GoPro + Kite = Lake Pictures

I wasn't sure if I would ever do KAP (kite aerial photography) ever again. Several years ago I attached my old Canon camera, which was running CHDK, to a kite and took some pictures.

Final Flight
Kite and First Flight

The result was both good and bad.  Here's the good part, some amazing pictures from a few hundred feet in the air.
kap, aerial photography, canon, chdk, kite

And now for the bad part.  I'll spare you the details, but the edge of a metal washer caused the line to snap and the camera fell and landed on an asphalt sidewalk.
broken canon camera, dropped, sd1100, kite

But since then I started using my GoPro camera for more risky pictures. For example when Karrie and I were in Mexico I took it in the ocean with us as we did our AquaTrek.

SeaTrek - Cabo San Lucas

So I decided that while we were up north ice fishing I thought should try to take some aerial photos of the lake and the cottage.  It probably would've been fine to just attach the GoPro directly to the kite, but I thought that after the last crash I should use some sort of protection.  I originally thought of a foam case, here were some of my early designs.
foam go pro case, gopro, how to

I figured that if i just got the "right materials" that i thought i'd need and stare at them long enough, i would come up with something.  
gopro, kite, foam case, aerial photography

I ended up cutting a recessed hole in the foam for the camera to sit in.
diy protective case for gopro
 Then i thought that i'd wrap a more dense foam around the edges.

But after several different redesigns I realized that I was never going to be able to make a good foam case.  I ended up using something else. Something you probably would never think of.  I used 2 old lotus seed pods.  
lotus seed pod

I have several old lotus seed pods  in my basement after collecting them over the years.  I've written many different blogs about trying to grow lotuses in my backyard.

American Lotus

Sprouting Lotus Seeds
Lotus in the Sun
Final Lotus of the Year

american lotus seed pod, grow

There was actually 3 reasons why the seed pod is perfect for protecting the camera.  First the seed pods are very light.  The whole point of the protective case is that it has to be lightweight or the camera and kite will never get off the ground.  The second is that they are strong, the inside of the lotus seed pod is like an accordion or honeycomb shaped. And thirdly, its design acts like a crumple zone of a car. Instead of hitting the ground against a hard foam block the lotus seed pod would crumple and absorb the impact.
lotus seed pod protective case, crumple

 So I took 2 lotus seed pods, connected them with an aluminum rod and attached them to the GoPro camera. I found another bonus while flying, the 2 seed pods acted like a rudder for the camera, keeping it pointed straight ahead.  
unique gopro case protect, camera, stabilize

Usually when I fly a kite with the camera, the camera swings wildly and I get lots of blurry pictures. With the stabilizing lotus seed pods I got a lot more pictures in the right direction..
long lake, aerial photo

photo of lake on ice, how to take cool aerial photo

One of the main problems though with the go pro camera is that the pictures turn out a little dark and blurry. The lens size and the camera is so small it needs a very bright sunny day to get good pictures. I think it had problems with the sky being gray and the ice and snow being bright white.  I had to adjust some of the contrast and brightness when I got home on the computer in Photoshop.  But overall I'm really happy with some of the pictures that I got.  It's a different view of the cottage than we normally see.
gopro kite

Although i never really got a good picture of the cottage.
kite aerial photo, camera

So after flying the kite for several minutes the wind slowly started to die and the kite started to fall. Again this KAP session ended with a crash. But this time everything was fine. The lotus seed pods did is they were designed, one corner being completely crushed. But the camera was perfect we fine. 
natural crumple zone, protect, camera

I plan on doing this again, but I need to have it be a nice steady windy day. It's difficult to get the camera in the air because there needs to be enough wind for the kite to get left a not too much when that's wildly swaying back and forth.

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