Kite photography, invented in the 1870s—flourished until the 1920s, when airplane photography took over. In France, pioneering photographers created aerial panoramas.
George Lawrence sent a camera skyward to record the destruction from the 1906 San Francisco quake.
Kite photography was reborn in the 1980s. Today it’s booming, with several hundred practitioners worldwide and as many Web sites. Haefner knows half a dozen fellow enthusiasts.
It is virtual reality and psychedelia all in one, as the world spins about with ever-changing distortions.
Haefner creates bubble panoramas, using a fish-eye lens to take one shot looking straight up and another shot from the kite straight down, then stitching them together using several software programs and a process developed by French engineer and Lego master Philippe Hurbain.
“...it is virtual reality in the sense that you’re able to get inside this image and rotate it around,” Haefner says. “You’re in control. It’s almost like you’re on this ride where you’re suspended in the air and you can turn and look in any direction you want.”
A remote control box the size of a lunch box lets him aim and shoot.
Weinstein, D . 2003. On Scott Haefner: San Francisco Chronicle [online] July 11 [Available at]
http://scotthaefner.com/publications/chronicle/’: [accessed on 28th January 2011 at 23 30.]