Notes on Kite Aerial Photography: Photo Gallery

Pierce Ranch #2
Pt. Reyes National Seashore, California

Charlie Benton at Pierce Ranch, November 1995 (26K jpg)

go to location mapThis set of images has a story behind them. Charlie and I left early that weekend to take some images at Tomales Point. As is now our custom, we launched a kite (the large Rokkaku) and flew it awhile to check the flying conditions. Charlie then held the kite while I attached the camera rig. When the camera rig is securely attached I usually take the kite line and fly the kite while Charlie handles the transmitter.

On this occasion we fumbled the handoff. As Charlie handed me the hoop spool of kite line it was snatched out of his hand by a gust. All of a sudden there was the spool spinning like mad on the ground and heading for the brush down the hill. Without thinking about it I made a fully outstretched dive (rather like a racing dive at a swim meet except into the ground) only to miss the spool by a few inches.

Scene of the drama - a water storage tank next to Pierce Ranch, November 1995 (59K jpg)

All I could think about was the potential loss of the kite and destruction of the rig. I scrambled on all fours after the crazily spinning spool and was saved when it caught for a moment on a small bush. I grabbed it, the rokkaku began to climb, and the camera rig was still there. It apparently never hit the ground, in part because the hill slopes away sharply. All's well that ends well.

We went on to gather some nice images of the ranch. The day was hazy with a mild breeze (below 10 mph.) A brief period of higher winds encouraged me to bring the rokkaku down and I took these shots using my larger delta conyne which performed well. The renovated Pierce Ranch, established in 1858, is one of the oldest dairy ranches on the Point Reyes Peninsula. It is no longer a working ranch as the area has been turned over to Tule Elk. Pierce Ranch has a stunning site with the Pacific Ocean a few hundred yards to the west and Tomales Bay a few hundred to the right.

Pierce Ranch from the south, November 1995 (left 40K jpg, right 47K jpg)

Support buildings in plan view, November 1995 (49K jpg)

Charlie took this view looking straight down. In the jpg you can just make him out below the dead center of the image. The lower left of the image marks the transition between the ranch's mowed landscape and more natural groundcover.

Main residence and barn with red shed, November 1995 (47K jpg)

A closer image of the main farmhouse with a slightly dilapidated barn in the foreground. Charlie and I are in the right center of the image. A half-hour after this image was taken the sun came out in full sunset glory but there was no breeze to be found. The shots would have been extraordinary. I will come back to photograph again.

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All rights reserved. Revised: Thursday, July 18, 1996