Boats at St. Mary’s College Marina

Well, I’m slacking, because it’s been over a month since I did some kite aerial photography at St. Mary’s College Marina, and I am just writing about it now. However, it has kind of worked out, because in the meantime I came across a new RAW photo editor (ART), and I much prefer the results I was able to get out of it with this particular set of pictures than I had gotten from my other editor (DxO Photolab 5, an excellent paid program with some top-notch features, but no official support for my camera, requiring some hacks to get it to work).

Anyway, I had spied this location when searching for aerial photos of the college a few months ago. I have taken some aerial photos at the college previously, but they were always done from a field behind the school, not down by the water. It turns out there is a small beach and some docks with enough space to launch a kite, so I decided to go for it. Here is what the marina looks like from the air, courtesy of my kite:

St. Mary’s College marina (that’s me on the dock)

The small beach at the top left of the image was my initially planned launch location. The wind was around 10-15 mph from the southeast (from the upper right towards the lower left in the photo), with gusts as high as 20 mph, so I chose the smaller of my two kites, the Mini Dopero, for this session. Launching proved to be much more difficult than expected, however. The buildings were blocking the wind at the beach and causing severe turbulence, so much so that the local wind would change direction by 180 degrees within the span of seconds. I managed to get the kite about 100 ft in the air at one point but then brought it down for some bridle adjustments. After that, I only succeeded in crashing the kite into the water a couple times.

With frustration increasing, I remembered that one definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result, so I decided to change my approach. Instead of launching from the beach, I walked to the end of the dock (where you can see me in the picture above) to get away from the turbulence. That turned out to be a great idea, because the kite immediately took to the air with no problems, and after letting out a couple hundred feet of line, I could bring it back to the beach to attach the camera while maintaining stable flight.

The plan was to get high and take a photo of the college, across the street from the marina. However, due to the distance and the school’s height above the water, I wasn’t able to get that shot. It may be possible on a day with steadier wind, so that the camera can be attached closer to the kite (to get higher) and maybe with a panorama. The two below were the closest I could get, which show some of the school buildings, but the main campus is farther to the left and across the street.

My favorite images ended up being these lower-altitude shots of the boats docked at the marina, below. The first one is actually one of my personal all-time favorites, so I especially like that one, of course. (As an aside, as I’ve progressed with my kite aerial photography, I’ve come to appreciate low-altitude shots much more than I originally did. At first it was all about getting as high as possible and seeing what familiar places look like from hundreds of feet in the air, but the novelty of doing that wears off after a while. Now it’s become more about art, which is often best created with low-altitude shots of specific subjects. Of course, there are still times when you need to get high to capture the subject, though.) I also liked the boats anchored out in the water, looking out the other direction from the marina.

It started out frustrating but ended up being a successful and very enjoyable KAP session. I’ll definitely come back again sometime to see if I can capture that high-altitude panorama of the college.

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