Trying to obtain this view inspired some ingenious inventions, such as sending cameras up into the sky attached to free balloons, kites and even attaching them to pigeons. Some inventions sound pretty dangerous like using large calibre guns or rocket photographic systems. Arthur Batut a Frenchman was a pioneer of Arial photography; he made a kite that could carry his home made camera on which he had invented a shutter that he could operate from the ground. (Newhall: 1969). There was also a French taylor called Franz Reichelt, who made himself a wearable parachute. He unfortunately killed himself by jumping from the first platform of the Eiffel Tower on February 4th 1912. When testing the suit, he said “I want to try the experiment myself and without trickery, as I intend to prove the worth of my invention”. (Je veux tenter l’expérience moi-même et sans chiqué [sic], car je tiens à bien prouver la valeur de mon invention.) (Franz Reichelt) (Wikipedia 2011).
Kite photography was the most used way of obtaining a ‘bird’s eye view’ (even though these views were seldom accepted as a landscape) from the 1870’s until the 1920’s when aeroplanes became more widely used for aerial photography. However, kite photography came back into fashion in the 1980’s, thanks to new high-performance kites, and is practiced today by an increasing number of photographers. Most kite photographers do it for fun. A few, including earth scientists and geologists, incorporate it into their studies. Scott Haefner, an environmental scientist does both. He attaches the camera to the line of the kite, and has a remote control box which lets him aim and shoot the camera. Haefner says. “You have got to be inventive and be willing to spend the time building the rig.” (Weinstein: 2003)
The bird’s eye view is so spectacular there is nothing that people will not do to acquire the feeling of freedom and exhilaration that it gives. Some people even try to make them selves fly like kites, by doing such activities as power gliding, hand gliding and the most recent and the most dangerous sport of all, base jumping. The base jumper launches himself from the highest building or cliffs he can find, and with the aid of a parachute glides to the ground. I myself tried power gliding and found it the most exhilarating thing I have ever done, the view below was just incredible and I felt very safe which was surprising as I am usually very nervous of heights.
Photographers such as Marilyn Bridges and Scott Haefner both have a scientific basis to take aerial photographs. But this is not the only motivation for them. Bridges likes the thrill of flying and Haefner does it for pure fun. Whereas photographic artists Olivo Barbieri, Andreas Gursky and William Garnet, take aerial photographs for there artistic practise and sheer pleasure of obtaining the photograph they will only acquire from the air.