This is an activity, open to all ages and abilities (subject to appropriate supervision) that is relaxing, fun and places one in the landscape in a unique way.
What is it? KAP stands for Kite Aerial Photography and was invented in the 19th cent by Artur Batut in France, it has caught on in the modern age as we have cheap digital cameras, we are no longer at the mercy of the plate negative!
The benefit of the method is 2 fold, first the capture of images of the landscape from a new viewpoint, second the flying of kites is good way to spend some time outdoors learning the ways of the wind. Most of the time we tend not to raise our eyes to the sky, most of what concerns our lives is firmly earthbound. Choosing to look at where we live from the sky can be as easy as browsing Google Earth but what we see there gets fuzzy and indistinct when we look closely at the details of the landscape, recording from the much lower viewpoint a kite offers us a view that is much closer to how we experience the world, just different enough to be new and involving.How is this a community activity? The best outcomes are from the combined efforts of teamwork: a kite flier and a photographer. As a group activity a variety of outcomes are possible: with patience and a good number of photos an aerial panorama is possible by building up a montage of images, large scale photo-maps are also made by fitting a ‘carpet’ of images together. By flying several kites together (at a safe distance apart!) surprisingly rich records of the locale are achieved.
What’s special about kite aerial pictures? Simply put it’s the resolution. At the height of the kite patterns and textures are uniquely visible.
Is it safe? Because every site has different hazards KAP needs careful planning. This is where I come in: I have been doing this professionally for 5 years now and a risk assessment is made for each location prior to agreeing a safe method of working. The risks are small but real, kites can give you line burn, make you run backwards into things and end up tangled in trees or worse. Depending on group ability and desired outcome location and timing are chosen carefully to manage risk. Compared to playing in a football match flying a kite is safe!
Why is this part of Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership? The opportunity to provide the project with arresting images of the landscape acquired by community groups is valuable: to see the landscape from above is revealing, to be part of the process is rewarding. As the project develops many images of habitat, land-use, art projects and event records, are needed to illustrate the landscape on sign-age, site interpretation and web pages.
More on John Well’s Community KAP project in Ireland
A recent community archaeological recording project
A short History of KAP
More about the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership
Contact me at www.bill-blake.co.uk