The better things work for us the fonder of them we are.
I have been inspired to explore the potential of the ITW Levitation 9′ delta by Ramon Palares (Kappix) in the Netherlands who has gained great expertise with it and Mike LeDuc in the USA who has developed methods for extending its wind range. In New Zealand a similar story is unfolding with Tristan Mason, a keen photographer who is just beginning his KAP adventure. From Poland the Blue Kite Team’s Piotr is a kite builder with a passion for the Dopero and the Delta who has an interest in KAP too.
We all agree we need a selection of kites to meet a variety of wind and site conditions and we almost all agree the Delta commands the light to mid range and has a strong contender in the ‘fresh’ end of Bft 5 too.
To get started let’s take a look at the work these kite fliers do, it’s no trivial matter to hitch €100s worth of kit to a kite line in the hope of getting a good photo so anyone doing this takes time to investigate what works for others and, in general, Kappers are only too happy to share their experiences. It’s a small crowd and, although there are many who find they can fling a GoPro into the sky and get pictures, there are a few who realise KAP has the potential to achieve truly great images, and the pursuit of image quality (IQ) will place a quality camera in some peril. We are not fools, nobody wants to mash an expensive camera and minimising the risk depends on knowledge, practice and patience.
Tris in New Zealand:
Ramon ‘Kappix’ Palares in the Netherlands :Piotr in Poland:The challenge is always there, if there is wind and sunlight it is possible to capture something and on occaision it might turn out to something great, why waste the oportunity by not using the best kite, line and camera you can?
It took 4 trips to get this shot. This can get a bit obsessive, a case of ‘try, try and try again’ and just getting a camera above a good subject doesn’t guarantee a good photo. . I’m pretty sure I spend more time ‘practising’ (taking useless photos) than ‘working’.
“I’m keen to know the load weight you’re lifting in various wind conditions. I’m not sure if you change your rig in anyway from flight to flight or if the payload stays constant?”
As far as possible I like to use the same kit as often as possible, it’s very easy to make mistakes swapping cameras- there is no standard for menu layouts (for example I have wrecked an entire flights worth by miss-applied EV settings: when I thought I was reducing screen brightness to save power I was applying a stupid EV value). I have found I am error prone when setting up the DSLR with fixed focus lenses… but I keep trying new ideas to see if I can work better…..maybe adopt an autoKAP approach to save weight, use a better camera to increase IQ, opt for VTx to improve the hit rate, improve the wind range of a kite by adding a drogue or swapping a spar etc etc. So my reply to Tristan was:
“I have 3 rigs and 2 line weights so I can try to wring what I can from the lift.
The rigs are:
- AutoKAP Harbord SP with (CHDK) Canon 2300 at 200g in Bft 2 with the 3m delta (I hope, I have used a 4m O bird in Bft 2 so far)
- AutoKAP fixed tilt with Canon Eos M at 400g Bft 2 with the 8′rok Bft 3 with 3m delta.
- RC pan & tilt with video relay Leica X1 at 800g Bft 3 with 8′rok, Bft 4 with 2.7m flowform.
My favourite is the 800g option and I can swap in a Nikon D5100 with some big glass if the lift allows. The easiest option is the AutoKAP and that’s what I use for testing or if I’m a bit wind shy.
If all goes well with the 3m delta I will be able to retire the O bird and use it in Bft 2 & 3″
“Now that’s what I call a setup. I think I need to look at my rig as it seems heavy by comparison. Lipo battery may contribute. I’ve been gradually accumulating parts for a second rig which will be RC controlled which is where I started so I have most of what is needed. The weather this weekend is looking favourable (it being winter) so I’m looking to fly the Levi on Sunday. I need to put aside my fear of sending my Nikon aloft. I have all the intentions but when I get to the site I chicken out and put the old faithful Lumix point and shoot on the rig. Having said all that my rig is in bits to address the poorly fitted cogs that drive the pan. It had come so lose it wouldn’t drive the weight of the Nikon anyway.”
One thing that stood out to me is : “I need to put aside my fear of sending my Nikon aloft” that fear is a good thing, it’s what keeps us safe. It is also a sure sign Tristan wants to get the best IQ posible. More weight reqires more power to lift it which either means flying in a bigger wind with its attendant turbulance or committing a big kite in a lighter wind, both approaches have their problems but how do you know which path to take? I decide its down to the numbers I know work: