Notes on Kite Aerial Photography: Photo Gallery

Spring on Bolinas Ridge #2
Mount Tamalpais, California

Our return to Bolinas Ridge was marked by an entertaining weather day.   I took this photograph out of the VW's window as acorn size hail was falling  (13K jpg, Canon 15-mm, March 1998).

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A couple of days after the car incident I returned to Bolinas Ridge, this time with son Thomas as companion and supervisor.  The hills were still quite green and the weather had changed into the unstable conditions that follow our springtime cold fronts.  It would be sunny one moment and hailing the next.  The wind was variable as well, ranging from a steady 15 mph to a gusty 30 mph at ground level. 

context04.GIF (30756 bytes)A ground-based telephoto lens view of Stinson Beach and Bolinas as seen from Bolinas Ridge.  Our flying site on Bolinas Ridge was around 600 meters above sea level (23K jpg, Canon 100-300 mm, March 1998).

I originally launched the Sutton 30 and quickly realized that it would be too much kite for the gusts.  So down it came and up went the Sutton 16. It too pulled quite hard.   I have been carrying a "spring tension" scale in my bag for a couple of months and find that a pull of around 15 pounds seems to work well for my style.   This much pull easily lifts my heavier rig and isn't so much that I get worn out.   The line tension this afternoon was occasionally exceeding 45 pounds.  After flying the Sutton 16 for awhile I pulled it down and added more fuzzy tail to calm it down in the gusts.  Thi shelped a bit but I wished that I'd brought my Sutton 8, a kite I rarely use and have quit carrying in my standard kit.  In these winds it could have lofted the SLR rig easily.

bridge06.gif (41558 bytes)bridge07.gif (38269 bytes)Views down the hillside toward Stinson Beach. Interesting comparative images are available in an earlier gallery page.  There is also a "peace dividend" B&W view of the area available from a Russian satellite (30K jpg left and 32K jpg right, Canon 24-mm, March 1998).

The aerials on this page are from the roll of film I shot that day.  I had ASA 100 print film in the camera and regretted it. Even with the long tail, the camera was moving around in the gust wind and higher shutter speeds would have helped.  Around 1/3 of the images from the roll evidenced distinct motion blur while even more lacked the crispness of shots from a still day.

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A view toward the north and a view toward the east (29K jpg left and 33K jpg right, Canon 24-mm, March 1998).

In the lefthand image you can see Bolinas Ridge Road as it winds down toward its intersection with the Bolinas Fairfax Road. The righthand image provides a fine example of the opposition effect, and there is even a bicyclist in the bright spot opposite the sun. The uppermost blue in the upper left corner of that image is San Francisco Bay.

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A familiar scene in following the winter of 1998 - erosion from our copious rains (36K jpg left and 35K jpg right, Canon 24-mm, March 1998).

During the rather dreary winter of 1998 the Bay Area received 250% of its normal annual rainfall.  The California landscape is relatively young and reacts to excess water by becoming unstable and sliding.  Landslides occurred on many hillsides and regrettably homes were lost.  The scene above was commonplace after the rains. The road has been reduced to a single lane at the curve with concrete barriers and stop signs have been placed to help interweave opposing traffic.  A plastic tarp covers the slide to buy time for repairs and the tarp is held in place by sandbags strung on ropes.  A second slide is visible to the right of the plastic tarp.  The gully is about ten meters deep when compared to the road's elevation.

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