Notes on Kite Aerial Photography: Photo Gallery

Steamer Lane Revisited
Santa Cruz, California


go to location mapWhile in Santa Cruz we stopped at Steamer Lane - a surfing spot that Simon Harbord and I had visited earlier in the Spring. There we found a slight but very steady breeze that seemed to suite the Sutton 30. After a 15 minute trial flight I sent the Canon rig aloft to find that there was just enough wind to keep the rig aloft. For much of this flight the kiteline from me to the rig was near horizontal with the wind occasionally building enough for the camera to gain height. On the other hand there was very little turbulence and what wind there was seemed quite reliable.It was interesting experience watching the rig play out 150 feet in horizontal distance without gaining altitude. Simon Harbord recently wrote about the process of "scooting" a KAP rig horizontally across a field by playing out line at a rate that negates vertical lift. I used this technique to run the rig over to the next bluff until I could see its shadow on the bluff side. It gave me an effective gauge of downwind range..

Two views of the park overlook at Steamer Lane. This is a great spot for watching surfers practice their art (21K jpg, Canon 24-mm, June 1997).

A surfer starts toward the bluff (21K jpg, Canon 24-mm, June 1997).

It was a small surf day in Santa Cruz with occasional sets providing rides for the 30 or so surfers floating near the point (a couple are visible in the upper lefthand image.) It was interesting to watch them work for with many waves they would begin the ride headed directly toward the bluff and then cut right to save themselves. I suspect it is not the thing for beginners. These are some of the higher vantage point shots from the set.


A view toward the peninsula that was my flying site (42K jpg, Canon 24-mm, June 1997).

My flying site was a rocky peninsula that runs parallel to the peninsula visible in the preceding photographs (which is just out of sight at the lower right corner of this image.) I'm one of the small specs at upper right on the shadow edge of the bluff and the white dot in the lower left is a surfer.


Surfers in action (34K jpg left and 21K jpg right, Canon 24-mm, June 1997).

In this a high oblique (left) and plan view (right) surfers are just beginning their ride toward the bluff -- you can see its froth in the right side of the left image. That image also has a nice sun glint that masks a surfer paddling outward.


Plan views (24K jpg left and 34K jpg right, Canon 24-mm, June 1997).

The righthand image of seven surfers waiting for the next set is one of my favorites from this series. It provides a good sense of the scale of the boards and the pace of that day's surfing -- a lot of time spent waiting for waves.

In retrospect, I have a bit of regret that I selected surfers as a topic. I think the exceptionally high quality of professional surf photography - those stunning images from swimmers and jet skis - sets a pretty high standard. Still, it was fun giving it a shot.



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