Travel And Equipment Logistics

For a successful mission, the SFAP equipment and personnel must be available to reach the study site at the desirable time of day or year to meet the goals of the project. This invariably requires travel for people and transport of baggage. The logistics could be as simple as packing kite aerial photography equipment in the car for a weekend trip. Still this depends upon good weather conditions— sunshine and favorable wind, which are not always so easy to arrange in practice. At the other extreme, the mission may require extensive pre-flight planning and site preparation on the ground and involve considerable equipment and personnel to operate the SFAP platform. The logistics for this sort of project may take months to organize.

Travel options depend to a large extent on the type of SFAP platform as well as location and conditions of the study site. Nearby sites adjacent to paved roads are the easiest to reach, of course. In such situations, the photographer has few limits on how much equipment and how many field assistants to take to the site. On the other hand are distant or remote locations with poor transportation connections—reached in the final stage perhaps only by footpaths. In these cases, a minimal amount of equipment and personnel would be desirable.

Often the last few kilometers on the way to a specific study site are the most difficult, even in case of rather good connections via roads or tracks. During several field trips in the Bardenas Reales in the Ebro Basin, one of the driest regions in Spain, for example, the research team had severe problems in approaching the study site. Particularly in winter and spring the agricultural roads may be quite muddy and nearly impassable, even for all-terrain vehicles.

Small-Format Aerial Photography

Copyright © 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

For cases of generally or temporarily bad accessibility, the equipment needs to be packed in a way that enables transportation by means of human (or animal) carriers (Fig. 9-1). Waterproof transportation boxes made of plastic or aluminum have shown to be necessary requirements in order to bring flight and camera equipment to the study site facing bad weather and difficult terrain. Oversized cargo boxes as well as cardboard packaging held together with parcel tape should be avoided. Neither has purpose-built packaging with made-to-measure partitions for the individual parts proven to be a sustainable solution, because of continued further development of the equipment and consequent changes in size and shape of camera rigs and other items. Accordingly, the best practice is to use several smaller, stable, dust- and splash-proof cargo or storage boxes with specially fitted, but easily replaceable foam liners for fixing and padding the scientific devices (see Fig. 8-36).

International travel to study sites presents further difficulties, especially if flying commercial airlines, because of customs and security concerns about the purpose of travel and the unusual equipment in baggage (Fig. 9-2). The authors have been questioned often at airports about the nature of our equipment; various cameras, batteries, kites, radios, and other odd-looking gadgets seem quite suspicious to security inspectors.

Certain types of platforms require fuel for power or gas for lift (see Chapter 8). Helium is commonly used for inflating balloons and blimps. However, there are few commercial sources of helium in the world; helium is either quite expensive or simply not available in many countries, and long-distance transport of heavy helium tanks is usually not feasible for most SFAP. Hot-air balloons and blimps are an option where helium is not available, because propane or

FIGURE 9-1 Tackling the 400-m altitude difference between the last possible parking spot (see valley bottom) and a high-mountain survey site in the Cuenca de Izas, High Pyrenees, Spain. JBR (second from left), with the hot-air blimp envelope on a frame-carrier pack, shares the weight of the burner system with one of his students at the beginning of a 1.5-hour ascent. Photo by J. Heckes, October 1995.

FIGURE 9-1 Tackling the 400-m altitude difference between the last possible parking spot (see valley bottom) and a high-mountain survey site in the Cuenca de Izas, High Pyrenees, Spain. JBR (second from left), with the hot-air blimp envelope on a frame-carrier pack, shares the weight of the burner system with one of his students at the beginning of a 1.5-hour ascent. Photo by J. Heckes, October 1995.

FIGURE 9-2 Airplane-suitable travel baggage for international kite aerial photography. (A) Cargo box with line reel, spare parts, extra batteries, radio controller, etc. (B) Waterproof Lowepro pack with one complete camera rig and radio controller. (C) Long kites in golf-club case. (D) Waterproof Pelican case with second complete camera rig. (A) and (C) are checked luggage; (B) and (D) are carry-on items. Photo by JSA.

FIGURE 9-2 Airplane-suitable travel baggage for international kite aerial photography. (A) Cargo box with line reel, spare parts, extra batteries, radio controller, etc. (B) Waterproof Lowepro pack with one complete camera rig and radio controller. (C) Long kites in golf-club case. (D) Waterproof Pelican case with second complete camera rig. (A) and (C) are checked luggage; (B) and (D) are carry-on items. Photo by JSA.

cooking gas to fire the burner may be found just about everywhere. Decanting gas from commercial gas bottles into fuel tanks modified for flying is not always trouble-free. A special adaptor and tubes kit is necessary, which can be purchased rather cheaply in camping stores, particularly in shops providing motor caravan equipment. Gas-powered model airplanes or drones require fuel that is highly flammable. Transport of such fuels is strictly prohibited on commercial airlines, so a local source would be necessary. Electric-motor power would be more desirable in such cases, as the batteries could be recharged or replaced locally.

Regarding electricity, it should be noted that two domestic AC power standards are found in different parts of the world: (a) 110-120 V, 60 Hz and (b) 220 V, 50 Hz. In addition, at least half a dozen standard types of electric sockets are utilized in various countries. Most small electronic devices, such as laptop computers, accept either power source, but a selection of socket adapters may be required to "plug in'' to the local power grid. In some cases, the authors have modified or customized socket—plug connectors for necessary electricity to power devices or recharge batteries.

Overall, SFAP logistics is usually a matter of common sense and experience. A rule of thumb is to employ a system that is robust, easy to transport, and, most importantly, capable of acquiring the necessary type of imagery. More equipment—platforms, cameras, batteries, fuel, radios, monitors, and other devices—means that more things can go wrong during travel or at the SFAP field site. Careful pre-flight planning and logistical preparations may eliminate many potential problems; still, mishaps cannot be avoided completely and should be expected. Spare parts and backup equipment are often essential for completing a mission.

100 Photography Tips

100 Photography Tips

To begin with your career in photography at the right path, you need to gather more information about it first. Gathering information would provide you guidance on the right steps that you need to take. Researching can be done through the internet, talking to professional photographers, as well as reading some books about the subject. Get all the tips from the pros within this photography ebook.

Get My Free Ebook


Post a comment