True Success!

(This probably isn't the real curvature of the Earth. In fact, I'd almost guarantee it, partly because of the fisheye nature of the GoPro and partly because of very prevalent warping.)
Alex Farris
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2012.10.01
And now for something completely different.

Before I went traipsing across Ohio following the presidential candidates for two days, I was in Chicago for the weekend. My stated goal was to take some photos of the Chicago World Music Festival (and I did, though minimally), but I also had larger goals of meeting with a friend for some book editing and flying a kite in the Windy City. Both of those goals combined wonderfully.

I woke up slightly early last Monday morning and headed up to Montrose Park. Chicago has held multiple kite-flying festivals there, so after failed flights the previous night at Olive Park, I figured, "Why argue with the experts?" and took the 'L' there. I set the GoPro to take a photo every 10 seconds, and then I let 'er fly.

I was somewhat successful. The wind came from the land, not the lake, so it was a bit stirred up by the buildings and trees behind me and thus somewhat inconsistent. Also, since I was standing at the peak of Montrose Hill, once the kite got to the weaker winds of the leeward side it would take a nosedive. But I got something in the second photo.

After the morning session, I met my friend Steph Feeley at M Burger, a very fancy hole in the wall behind the Apple Store on Michigan Avenue. She got me a friend discount on a spicy Hurt Burger and an ice cream cone, and I drove her back out to Montrose Hill so she could do some flying. We met with the same amount of success, but it was much more fun than the morning for the simple fact that we were flying together, not alone. (Video proof of this may surface one day.)

We tried one more beach before I drove her home, resigned to acceptable kite photos. The farther I drove down Lake Shore Drive toward Indy, however, the less satisfied I became, until I stopped at the 61st Street Beach House in Jackson Park to try again. There, everything was much easier: after just one dud flight, the kite and its GoPro camera soared over Lake Michigan so strongly that the spool flew out of my hands. (I ran fast enough that I stopped it from going into the lake and being lost forever.)

The biggest bug I still have to work out is keeping the camera facing the ground while not making it too heavy. I originally fastened the camera to a piece of wood hanging onto the line by a wire hanger (photo 3) to weigh it down, but because it weighed too much I ended up wrapping the line around the camera and sealing it into the case. It worked great! It did flip over and under the line a lot, however, creating warped photos that make the Earth look flat (photo 19). Next time, I think I'll put enough weight on the front of the case without getting it in the field of view so it stays pointed down. (I envision a sliver of wood or metal.)

Most photos are by me, either from the GoPro or on my D300. Steph likes taking photos, also, so while I was flying she took a few herself. They're credited accordingly. If you want to see all of the photos taken by the GoPro last Sunday and Monday, you can download the 123MB zip file here.

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Outtake from Olive Park. The shirt is a nod to xkcd; I try to wear it whenever I take the L in Chicago, hoping someone will read it and strike up a conversation. Outtake from Olive Park. The shirt is a nod to xkcd; I try to wear it whenever I take the L in Chicago, hoping someone will read it and strike up a conversation. You can buy it here. Alex Farris
Montrose Park, from above Montrose Park, from above Alex Farris
Photo by Steph Feeley. In case the GoPro flew off somewhere, I put my business card in the case. Eventually, I took off the hanger and wood block and threaded the line around the camera inside the case. The card, though, was always there. Photo by Steph Feeley. In case the GoPro flew off somewhere, I put my business card in the case. Eventually, I took off the hanger and wood block and threaded the line around the camera inside the case. The card, though, was always there. Steph Feeley
Photo by Steph Feeley. Getting ready to fly. Like a boss. Photo by Steph Feeley. Getting ready to fly. Like a boss. Steph Feeley
Photo by Steph Feeley. Three things to notice here: the wind in my hair, the unshaven face, and the "Viva la relativity" T-shirt I bought five years ago from ThinkGeek. Photo by Steph Feeley. Three things to notice here: the wind in my hair, the unshaven face, and the "¡Viva la relativity!" T-shirt I bought five years ago from ThinkGeek. Steph Feeley
Steph flies! Steph flies! Alex Farris
She is a master. She is a master. Alex Farris
Photo by Steph Feeley. Photo by Steph Feeley. Steph Feeley
Alex Farris
Photo by Steph Feeley. Photo by Steph Feeley. Steph Feeley
Photo by Steph Feeley. Photo by Steph Feeley. Steph Feeley
Kite and camera on a pure blue background. Who could ask for anything more? Kite and camera on a pure blue background. Who could ask for anything more? Alex Farris
This was taken while Steph was flying and I was manning the D300 (bottom left). This was taken while Steph was flying and I was manning the D300 (bottom left). Alex Farris
Steph wears a kite hat. Steph wears a kite hat. Alex Farris
Dud flight in Jackson Park. The wind could start and die quickly, as the tons of loose line show. Dud flight in Jackson Park. The wind could start and die quickly, as the tons of loose line show. Alex Farris
Success! Success! Alex Farris
Success!<br /><br />(This probably isn't the real curvature of the Earth. In fact, I'd almost guarantee it, partly because of the fisheye nature of the GoPro and partly because of very prevalent warping.) Success!
(This probably isn't the real curvature of the Earth. In fact, I'd almost guarantee it, partly because of the fisheye nature of the GoPro and partly because of very prevalent warping.)
Alex Farris
Alex Farris
Because the GoPro was flipping from the skyward side of the line to the landward and back so quickly, some photos got distorted as the GoPro prepared for one shot and ended up with a different view. Here, the Earth seems to be the pre-Columbian definition of flat, and a boat is falling over the edge. Because the GoPro was flipping from the skyward side of the line to the landward and back so quickly, some photos got distorted as the GoPro prepared for one shot and ended up with a different view. Here, the Earth seems to be the pre-Columbian definition of flat, and a boat is falling over the edge. Alex Farris
This is the 61st Street Beach House. Unlike downtown, parking costs only a dollar an hour. This is the 61st Street Beach House. Unlike downtown, parking costs only a dollar an hour. Alex Farris
The kite and camera are shown in shadow as the whole thing makes a surprisingly soft landing. The SD card usually pops out after a hard landing, but the camera was still taking photos when I picked it up (resulting in <a href="../Graphics/chicagokite_gopro11.jpg" target="_blank">jubilation</a>). The kite and camera are shown in shadow as the whole thing makes a surprisingly soft landing. The SD card usually pops out after a hard landing, but the camera was still taking photos when I picked it up (resulting in jubilation). Alex Farris

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