Notes on Kite Aerial Photography: Photo Gallery

Spring on Bolinas Ridge, a Cautionary Tale
Mount Tamalpais, California


Ground level shots of the ridge with its vernal mantle.  Have patience with me for throwing these in -- I recently acquired a telephoto zoom for the Canon and have been taking context shots with it.  (26K jpg left and 34K jpg right, Canon 100-300 mm, March 1998).

go to location map
It had been a somewhat frustrating winter as far as KAP goes.  Try as I might, it seemed that there was never a temporal alignment of decent winds, reasonable light, and discretionary time.  So by the end of March, as the days grew longer, I was wildly eager to head out and take some photographs.  My opportunity arose with the university's Spring Break.  I decided to head solo to Bolinas Ridge, 2,000 feet above the Pacific coastline -- a  location was featured in earlier gallery pages while cloaked in California's winter palette.

Bolinas Ridge is distinguished by an exuberent topography.   As shown in the images above, the ridgeline's grass-covered shoulders roll along in steep, convoluted patterns.  I drove through cloudy weather to arrive on the ridge just as sunshine was poking through the clouds.  The grass sported that vibrant green characteristic of Spring's onset.  I parked my trusty VW cabriolet along the road (around the left edge of the righthand image below), gathered my KAP gear, and left the roadway. It was great being outside again and I would soon be immersed in sun, wind, ripstop, and kiteline .

bridge04.gif (39796 bytes)Aerial shots of the ridgeline looking south.  The paved road is Bolinas Ridge Road, a frequent setting for automobile commercials.  The west peak of Mt. Tamalpais is visible in the lefthand photograph (29K jpg left and 23K jpg right, Canon 24-mm, March 1998).
I headed down the trail with KAP gearbag in hand and found a good starting point.  Up went the Sutton 30 and after flying for awhile I attached the Canon SLR rig with a 24-mm lens.  Using a ground stake as an anchor I took a few photographs and then started a few exercises with the infrared laser rangefinder I have started to carry.  This tool is proving increasingly useful as an aid in determining the KAP rig's position downrange.  I was well engrossed in this endeavor when I noticed someone headed down the trail in my direction.  The figure, apparently wearing an uniform, then yelled across a ravine "are you Charles?"  I responded that indeed I was and he identified himself as a highway patrolman.  The officer then said that my car had rolled from its parking place and overturned.  He had arranged for a tow truck and suggested I return to the road as quickly as possible.

bridge02.gif (43540 bytes)One of the few images taken on that aborted trip (33K jpg, Canon 24-mm, March 1998).
Twenty minutes felt like hours as I reeled the kite in, demounted the KAP rig, packed the gear away, and hiked back the road.  Plenty of time to think.  My first thought was that Bolinas Ridge, with it's 2,000 foot drop off,   was probably the worst of spots to be careless in parking.  My second was that I hoped the officer would not be issuing tickets for stupidity.  And, of course, I wondered about how much remained of my nice little car - a crumpled wad of metal foil, a bent and twisted carcass?

Arriving at the road I found it hard to believe my good fortune.  Rather than rolling down the precipitous hill to the right, the car had veered slightly left.  After rolling around 50 meters down the road it then ran off the road at a slight angle into a soft earth bank.  Tilted by the bank, it rolled ever so gently onto its side.  If it had not been stopped by the rather small bank certain destruction awaited at the bottom of the hill.  The police officer was quite charitable and with the aid of a skilled tow truck operator the car was righted with only a few minor scratches.  All is well that ends well. I felt lucky indeed.

vwside.gif (40020 bytes)Not a pretty sight but it could have been much, much worse (35K jpg, March 1998).



bridge10.gif (43492 bytes)Two days later Thomas and I were back at Bolinas Ridge again - getting back on the horse so to speak.  The car was well secured. (42K jpg, Canon 24-mm, March 1998).

Thomas and I were eager to fly when we returned to Bolinas ridge the next weekend. On that day the challenge was not rolling vehicles but a fresh and gusty wind - gusts measured 35 mph at ground level.  The results of that session are on the next gallery page.



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