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Author Topic: Kite Aerial Photography rig on the cheap  (Read 21956 times)

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EmberMike

« on: July 19, 2012, 14:01 »
0

Anyone do any kite shooting? I'm toying with the idea of building or buying a kite rig that can hold a Canon T2i (550D). Not for anything professional, so I'm not looking to spend much on it. I've found various DIY rigs online that mostly seem to rely on a mechanical trigger, which seems like a very outdated way to do this. There has to be a simple, radio-remote mechanism for auto-focusing and shooting from more than 100ft.

Any tips for some amateur kite shooting?


« Reply #1 on: July 19, 2012, 17:01 »
0
Yeah, I got into this last summer and had quite a bit of fun.  I put up the Canon 5D with a 16-35mm lens.  I was using a flow form 15 and flow form 30 depending on the wind. 

For the trigger I'd just suggest an intervalometer.  They can be had for cheap and don't require any signals or button pressing.  If you have a big card you can take pictures for a long time as well.  A 16gb card on the 5D Mark II taking RAW images will last about 30 minutes which is long enough to capture most locations.  There is going to be things you will miss if you are only pressing the shutter button every now and then.  If you have your camera set to take photos ever 2 or 3 seconds you'll capture stuff you also get stuff you diidn't know was in front of the lens and allow you to do more trial and error.  There is also enough to think about trying to fly the kite and steer the camera that it's nice not to have to think about clicking the shutter as well.

Kite Aerial Photography (KAP) Flow Form 15 and 5D Mark II


I bought my stuff from brooxes
http://www.brooxes.com/newsite/HOME.html
and was quite pleased.  I don't think you can get the flow form kites anymore (the maker quit) but he has some replacements there it looks like.  You can build your rig yourself but after buying the kit from brooxes I'm glad I didn't attempt it.  It isn't so hard to do it all yourself, but finding and buying all those little bits and pieces would take ages and lots of trial and error to get working.  It's better to just buy one from brooxes, which will still require lots of putting together but saves you the trouble of reinventing the wheel.... or find a prebuilt rig.

« Reply #2 on: July 19, 2012, 17:04 »
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CD123

« Reply #3 on: July 19, 2012, 17:49 »
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here' some photos on flickr I shot
http://www.flickr.com/photos/stackofpancakes/sets/72157627386906331/with/6098672905/

Quite amazing Leaf! No chance of damaging your camera on landing?

« Reply #4 on: July 20, 2012, 01:14 »
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If things go like they should there is very little chance of damaging the camera.  When you're pulling in the kite this creates an extra drag on the line so it usually goes more up and thus safer.  When there are problems with height or power of the wind this is also the solution, pulling in line.  Also the kite acts a bit like a parachute so if the wind did die the camera wouldn't free fall, it would 'quickly float' down (at least with a kite like I have).

What has happened though is I tied two kites together to create more lift once and they got tangled and brought eachother down... it doesn't help that I was puling the kites behind a car because there was no wind and didn't see that it fell.  A stupid idea on several levels.  Anyhow the camera crashed on a gravel road and I pulled it several meters and it got dragged into the ditch etc.  Everything survived remarkably well, even the rig and gear which are quite fragile.  I did get a chip in the glass but I can't see it on the images, so all is well.  I thought I put this in a thread earlier but I can't find it now...

Most people fly with much lighter cameras, which would make things easier. 

CD123

« Reply #5 on: July 20, 2012, 04:24 »
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Amazing thread guys. Never even thought about this. Very interesting. Thank you.

« Reply #6 on: July 20, 2012, 06:16 »
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wow! this is cool!
after reading this thread I was surfing the internet for images from others who are into the KAP thing.

I was telling my wife about it that Leaf has the same camera and lens I have and he flies it up on a kite to take shots.... she said she would have to hurt me if I tried flying my gear like that...

I think I would have to buy a bigger kite and take the shortest way out of town


Definitly something I would like to look into but with a small camera like a P&S or a go pro
One guy did a go pro with a bunch of helium balloons on a fishing line and when he was done he just reeled in the gear...

« Reply #7 on: July 20, 2012, 06:38 »
0


I was telling my wife about it that Leaf has the same camera and lens I have and he flies it up on a kite to take shots.... she said she would have to hurt me if I tried flying my gear like that...


just tell your wife that everyone on the forum is doing it so...

