Notes on Kite Aerial Photography: Equipment

My 'Essentials' KAP Kit
A Compact Gear Bag and Its Contents

My current gear bag and its contents - details follow (July 1996, 54K jpg)

During my sixteen months of taking kite aerial photographs I've progressed through several strategies for carrying my gear around. At first I had relatively little to pack - my camera cradle, a radio transmitter and a single kite and reel - so I just carried it in a cardboard box. As I acquired more kites and accessories I shifted to a large, 2,000 cubic inch North Face daypack (shown as a pillow on the What's New Archive Page.) This held dogstakes (3), line reels (4), carabiners (3), gloves (2), portfolios (2), a walkdown pulley, kites (3), and the aforementioned camera setup.

Later, after adding still more kites, I began to outgrow this bag so I added a separate kite bag from Into the Wind for my framed kites. At this stage I was taking everything with me on every trip and after a while the load started seeming a bit too much. This parallels my experience with conventional photographic gear - the heavy bag full of SLR lenses and accessories is a nuisance often left behind. Therefore I took on the project of assembling a compact kit of the essentials. I'm pleased with the results and can report the resulting kit is easy to take along. This gear is what I use for almost all of my KAP work these days.

A first step toward consolidation

I used this tackle box for a couple of months (December 1995, 40K jpg)

My first real attempt to organize a field kit revolved around a large, $20 tacklebox I found at a local discount store. This box had an upper compartment reached through a lid and a lower compartment that held three Plano [TM] plastic organizers. The box worked quite well for organizing small KAP accessories, storing the camera cradle, and carrying various accouterments. Its main problem was that it weighed 6 pounds when empty and became a chore to lug around. So I was looking for an alternative when a soft-sided bag from Cabela's caught my eye.

My current setup

My KAP gear bag - packed and ready to go (July 1996, 29K jpg)

I ordered the bag from Cabela's, a mail-order source for outdoor sports supplies (see catalog page) at a cost of around $40. The bag is 12 inches high by 9 inches deep and 15 inches wide and was intended to hold four Plano [TM] compartment boxes. Filled to capacity with KAP gear, the bag weighs 14 pounds.

The bag with its two main compartments open (July 1996, 28K jpg)

This shot shows the bag's general layout. It has two outside mesh pockets where I store photo albums, notebook, and a drogue chute. The lower compartment, accessed through a zip-open front flap, holds two Flowform kites, a frilly tail, the radio transmitter, and a Plano box containing camera cradle and small parts. The top-loading upper compartment contains the rest of the gear shown below.


Contents of the Bag

This set of components is a very workable collection for my current KAP work. Having the gear in a compact set makes it easy to take the gear along and thus I am taking more KAP photographs (as you might have noticed.) The bag fits in the diminutive trunk of my Volkswagen and is light enough to carry for a distance. The only addition I'd like to make is a dog stake but at this point there isn't enough room.

Contents of the bag on display. See the associated jpg for more detail (July 1996, 43K jpg).

1) Sutton Flowform 16 kite
2) Sutton Flowform 30 kite
3) the empty Cabela Gear Bag
4) a 9" Halo reel with 1500' of 100# kiteline. The bag also holds a second 9" Halo reel with 750' of 200# kiteline (not shown.)
5) A drogue to stabilize the Flowforms in light wind
6) A 30-foot-long 'fuzzy' tail to stabilize the Flowforms in heavier winds.

A close-up of the smaller items. See the associated jpg for more detail (July 1996, 72K jpg)

7) a notebook for keeping random notes and insightful musings
8) two photo albums holding images to show to passerby
9) a mesh bag to organize small parts
10) a climber's strap and carabiner for tying the kite off to secure objects


11) four homemade 'hangups' to attach Picavet suspension to kiteline (requires two)
12) large o-rings (muffler hangers) and sticks used to dampen vibrations on the kiteline in heavy winds
13) my current miniature Picavet suspension rig (stored in ziplock bag)
14) eight film canisters taped together to store film - typically four rolls of 100 ASA and four rolls of 400 ASA
15) plastic Planto [TM] parts box holds lens brush, batteries, electrical tape, sewing kit, and camera cradle
16) the glove, essential for handling kiteline
17) a Davis Turbometer anemometer (with case) to measure ground level wind velocities
18) Airtronics four-channel radio transmitter
19) camera cradle with Yashica T4 camera and radio receiver
(not shown) a small charger for the radio batteries - used for out-of-town trips



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