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Kite aerial photography

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Re: Kite aerial photography

Postby F_D2760 » Wed Sep 23, 2020 7:59 pm

Hi,

Nice job.

Regards.
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Re: Kite aerial photography

Postby Sir Privat » Fri Oct 02, 2020 6:36 pm

That is a really cool rig. You could add Arduino to the cradle to give some pan and tilt control. Anyway really cool as it is.
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Re: Kite aerial photography

Postby Hooray » Fri Oct 02, 2020 6:48 pm

We need a custom photo scenery project based on such low-altitude imagery :lol:
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Re: Kite aerial photography

Postby montagdude » Sat Oct 03, 2020 12:28 am

Sir Privat wrote in Fri Oct 02, 2020 6:36 pm:That is a really cool rig. You could add Arduino to the cradle to give some pan and tilt control. Anyway really cool as it is.

People have done that, also R/C rig control with a video downlink to compose the shots. My main objective right now is just to keep it as light as possible, since winds here are often quite gentle and variable. Plus that way there is less heavy/expensive stuff to potentially break.

Speaking of light winds, I decided to start on a very large kite to enable KAP in such situations. Hopefully I'll have it done within 2-3 weeks.

Image
(My current kite is on the left, the new one is on the right, and that's a 6-ft person.)

Image
Last edited by montagdude on Sat Oct 03, 2020 12:31 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Kite aerial photography

Postby montagdude » Sat Oct 03, 2020 12:30 am

Hooray wrote in Fri Oct 02, 2020 6:48 pm:We need a custom photo scenery project based on such low-altitude imagery :lol:

Can't say the thought hasn't crossed my mind. I think there have been a couple mentions of using aerial photos from a "drone or kite" in the currently-ongoing photoscenery thread. I had to wonder if that mention was inspired by this thread. To be honest, a drone is a lot easier for doing things like that, but I suppose a kite has the advantage of being able to go some places where drones aren't allowed.
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Re: Kite aerial photography

Postby montagdude » Wed Oct 14, 2020 12:45 pm

I made the first test flight yesterday as the wind was dying down in the evening. Hopefully I will get a chance to lift a camera with it soon, maybe photograph some fall foliage that's starting to appear.

Image

Image

Image
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Re: Kite aerial photography

Postby Johan G » Wed Oct 14, 2020 1:27 pm

As a Swede I have to complement you on the choice of colors. ;)

I am looking forward to see what your new kite might bring.
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Re: Kite aerial photography

Postby montagdude » Wed Oct 14, 2020 2:37 pm

They are also the colors of my favorite hockey team (which happens to also have a lot of quite skilled Swedes on it, but that's a different conversation). ;) Though I didn't choose them for any particular reason other than I thought they looked nice.
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Re: Kite aerial photography

Postby montagdude » Sun Oct 18, 2020 4:23 am

I had my first aerial photography outing with the new kite today. It went well, and the kite handled much more wind than I expected it could, about 10-15 mph today. The flexibility really helps for that. Its low-end wind range is still to be determined. Since it was a new kite, I went to a familiar location with plenty of space, so these pictures aren't really anything new, though there is a little bit of fall foliage out there now.

Image
Kite, drogue, and camera in the air

Image
Me taking a picture of the kite taking a picture of me

Image
View from the air
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Re: Kite aerial photography

Postby F_D2760 » Sun Oct 18, 2020 10:12 am

Hi!

Nice pictures and very good job.

Regards.
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Re: Kite aerial photography

Postby Johan G » Sun Oct 18, 2020 11:59 am

Ditto. :)
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Re: Kite aerial photography

Postby montagdude » Sat Oct 31, 2020 10:51 pm

I took some pictures of the Fall foliage today. Hopefully you're not bored of these yet. :)

Image

Image

Image
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Re: Kite aerial photography

Postby Alant » Sun Nov 01, 2020 12:27 am

I really admire your work.
I´m sure that verything did not work first time. Could you give a short run down of the ups and downs of this project. i.e what went well and what did not?
Well done
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Re: Kite aerial photography

Postby montagdude » Sun Nov 01, 2020 3:34 am

Hm, let me think about it. I probably avoided a lot of pitfalls by doing some research first and trying to emulate what others have done, but here are a few things that didn't work out well:

