low percentage of usable images

edited April 2007 in Technique
I am just starting out. My very low number of acceptable shots is perhaps what everyone experiences?

Most shots do not have a level horizon and a good percentage are either blurred or out of focus (I can not tell which).

I will set the focus to infinity next time to see if that helps - the shutter is already at 1/500.

The camera does swing about a bit even with the Pivecet setup which I assume is unaviodable?

Comments appreciated-

F.P. Anderson


  • edited April 2007
    My experience is that I got more usable pictures on sunny days with stable wind. The swing of the rig is a part of the game, I guess nobody has a setup that is rocksteady. Would be nice, though.

    I've done some session during the winter with low angle suns and the percentage of OK-shots is approx. 5%, if not less.

    My cameras are always on automatic and when there's enough sunshine it works OK for me.
  • I'm surprised that at 1/500th that you're getting a fair amount of blur.

    If it's a focus problem, such as your AF sensor not being able to establish where to focus due to contrast or patterns or whatnot, then by all means preset your focus to infinity or (on some cameras) "mountain landscape".

    There's usually little need for a camera to focus when kapping--not unless you are using a long lens with shallow depth of field.

    For me, one of the joys of kapping is the specific lack of a level horizon. Afterall, in the wind, the kite may be swaying a bit in the wind, and the lack of level horizon helps capture an essense of that. Perhaps Iike the notion of a plane or bird schwooping in to bank is what I like in KAP with its unlevel horizons.
  • I get about 5% interesting shots of what I'm shooting for and 5% interesting shots of other stuff.

    You'll pretty much never see a level horizon. That's what Photoshop is for.

    I use Olympus cameras and, for whatever reason, have to crank the aperture down to f8. Fortunate, my Stylus 800 shoots at ISO400 with little graininess. So my camera lives at aperture f8, ISO-400. Most of my pictures are taken between 1/125s and 1/1000s.

    The camera is rarely steady and it's a good exercise to set the camera in video mode and watch the results.

  • edited April 2007
    Here is your answer:


    Level horizons and more CRISP usable images are possible before you hit Photoshop. Lousy shots are not something you have to accept to start with. Use the KAP Feather with a Brooxes/Gentles picavet and PeKaBe blocks. Nothing else compares. There is no longer a reason to wait for your camera to finish swaying or letting it fill up your card with unusable pix while it deals with inertia. I know some people are in denial about it, but they aren't getting more pix on their memory cards. No matter, all things in their time. I can wait for objectivity to prevail.
  • Thanks for all the comments above.

    re: Feather, Is it Mike? Jones, at any rate I use one of the Brooxes setups but not the PeKaBe blocks - do you think those alone would help?

    The kit I have make a full 360 rotation with a wide angle lens, would you feather not show up in the frame?

  • I've had some days I didn't get anything, and some days I got 75% usable images, but I'm usually at 30 - 60% usable and three or four worth posting to Flickr. Mostly it depends on the wind.

    I must ask how close to the kite are you hanging the rig? Should be at least 75 - 100 ft for best results, sometimes more. And what kite are you using?

    Absolutely, set focus for infinity and lens for wide angle.

    The blocks by themselves make the rig more compliant, but shouldn't do much for what sounds like excessive movement. If that's a common problem, the Feather should dampen it.
  • Well, if it's any consolation, FPA, at least with digital cameras you can shoot hundreds of photos at minimal cost. Imagine what it was like a few years ago when many kappers were still using film cameras.

    Is anyone on this forum still shooting film for KAP--let's say at least in the past six months?
  • I had a great set of shots today. Fast shutter (1/350) in bright daylight and focus set on infinity, the results are beautiful. The kite was very stable in light winds. I am using a toshiba pdr 3300 (30$ on ebay) and the gentled from broox to trigger the shutter. Sometimes the results are crazy, but if the wind is nice and the kite is in a good mood I can get very clear photos. Keep in mind your camera is flying. Some days I get results that look like I had a 150 foot tripod. I have had many shots with level horizons. I find that sunshine is very important, better if it is bright.
    please check out some of my kap photos, thanks

  • edited April 2007
    Try it again: http://www.flickr.com/photos/7761395@N02/

    You should submit your pix to the KAP group on Flickr -- good stuff!
  • @FPA

    Yes, my name is Mike. I highly recommend the PeKaBe blocks. They might seem pricey but when you have them you don't think that anymore. Also get the Broox/Gentles picavet cross. The blocks, picavet and KAP Feather will give you a rock solid rig you probably didn't think possible. The KAP Feather includes kit so it is not in the field of view typically with a 28mm P&S. If yours is a bit wider, you can adjust your tilt frame slightly to accommodate.
  • Well one time out is was gusty, and another just a slight steady breeze and the ones made during the gusty flight have the most that are fuzzy. I did send the kite up 100ft before attaching the Brooxes rig w/ Picavet.

    In reviewing the images blown up I believe movement is the culprit. Even though set at 1/500. Some parts of the scene are more blurred than others. Whom is to say that 1/500 is really 1/500 too. My Hasselblad 1/500 is more like 1/350 and with digital P&S models I believe the shutter and aperture might even be accomplished by the same mechanism.

    I shall try an even faster shutter with manual focus in the future. From what you have all said the tilted horizons will be something I shall have to adapt too!

    Thanks much-
    F.P. Anderson
  • One of my favorite photos that was displayed during KAPiCA/06 was one by Simon H. It was of a castle or large old white building in the countryside. I really liked the titled horizon because it gave a sense of "flight".

