Notes on Kite Aerial Photography: Photo Gallery

Central Campus at Sunset
University of California, Berkeley

uccc10.gif (40550 bytes)A new image of the oft-photographed northwest corner of Doe Library.  This page contains images taken just as the sun sets using Kodak MAX ASA 800 film. (40K jpg, Canon 24-mm, April 1998).

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So there I was, dutifully working on a committee report on Sunday afternoon.  Making progress too. But every now and then the branch outside my window would move around a bit. There it goes again. Put it out of your mind.  Its amazing how the rods that provide our peripheral vision can pick up movement so well.  I finally decided to go to the front door and check the palm trees at the Pacific School of Religion two blocks away.   These trees, sitting at the crest of a small hill, are my local wind tell tale. The wind was building in nicely from the west.

I struggled with the report for another hour or two and then decided to bolt for campus.  This was the day after our clocks changed from Standard to Daylight Savings time and I reasoned that surely that event warranted a late day outing. Why else go through such change?

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Plan view of the north entry to Doe Library on the left and new view of the pollarded sycamores on the Campanile Esplanade as they just come into leaf (29K jpg left and 41K jpg right, Canon 24-mm, April 1998).

Given the late hour I just headed the few blocks to campus. In my daily walking commute, I noticed that the pollarded trees at the Campanile were just going into leaf so I headed that way.  The diffuse light had a nice warm tint but was fading fast so I thought this would be a fine opportunity to try out some of the Kodak MAX ASA 800 print film. The winds were calming down by the time I got out the the Sutton 60 served as a lifter.

uccc12.gif (38344 bytes)The north facade of Doe Library (35K jpg, Canon 24-mm, April 1998).

With the Canon SLR aloft I walked around the Campanile area and shot a quick roll. The sun was spending some time behind thin clouds and some time less obscured.  In either event the warm late day colors produced a fine effect.  The Kodak MAX film works well for these conditions.  Grain is noticeable in the negatives but not as much as I would have guessed. 

uccc11.gif (40686 bytes)The north entry to Doe Library (37K jpg, Canon 24-mm, April 1998).

The variable winds caused the rig to move around more than usual.  One minute they would vigorous pull on the kiteline, then they would slack off to near nothing.  On more than one occasion I had to put my transmitter on the ground and spend full attention on keeping the kite aloft.  It helped to have a large, clear field to work in.   However, the Sutton 60 seems to be more prone to collapse than its smaller siblings. Care was indicated.

I finished up the roll fairly quickly and retrieved the camera rig.  After getting the camera to ground I decided to play with the Sutton 60 to see how stable it actually was.  During a period of low wind, while the Sutton was about 150 feet out, I hauled in a little line and then let it back out quickly.  The Sutton responded by collapsing.  The collapsed Sutton was decidedly unaerodynamic and fell like a dead duck.  I was able to inhaul line and after a few seconds convinced the cells to reinflate. This actually worsened things since the kite was upside down at the time.   The sequence was finished by a power dive into the ground as I played out more line to slow it down.  I ended up with the kiteline across a campus road and the kite on the other side of a chain link fence.  It was easy to retrieve the kite but I was glad I had removed the camera rig before playing around with the kite.

uccc01.gif (39751 bytes)uccc04.gif (41962 bytes)Views of the Campanile and the buildings to its immediate east taken after 7 pm -- it is nice to have the long days back.  (37K jpg left and 38K jpg right, Canon 24-mm, April 1998).

The images above were taken during a brief (and rare) excursion to around 400 feet above ground level.  Note the Campanile Esplanade and its pollarded sycamores in the righthand image.  The muted, diffuse light in these images appeals to me. It is very different from the conditions of  midday

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