Notes on Kite Aerial Photography: Photo Gallery

The Society of Building Science Educators
Santa Barbara, California

Members of the society reacting to one of the occasional rapid camera descents. Beginning with the far left those with visible heads are Rob Pena (white hat), John Reynolds, David Lee Smith, Therese Pfeiffer, and Peter Stone (36K jpg, Canon 24-mm, July 1997).

My trip to Santa Barabara was principally to attend the annual Summer Retreat of the Society of Building Science Educators (SBSE). This is a fine group of teachers who gather to learn from each other and to advance the state of instruction in our topic. The summer sessions are my all time favorite professional meetings, in large part due to the fine character of those attending. So I was very motivated to take an aerial image of the group. This wasn't possible at our retreat meeting site due to a lack of wind and an abundance of trees.

As the evening of the last day drew near I caught up with my mates from SBSE at the Santa Barbara beach. At first it was a small group and then the kite attracted more and more of my beachcombing colleagues. By this time the wind had almost completely waned and only ten minutes of sun remained. So we had a quick photo session during which I had to work pretty hard to keep the camera aloft. It would fly reasonably well for a minute or two then descend convincingly in a major lull. Luckily, the changes were gradual enough to afford decent control of the rig's position - I could always make a little breeze by backing up - and they seemed to thrill the SBSEers who would scream with delight as the camera did its thing..

A very low wind, low light shot of the larger beach group (31K jpg left and 29K jpg right, Canon 24-mm, July 1997).

The largest group gathered just as the sun touched the horizon. By this time - these were the last shots on the roll - there was insufficient wind to loft the camera so I gave the transmitter to Bill Burke (far left) and walked the rig downwind fifty feet or so. I then jogged past the group thus creating enough lift to get the camera up to thirty feet or so and Bill took these two shots as the camera passed overhead.


A key to describe who all these folks are:.

1. Bill Burke, UC Berkeley
2. Veronica Soebrato, Texas A&M
3. Bruce Haglund, University of Idaho
4. Gail Brager, UC Berkeley
5. Terry Meyer Boake, University of Waterloo
6. Alison Kwok, Cornell University
7. G.Z. Brown, University of Oregon
8. Therese Pfeiffer, University of Oregon
9. John Reynolds, University of Oregon
10. Rob Pena, University of Oregon
11. Peter Stone, Florida A&M
12. Brooks Calvin, Cal Poly - Pomona
13. Susan (David Lee Smith's wife)
14. Brooke Harrington, Temple Univsity
15. Walter Grondzik, Florida A&M
16. Murray Milne, UCLA
17. David Lee Smith, Univ. of Cinncinati
18. Susan Ubbelohde, UC Berkeley
19. Larry Degelman, Texas A&M

Alison Kwok and Susan Ubbelohde below a California flag on the dock and joined by Rob Pena in a wood-decked, no-parking zone (30K jpg left and 34K jpg right, Canon 24-mm, July 1997).

These images were taken a little earlier in the day while a small group of us was still on the pier. In the lefthand shot a boat passes twenty feet below the pier railing while I'm lining up a flagpole shot. On the right, my colleagues are hanging out in a no parking zone on the pier during a trial to see if the Sutton 30 would lift the rig (this is about as high as it got.)

More low-level group shots. On the left areTerry Boake (sunglasses, far left), John Reynolds, Therese Pfeiffer, Peter Stone, and Rob Pena. On the right, from far left clockwise, are Alison Kwok, G. Z. Brown, Brooks Calvin, Larry Degelman, Veronica Soebrato, and John Reynolds (35K jpg left and 28K jpg right, Canon 24-mm, July 1997).

I just plain like these shots for their spontaneity and the fun these folks were having as the camera wandered around above them. It is also a great time of day for the light and the fine, footprint-scale texture of the sand ripples on the beach provides a nice background texture.

Unorthodox portrait technique - those with heads, or even half heads, visible are Bill Burke in the upper left corner then (going clockwise) Alison Kwok, Bruce Haglund, John Reynolds, Brooks Calvin, Susan Ubbelohde, Therese Pfeiffer, Peter Stone, and half of Rob Pena (35K jpg, Canon 24-mm, July 1997).

This final shot was taken as the camera was just barely hanging in the air before the crowd. Though it looks as if I was holding the camera I was actually about fifty feet away wondering if the camera was about to eat some sand (I did scoop some sand with the 24-mm lens' sunshade at one point). I think the people in the image are relating to the camera far differently than they would have if I had been standing behind it and probably differently than if had been a tripod/self-timer shot. I think it makes for an interesting group portrait despite the excessive wide angle of the lens.

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