Notes on Kite Aerial Photography: Photo Gallery

Cilantro Fields
Salinas Valley, California


Field workers tending the cilantro under a hot sun (53K jpg, Canon 24-mm, July 1997).

I drove down Highway 101 to Santa Barbara with friends Rob Pena, Bill Burke, and Alison Kwok. It is a pleasant seven-hour drive through varied California terrain. I'm particularly impressed with the broad Salinas Valley -- a remarkably flat and capacious valley flanked by impressive hills and covered in crops. Driving though the valley on the way down I talked to my friends about the KAP opportunities that appeared beside the road. Every mile had something to offer: here a nice cluster of dilapidated outbuildings, there workers assembling a gigantic sprinkler apparatus with its parts laid out like an instructional diagram, measured rows of interestingly juxtaposed crops, sprinkler mist patterns shaped by the 20 mph breeze. We resolved to stop for a roll returning from the meeting and stop we did.

These images were taken near Soledad not far from the highway on an early Monday afternoon. The wind was blowing about 20 mph at ground level and wanted to yank the Sutton 16 out of my hand (literally). The small kite could have lifted several camera rigs with ease -- quite a change from my recent spate of low-wind flying. The turbulent eddies were large and produced a slow but very pronounced swaying of the rig. We settled on a cilantro field as a topic and shot a quick roll within a 30-minute stop.


Oblique views of the striated landscape (46K jpg left and 27K jpg right, Canon 24-mm, July 1997).


The cilantro fields appear to be staged so that one 'stripe' of crop is mature at any given time. The lefthand image shows these stripes from just planted on the left then immature then mature to finally past peak on the right. Workers are visible between just planted and immature. The righthand view is looking east across the immature stripe toward its neighbors -- we were told the distant blue-green stripe was broccoli. In this shot you can see a 'cross-stripe' pattern produced by the irrigation system as well as the dark brown color of land currently being sprinkled. Looking closely you can see that the sprinkler pipe is at the edge of the wet ground as opposed to the center, a result of the brisk wind.


An almost overhead view of the workers and a closer view of the cilantro (39K jpg left and 54K jpg right, Canon 24-mm, July 1997).
I'm fond of the view on the left. The print is quite sharp and shows the workers tending the last row of the immature cilantro. You can see their footprints from various trips across the adjacent rows of tilled, bare earth. The lower shot on the right reveals a cilantro growth pattern that I think is an artifact of the sprinkler head placement.

Lately, I've been wondering what Claudia would think of a week's vacation in Soledad. There is so much there to shoot it would be nice to have a few days to work on it.



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