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  Wednesday, 27 December 2006

My Home Planet

2:21:49 PM    Comment []

  Tuesday, 26 December 2006

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10:09:27 PM    Comment []

Found in a book called 'Natural Pet Care', under the title 'Social needs'.

"... In their natural state, there is generally a pack leader who is boss, or if they are wild dogs that live in families, there is also a very definate hierarchy. A dog that has been properly trained regards its trainer/owner as the pack or family leader and so is in a happy mental state. There are exceptions - dingoes and basenjis are two that come to mind which are both highly intelligent, but not generally prepared to accept a human as a leader, although both will usually learn basic commands and bond with humans to a degree."

Kaycee is (as far as I can determin) part basenji (and part fox terrier). Anyone who knows her would agree, this could explain a lot about her personality. She's always had a very independant streak and I'm sure she see's me as a partner rather than a master. Perhaps it's just the basenji in her.

8:32:40 PM    Comment []

I spent part of Christmas day out and about with my kite aerial photography rig, on my bike. Perfect day for it to.

This was my first digital KAP effort. I picked up a Nikon Coolpix 4100 digital camera on TradeMe for a mere $10. I got it that cheap because the LCD screen on it was cracked and not working. I don't really care if the LCD screen is working or not when the camera is hanging from my kite several hundred feet above me. The only drawback is I have to wait until I get home to see the shots (which kind of takes me back to some of the fun of film photography; the anticipation is half the pleasure).

On this flight I only managed to take 27 frames before the camera shut off for some reason (possibly batteries). Of course I didn't know it had turned itself off until I brought the camera back to earth an hour or so later (note to self: get better batteries). Of those 27 frames, I've used 5 to make up 3 images (below), with a little help from Photoshop.

Neale Park, Nelson, New Zealand
This is two images stitched together of Neale Park, one of the best little kite flying grounds in the world. The Nelson Summertime Kite Festival (put on by the Nelson Kite Club) will be here in a few weeks time. I hope to repeat this shot then.

Founders Historical Park
This is Founders Park. It is a little village like park which is a collection of historic buildings from around the Nelson region. It has a Church, a pub, a printer, a windmill, a livery, 2 train stations (soon to be three) and approx 1km of track, and my favourite, a working organic brewery. The park is well worth a visit if you're in Nelson.

Miyazo Park, Nelson Haven
Another stitch job. I can't resist getting a shot or two with me in it, whenever I have a camera in the air. You can see the kiteline, and me, and my Xtracycle. I particularly like the colour of the water in Nelson Haven in this shot.

As you may have noticed I'm trying out Flickr for image hosting. I can't see the point in paying to host all the images I post of CoffeeWaffle if it can be done (well) for free. I'm just loading my KAP images there for now as a trial. There is also a very active KAP group on Flickr so if you'd like to see more photos taken from the kites view, check it out.

1:00:12 PM    Comment []

  Sunday, 24 December 2006

"There shall be eternal summer in the grateful heart." - Celia Thaxter

9:22:00 AM    Comment []

  Saturday, 23 December 2006

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This little fellow visited my garden this afternoon, just to have his portrait taken. He sat and waited paitently while I changed to my 300mm lens to get some nice closeups. Stoats are a real problem for New Zealands delicate eco-system. Our birds, particularly the flightless ones, have developed no defense to predators like this one, having evolved in an environment without them. They and their eggs are easy prey for the highly evolved stoat. Now that I know this one is hanging around the area, I should set a trap for him, for the sake of the local birds. I hate having to do that to any creature, especailly one so handsome. I wish I could just rehabilitate him or something.
Can you spot the little guy in the picture below?

1:39:50 PM    Comment []

I happened upon these two rabbits last weekend while riding my bike. I was riding through a field of high grass when I saw them. They were go busy frolicking that they didn't notice me. I parked the bike, lay in the grass and slowly crawled towards them. Now, I always thought that rabbits, given their reputation for reproduction, would be very efficent and business like. These two had quite a song and dance routine going on. I watched and photographed them for about twenty minutes, before a dog came along and frightened them off.

