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World Wide KAP Week - Part 2: Belle Isle

Friday, May 6, 2011:
Sunset Over Detroit From Above Belle Isle [2770L-Crop]
After getting home from work, the wind reports were looking good, so I decided to head back out to do some KAP. By this time, however, I only had a short while before sunset, so I decided to go somewhere close and familiar: I went to the island park of Belle Isle in the Detroit River where I have done lots of kiting and KAPping. I decided to return to the Nancy Brown Peace Carillon Tower where I have KAPped before (click here).

I set the tilt of the camera in the KAP rig at a steep angle to try to get different views than I had in previous KAPs here. I had hoped to get some shots of the carillon tower, then walk over and get some pictures of the nearby Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory that would be closer than a previous KAP of it .

Racing against a setting sun, I hastily set up my Rok kite and long-line launched it. I didn't wait as long as I usually do to make sure the kite is stable before attaching the KAP rig to the kite line. After a series of letting line out and reeling in, I got the rig up in the air. However, as with my episode at the Brewster Projects, I couldn't get the altitude I wanted. I assumed (correctly) that I was just getting shots of the ground and the base of the tower. I struggled with it a while before facing the fact that I would have to bring the kite down and adjust the bridle.

I reeled the rig in and landed it on the ground. I turned off power to the "peanut" so the pan servo wouldn't continue turning which can result in the picavet lines getting tangled in the gears. I set down my reel and then brought the kite down, pulling in line hand-over-hand and piling it on the ground. After moving the tow-point down about an inch or so, I walked the kite out for another long-line launch. The kite went back up very easily. However, the sun was now on the horizon and was no longer shining on the tower or the conservatory. Unable to get the shots I wanted, I adjusted the tilt of the camera to a few degrees below horizontal before sending the rig back up in order to get some sunset shots.

After the camera was far up in the sky, a police officer drove up. I was about 100 to 150 feet from the parking lot where he was, so we couldn't easily converse. I gave him a tip of my cap and went about my business of flying my kite. He watched for a little bit, then drove away.

After a few rotations of the pan axis, the sun was pretty much gone below the skyline of the city, so it was time to bring it in. However, the kite was now pulling very hard making it quite difficult to reel in. Therefore, I pulled a dog stake from my gear bag, screwed it into the ground, anchored the line to it, clipped a carabiner on the line and proceeded to walk the kite down. The kite and rig were up quite high, so I had to stop, pull the line back to the stake, re-anchor and walk down some more before getting to the camera rig. I removed the rig from the kite line, stowed it away in my bag, pulled the line back to the stake, re-anchored again and walked down the rest of the line to the kite. I quickly packed up the kite, reeled in the rest of the line, pulled up the dog stake, threw everything in the car and I was out of there. It wasn't a great KAP session, but not a bad way to spend an evening when my significant-other was busy with something else.

Click here to view my set of photos from that evening at
Or click here to browse the set of photos on a black background here at
Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory and Botanical Garden

World Wide KAP Week - Part 1: Brewster-Douglass Projects

Saturday, April 30, 2011:
Brewster-Douglass Housing Projects
After eating and shopping in Detroit's Eastern Market, I drove by the old, abandoned ruins of the Brewster-Douglass Housing Projects on the opposite side of the freeway, eying it up for doing my Kite Aerial Photography (KAP). I circled around the complex, then parked and waited, looking for signs of activity that might indicate trouble. Once satisfied, I got out my gear, trudged across the uneven ground towards the remaining high-rise towers of the complex and started setting up my Rokkaku kite. While doing so, a couple of men with tools entered one of the towers and a little later, after my kite was in the air, I heard pounding as they were removing materials for scavenging. I kept glancing over to that tower to see if they would come out and approach me, however, I think scavengers want to keep as low a profile as possible.

The damp, uneven ground meant that I had to be careful of my footing as I moved around. The ground seemed like a few hundred vehicles had driven around on it while it was soft and, over the years, that has probably been the case. There was also a wet, muddy area I had to avoid when bringing down my rig and kite. Trees down-wind from me threatened to snag my kite and my KAP rig, but I managed to avoid them.

This was my longest single KAP session to date at over an hour of air time. I wasn't getting the altitude I wanted at first, so I brought the kite down, adjusted the bridle tow-point and sent it and the KAP rig back up. It worked, I got more lift from the kite, got the rig up higher and most of the shots that I have posted to Flickr were taken after the adjustment.

This also was probably my riskiest KAP in terms of the chance to get mugged, being in a rather isolated, derelict area. The freeway service drive that runs past there gets little traffic. KAPping in such circumstances is somewhat scary because you're a sitting duck when you have a kite in the air.

My Sony NEX-5 hasn't come back from repairs yet, so I'm still using my Canon A630 on a CHDK intervalometer in a hybrid auto-KAP rig using the Gentles clickPAN-IR ("peanut") for my NEX-5 to rotate it and with the tilt angle fixed.

Click here to view my set of photos from that day at
Or click here to browse the set of photos on a black background here at