Notes on Kite Aerial Photography: Photo Gallery

Corn and Hay
California's Central Valley

An abstract in corn and hay - this shot reminds me of a Richard Diebenkorn print (43K jpg, Canon 24-mm, July 1997).

This year Charlie and Thomas spent a week at Troop 6's Boys Scout Camp near Bear Valley in the Sierra Nevada. I went up for the last half of the week as a parent volunteer. It is about a four hour trip from Berkeley and I drove up solo at midday. Part of the drive takes you across California's marvelous Central Valley with its gigantic carpet of fertile croplands.

As I've driven the state over the last couple of years the croplands that whiz by have seemed very tempting KAP targets. But I am usually with other folks and it has been difficult to stop. This time I was alone so I promised myself a stop along the way to take some crop shots. I picked a corn field near Farmington and pulled off the highway.

The corn field from around fifty feet up (62K jpg left and 70K jpg right, Canon 24-mm, July 1997).

When I got out of the car it was immediately evident that I wasn't in Berkeley anymore. The ambient temperature was hovering near 100F under a hot noon sun. I started to work by lofting the Sutton 30 which flew but just barely -- not enough power to lift the rig. So out came the rokkaku which, after a long 5 minutes of setup, was launched just in time to coincide with a total absence of wind. So there I was, freely perspiring and holding the Rokkaku overhead as a parasol.


I waited for around ten minutes and a slight wind returned. Happily, the new carbon frame for the Rokkaku works well in light winds so soon thereafter the camera rig was airborne. I went about shooting a quick roll after explaining myself to a very kind but curious farmer. When I retrieved the rig after finishing the roll I discovered I'd failed to turn the camera on -- I just hate it when I do that.

Hay bales in oblique and plan view (29K jpg left and 41K jpg right, Canon 24-mm, July 1997).

So I set about retaking my shots. During this period I had to nurse the Rokkaku through periods of low wind so the process took longer than normal. In the large version of the lefthand image you can see a field of unstacked hay bales. I walked down there to try a second roll but the wind failed completely I was unable to photograph them - pity for they would have worked well.

A near view of the corn and oblique of the field's edge (71K jpg left and 41K jpg right, Canon 24-mm, July 1997).

By the time I packed up the equipment I'd been in the Central Valley blast furnace for about one and a half hours and was probably three pounds lighter. Still, like the idea of images depicting crops and farm processes. Perhaps it will become a long-term series like the forty years of William Garnett.

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