  1. At first I wanted to get the camera as high as possible, so I would attach it to the line very close to the kite and launch the kite with the camera already attached to the line. This was a bad idea because having the camera so close made the kite less stable, and in case the launch doesn't go so well, now the camera is swinging / crashing around. It's better to fly the kite first, and once you're confident it can fly by itself for a few minutes, tie off the line or weigh it down with something heavy and attach the camera. In my inland location, I usually need to let out 100 - 200 ft of line for the kite to hit somewhat stable air before attaching the camera. You can always add more string if you want more altitude (within the limits of whatever altitude restrictions there are in your country). But super high altitude shots are not always best anyway. Also, camera motion is reduced when it is farther from the kite.
  2. At first I used an old cell phone with an intervalometer app. While this worked okay, the app I used didn't give any way to control shutter speed. You want a very fast shutter speed in the range of 1/1000 - 1/2000 sec to avoid motion blur. Plus cell phones are a bit heavier than the smallest compact camera, which is not necessarily an issue since kites can carry a lot of weight, but still something to keep in mind. I'm now using an old Canon camera with CHDK as an intervalometer and to control shutter speed. Since my model doesn't let you set a shutter speed, I am using the KAP UAV Exposure Control Script as an intervalometer + shutter speed controller, which works very well. I still get some blurry shots, but I get a lot of clear ones too.
  3. If buying an older camera (note CHDK doesn't support a lot of the newer models), I'd recommend getting a refurbished one from a reputable dealer rather than just buying from some random person on Ebay. You might get a good one, but my first one had some scratches and smudges on the lens (including inner lens elements) that were not mentioned in the listing and affected the pictures. I ended up getting one from Gerald's Digital Camera Repair on Amazon. It was a little more expensive, but it arrived in excellent shape.
  4. Try not to set expectations too high. Weather forecasts are not always right. Sometimes you just can't fly, or you can't lift the camera, which can be disappointing. It helps to have multiple kites to handle different wind conditions.
  5. The picavet rig works well, but make sure it is balanced. When I switched from the cell phone to the camera, the camera was off-center, which resulted in pictures consistently tilting to one side. Since fixing that I usually only have to rotate my "keepers" 0 - 3 degrees to level the horizon instead of 5-10.
Things that did work well from the beginning:
  1. Know how to fly and adjust a kite first. Flying a single line kite may seem easy, and for the most part it is, but the small degree of control means you have to know how to handle certain situations (e.g., kite dives -> let out more line or run towards it to reduce tension).
  2. Use a proven design. I like to build my own, but I didn't design them myself (they were built from plans on http://my-best-kite.com) and I tried a few smaller-scale versions out of wooden dowels and plastic drop cloth before committing to building something bigger with more expensive materials. This also helps with point #1 above. Other people prefer to buy a kite, in which case there are several different types that are very popular for KAP (off the top of my head: 9 foot Levitation Delta, 6 - 8 foot Rokkaku, something called a Fled for light winds, fairly large parafoils or sleds, and Doperos).
  3. Safety first. Never fly near power lines or over people or property that could be damaged. Watch out for where that camera rig is going, especially if there are people around. Always fly with a "safety box" - a downwind area with lots of open room in case something goes wrong. I've seen lots of examples of people flying in urban environments where they definitely don't have that, but I guess that is for experts and daredevils only.
  4. Having a good winder helps. A big kite can pull with a lot of force. I inherited a big wooden one from my grandfather. Related: getting the kite down can be much harder than getting it up.
I don't know why that one URL isn't working.

If I think of anything more later, I will add it.
Last edited by Gijs on Sun Nov 01, 2020 8:04 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Fix URL by adding http
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Re: Kite aerial photography

Postby Alant » Sun Nov 01, 2020 9:49 am

Thanks for that. It all makes sense, but I bet it was fun finding out what the problems would or would not be.
When my children were young we used to fly a 1.5 metre span twin line (i.e aerobatic) kite on a large field next our house. Nearly 50 years later I still have that kite, but the field next to our present house has phone and power lines crossing it. ;) . As the kite is very controllable and I can launch it from the ground with very short lines and no assistant perhaps it is possible with care, but I don´t really think so.
Keep it up.
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