So how did i get into all of this, well my interest stems from my passion for archaeology.
I flew the odd kite as a child, but i never took it any further in my formative years. I moved onto electronics and the early computer systems and became a nerd.
I eventually joined the military and ended up on various interesting assignments around the globe. I used to love sitting on the edge of Chinook doorways gazing down at the earth. This is where my interest in aerial photography really began to formulate.
Eventually I moved away from the military and studied the pure sciences within an archaeological context. This lead to myself specialising in remote sensing, which I still perform today. I left the great learning centers to work as a field archaeologist to try and understand the practicality of the science I had learned in a field environment. One site was a small island in the mid-Atlantic. There were hundreds of slave graves that required removing prior to an airport run way being developed. I thought it would be an excellent idea to record the area from above using some sort of mobile aerial platform. After reading around I discovered the joy of KAP. I purchased all the relevant bits and bobs. The gear was stashed in my desk draw and instead of being sent to the sun for an extended holiday, I ended up on a survey across Shetland Isles for a month. The KAP kit did not see the light of day until I met John and Rosie Wells on their Ogilface site in West Lothian. They had their own KAP rig flying that day and I was instantly hooked and have not looked back.
I have since imaged many professional archaeological sites that will only ever appear in some dusty old publication and the odd presentation. Most of the images have been shown to rival, if not trump professional aerial photographers, which I am proud of.
Today I still use all of my tech gear, from quadcopters to radio controlled rigs, but I still prefer the simplicity of just flying a kite. I still love to run through the hundreds of images to just pick out that one 'money' shot that makes you think, ‘wow’ that is the one.
At primary school, I would run around pretending to take photos and then dash away to draw a picture of the subjects for presenting to them later as a ‘photo’ ;o). I also remember pegging negatives to photographic contact paper and leaving them in the sun all day to produce a pink, albeit transient image, without developing.
When I was in my early teens, my father bought me a secondhand Zenit single lens reflex camera which I used to photograph everything and anything, including, Newton's Rings, electrostatic phenomena and lightening during thunderstorms (using long exposures at night) away from any light pollution. I loaded 'bulk' black and white 35mm film into cassettes and developed my own images, as taught by my father.
As a physics student at Warwick, Leeds and Salford and later, as a medical research student, I used photographic techniques with radiography, radiation film badges, X-ray crystallography, electron beam diffraction studies, microscopy and corona discharge (Kirlian) photography. As postgraduate students in Oxford, my late wife, Rosie, and I enjoyed taking photos of the streets at night, using a £14 secondhand, tripod-mounted, Yashica twin lens reflex camera, with which I won a national photographic competition. I had not knowingly entered the competition, but that is another story. The prize was an SLR camera with auto-exposure, something not needed for night work, but it made other work much easier. The camera was not as nice as the Nikons and Leicas that I used at the Research Institute, but it was mine ;o)
When Rosie set up the Armadale Community and Heritage Website ( www.armadale.org.uk ) in 2006, my latent interest in photography surfaced again as we photographed our newly adopted town. Rosie had also had a keen interest in making and flying simple, small kites with pupils when she was a teacher in Stroud. So, having large kites in storage that Rosie had been given, and made, by her Aunt and Uncle (of the Golden Valley Kite Flyers), we decided that attaching a camera to the kite line may be of interest. The first camera was attached using two of the three legs of a mini-tripod and setting the 10 second shutter delay……and it worked! There was no turning back.
In 2007 we 'discovered’ our local 'castle' site of the Barony of Ogilface ( www.armadale.org.uk/archaeologyogilfaceindex.htm ), while we were out for a walk, and later asked the Edinburgh Archaeological Field Society if they would come out to investigate. It was during one of their follow-up geophysical surveys with Peter Morris, on the 5th August in 2008, that one Jim Knowles appeared and flew our kite. After some considerable time, we wondered if he would let us have it back ;o).
Rose and I continued photographing archaeological sites and, on the 28th January 2010, Jim brought his kite and rig to fly with us at a second Ogilface site. That was the beginning of the West Lothian Archaeology Group.
In April 2012, Rosie (knowing that her health was in decline), Jim and I signed the papers to set up the West Lothian Archaeological Trust ( www.wlatrust.org.uk ), witnessed by Sybil Cavanagh, at the West Lothian Local History Library in Linlithgow. The next day, Rosie had an operation which later proved to be unsuccessful. That autumn, terminally ill, Rosie asked for some of her money to be set aside for funding a pilot project to investigate and introduce cheap, simple, low-level aerial photography techniques to children and students. The first kite aerial photography (KAP) kit was donated to the Edinburgh University Archaeology Society in October 2012.
Hi John and Jim. Really good idea setting up the forum. I hope to get more involved in the KAP community in the coming months and I'm looking forward to moving to Glasgow to study Heritage Visualization at the Glasgow School of Art in the Digital Design Studio. I came into contact with John though connections with ArcLand, via Kevin Barton and Axel. While initially my interest was in heritage education and interaction with school children and national monuments in Ireland, I became increasingly interested in how community groups and professional archaeologists use remote sensing and aerial photography to identify site. The main question as an Education officer was how to we explain this to people. Over the next year I hope to look at how community groups and heritage centers can use some of the techniques discussed in this forum to explain, educate and most importantly display their monuments. I am really interested in looking at cost effective ways of modeling sites in 3d base on photography, both Aerial and terrestrial.
I hope to get to talk to some of the people and groups in this forum and get feedback on how peoples projects are doing and what types of groups you are working with.
Welcome Gary to the forum and thank you for being brave and bearing your sole. Lets hope more people come forward and start posting. I have been involved of late with creating cost effective 3D models using photogrammetry to induce public awareness. I am currently running through Maxon 4D to see if it a more productive tool than similar software such as Maya.
Great idea to have this forum. I'm Steve and I'm the Canal and Greenspace Development Officer for the Scottish Waterways Trust. Based at the Falkirk Wheel, but working throughout Falkirk and West Lothian along the Canals, and Green spaces such as the Helix and Callendar Estate. I do a lot of community engagement work with a variety of groups and Schools. I met John via the Rural Connect project that is running in West Lothian, and thought the KAP will be a great way to engage with kids of all ages on a variety of projects.
Post by rogergriffith on Aug 23, 2013 19:15:49 GMT
I was very impressed by the aerial photography presented at the Canmore Advisory Group meeting in Edinburgh. I work with a very wide range of groups, including pre-school, primary and secondary. SNAPS is very motivating and it links in very well with the Curriculum for Excellence. I help to manage a number of wildlife sites and the photography is very useful in mapping habitats and has proved very successful at locating areas of invasive alien plants such as the Japanese Rose (Rosa rugosa). Wikipedia is a site that I use for recording details of various historical sites and SNAPS helps to interpret such sites.
The equipment is well tested and the instructions are clear - this motivates the user who does not become frustrated with failures.
Hi John / Jim, Having been a member of The Kite Club of Scotland for more than 20 years I am interested all aspects of kiting, making different types of kites from lightweight indoor kites to larger soft and framed kites and have built up a collection well in excess of a hundred. I have also been keen on photography since the early sixties and photograph kites whenever I get the chance. Many years ago I met John and Rosie at an event at Howden Park and saw the simple KAP rig they were using and went home and made a rig which was not too bad. I was then out of commission for a few years but got back into making a new rig which works quite well. After seeing the key ring cameras and coat hanger rig on a horrible day at Cairnpapple I got hold of one and made a rig. The latest improvement is a camera with a proper interval mode - thanks John - and look for any chance to get out flying. My aim now is to continue to improve both my rigs and kites to enable me to fly in most conditions with like minded people.