Long before there were drones buzzing around, taking video of everything, there was KAP - Kite Aerial Photography. Although I've done a lot of KAPping over the years, especially here in Puerto Rico, I've been away from it for a while. I've missed it. Late Thursday afternoon, I went to Playuela to start KAPping again and relearn some forgotten skills.
Basically, KAP is using a kite to lift a camera to take aerial photos. There are a variety of methods to control the camera, from no control at all and just a rubber band to release the shutter to elaborate gyro-stabilized, full video downlink systems. My rig is pretty basic: using an RC airplane radio and the rig I built, I can rotate the camera 360 degrees horizontally, tilt 90 degrees vertically from horizontal to looking straight down, and trip the shutter.
KAP has some limitations compared to drones. Kites are at the mercy of the wind so you can't always get them to go where you want them. They aren't stable enough to shoot video. You can do it but watching the playback will make you sick. Unless you have a downlink system, you can see what you're shooting.
But all that is part of what I love about KAP. It is a challenge. Watching the camera and the kite dance you are doing realtime 3D calculus in your head ("I think I know what it's pointed at!"). And I kinda like the not knowing exactly. It's like Forrest Gump's mother's box of chocolates: you never know exactly what you've got til you go home and download the images. Sometimes there are surprises - "wow! I had no idea it looked like that!" Sometimes you get a photo that is just the way you visualized it. Sometimes you get crap. But that's the joy of digital - you can delete the crap.
I've wanted to KAP at Playuela for a while. I wanted to KAP near sunset to get the long shadows of the palm trees. So I had to wait for 1) an afternoon that was 2) clear and 30 had wind and 4) Ola Lola's wasn't open. That last one limits me to three evenings a week. It took til Thursday for everything to fall into place.
I set up on the wrong side of the area and then the wind started to die just before sunset so I didn't get everything I wanted. But I was out, KAPping a new place. I learned a lot from it and had fun.
That's good. I will return.