Friday, November 30, 2012

What is KAP?

Kite Aerial Photography

This what you get when you add a camera to a kite, maybe some radio controls or electronics and lots of shed tinkering time.

Images captured by kite give a rarely seen perspective, on a more intimate or human scale than traditional aircraft aerials.

There is a very active world wide online community of KAPers and some seriously clever inventors producing electronics, rig and camera control scripts and mechanical bits for KAP rigs.

Big stable kites are needed to lift the camera and rig. KAPers usually have a range of kites to cover different wind speeds and camera rig weights. More about that later.

The lighter the better obviously. GoPro, Canon compacts and even small SLRs are popular. Mirrorless large sensor cameras are starting to feature too.

Canon compacts can also be enhanced via CHDK (Canon hackers development kit) and SDM (Stereo Data Makers) firmware changes. I'll write more about these later but basically some very clever programmers have written firmware enhancements which add functions such as intervalometers, RAW, HDR and bracketing.

KAP rigs
There are many different styles of camera rigs for kite aerial photography. Here are a few of the main types.

RC KAP - using radio control to operate pan and tilt and maybe shutter release.

Auto KAP - using pre-programmed electronics to replace the radio controls. AuRiCo (automatic rig control) is what I use. The rig performs a repeating sequence of tilts, pans and shutter releases by itself.

Manual KAP - where you set the camera orientation and shooting interval before launching. The kite needs to be brought down to make any camera changes.