All these cameras have flown at different times according to how much lift I have at the time. After quite a bit of patient fiddling they are now all mounted on rigs ready for flight on a kite line:
I have the option of swapping the Canon Eos M for a Nikon D5100 (if things are going well) the next challenge is to figure out a procedure for a group of people to fly them at the same time…
In theory the mix of weights will ensure a good variety of photo-cover if flown from a matching set of kites: I now need to get 5 ready for the first trial OWLP community KAP walk proposed for a Sunday between now and December as a pilot for a community programme in the Autumn of 2015 and 2016. 10 persons flying 5 kites looks like an achievable number.
Testing the rig: The above shot is a single frame from an AutoKAP sweep over the Bottisham Lode with the lightest rig (220g) to be used on the project. A manual stitch of 5 frames:
The rig was airborne for about 20 minutes and the launch and recovery took about 20 mins each. The wind was annoyingly light so this was the best resolution possible.
It has taken longer than I’d like, but from agreeing a short list of sites for the walk in April, the OWLP Community KAP initiative has now achieved:
- a tested path of the walk clear of obstruction for wind in all directions
- consent from the national authority for the protection of fauna and flora
- consent from landowners
- the timing for minimum impact on wildlife
- a reporting procedure for sensitive bird locations for go/no-go decisions
- approval for the use of a bicycle for equipment transport along the barrier bank
- a circular walk option on public rights of way if conditions warrant it.
- verified battery life of the autoKAP rigs at 4 -6 hours – camera battery life is not so good however, the Eos M is limited to a runtime at 10 shots per minute of about 40 mins
- reliability of the L rigs, the 360 servos on the 2 direct mounted ones are heavy duty metal bushed type to reduce the risk of thread stripping.
…as the ideal package for my field kit now. This allows a boxed camera, rig, radio, 500m of line, the sail for the Rok and a harness to be lugged around fairy easily. It will carry nicely with 2 shoulder straps. It also has nice loops on the side for securing 9′ Levitation and Jones Rok sticks.
I can get an Explorer flowform and an AutoKAP rig (the smallest one sits inside the reel) in there too. I opted for ‘summit yellow’ so I can find the bag when I have wandered far off down wind with its contents.
Remaining items to resolve are:
Cases a case for the 3 Picavet rigs is needed as they are fragile. A fitted case makes all the difference when managing precious kit in a crowd scene. Having a place for everything at pack up time keeps it tidy.
Post process & stitching method. All the rigs, bar one, are automatic. A process path for the imagery from them remains to be proven. My usual route through Lightroom to Photoshop manual stitching is not really suited to the volume of imagery anticipated. Automated stitching has never worked too well for me to date, too much variation in the centre of rotation has plagued my efforts so far.
Group walk procedure. The briefing of participants for safe working is an important part of this so the pilot walk will test what needs to said and done. With 2 persons per kite I hope the tasks will be split as kite flier and line handler: a swap at halfway will keep the interest up and by separating the flier from the reel concentration on keeping the kite clear of hazard (other kites mostly) will be maintained. I’m reluctant to use harnesses as there is some risk for those who are inexperienced. Using a harness it’s all to easy to loose the feel of the line and forget your neck is exposed to a taut line, a nasty burn is likely if you turn around quickly without allowing for the ‘invisible skyhook’ above you! A fixed tie off point at launch and recovery will help. Gloves will be provided.
Kites and line: I’m pretty settled on the 9′ Levitation now but the CiM roks
are tough and pull well so I’ll probably have a mix for the first trial…I have 4 halo ( 2x 500m Climax extreme , 2x 200m woven dacron) reels of line in hand…so now to find some Sunday volunteers ..and hope the weather breaks!