The Ouse and Holt Island.
A canoe party paddle past St Ives
Hemmingford Meadow and Holt Island: pasture and osier beds on the Ouse floodplain.
Only the brave turned out, it was cold (4c) windy and early.
Sunlight was sparse and many exposures suffered motion blur or were too dark to be worth keeping.
After postponing the workshop not once but twice the third attempt was scheduled for a narrow slot between weather fronts. An early start on a Saturday morning doesn’t suit everybody and the workshop was attended by the early risers. I reckon we had about 2 hours before the rain rolled in. With forecast gusts of 40mph from noon onwards I wanted to get out of the sky well before then. Starting at 9am a sequence of 4 kites were flown on the rising wind. Sunlight was sparse and high cloud kept exposures on the slow side.
Kite types. Of the kites flown the behaviour of the ITW Ultrafoil 15 was the most dramatic, it began ever greater weaving movements as the wind topped 15mph and ended up wrapped around the line of the much more stable Explorer flying about 30m away from it. Looks like I have found the upper wind-speed for it at around 15mph, I don’t like kites that want a lot of sky to thrash around in; this is disappointing as the Ultrafoil has good slack-line properties but it’s a real handful at the top end of Bft 4. I shall investigate drogue and Becot mods in cue course. Back to back the Explorer wins.
I’d launched the Explorer 2.7 in the hope we might fly a heavy rig but in no time it was producing more pull than I considered safe and was replaced by the smaller 16. With the Utrafoil down I flew the Dan Leigh Trooper as the wind was clearly building fast.
The practice of ‘sniffing the air’ with kites before considering photography is something that can’t be explained but once experienced makes sense. Just by launching 4 kites and deciding on the best 2 for the wind the party learned a great deal of the process of weight lifting by kite. The difference between the 2 kite types (delta and foil) is instructive, kite surfers have great respect for the parafoil design and its modern derivatives, a modest delta kite is not an obvious choice but handling the line shows the benefit of a well balanced delta, you can lift half a kilo with a line that doesn’t cut your hands.
Cameras. With the 2 kites (DL Trooper and Explorer 16) stable and steady flying off ground stakes it was time to fly cameras. 2 were flown on automatic rigs and, sadly, because of the fairly rough wind and poor light only a handful of the images were sharp.
Outcomes. Given this was an introductory session the outcome is not solely photographic, the big achievement was getting participants to handle the kites, get an idea of the process and share the landscape experience. In conversation I got a real sense of excitement and the realisation that doing is the only way to learn this stuff.
I’d brought along almost my entire collection of kites, line, rigs and cameras and the demonstration of matching kite to wind speed proved the worth of that. If you have not done this before seeing which kites work best and why is worth a thousand hours reading web pages: this is after all a practical business. The all important gloves and ground stakes are essential in group flying, my greatest fear is a runaway kite and bringing along enough hardware paid off.
Imagining the aerial view, getting outdoors and taking the plunge into the sky will be a little easier for those who have had a go, seen the pitfalls and have built some confidence in pacing an eye in the sky by means of wind and string.
Further sessions are scheduled for April 2nd 2016 at Denver and during Ousefest in July at Mepal..watch this space!