EmberMike

« Reply #8 on: July 20, 2012, 11:02 »
0
...For the trigger I'd just suggest an intervalometer.  They can be had for cheap and don't require any signals or button pressing.  If you have a big card you can take pictures for a long time as well.  A 16gb card on the 5D Mark II taking RAW images will last about 30 minutes which is long enough to capture most locations...

Thanks for the info, leaf. Not being anything more than a very low-level hobbyist photographer I don't know much about intervalometers. Would something like that handle autofocusing? Does it get the camera to refocus and shoot at predefined intervals? How does an intervalometer work?

Can anyone suggest a product that would work with a Canon T2i for this sort of thing?
« Last Edit: July 20, 2012, 11:10 by EmberMike »


« Reply #10 on: July 20, 2012, 11:29 »
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Just when you think you've seen it all. I can't say I'd rig myself for this but do see the attraction of it. You chose a great subject to show of the possibilities. Thanks.

« Reply #11 on: July 20, 2012, 12:02 »
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Very cool photos. You're a brave man to have all that gear hanging on a very thin kite line ;) Although you're right that in a worst-case scenario the kite would act as a semi-parachute, but I'd I'd still anticipate a possible trip to the Canon repair center.

I've been very interested in watching filming with a remote controlled drone (quadcopter/etc), but the costs are fairly significant for a rig that can lift a pro body, and there is little margin for error.  If you live somewhere with steady wind, this seems like a great compromise.

Anyone else have kite or drone AP/AV experience?

Nope, but it's seriously in the plans.  .. it's coming to the top of the 'next investment' list.

« Reply #12 on: July 20, 2012, 21:33 »
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I recently bought the Drone 2.0. My buddy (closest to the camera on the deck) crashed it horribly the day after I got it and I had to replace the central cross. I haven't had much time to practice with it lately, but I'm pleased with the results in daylight. I'm excited about the potential that it brings to the video production segment of my business.

Here's a video taken about an hour before the crash. I fly it with my Nook Color booted into Android 2.3.7

[youtube]guryGiV6Xco[/youtube]

« Reply #13 on: July 21, 2012, 13:36 »
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recent WIRED had an article on DIY drones

http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2012/06/ff_drones/all/

RacePhoto

« Reply #14 on: July 21, 2012, 16:14 »
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Easy, it's just a shutter release with a timer.

http://cdn1.webvoo.com/cdn2/120102/d3/35/fd/bcan60e3rc02_1_efc.jpg

$14 and up on eBay.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Timer-Remote-Cord-for-Canon-550D-T2i-450D-350D-RS-60E3-Digital-Camera-DSLR-/390363879944?pt=Camera_Camcorder_Remotes&hash=item5ae3801a08

Search for timer remote shutter canon.

They are all pretty much the same. I have one that uses the little CR batteries and the newest one (for a Canon T2i and similar) uses two AAA batteries. Easier to find and cheaper. I use rechargeable.

Also good for time lapse and night shots, or a cable release when you don't want to shake the camera. Will do time exposures if the camera has "B" setting and you can set the interval and length of the exposure. Stars, one shot every ten seconds for five seconds. For example.

Hardly expensive!  ;D And that what an intervalometer does. Interval Shooting.



...For the trigger I'd just suggest an intervalometer.  They can be had for cheap and don't require any signals or button pressing.  If you have a big card you can take pictures for a long time as well.  A 16gb card on the 5D Mark II taking RAW images will last about 30 minutes which is long enough to capture most locations...


Thanks for the info, leaf. Not being anything more than a very low-level hobbyist photographer I don't know much about intervalometers. Would something like that handle autofocusing? Does it get the camera to refocus and shoot at predefined intervals? How does an intervalometer work?

Can anyone suggest a product that would work with a Canon T2i for this sort of thing?

RacePhoto

« Reply #15 on: July 30, 2012, 07:57 »
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I removed the on the cheap part. But it was an idea I had while driving home this weekend.

Helium balloon(s)

8 foot dia. balloon, 268.10 cu feet, lifting capacity 17.18 lbs. ($130)
6' 113.10 Cu. Ft. # 7.25

These were some general numbers figuring Canon 10-D with grip and two batteries, plus 28-135 lens. = just under 5 Lbs.

