Kite Photography

Here are some pictures I took by flying a camera-carrying kite over Boston:

More at xkcd.com/kite.

I’m getting a larger kite and hope to make some higher flights. I can’t really plan when I’ll be out there since it depends on the weather, but if you’re nearby (I’m flying them from the MIT athletic field), free during afternoons, and like this kind of project, drop me an email (rmunroe@gmail.com) with “hooray kites!” as the subject and I’ll let the interested people know when I’ll be flying next.

131 thoughts on “Kite Photography

  1. xkcd: So, I think I’m just missing the directions on how to ship you a better camera. I’ll email you?

  2. Regarding LED kites: it’s been done and it looks amazingly cool. I saw some animated multicolour kites flying at night over the West Lake in Hangzhou, and it took me a while to even figure out what they were. (My first guess was some kind of tethered advertising mini-blimp arrangement.)

  3. Be careful. It’s difficult to defend from velociraptors in open areas.

  4. Oh, wow. This is great. I used to live around Boston but I moved away a few years ago. That stretch of land in the background behind the airport is my home town, Winthrop! Damn, man, this is amazing. Thank you.

  5. i don’t know… 2021 may be too long to wait for an AYB return! when an internet celebrity such as yourself remembers (and immortalizes) his first meme so fondly, it won’t be long before we see the revival!!
    XD
    what a hoot! love it.

  6. The thing is, I believe you meant: “The AYB retro-return-date (Zero Wing Zero Hour) should be around AD *2101*.”
    Just saying.

  7. welcome to Boston.
    we are glad to have you. hope people are friendly!
    I say “we” although I am no longer a Bostonite… be sure to come down and visit Providence sometime! Waterfire is this Saturday.

  8. I don’t suppose you have handy the information of what camera you’re using? I’m just curious what quality of camera produces shots this good, and what I would expect from various cameras. I work at a Fry’s Electronics, in the section with the cameras, so I’m in a definite position to pick up cheap ones easily. I just wanted a heads up on what’s the lowest quality camera would be a good idea for this.

  9. that looks a pretty damn high up photo dude :)
    i wouldnt try goin up much higher though tbh..
    I know that in the uk you cant fly any kites over 50m in height legally…
    great comics btw :D.

  10. Other solution:
    1 Mixed Fruit
    2 Hot Wings
    1 Sampler Plate

    No other solutions exist, general solution forthcoming.

  11. The last shot on the 17th is a great picture. My dorm actually looks somewhat nice from that distance.

  12. Nice! A couple of buildings over, we’ve been getting into the fun habit of sending a couple of cameras (and a position reporter and a radio and an AVR and blah blah nerd nerd nerd blah) up in a weather balloon. We get pictures from higher up (33km last time around), but you get to be a lot more confident you’ll get your camera back!

    And yeah, the “under five pounds == unregulated” rule sure is nice. There’s a lot you can do with five pounds of payload…

  13. Loved this post. I haven’t flown kites in a long time. Can you use monofilament line instead of the usual string? If you can, would reduce the visibility of the line in your photos. Just a thought. Keep up the great work!

  14. This is fabulous. Silly question: how do you make a circuit that knows how long 13 seconds is?

  15. If you have access to one of the following Canon digital camera that use the Digic II processor:

    A610
    A620
    A630
    A640
    A710 IS
    S2 IS
    S3 IS

    then you can use the CHDK firmware ( http://scratchpad.wikia.com/wiki/CHDK ) to enable unlimited (except by battery life) shooting with variable delays via a number of user created intervalometer scripts. Essentially all you need is the camera itself and a good capacity memory card!

  16. My family did something similar with a huge 7′ tall home-made kite. The kite wasn’t especially well-made and the wind could’ve been better, but we got some great chaotic action scenes where we tied a camera to the tail and put it in video mode. Does your camera have a video setting? It would be sweet if you made a video and posted it on the site.

  17. I’ve just bought a kite and cheap digital camera £16. I gaffer taped the shutter button down, which causes it to take pictures repeatedly with out the need of extra circuitry and bodges. Most of my pictures were either of clouds or the contrast was really crap. Finishing with some close up pictures of the grass. I only got one flight then the batteries went. Next time I’ll try to tape the camera on at a different angle. My girlfriend seems to think I’m mad and that I’ll just break the camera, this is possibly true but it’ll be fun whilst it lasts.

  18. Now all you need is some kite pornography. You’ll be the Larry Flynt of kites. Or the Randall Munroe of porn. I don’t know which. Crap.

  19. Pingback: a710 is

  20. Nice. But don’t let the Boston brown-shirts catch you doing that. I’m sure that’s an “improvised electrical device” you’re flying there, and an Infernal Machine to boot!

  21. This reminds me my old estes rocket that had a camera and some film rigged to it, didn’t get very good pictures.. but it was still a rocket camera!

  22. That’s really neat, and I’m suprised it worked so well. You hear about these things but, well, at least for me, don’t ever see them happen. Maybe I’ll try something like this sometime

  23. I flew an amazing kite one day outside of my house– we tied several spools of fishing line together, and after awhile it flew itself. Infact, it had pulled out so far (assuming over 260m) that we could not reel it in within the daylight hours. Since the pull was so great, we tied it to 50lbs. weights, which were subsequently wrapped around a lightpost. Anything less, and I’m assuming it would have flown away. I still wish I could have tested it to see if it would support my weight…

  24. I don’t see any kite! I can only suggest that you do much better taking pictures.

    “Stop the habit of wishful thinking and start the habit of thoughtful wishes.”

  25. The thing is, I believe you meant: “The AYB retro-return-date (Zero Wing Zero Hour) should be around AD *2101*.”
    Just saying.

  26. These are very good pics, can’t wait to see what’s next on the plate. Always hungry for great content like this, now all we need is schwarzenegger on a kite with a knife in the mouth to go catch the bad guys!

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