Kite Aerial Photography

Kites were among the earliest platforms used for aerial photography, beginning in the 1880s (Batut, 1890; see also Chapter 1). More recently, kites have experienced a renaissance for SFAP as a fascinating hobby for photographers around the world, who share their techniques, experiences, and images via the Internet (e.g., Benton, 2009; Beutnagel, 2009). In relation to these activities, scientific applications of KAP are comparatively rare, but of increasing technical sophistication. Several researchers, including the authors, have used kites for geomorphological investigations (Bigras, 1997; Boike and Yoshikawa, 2003; Marzolff et al., 2003; Gimenez et al., 2009; Marzolff and Poesen, 2009; Smith et al., 2009), vegetation studies (Gerard et al., 1997; Aber et al., 2002, 2006), archaeological documentation (Bitelli et al., 2001), and other applications (Aber et al., 1999; Tielkes, 2003).

KAP is highly portable and flexible for field logistics, adaptable for many types of cameras and sensors, relatively safe and easy to learn, and has among the lowest costs overall compared with other types of SFAP. These characteristics explain the growing interest in KAP from the popular and sport level to high-end scientific applications.

The basic deployment of KAP is depicted in Figure 8-22, which illustrates the typical setup for the kite, camera rig, and ground operation. Central to KAP are the types of kites, necessary kite-flying equipment, and ground operations, which are described in the following sections based primarily on the authors' experience. KAP camera rigs are detailed in Chapter 7.

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