Hello! George here. I am a 30-something small business accountant with Small Business Select, LLC which is part of The SikiSikich Group, LLC. As such, my outside interests generally get me away from being inside behind a desk. Even as young child I have enjoyed kites. When I was a pre-teen I used to build my own kites, usually deltas. For a while, they were made of plastic scavenged from large garbage bags, cloth tape and hardwood dowels. One day I found what remained of a roll of DuPont Tyvek house wrap in the dumpster at a residential construction site. The almost untearable paper seemed to be perfect for kites. I built several with sewed seams and sleeves for the fiberglass spars. These kites were tough enough that I had dreams of breaking the world record for duration aloft. These dreams as well as my interest in kites faded from the time I was a teenager until my late twenties.
My renewed interest in kites began innocently enough with a desire for a hobby that would not take up much space (my wife Brenda and I lived in a two bedroom, 1-car town house at the time) and would provide me with a relaxing break from my day-to-day business schedule. What could be better than a spring day with a kite to bring back the memories of the simpler times of my youth?
One tax season morning while having my usual breakfast of coffee and smokes, I was doing some 'surfing' and came across Charles Benton's site on Kite Aerial Photography (KAP). I was immediately intrigued with the idea of taking pictures from a kite. I had a brief experience with radio controlled airplanes while in high school and still had the electronics. I also had a retired Yashica T3 camera that still worked but was seldom used. I figured that during the remaining 7 weeks of Winter I could build a KAP rig for a very small investment and give KAPing a go.
My first rig was made out of 1-1/4 inch flat aluminum stock. It was essentially 2 "u" shaped pieces of aluminum hooked together. Placed in this rig was my retired Yashica T3 35mm camera and my old Futaba 3 channel radio control. As simple as the rig is, there were challenges to be solved. A traditional radio control servo only travels about 90 degrees. How do you make the rig spin a full 360 degrees? One of the challenges was tripping the shutter. Alignment of the servo arm had to be relatively precise to ensure the shutter was tripped. How do you attach the whole contraption to the kite? All of these issues plus others needed to be solved in order to succeed.
The challenges did not stop when the rig construction was complete. On my first flight I had my on/off switch wired backwards so that upon bringing the rig down, I had taken no pictures. The second flight seemed to be going well but I discovered that the shutter servo was mis-aligned so once again I had no pictures. Flight three would show me the greatest challenge in KAP.
I was so excited that the film status indicator was blinking zero upon retrieving the rig after flight three. I took the film in for development and impatiently awaited the results. I tore open the photo envelope to find...grass. Now, I like grass as much as the next guy but a whole roll of pictures of grass was not what I had expected. My aim was way off. I had discoved the greatest challenge of taking pictures without the benefit of looking through the view finder. Not only is there the challenge of getting the pan (spin) direction correct as well as the tilt angle, because the rig is attached to a constantly moving kite, the camera is moving at the same time!
To some, a whole roll of pictures of grass would be considered a failure. To me, it was an early success. It was proof that I could remotely control (the shutter at least) a camera attached to a kite. It was enough to keep me motivated to continue to pursue this unusual hobby.
The fourth roll was to be the turning point for me. I shot several pictures that were good enough to show others. In fact, two were good enough that I had enlargements made of them and gave them to my neighbors so they could enjoy aerial pictures of their homes. I was hooked! It was no longer an impossible pursuit.
Each roll continues to be an opportunity to learn from both my successes and failures. I cherish the pictures that turn out because of what it took to get to this point. I examine the pictures that don't work in an attempt to learn what I did to miss the shot and what I can do to improve my chances with the next roll.
Thank you for visiting. If you have enjoyed my little web site, please come back and visit from time to time as I hope to continue to add to it as my experiences with KAP continue.