of miscellaneous accessories for my GoPro and I’m having a great time exploring it.

I recently also got hold of a second hand (so-called) wearable gimbal which I’m really looking forward to starting using. I can see many ways for using this gadget, maybe especially when doing KAP and taking full advantage of its remote tilting and panning functions in addition to the added stability it will provide for my camera and footage!

I’m also playing with the idea of designing an “anchoring system” for the KAP lifter kites and a system for adding stability to the camera making it easier to get really good footage of “activities on the ground”. Both still in their early planning phase, but these projects will include a couple of new … gadgets and some creativity by the “inventor”! πŸ˜‰

Yeah, my inner tech geek is alive and kicking!

Kite building

My 180cm Rokkaku
My 180cm Rokkaku

I really like the beauty and simplicity of the Rokkaku kite. In its simplest form, you can just cut out one large piece of fabric, frame it, bridle it and fly it! …or you can use its large sail area as a canvas for the most intricate motives if you like. And the Rok’ is such a stable flyer. When you build it correctly it sits glued to the sky in a stable breeze. It builds quite a pull too, so I find it a good kite for lifting the KAP-rig.

I’ve said it before, and here’s repetition, It’s so satisfying to see a kite that you’ve made yourself soar high up there! Having created a piece of “art” that can fly!

So taking an interest in KAP you can combine it with making your own lifter kites! And you’re not limited to Rokkakus! No, there are many other kites that will perform great as lifters for your stuff. But personally, I’m a big fan of these Rokkakus … because of their beauty, simplicity and performance!

Adding it all up

So I guess it’s about time to add it all up. As you can see from the above, there are many reasons for my fascination for Kite Aerial Photography and Videography. It adds variety and another ingredient to my passion for kite flying, and I can combine it with all the other things I love about kite flying.

I encourage you to give it a go yourself!

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