Birds Eye Photography with Balloons

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For Harry Capper, it’s just another  chapter in a lifelong interest in aerial photography.

His homemade rig that elevates a remote controlled camera assembly by way of a blimp-like helium balloon.

After connecting the camera assembly under the balloon, Capper demonstrated the digital camera’s 360 degree pivot capability, moved into position with battery powered miniature thrusters.

” See, there’s is nothing to block the camera,” said Capper.  “The mount pivots around a center line.”

Capper’s invention that allows him to safely clear trees and power lines for elevated photographs.  His service is used by and for property owners, realtors, construction sites and special events.

Unwinding the tether line to a height of about 75 feet, Capper donned special monitor glasses that allow him to see what the camera sees before he triggers the shutter. A separate monitor in his box truck can be viewed too.

“You just put it up and it’s very relaxed shooting.” said Capper. “And it can be done by one person.”

“I throw away the bad pictures, like all photographers do,” Capper joked. “And, if you miss your target, you just shoot over.”

The retired mechanical engineer says he prefers using balloons over unmanned aerial vehicles, commonly called drones, because they are highly visible, very quiet and not much of a hazard to other aircraft at such a low altitude.  Nevertheless, he advises nearby airports every time before releasing his balloon as an extra caution.

Capper’s interest in aerial photography is nothing new. 50 years ago he was already shooting pictures from radio controlled model planes.

“in 1964 I actually did the first successful high resolution image” from one of those planes.

And he’s not done tweaking yet.  He expects his latest invention, a more sophisticated camera mount and stabilizer system, to be in the air later this summer.

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