Update: DIY Aerial Photography

It’s been over a month since our last post re DIY aerial photography. Since then, we hosted two GIS workshops, a THATCamp Virginia session, and our first real “job” flight for an art installation.

Our workshops were scheduled for Wednesday morning, April 18 and Thursday afternoon, April 19.  Unfortunately, it started raining hard just before our Wednesday session and we were forced to go to Plan B. We decided to fly the balloon in the mural hall located inside Clark Hall.  The ceiling there is two stories tall.  We did get some interesting images from that “flight.”

Although we think we made the point with the flight inside the building, we hoped for much better conditions the next day.

On Thursday, the weather was much better but there was more wind than we hoped.  We knew the images wouldn’t be great but decided to fly anyway.  It was quite an event, NBC 29 (news video) and UVa Today (lots more pictures and story) came.  We did two new things for this flight.  First, John Porter lent us a GPS to put on the balloon rig.  Second, we inadvertently switched the camera to video mode when loading into the balloon rig.

The GPS addition turned out to be a great thing.  It gave us a 3D profile of our flight which we converted to KML for viewing in Google Earth.  Please feel free to download it here.

The mistakenly-created video is interesting in places but is not good for those among us who may have motion sickness issues.

The Space Stare

Next up was the THATCamp Virginia Workshop.

We had about ten THATCampers and decided to fly over Nameless Field.  And since our GPS experiment went so well, it now has become a permanent fixture on our flights.  We got a lot of great shots of the tennis courts.  If you look closely, you can see the crew working to prep the surfaces for new paint.

We have a KMZ of the flight available here.

Next was the art installation being created on UVa Foundation property on 29 North.  A group of students working with Prof. Megan Marlatt are painting the cat shown below in the parking lot.  They are filling in the cat with stencils of a large number of other cats.

Here is our documentation of their work.

Of course, we have a KML of the whole mission (two flights) and some images and the original conceptual plan.  Please download it here.

Our next big balloon event will be teaching some DIY aerial photography at the STEM conference for k-14 educators in June.

Oh and by the way, someone asked how we get that large balloon though rather small doorways.

GIS Specialist with the University of Virginia Library where he builds spatial data collections, teaches GIS courses, and provides GIS user support. His research work includes various demographic, neighborhood indicator, and funding analysis projects in and around Richmond and various environmental science and humanities GIS projects. Chris is a certified GIS professional (GISP).

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