Cables and wires so your camera doesn't float off into the stratosphere, also add weight.  :) Balloons weigh something. A T2i with one battery would be much less. I was going heavy so I would be under developed and find out I had a Lead Zeppelin.

Any R/C gear for tilt pan adds more weight, but it's not necessary, since unlike a kite, you can tether and adjust, bring it down, adjust and try again. Also two control wires to the lift bundle, you can use one to adjust tilt or rotation. First thing I came up with is any one wire can hold the ship and camera, safety/security.

So someone could fill multiple balloons and lift a DSLR and everything up 100 feet, pretty easily.

Filling your balloons is another issue. From reading a little, the Helium tanks can be expensive and are not refillable. Seems the answer is go to a party store and have balloons filled, then add them. I suppose you could store them in the garage but we all know how long that lasts. Mylar balloons leak less. (rubber is porous HE will escape through pores) A bunch of balloons is a much cheaper plan than the big expensive one. I just quoted the price for a big blimp, for example.

HE cost should be about $1 a balloon at a party store. You will need 100 cu/ft of helium... Have fun calculating. And what was that you asked?  V = (4/3) * Pi * R^3

OK so you can fly and shoot and fly and shoot and when you are done, you have a bunch of big HE balloons? Maybe tie postcards on them, one by one and send them up for return mail, see where they go? Save and refill is easy with the Mylar.

I had one more idea, but didn't check it out any further. Maybe someone who has one can help out with additional information.

Eye-Fi memory card?  http://www.eye.fi/how-it-works/basics  Send the photos directly down from the "blimp" to a laptop and you can see what you have.

« Reply #16 on: July 30, 2012, 08:52 »
0
If using a Canon, it might be worth checking out the Magic Lantern firmware.  I use it occasionally for timelapses.  It will save having to buy an intervalometer and the extra bit of weight.

RacePhoto

« Reply #17 on: July 30, 2012, 08:58 »
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If using a Canon, it might be worth checking out the Magic Lantern firmware.  I use it occasionally for timelapses.  It will save having to buy an intervalometer and the extra bit of weight.

Good point. I didn't mention it but I have the little cheapo remote that has a built in timer, hardly 4oz, not an issue, but yes, there are firmware "hacks" that allow time lapse. They don't harm the camera, it's read from the card, not burned into the ECU.

I have a radio controlled remote, I didn't want to get into that whole project. Made a motion sensor from a driveway alarm. (cheap from Harbor Freight) and have half of a retro-reflective light sensor, which could also work with a light source for trapping an area for anything that moves through. The wireless remote is good for two miles, so I could easily fly it.

Also good point, weight is the enemy!

« Reply #18 on: July 30, 2012, 09:50 »
0
If using a Canon, it might be worth checking out the Magic Lantern firmware.  I use it occasionally for timelapses.  It will save having to buy an intervalometer and the extra bit of weight.

Yeah, did you get that to work on a 5D mark II?  I tried to install Magic Lantern last year and think I got it working but I couldn't find the intervalometer anywhere.

« Reply #19 on: July 30, 2012, 09:52 »
0
I removed the on the cheap part. But it was an idea I had while driving home this weekend.

Helium balloon(s)

8 foot dia. balloon, 268.10 cu feet, lifting capacity 17.18 lbs. ($130)
6' 113.10 Cu. Ft. # 7.25

These were some general numbers figuring Canon 10-D with grip and two batteries, plus 28-135 lens. = just under 5 Lbs.

Cables and wires so your camera doesn't float off into the stratosphere, also add weight.  :) Balloons weigh something. A T2i with one battery would be much less. I was going heavy so I would be under developed and find out I had a Lead Zeppelin.

Any R/C gear for tilt pan adds more weight, but it's not necessary, since unlike a kite, you can tether and adjust, bring it down, adjust and try again. Also two control wires to the lift bundle, you can use one to adjust tilt or rotation. First thing I came up with is any one wire can hold the ship and camera, safety/security.

So someone could fill multiple balloons and lift a DSLR and everything up 100 feet, pretty easily.

Filling your balloons is another issue. From reading a little, the Helium tanks can be expensive and are not refillable. Seems the answer is go to a party store and have balloons filled, then add them. I suppose you could store them in the garage but we all know how long that lasts. Mylar balloons leak less. (rubber is porous HE will escape through pores) A bunch of balloons is a much cheaper plan than the big expensive one. I just quoted the price for a big blimp, for example.

