Fall from above

I had a chance to loft a kite from a beautiful secluded field in Leicester yesterday. I had my two biggest kites with me, and I needed the biggest one to lift the pan-tilt rig with a mirrorless camera. I had not brought a lighter camera rig because I have been spoiled by the great image quality of the heavy Canon EOS M. My strategy is to be picky about the times I try to fly a camera--I often don't bother unless there is a good chance the wind will lift the EOS M. 

The seven foot Rokkaku was the only kite I have that could have lifted the EOS M camera rig in this wind.
The Saturn V Rig with a Canon EOS M mirrorless camera and prime 22mm lens. Clouds were passing by, so the settings I chose included a shutter speed of 1/640 second, ISO 200, Tv (aperture selected automatically), manual focus on infinity, RAW images saved.

The Saturn V Rig pans and tilts the camera robotically and every three minutes it was taking 45 photos covering the entire scene below. Riding on the camera rig was a SkyPod GPS Logger which is an Arduino gadget set to record GPS coordinates, temperature, humidity, and barometric pressure. 

Above: These are the time traces of elevation of the rig (top) and air temperature at the rig (bottom) during the 30 minute flight. All of the photos shown here were taken during the four minutes the rig was above 260 m elevation.

The SkyPod GPS Logger on the Saturn V Rig recorded latitude, longitude, and elevation every five seconds during the flight. I made a KML file for Google Earth from the data. The launch and landing are two of the four times the rig was on the ground (the wind was somewhat capricious).

The south wind was strong enough to lift the rig about 80% of the time, which meant that everything tried to come back to Earth every few minutes. So the camera was high enough to take interesting photos for only about four minutes during the 30 minute flight. All of the panoramas included here were stitched from photos taken in a three minute period when the rig was at its fleeting apogee. Those 45 photos (out of 512 total for the flight) represent one complete cycle of the pan-tilt-shoot pursuit of the KAP rig.

Above: Looking north past Fern Lake toward Lake Dunmore. The far peak is Mount Moosalamoo. This panorama is cropped from a stitch of 12 photos.
Above: Looking east over the bog. Fern Lake is in the distance at the base of Chandler Ridge. This panorama is stitched from nine photos.
Above: Southwest of Stoney Lonesome is a very wild looking pond. This looks like a place nobody ever visits, so I want to go there. This scene is stitched from six photos.
Above: A close-up view of the pond and the encircling swamp forest. The ashes and red maples around the pond have already lost their leaves. Next year I should get here earlier for a photo when only those trees have color. This is two photos stitched together.
Above: Peering down at Stoney Lonesome, one of the few agricultural fields in this part of Leicester. My guess is that this knoll is a small drumlin, but that's just because I can't think of any other geological origin for it. I think the lineament through the bog is the course of a pipeline that once supplied drinking water from Fern Lake to Brandon. This image is cropped from a stereographic projection of a panorama stitched from 40 photos.

This KAP session was a spur of the moment project. This week in October is the prime time for aerial photography around here, so I was eager to get a camera in the air. I thought this would be a pre-peak practice flight to test all of the gadgets before the colors were perfect. Instead the foliage might have been as peaky as it will get this year. By the time the wind and sun cooperate again it might already be a little duller. 

Above: Lesley's zucchini went to Salisbury to meet some new friends. I froze a couple of gallons of ratatouille after dinner. 

After the flight I raided Lesley's garden for a zucchini (mine are just about done). Thank you Lesley for the squash and the invitation to float above your field.


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