Notes on Kite Aerial Photography: Photo Gallery

Jack London Square
Oakland, California

Close view of a large flag (June 1996, 46K jpg)

go to location mapOn this page and the next you will find images from my most urban flying to date. Jack London Square is a multiuse development located between downtown Oakland and the Island of Alameda. The Square's shops and restaurants are aligned along the banks of the Oakland Estuary. After scouting Jack London Square a couple of times the boys and I concluded we could fly there successfully. We launched the Sutton Flowform 30 from the end of an out-of-the-way dock. After getting the KAP rig in the air we walked it around the square taking shots. It was an interesting experience threading the kiteline back and forth to clear the square's many obstacles - not unlike a puzzle.

My flying position on the dock (June 1996, 36K jpg)

One of our first targets was the large flag that flies over Jack London Square. It is a 24' by 48' flag flown atop a 125' high flagpole. To place the camera next to the flag I had to fly the kite from the end of a dock and this was constraining. When taking photographs I generally position myself at the end of the kiteline and control the camera from there. This allows me to adjust camera position downrange by walking around and camera height by playing kiteline in and out. Camera orientation is, of course, adjusted using the radio.

Another flag view showing context (June 1996, 53K jpg)

This shot conveys the height of the Jack London Square flag but the flag itself remains remarkably ambiguous in scale. For one height clue look at the flags and flagpoles just to the left of the main flagpole. These lower flags are more normal in scale and are located in the nominally-flat landscape that contains the big flag. For another clue look at downtown Oakland's tall buildings in the background and their intersection with the horizon.

The dock for Scott's Seafood Restaurant (June 1996, 48K jpg)

This dock view was taken around 7 pm - in the last hour of daylight. This timing provides nice long shadows and warm colors to contrast the dark water. The small dock at the top of the photo was our location for launching the kite and camera rig.

Plan view of the Berkeley Pier (June 1996, 35K jpg)

I've changed locations for this image. Here we have a plan view of the Berkeley Pier. The pier was once three miles long and carried passengers on trolleys to a rendezvous with the San Francisco ferries. The pier is now used by fisherfolk and flaneurs. I like this photograph because the water is so cloudy that its surface starts to take on the properties of a solid. Look, for instance, at the shadow of the railing as it hits the surface.

My Savior Fishing from the Berkeley Pier (June 1996, 38K jpg)

I took these images in a 16 mph wind using the Sutton Flowform 16. I inflated the Sutton before attaching the kiteline to do some minor straightening of the bridle lines. In a moment of annoying inattention I allowed a gust to blow the kite out of my hand, over the pier railing, and into the water - drat. You could not reach the kite, or the water for that matter, from the pier. Swimming was an unattractive option - no way to get back on the pier. So I asked a nearby fisherman if I could borrow his rod. He accommodated and better yet snagged a bridle line with a single cast. The kite was then recovered undamaged. This image shows the fisherman later while fishing for smelt. He accumulated a fair bucketful.

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