    That said, other kappers definately DO strive for level horizons, perhaps as if the aloft camera were an extension of them as if they were composing from the ground.

    It all depends on what your objective is in pursuing KAP: technically perfect "conventional" composition or the joy of what comes about through the randomness of KAP--which by chance may yield an occassional level horizon.

    I must say that my favorite KAP photos on flickr are those that provide "different" compositions that show colors and textures in a surprising and unexpected way.
  • FP Anderson, you didn't say which kite you fly, and in which winds. This can make large differences.
    Also, Picavet results may differ a lot depending on its design. Have a look to James' study on his web site.

    I have good rig stabilization on pendulum with stabilization devices, and with the Picavet III. The "III" is for 3 holding points and it really does a big difference in gusty winds compared to the conventional Picavet. Here are the descriptions on my web site.
    Note that weight of the rig is a variable of any suspension, but is less noticeable on damped pendulum and Picavet III.
    Just to mention also that during years I shot with a Konica Hexar set at 1/250 and the average results of level horizons and good pics were from 20% in the worst wind conditions up to 80% in even winds. Furthermore, my night kap pictures are shot either 1/30 or 1/60.
  • Lots to say on this thread, but I guess it'll wait for another time, I'm in an internet cafe in Crete, the setting sun is on the harbour and I'm going to use my tiny unstabilised AutoKAP rig to take hundreds of picures from all sorts of directions and angles.... For me its the best way to KAP. In the stores now I can get a 2GB card for less than 20UKP and I have a pocket full of Optio batteries all charged up. I get most of my KAP fun just enjoying the flying, walking and chatting to people while I fly. Then a whole lot more fun sorting the results.

    'scuse me while I step outside.
  • FPA, it's been said here on earlier threads but I'll repeat it here: If you can set aperture priority, set it at f4 or less, rather than setting the shutter speed. Then you'll get max shutter speed for conditions.

    Reading the "other properties" available on most Flickr postings (provided the poster didn't Save for Web..., which strips EXIF data) is very educational.

    Gusty winds are guaranteed to give a high percentage of blurry pictures.

  • I find that the more I do KAP, the better I get at moving the line around on the ground to compensate for movement on the rig. I use remote-controlled shutter, so I can often time the picture for when the movement is least. This comes up frequently since the winds here are often gusty and my preferred kites tend to be smaller ones.
  • edited April 2007
    This has been an interesting thread to follow and has led me to think about the keys to reducing motion blur. Many of these have come out in the comments - separate camera from kite, set aperture priority to achieve highest shutter speed, use a good suspension, Pekabe blocks help, and seek smooth winds.

    I think Scott K.'s comment is particularly on the mark and would like to second it. I recall fretting about blurred exposures in my early KAP days but then the blur issue seemed to go away. As experience built I think I intuitively learned a number of techniques to reduce motion blur.

    1) Perhaps the most useful product of experience is developing a sense of whether the conditions will yield useful images. I probably avoid many blurred images by deciding not to fly if winds are too strong, conditions are too gusty or it is too dark.

    2) It helps greatly to select a kite that is well matched to the winds. I generally select the smallest kite available that still has sufficient lifting power. My favorite KAP flights often involve a near slack line between the ground and the cradle. Low line tension yields a stable, slowly drifting cradle.

    3) While taking photographs I am flying the kite 99% of the time as opposed to tying it off somewhere. My halo reel is always in hand. I spend a lot of time inhaling and spooling out line to manage line tension. This often involves using the ground surface for temporary storage of spooled line.

    4) I use radio control for all of my photographs. As Scott says, the ability to control the moment of exposure allows me to shoot when the cradle is calm and to avoid shooting when it is moving.

    I took a moment to go through the images from my KAP session last Sunday on the UC Berkeley campus. I flew a Canon SD800is below a 7.5-foot Carlisle Kiteworks Rokkaku. The winds varied between smooth and gusty. When the wind was smooth it was generally well matched to the Rokkaku and I would have a catenary droop in the kite line between the cradle and the ground.

    I went over to campus with the idea of taking shots to play around with stitching panoramas. This session was a blitz with 500 images taken during an hour-long flight. The camera was set for ISO 200, automatic focus, automatic exposure, and matrix metering.

    My first cull through the set flagged 44 images (~9%) that were out of focus or poorly exposed. The remaining images were technically fine (focus and exposure) and of varying merit regarding composition or panorama stitching. The next culling looked for images that were
  • Cris, I couldn't have put it better. When I AutoKAP my techniques except point 4) very much match my own.

    I simply no longer KAP in strong winds and rather than even matching a kite to the wind, if the wind doesn't match my small delta, I simply don't bother. That said, I'm in the interesting position of having to fall back on one of my kites used more for r/c kap while on holiday, a J15 parafoil. A great KAP kite but a firm puller. Now my little AutoKAP rig is less happy flying on a tight line. Normally my little delta will drift the rig up on slack line with fingertip line tension. Luckily though I've more light in Crete than in Scotland and I'm still getting loads of sharp images. But the fun is not there the same as with the delta. ( I left it behind in my hallway....)

    For r/c flying and tight line flying I agree - the key things are still important, good conditions, good control, and all the usual stabilisation approaches, picavet, pekabes, etc.
  • All the above (minus no4 in Chris's post) goes pretty much for me, plenty of practice, upwards of 30,000 images in my first year.
    I only use two kites and do not fly the Premier PS 14 when the wind is more than 18mph.
    Link below to a very short video of a Kap session back in March, 246 images, 1 blurred and that was during launch.
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