An interview with John Chua about Kite Aerial Photography

First I showed to Sir John Chua the video of Chris Benton (a kite aerial photographer in America) demonstrating kite aerial photography on a feature on Make magazine. And told him that it was my classmate, Joseph Maquirang, who recommended coming to him because he said you had experience doing aerial photography with a remote-controlled helicopter.

John Chua: What is the problem here in the Philippines? The winds here are gusty, they tend to blow then stop then blow again.

Gerome Soriano: I also observed that sir. The Kite Association of the Philippines recommended that it would be easier to fly during the “ber” months.

JC: Right “ber” months. Have you already talked with the Kite Association of the Philippines about your project?

GS: Yes. And they told me about a dentist member of them that was also doing Kite Aerial Photography. They said he uses a point and shoot camera because it was light.

JC: Correct point and shoot cameras are definitely lighter. With that (pointing at my friend’s Jude Canon 500d, which was taking a video that time) against this (pulled out a Canon g10 from his pocket). I think this even has more megapixels than that. And it is only one-tenth of the weight of that.
            So correct me if I’m wrong, in order for your thesis to pass you have to get the camera airborne with a kite. Do you have the contraption that would house and control the camera, like the one on the video?

GS: None yet. That is why I came here to ask you, if you can recommend someone maybe the one that built the contraption for your camera when it was mounted on a remote-controlled helicopter.

JC: Right. The one you need is…(getting his phone). He designed this contraption (showing the contraption used for his camera mounted on the remote-controlled helicopter). It’s Miguel Boloso 0917********. He’s a pilot but his friend is the one that built the rig for the remote-controlled helicopter.

GS: The remote-controlled helicopter, was it as success?

JC: In a way it was successful, because we were able to get the camera airborne. But  controlling it was difficult, there was no full control.
            In a way it was successful, there is some control, there is view (there’s a wireless transmission for the live view).
            But for me, as an advertising photographer, it was not something I wanted because the control is difficult. And in my profession we need to get the conceptualized photos as precise as possible.      
            The problem with the remote-controlled helicopter is firstly, there a multiple persons involved, people for maneuvering the helicopter and people aligning the camera for the shot. And as a photographer it was hard because you have to be able to compensate the movement of the helicopter and direct everyone as to where direction to go. So the chances of getting the pre-visualized shot is slim.
            (Showing the photos from his laptop)
            Control is important to me because I need to be able to compose my shots.
            I tried the remote-controlled helicopter because it was cheaper. (Discussing the advantage and disadvantage of helicopter, airplane and remote-controlled helicopter for aerial photographs).
            While it’s true that the use of kite is very creative. You can notice that he (referring to Chris Benton from the video) only use it for personal purposes. It’s shooting till you have something good. But for me, I need to get specific shots that the client/agency needs.
            I’m not saying this to discourage you.

GS: Sir about the remote-controlled helicopter. Is it true that it crashed?

JC: Actually it was not mine. The idea there is to try it as a cheaper alternative and make a business out of it. They called me in to try it. I brought a Canon 5d markII back then. The shoot was good then on the third take off the engine was having problems and the equipment crashed. And like I said earlier there is not much control, it was hard to get the angle you want. And in the long it will turn out more expensive and more time-consuming than conventional aerial photography.
            But I think your project is good for experimental purposes.
            The lighter the camera the better, if I may recommend a point and shoot like this Canon g10 because you will have no need of the zoom.

GS: But the problem with point and shoot cameras, is that because of their lightness they tend to swing unendingly when the kite suddenly moves.

JC: Anyway that is part of your assignment to experiment.
            I f the mechanism are too difficult for you to do. You only need to find a way to activate the shutter.      
            Do you know how to fly a kite?

GS: I tried once during a Kite Association of the Philippines event.

JC:  What you need is a floater. Not the ones with dual lines. You ask the Kite Association of Philippines what a floater is, and what can they recommend.
            Forget about designing, rent, borrow, or if you can buy. Use only the tried and tested ones.

GS: Do you have any recommendations where to shoot with kite aerial photography?

JC: Countrysides. Urban areas are crowded. South part would be best. Monumento. Roxas Blvd. Rizal Park. You should work closely with the Kite Association of the Philippines. Be sincere with asking for help and assistance. And don’t just be there when you need something befriend them show them that you are truly interested and for sure they will help you.

1,000 pesos worth of prints!!!!! free! gratis! on the studio! my compliments :)
Not just one print but TWO!
These prints are the same with the ones that I sell in art fairs at 500 pesos each.  

Disqus for Gerome Soriano