Notes on Kite Aerial Photography: Photo Gallery

Surfing at Drake's Beach
Pt. Reyes National Seashore

context01.GIF (36349 bytes)Having quickly crossed the Pt. Reyes peninsula, our springtime northwest wind then continues into Drake's Bay.  This produces handsome windswept waves at Drake's Beach, a break that attracts surfers. (23K jpg, Canon 100-300 mm shot from bluff, March 1998).

go to location map

Last Sunday we headed out to Pt. Reyes for a picnic and wildflower viewing.  It was a glorious spring day with clear skies and a stiff sea breeze blowing around 20 mph.   The family having decided to hang out at Drake's Beach for a while, I hiked up to the bluff with the KAP gear.  The surfers were loitering about 200 yards offshore, a compelling KAP target.  Since I was on the bluff and already 100 feet or so above the water I decided to use my longest KAP lens -- the 50-mm Canon, f1.8. With the 24-mm lens the surfers would be mere specks in the water.  I also used the smallest kite in my bag, the Sutton 16, so the rig would stay as low as possible. The challenge would be placing the KAP rig the correct distance out over the water. 

prsurfer06.GIF (49777 bytes)Water textures in my surf shots often have an indeterminate scale. The surfer in this image adds a scale clue. Each of the subsequent photographs features one or more surfers. (48K jpg, Canon 50-mm, March 1998).

My efforts to place the rig over the surfers were greatly aided by one of my favorite new toys, the Bushnell Yardage Pro 400 Infrared Laser Rangefinder.  This lightweight instrument looks like a pair of binoculars and measures distances to within a meter by a pulsing infrared laser on a target and timing the reflected light.  This seems miraculous to me given the speed of light. Turns out the surfers were between 170 and 180 meters out so I kept letting line out until the rig was about 210 meters out, a target distance established through trigonometry (via slide rule of course.)  I will post a page in the equipment section soon describing the device and technique.

prsurfer03.GIF (37889 bytes)prsurfer02.GIF (40826 bytes)The lefthand shot features a surfer dragging his hand in the water as he carves (detailed view).  This would make the wave about 8 feet high.  On the right a surfer sits on his board at the bottom of the image (21K jpg left and 40K jpg right, Canon 50-mm, March 1998).

prsurfer05.GIF (44849 bytes)prsurfer08.GIF (48183 bytes)Two surfers vie for the wave in the lefthand image while a surfer prepares to turn turtle in the righthand shot. (40K jpg left and 45K jpg right, Canon 50-mm, March 1998).

prsurfer01.GIF (31551 bytes)prsurfer04.GIF (39464 bytes)The wind is sweeping a fine mist off of the wave in the lefthand image and producing a subtle rainbow (it is more clear in the jpg and clearer yet in the photograph).  On the right, sole ownership of a left break (21K jpg left and 27K jpg right, Canon 50-mm, March 1998).

I enjoy these shots particularly for the scale that the surfers lend to the waves and water texture.  I think I will have to come back and shoot some more of these.

[ Home Page | Background | Equipment | Gallery | Maps | Discussion | Others | Search | What's New ]

Comments to author: . All content, graphics and
images contained throughout are Copyright (C) 1995 - 2005 by Charles C. Benton
and are protected by United States and International copyright laws.
No text, graphic or image may be used whole or in part, individually,
or as part of a derivative work without express written permission.

All rights reserved. Revised: Saturday, June 26, 2010