KAPiFrance 125 - 2013. (My report of the Kite Aerial Photography conference held in France 2013)

When I heard that there was going to be another KAP conference in the south of France at the birthplace of kite aerial photography I thought 'I must go there' ( in my motorhome ) even though the south of France is a long way.

First, a bit of history. 1888 (125years ago) Arthur Batut took the first ever photograph with a camera attached to a kite. We saw the camera and the frame of the kite at the new museum complex at Labruguiere not far from Toulouse. The camera was surprisingly small, about a 7 or 8 inch cube. The release mechanism was operated by a fuse - like a firework fuse - and the shutter operated by a rubber band. "Simples". The kite was a bow topped one about 7 foot long with quite a substantial frame. Not that long ago, these things were found in his barn by the family who then set about creating the Museum. Right! That's enough history.

The conference in October was five days long with an extra day for those who wanted to extend their time there. On the first day after checking in, some people went into the grass area outside and tried to fly kites - with some success. Francois Periault, President of the French kite club, had a replica historic kite flying high above the conference centre and carrying his rig. It was a very difficult place to fly in, surrounded by trees and in the steep valley with a gusty wind along it. Hamish from Oxfordshire and Simon Harbord flew kites and the sent their rigs up too.

After the introductions in the evening, with photos of us as we were mentioned, my presentation "Ancient Britain" was shown. I started with aerial photos of the Achenlochy clearance village remains in the north of Scotland (1815 a.d.) then Beverley Minster right down the ages past crumbling castles to my latest KAP session over the Flixton Lakes island archeological dig near Scarborough where Neolithic artefacts had been found (4000 b.c.) Next day we started in earnest with many technical presentations. There have been so many advancements in the technology of the cameras, triggering systems and rigs and it was all explained in great detail that it was mind-boggling. Peter Bults of "KAP Shop" had made a 3D 'printed' rig and had the machine with him to make more. The rig was very lightweight and would be sent 'flat pack' though the post. Wolfgang Bieck did a practical session making aerials for video downlink receivers. Other presentations included 'phone KAP', a WiFi direction finding rig demonstration and CDHK scripts for altering the way the Canon cameras could operate. The presentation by Michel Wirth was of 3-D photographs. They were super on the big screen (we all looked silly in the 3-D glasses.) 3D really took my fancy and I found out which program to use (Stereo Photo Maker) and how to do it and during the rest of the holiday I took photographs for 3D and made over 100 – some of which worked very well.

We had two days out. The first one to visit the museum where we saw the actual camera and the kite frame used by Arthur Batut to take the first Kite Aerial Photos and then on to take pictures over his house where the first kite aerial photo was taken. The wind was gale force and the conditions meant a challenging time. The first two kites lofted ended in the trees. One is still there! I only managed some fuzzy ones from a bridge in Labruguiere and nearly lost control of the kite when it dived down to the river. Fortunately it came back up again after dipping its tail in the water. I had three men helping me, Christian, Yves and Jose, or I wouldn't have even tried to fly the kite never mind the camera.

In the evening there were aperitifs and speeches followed by a meal in the museum foyer. We then were treated to a superb KAP slide show in the museum theatre to which the 'mayor and corporation' and public attended. It was wonderful to see the images on the big screen.

The next day we went to an ancient hill village, Lautrec, and again the conditions were challenging - this time with too little wind. There was a very small area at the top of the hill and Carol Bigras managed to keep his roc in the air and various KAPers put their rigs on his line. James Gentles (of GentLED camera triggering devices) sent 4 Gopros up on the rig which took 360 degrees worth of photos at once to make panoramas with. He has made a composite photo which you can scroll round - up and down 360, and round 360 as well.>http://www.gentles.info/KAP/Gallery/Pano2013/lautrec.html<

During one session, we had a video link with Brookes Leffler who has produced many of the KAP rigs which are used round the world. We all had a turn Skyping with him through an iPad. There were more presentations on my last morning and Alain presented us all with a contact print taken the previous Friday over Arthur Batut's house. He had used a film camera, sending it up for each of the 12 exposures. He printed and mounted them in specially made cards with the details in our own language in his spare time.

I left for the Frejus "festival of the air" after lunch. And had a spectacular drive through a gorge to the Mediterranean and on to Aigues Mortes for that night.

It was good to meet so many people that I had only on the internet ‘KAP forum’ as well as old friends from KAPiNED (Holland in 2010)

Fly High

Sue Storey