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Best Of 2016

(January – December 2016)

Ralph Greene

Middle Prong Little River

James Gentles

Pigeon Point Light Station

Californian Pacific Coast, United States

16th May, 1831 U, 10:31 local

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© 2016 James Gentles, All Rights Reserved.

This year it was an honour to attend KAPiCA16 - Kite Aerial Photography in California 2016.

The event consisting of fact/technique sharing, photography and fraternisation was loosely based on a 10 day road trip from San Francisco, to Santa Cruz, Pacific Beach then back north to Berkeley and the Marin Coast.

Driving south we all landed unannounced at Pigeon Point and proceeded to fly too many kites in too small an area, to the alarm of one of the custodians who was concerned about the local nesting birds. Fortunately another custodian also flew kites for aerial photography and was able to vouch for our activities.

With so many photographers in a confined space I "hitched a lift" on an existing kite line with my special 360degree camera rig rather than risk a tangle putting up another line.

After only 30 minutes or so we brought down the kites and melted away.

Happy memories...

USA-Canada / USA-California

Lat: 37° 10' 54.55" N
Long: 123° 24' 37.2" W

Elevation: 45m (ground 15m, tower 35m AGL, camera just short of Tower)

→ maps.google.com [EXT]

Precision is: High. Pinpoints the exact spot.

4 GoPro HERO2 cameras, with a wooden camera cradle/rig to hold the cameras in exactly the correct position is triggered by 4 gentWIRE camera syncronisers. Normally this is suspended below one of my own kites, but in this case Jim Powers provided the lift drom his quiver. The visit to Pigeon Point was part of the KAPiCA16 event - Kite Aerial Photography in California 2016.

This technique produces two hemispheres, and a different workflow in PTGui from the classic ground pano technique. This results in extra effort BUT impossible angles!

See the rig, how Kite Aerial Photography is achieved, and the workflow.
Behind the scene : How high is the camera?
So the light station tower is 35m tall and sits a-top a 15m cliff / headland. I found that out on the web, but how high was the camera? Well there are 2 ways to work it out:

1. Technology: Nikon make a Laser Rangefinder with inclinometer. That measures range and angle with a optical sight. This means during the shoot you can work-out height and distance. But what if (as here) you dont have time, and only have the resulting image...

2. Observation: It is possible to work-out directly from the image. If interested you can prove this mathematically, it's one of those problems where the initial complexity cancels out and reduces to a simple conclusion:


That's about 5m from the top, or 30m AGL.

This technique can be used on any image where the horizon is clearly visible and can also be used to estimate the height of an object if the height of the camera is known (the corollary of this above example).

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