Photography reaches new heights
November 7, 1997
Being able to capture a work-of-art photograph with the glimpse of an
eye is intrinsic. But not being able to see through the viewfinder and having
to guess when the moment is right before snapping the picture seems amateurish.
So why would Gary Colby, professor of photography and director of the
Irene Carlson Gallery of Photography, exhibit 46 color kite aerial photographs
in the gallery now through the end of this semester?
"I was struck by the quality of Charles Benton's [professor of
architect at UC Berkeley] Web site," said Colby. "Everything on
the Web functions right and the photographs were very good. Overall, I was
inspired by his designs."
Of the 46 kite aerial photographs displayed, one unique photo shows
Benton laying on his back on a cracked cemented ground looking up with the
remote control that controls the direction of the kite and the shutter of
the camera in his left hand, titled "Self Portrait."
The photograph was taken from a remote controlled 35mm camera on a kite.
"What is difficult is the documentation of the social environment
because it involves flying near or over people and their activities, a practice
that requires both skill and caution," said Benton. "I am only
beginning to take images in this latter category."
In the two years of taking photographs from kite-lofted cameras, Benton's
photos have never been exhibited.
"I have been taking kite aerial photography for compositional purpose,
mostly within an hour or so from my home in Berkeley, Calif.," said
Having been a photographer for more than 20 years and flying radio-controlled
sailplanes for 10 years, kite aerial photography has changed Benton's perspective
and takes on a whole new level.
Benton's technical approach behind kite aerial photography revolves
around either a Yashica T4 point-and-shoot camera, a Yashica T4 Super point-and-shoot
camera, or a Canon Rebel X single-lens-reflex camera, a rig and a kite.
The rig is a two-axis radio-controlled cradle while the kite provides enough
lift for the camera rig, but not so much that it is uncomfortable to fly.
"I appreciate kite aerial photography the most because it offers
a continuing excuse to roam my fair state and spend time below a sweet-flying
kite," said Benton.
Other photographs displayed in the gallery include landscapes, building
structures, nature and objects.
Benton has also completed a project, combining kite photographs, ground-based
photographs and computer-based photogrammetric techniques to develop three-dimensional
"Colleagues in computer science and I have recently been invited
to show the resulting animated video at SIGGRAPH '97," said Benton.
"It is a disarmingly simple notion to attach a camera to a kite
and thus displace it from the space we occupy to the space we cannot,"
said Benton. "However simple, the technique has opened interesting
doors, doors to projects beyond my own discipline, to interesting people
and to a new view of the world around me."
Benton's kite aerial photographs are on exhibit in the Carlson Gallery
through Dec. 17. Admission is free.