Kite Aerial Photography 101

In this post I will show you how to build a quick and easy rig to get your camera flying (without any magic wands and jumping from nukem driven airplanes).

Kite Aerial Photography 101

Yes, welcome to another boring tutorial… wait I say boring loud? Is not, it is fun, relaxing and sometimes adrenalin twisted outdoor exercise – welcome to Kite Aerial Photography 101.

Lets get started

The Stuff You Need

  • kite
  • line
  • camera rig
  • gloves

The kite must be strong enough to lift a camera, we used a Super Sled 1.6m one line kite. Is great for travel and easy to start by one person (you don’t have to run like mad dog to get it in the sky).

Kite Aerial Photography 101

The Super Sled is good for compact cameras, camera phones and will do fine with wind speeds from 9-30km/h. It come with 50m line we changed with 300m/70kg kevlar line to get better shoots. Of course you can choose a different kite. You’d wanna make sure it has enough lifting power for heavy jobs like aerial photography.

The Rig

For rigging the camera to the kite we got two big heavy-duty paper clips and an aluminum bracket (which is just an aluminum rail).

Kite Aerial Photography 101

We drilled a hole in the middle of bracket for the camera mount screw. We then added paper clips with key rings on both sides. To attach the rig to the main kite line we used another bit of line tied with a hanger – a bend piece of hard wire.

Kite Aerial Photography 101

Kite Aerial Photography 101

Kite Aerial Photography 101

Kite Aerial Photography 101

Kite Aerial Photography 101

Kite Aerial Photography 101

Kite Aerial Photography 101

The distance from the kite to the camera is around 20m-30m. Note that the rig line is not connected to the camera holder. It is only going through the key rings – that keeps the camera steady and level in the air.

Kite Aerial Photography 101

Kite Aerial Photography 101

Kite Aerial Photography 101

Now there is the issue of actually pressing the shutter button. Since the camera will be up in the air, we are not going to click for pictures, but rather use interval mode to get a click every 5 seconds or so.

When you use camera phones (like androids or iPhones) there is a nice selection of different interval apps (like TriggerTrap mobile app), in compact cameras you need to check for interval / time-lapse mode. For some canon point and shoot cameras you can use the custom firmware from CHDK.

A Few Words About Safety:

  • Check and double check your line and knots before you put the camera in the air
  • Check wind speed – you want some wind to help the kite fly, but if it is too strong, just call it a day.
  • Secure your camera / use bubbel wrap on the camera. Actually you may wanna think before sending your beloved gadget up 200mm (flight mode does not actually make your iPhone flying!)
  • Use gloves – kite line can easy burn your hands
  • Check that there are no other flying object in your area

Dublin As Seen By A Kite

Kite Aerial Photography 101

Kite Aerial Photography 101

Kite Aerial Photography 101

Kite Aerial Photography 101

Kite Aerial Photography 101

Good Luck!

About The Authors:

Maciej Pietuszynski and Wlodzimierz Marcin Zaworski are photographers based in Dublin, Ireland. You can follow their adventures on the links above.

  • http://www.facebook.com/john.wells.5458 John Wells

    Quads are more risky than kites!

    You can do things very cheaply and simply: http://www.armadale.org.uk/aerialtechniquesforchildren.htm

  • http://www.facebook.com/john.wells.5458 John Wells

    With small cameras you can use a small rubbish bag:
    http://www.armadale.org.uk/balloonphotography.htm

  • http://www.facebook.com/john.wells.5458 John Wells

    You can use a £28 HD 808#16D video camera or a Canon compact ~£60 and use the Canon Hackers Development Kit to set the interval timer.

  • Sebastian Kaliszewski

    Well, I’ve personally witnessed much more uncontrolled quad/drone landings than uncontrolled kite landings. And you only attach a camera when your kite is high up and conditions are verified.

    • http://www.facebook.com/john.wells.5458 John Wells

      My sentiments exactly ;o)

  • Sebastian Kaliszewski

    Laws depend on a country. For example in UK you need to obtain permission to fly above 60m or 30m not far away from an airport. In Germany you’re limited to 100m of line AFAIR. In USA there is a height limit of 500′ unless your entire kite & rig is small. And so on…

  • Sebastian Kaliszewski

    Attach it to a kite line well below of a kite. First put kite high enough to fly stably, attach the camera and then release more line to get camera up.

  • Sebastian Kaliszewski

    It’s a good idea if there is close to no wind and you have money for helium. If there is any significant wind you’d have a though fight with the thing.

  • http://www.facebook.com/john.wells.5458 John Wells

    Lots of info here:
    http://arch.ced.berkeley.edu/kap/discuss/
    do a search.