Notes on Kite Aerial Photography: Photo Gallery

The Pacific School of Religion at Sunset
Berkeley, California

A sunset view toward San Francisco Bay (17K jpg, Yashica T4, January 1997).

go to location mapI'm still in the learning curve with FrontPage as a WWW site management program and it seems to insist on publishing everything including works in progress. In general I'm quite impressed with the software so please excuse the transient quirks.

I don't know if my recent tendency toward sunset photographs is due to an interest in same or an inability go get out earlier in the day. In any event, I'm following Philip Greenspun's advice and taking more images late in the day. This set was taken around five in the afternoon during one of our short winter days. It had been rainy for most of the preceding month and I had cabin fever. So I decided that a brief break in the clouds was a call to destiny and the nearby Pacific School of Religion (PSR) was the logical candidate as a flying site. The late afternoon actually provided a fine set of cumulus clouds -- rare on our stable Pacific atmosphere -- that combined with the sunset colors to establish a fine atmosphere.

I had about 30 minutes to get a kite and camera aloft and began with a variable wind that was light. After coaxing the Sutton 30 into the air I found myself in a somewhat familiar KAP situation. I was trying to finesse the Canon SLR rig aloft when I was surrounded by six children aged three to six. It is often fun showing the gear to kids but in this case the kite flying was a bit tense so I brought the rig down and showed it to my youthful audience. After five minute the wind started filling in so up goes the rig again just as the sky clouded over.


The PSR landscape turns green when the sun was behind clouds (29K jpg left and 40K jpg right, T4 Super, January 1997).

These images show the foreground of the Pacific School of Religion during a period when the cloud cover thickened. When shielded from the warm sunset colors, the landscape turned to themes of green in the cooler light. The lefthand images shows your author not long after the second rig launch. The righthand image provides a view from a greater altitude. Though the clouds were pretty thick I decided to keep the kite flying with the hope that the sun would appear below them. There was also the possibility that rain would appear instead.

The UC Campus and Berkeley flats in (54K jpg left, Canon 24-mm, and 55K jpg right, T4 Super, January 1997).

Patience was rewarded as the sun neared the horizon. I began to see a warm glow that suggested it would appear for a brief finale. On the left is the UC Berkeley campus with a sun-illuminated rain shower to its southwest. On the right is a view across the Berkeley flats which were in shadow below the clouds toward the sun as it arrived at the bayshore. It is often clear over the shoreline while it is cloudy at the campus. The ridgeline to the east of Berkeley rises to around 1,500 feet above sea level and uplift condenses the moist Pacific air.

A rapidly changing horizon. San Francisco is visible through the veil of rain in the righthand image (47K jpg left and 45K jpg right, Canon 24-mm, January 1997).

As I flew waiting for the sun proper to arrive I was monitoring the location of light showers here and there. I took these images just at sunset. The camera shows a shallow veil of rain much more clearly than I could see from ground level. Immediately after these shots were taken I started hauling down the kite. I quickly noted that this was hard work as the wind had increased considerably and I was flying single-handed. I shifted to my method of tying off to a carabiner and walking line in around 70 feet at a time. Then the wind really picked up -- enough to get you thinking about that knot up there -- and getting the kite down turned into very hard work. Then it started to rain. I ended up getting the Canon SLR rig down about five minutes after the rain started and it was decidedly wet. I quick drying with my shirt and I was as good as new leaving me relieved there was no damage. All is well that ends well.

I should note for those of you that look at this veil of rain and think of lightning that our cold, Pacific air rarely produces this phenomenon. This particular front was barely showing signs of convection.

The PSR Quad at sunset (24K jpg, Canon 24-mm, January 1997)

A final shot at day's end shows the quadrangle aglow with the colors of sunset.

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