This shot reminds me of that line from the movie Chasing Amy... "Hey, I always notice that bored look on her face." - Banky Edwards (Jason Lee)

10:28:46 AM    Comment []

  Sunday, 17 December 2006

10:29:28 PM    Comment []

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11:59:05 AM    Comment []

  Saturday, 16 December 2006

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"Don't throw away the old bucket until you know whether the new one holds water." - Swedish Proverb

10:10:08 PM    Comment []

  Friday, 15 December 2006

About 2 years ago Briggsy came to visit from the UK and learnt to kite buggy while she was here. She's in NZ again and her and Milky are staying for a few days. Today we went to Rabbit Island to to introduce Milky a powerkite. While we were setting up Briggsy (now being the 'experienced' kite buggy pilot of them) informed me that Milky wanted to "go really fast with a really big kite". Milky wasn't saying much.... just pacing.

We put up the stack of excaliburs to start with and they turned out to be the perfect choice for the conditions.

There were a few crashes and relaunches as to be expected. After a while I left them to practice. I made one run in the kite buggy to the west end of the beach and back with my 5.5m Pepper. The wind was perfect. Straight onshore, steady, and strong (20-25 knots I'd guess). By the time I got back from the 8km round trip Milky was flying the excaliburs like an expert, holding straight right across the power window. There were even a few skud marks in the sand to prove he was gaining confidence fast.

Time for the wheels. I find when someone new is about to try kite buggying, the less you say to them the better. I seem to end up scaring them out of it as I think of, and tell them, all the things they shouldn't do. I should just tell them the few things they need to do (sit in buggy, dive kite into power, steer buggy and try to keep wheels-side down) and let them go. There really is only one way to learn. Instead I try to describe why you shouldn't steer to far upwind, and what to do if you find yourself going backwards at 40kph, with 6 loops in the kite lines and sand in your eyes.

Within minutes of getting in the buggy, Milky was making textbook turns.

Then Briggsy had a go to. Here Milky has just assisted in the launch of the excalibur stack.

Its just like riding a bike.

As the tide came in the beach got steadily narrower, until there was barely enough room to make a wide turn without the kites going near the row of large pine trees along the dunes. Briggsy proceded to demonstrate her kite parking technique. She missed the first two trees in the row with some very slick stunt kite work and 'parked' the stack very gently in the third. After taking a couple of pictures (below) I was able to relaunch from the tree with just a few quick steps backwards. Slick parking indeed.

We're hoping for the same conditions tomorrow. The forecast is looking promising and the team sounds keen.

11:44:33 PM    Comment []

  Wednesday, 13 December 2006

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9:51:28 PM    Comment []

  Tuesday, 12 December 2006

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This shot of Miyazo Garden in Nelson made my day. I took it yesterday but had no idea what I had until today when I picked up the developed images after work. It is exactly what I was imagining when I decided to try and photograph the garden from a kite. If you look closely you can see the group of gold fish. Miyazo Garden is a small Japanese style garden in North Nelson. It is named after Nelsons sister city in Japan.

The highly organised shapes and lines are easy to appreciate from this perspective.

Behind the gardens is a nursery (foreground), a Marae (Left), and Founders Historic Park (top right).

This frame was a neat surprise. From where I was with the kite I couldn't see this hidden lawn. I didn't even need to crop this frame; that's exactly how the camera caught it.

For me, this set of pictures has made all my KAP efforts worthwhile, and I've still got heaps more places to photograph this way.

8:34:57 PM    Comment []

  Monday, 11 December 2006

Saturdays kite aerial photography mission was a bit of a failure. The wind only got strong enough breifly at the end of the day. I had just enough time to click through 1 film. It was grey and trying to rain. None of the shots really came out very well due to lack of light and lack of altitude. The one below was probably the best of the outing and it was just the test shot, to make sure the shutter was working (and everything was turned on) before putting the kite higher.

Note the look of intense concentration.

This morning I still hadn't unloaded the gear from the bike so I just left it there and rode it all to work with me. I figured it would mean either I would be able to get some shots after work, or there'll be no head wind for the ride home. The afternoon sea-breeze arrived right on cue. This time I put my SLR camera up (the old film one, not the brand new digital... although I am getting braver...). The weight is a bit more (mostly due to the lens of the SLR) but the 30 square foot flow form parafoil didn't seem to notice. It just sat anchored to the sky while I walked it around Miazu park and took photos of the Japanese gardens from a kites-eye view. I also got some shots of Founders park. At least I hope I did... it's a bit tricky to tell where you're pointing a camera while it hanging from a kite. I'll have some shots in the general direction anyway. I'll have that film back from the developers this time tomorrow. I'm pretty hopeful about this shoot.

