We have all admired those sweeping aerial shots that used to be the exclusive domain of professional photographers with much greater budgets than ours. With the introduction of the drone, that monopoly is admittedly being challenged at least to a certain extent. Whilst significantly cheaper than chartering a helicopter, drones are still fairly expensive and everyone we have met who owns one, has complained about reliability. This is fairly usual when a technology is in its infancy and I have no doubt that as the years roll on and the market deepens, drones will be super-reliable and virtually free with breakfast cereal.
Back in the real world of the everyday cruiser, where budgets are still a part of life, $4000 is a lot to spend on something that works only a few times.
However, there is a tried and tested technology that has been continuously developed for thousands of years, principally by the Chinese who invented it at about the time of the birth of Christ. It is simple, cheap and enormous amounts of fun.
Welcome fellow sailors to the ‘kite-cam’
You will need:
1 stable kite (we add a drogue to ours, just to be safe)
A line of fishing reel
A light digital camera (waterproof!) that can be programmed to take pictures at regular intervals
A safety lanyard
A basic understanding of a photo-editing suite such as Adobe Photoshop
A helpful partner.
Firstly, set up your kite and test fly it without the camera to get a good feel (remember that if the kite is not flying strongly in the wind you have, it will not fly at all when you add the extra weight).
Then bring it in and lash the camera to the frame along the central axis. Set up the camera to take a photo every 10 seconds and off you go….
As you can see from the pictures, the only down side is the fishing line bisecting and spoiling the photograph. This can be easily erased in most photo editing suites in about 2 minutes.
And there you have it – cheap aerial photography by kite-cam. And possibly the only product from China you will ever own that was actually invented there!