HE cost should be about $1 a balloon at a party store. You will need 100 cu/ft of helium... Have fun calculating. And what was that you asked?  V = (4/3) * Pi * R^3

OK so you can fly and shoot and fly and shoot and when you are done, you have a bunch of big HE balloons? Maybe tie postcards on them, one by one and send them up for return mail, see where they go? Save and refill is easy with the Mylar.

I had one more idea, but didn't check it out any further. Maybe someone who has one can help out with additional information.

Eye-Fi memory card?  http://www.eye.fi/how-it-works/basics  Send the photos directly down from the "blimp" to a laptop and you can see what you have.


I know there are a few kiters that also use baloons when there is no wind but I don't think you gain anything by using balloons.  You can control where you camera is in regards to position and height with a kite pretty well (at least as good as with a balloon).  I also don't think the RC set up would add much weight, at least not much more than extra lines and such to control the direction the camera is pointing.  You need a rig to hold your camera either way, so to put a tiny gear and motor on there is pretty inconsequential in terms of weight.

RacePhoto

« Reply #20 on: July 30, 2012, 10:30 »
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Here's the on the cheap ultimate. Duct tape and three 10 foot poles. Mount the camera, hoist the camera. Good luck bringing it down again? LOL

But it is the ultimate in "Cheap"?

What started me on Sunday driving home was a tractor working in a hilly field and I thought, yeah that would make a nice overhead shot. Crops and turned crops, machinery, nice lighting, the hills and green.

I had looked into pole camera mounts in the past. It's a telescoping pole mount that goes on the car bumper. It's more stable and safe than duct tape... attaches to the bumper, stabilized on the ground. Crank it up (by hand) and shoot. Think in the thousands, it's not cheap. But someone with ingenuity, some rope and pulleys, like an extending series of PVC tubes, could probably build one that was 30-40 feet and able to handle a DSLR.

40 feet is an interesting enough angle to make it stand out.

I also considered finding my old pole climbing spikes (telephone pole or tree 3" spikes) and mounting a remote for a parade, where the course turns a corner. Might be interesting from 20 feet up? Not entirely death defying feat, and the camera would be safe from spectators. (well 10 feet would work too?) Bridge mount in progress, where instead of going up, I drop the camera down. This is for a train shot, still in the scraps of paper planning stages. I did find a bridge with access and good lighting?  ;)

Whatever, the easiest part is the free electrons, set the camera to take time lapse, send it up, down or whatever, and then throw away the bad ones. It only takes a few good images to make a nice seller on Micro.

« Reply #21 on: July 30, 2012, 10:43 »
0
If using a Canon, it might be worth checking out the Magic Lantern firmware.  I use it occasionally for timelapses.  It will save having to buy an intervalometer and the extra bit of weight.


Yeah, did you get that to work on a 5D mark II?  I tried to install Magic Lantern last year and think I got it working but I couldn't find the intervalometer anywhere.

I use the 550D but this thread has some info for the 5D MKII.
http://forum.timescapes.org/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=18&t=7345

Roadrunner

  • Roadrunner
« Reply #22 on: July 30, 2012, 14:35 »
0
I remember years back when you could buy a small blimp that actually had a small engine/prop for directing the craft.  There was a built in housing  for the camera.  The controls worked so well that the photog could use a remote wireless trigger with precision.  I wonder if that is still around.  Back in the eighties it went for around $1,200 USD.

My friend had a Cessna and used to take me up for some aerial work, but shooting through glass is a pain.

The kite thing definitely looks cheaper, but riskier.

« Reply #23 on: July 30, 2012, 14:40 »
0
A quick Google search found a page for camera blimps - http://www.aerialproducts.com/blimps/camera-blimps.html .  Who knew?  Looks like they mostly are used for security but obviously could be adapted for stock.  Not cheap but not too expensive for a small one.

RacePhoto

« Reply #24 on: July 31, 2012, 09:34 »
0
A quick Google search found a page for camera blimps - http://www.aerialproducts.com/blimps/camera-blimps.html .  Who knew?  Looks like they mostly are used for security but obviously could be adapted for stock.  Not cheap but not too expensive for a small one.


Nice toy collection, good find! Love the tilt pan head for DSLRs. I don't have a spare $6100 around, but it sure would be nice?  :D


 

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