Here's todays equipment... a Canon EOS film camera under the 30# Sutton Flow Form parafoil with two fuzzy stabilising tails attached.

7:59:07 PM    Comment []

  Sunday, 10 December 2006

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8:43:46 PM    Comment []

Yesterday I loaded up my bike with my kite aerial photography gear and set off to find something windy and photogenic. Although it had been blowing every afternoon during the past week, Saturday was relativly clam. The fickle wind was coming and going rather unpredictibly, which is exactly what you don't want when dangling a camera from the kite line. Had a lovely bike ride though. It was nice to be riding with no particular place to be and all day to get there. I snapped  a few ground based shots along the way. It was one of those days with the bluest sky and whitest clouds that kept moving and changing the light. A photographers sky.

The load on the bike consisted of the KAP rig, RC controller, 2 KAP kites, 3 cameras, 1 tripod, 1 stunt kite, and rain gear.

The 16 square foot sutton flowform did finally lift a camera at the end of the day. The clouds had closed in and there was a breif SE blow hard enough for me to loft my Canon EOS film camera over the Boulder Bank. The light was a little low but it will be interesting to see what I got when the film is processed.

9:16:03 AM    Comment []

  Friday, 8 December 2006

9:23:34 PM    Comment []

  Wednesday, 6 December 2006

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"Where the bee sucks, there suck I;
In a cowslip's bell I lie."
William Shakespeare, "The Tempest", Act 5 scene 1

10:03:42 PM    Comment []

  Sunday, 3 December 2006

As you may have guessed, I now have my new camera in hand. The Canon 400D digital SLR is living up to my expectations. I'm loving the 10 megapixels (the 300D was only 6.3 megapixels), but I'm gonna need some bigger memory cards. A gigabyte doesn't go far at 10+ megabyte per picture.

I have been over to Golden Bay this weekend to attend an engagement party. I was hoping to get in some kite buggying too, but the wind stayed away. I stopped at PuPu Springs on the way home this afternoon and took over an hour to walk around the 15 minute track.

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7:53:58 PM    Comment []

  Saturday, 2 December 2006

It was offically the first day of summer yesterday. My garden is coming along nicely this year. I'm already eating fresh beans, lettuce, brocoli, strawberries, and silverbeet.

Soon I'll have fresh zuchini. They are just beginning to develop now.

This is a non-hearting variety of lettuce. I can just pick leaves as I need them leaving the rest of the plant to keep producing. I have hearting varieties growning too.

Meanwhile in the worm farm my minions continue to toil away creating heaps of organic fertilisers for me. Aren't they adorable?

12:24:20 PM    Comment []

For those of you wondering how a radio controlled kite aerial photography rig works....

  1. The whole thing hangs from a picavet suspension system.

    This attaches to the kite line (usually about 30m down the line from the kite) at two points a couple of metres apart. The picavet is one long length of braided cord which the cross above the camera can slide freely on (some use tiny pullys here like the kind used on model sail boats). It ensures the camera stays level in relation to the ground no matter what angle the kite is flying at.
  2. The rig uses three servos which came with a model RC aeroplane kit. These normally have one arm which can move 90 degrees. On a plane they would move flaps up and down. The top servo (2) on this rig has been modified to rotate a full 360 degrees so it can turn the whole rig to look in any direction.
  3. This is the receiver. It takes the signals from the control transmitter on the ground (via the aerial) and sends them to the appropriate servo. You can see three red/black/white wires going from it to each of the servos.
  4. This is the receivers aerial. Simply a wire twisted around a peice of dowel.
  5. The battery pack is four AA sized rechargables.
  6. The on/off switch. Works best if you remember to turn this on before launching :)
  7. This is the tilt servo. It can rotate 90 degrees taking the camera from a straight-down orientation up to look out towards the horizon.
  8. The last servo is the trigger finger. Its arm moves 90 degrees to push the shutter button. I've made a little finger out of beef bone which reaches the button. The arm is easily removed so I can make a variety of 'fingers' for different cameras I may want to use.
  9. Finally the camera. This one is an old fully automatic minolta compact 35mm film camera. Picture quality is not that great but it made a good test pilot. I am currently fitting my old Canon EOS film camera to the rig, which although its a little heavier, should give very good picture quality.
The rig is controlled from the ground with a transmitter just like any radio controlled model car/boat/or plane would use. BTW you can buy this rig as a kit here.

9:39:31 AM    Comment []

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