How to Take Aerial Photos Using a Kite

In some areas, the satellite photos available online (TerraServer, Google Earth, etc.) are 10 years old or more. With a $10 kite, extra long string, and an ultralight digital camera, you can take up-to-the-minute aerial photos yourself.


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    Buy an ultralight digital camera or "spy camera", which retails for about $100 and can be found at online retailers. Make sure to get one that either streams the images wirelessly or can save several minutes of still photos or streaming video internally.
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    Make a kite or buy an inexpensive one with sufficient lift for your camera. The spy camera is a good idea since it is generally lighter than a digital camera.
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    Practice flying the kite without the camera until you get used to the kite. Then practice flying your kite with a weight attached in place of the camera. Try to find a nearly worthless item that approximates the weight and size of your camera. You can also use the weight on the first flight of the day or when winds change so you can adjust your kite without risking your camera.
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    Set the camera to take pictures automatically. Refer to the camera's instruction manual for details on how to do this with your camera.
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    Mount the camera securely on the kite. This photo shows how to secure the camera with duct tape and two large sewing needles.
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    Fly the kite, adjusting the camera if necessary to get good lift. If you don't get enough lift, you may need to adjust the tail to offset the weight of the camera; and if the kite flies lopsided, the camera probably needs to be centered closer to the vertical axis of the kite.
  7. Image titled Take Aerial Photos Using a Kite Step 7
    Reel it in, and save your photos to your computer or CD, or print them.


  • If there are no photos, check the battery or batteries, and take some test pictures on the ground using the automatic shutter setting, making sure it's working properly before sending up the kite again.
  • If your first photos don't come out well, keep trying! You will likely improve each time for the first few attempts.
  • If you have a JB1 camera (which is no longer available new), press the small "on" button momentarily. When the LED lights, keep hitting the same button till "Jb" shows up in the LCD display. Then press the top "shutter" button. Push the "on" button until "1" appears in the LCD display. Then hit the shutter button to select 1 photo per minute.


  • As with any kite flying, be careful of power lines, lightning storms, dive-bombing the neighbors, etc.
  • Do not do this with a camera or a kite you're not willing to lose.
  • If you live near restricted airspace, you may want to check with your country's aviation authority or other authorities regarding the legality of this first.
  • In some countries, like India, aerial photography is not allowed. You should get permission from the proper authority before attempting.

Things You'll Need

  • Camera
  • Kite (or materials for a kite)

Sources and Citations

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