Notes on Kite Aerial Photography: Photo Gallery
A ground-based view of my campsite with flag in background (41K jpg, Nikon 35Ti, July 1997).
This summer I took a few days off and camped with Boy Scout Troop 6 in the Sierra Nevada. Troop 6 has held summer camps at Lake Utica (near Bear Valley) ever since the 1960s. After taking images of hay and corn in the Central Valley it was refreshing to arrive at the lake. Utica is almost 7,000 feet above sea level so the air is cool and the sky is clear. It is an interesting landscape with features carved by glacial activity and the occasional volcanic plug. The largely granite ground surface is fractured by numerous faults and among these are cold mountain lakes filled with clear water. The whole scene is composed with a palette of green, blues, and greys.
I've long been curious about how
kites would fly in the Sierra Nevada so I hauled my KAP gear in
for the trip (it was only a half-hour hike from the car.) The
next three pages will have images from Lake Utica and the camp of
my gracious hosts in Troop 6.
The Luau site across the lake and an overhead shot of the camp's flagpole (40K jpg left and 39K jpg right, Canon 24-mm, July 1997).
The left view shows one
of the scout's activity sites on the shore of Lake Utica. This
shot was taken from around 300 feet up and captures a tree-lined
section of the shore. Scouts are visible in the clearing and
canoes are tucked away in the trees' shadow. The flagpole shown
on the right is the central accessory in the troop's twice daily
A high overhead shot of the general camp
area and a closer view of the flagpole - "kissing the pine
cone" (00K jpg left and 37K jpg right, Canon 24-mm, July
The lefthand shot provides a plan view of the principal camping area. The troop was divided into five patrols, each with its own leader, cooking site, and accouterments. The patrols were distributed through the wooded section shown in the photograph. If you look at the larger jpg you will begin to see tents emerging from the trees. The righthand shot captures the flagpole's pine cone finial. I'm glad I did not knock it off.
A two-shot montage of the Luau site (63K jpg, Canon 24-mm, July 1997).
At mid-camp the scouts adjourn to this site for a day-long "Luau" filled with contests, games, and a large meal.
It turns out that kites fly just
fine at 7,000 above sea level. I noticed no difference in
handling or lifting ability. I did notice a distinct difference
in the character of the wind as compared to the Bay Area. Around
Lake Utica the winds were generally consistent in direction but
always variable in velocity. I developed a technique of flying
where I could watch the lake's surface upwind. The cat's paws
(wind patterns) on the lake surface would tell me what to expect
for the next few minutes. If this indicator suggested a lull then
I knew I'd better start hauling in kiteline because the wind
could and did drop to around 0 mph on occasion. Altogether, the
lake surface watching system worked quite well.
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All rights reserved. Revised: Saturday, June 26, 2010