Tech: Ballon Aerial Photography

Balloon Camera flying over Penland.  Photo by Robin Dryer

Balloon Camera

Robin Dreyer, Communications Director of Penland School, took a photograph of the balloon camera just as it took a photo of him.  Click “Read More” to see the photo of him.  Looking Up | Looking Down

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Dan Bailey assembles the aerial balloon camera at NCMA.  Photo by Morgan Bailey

First Aerial Balloon Shoot at the NC Museum of Art

June 6, 2012.      This last weekend, we did the first aerial balloon photography for the “Looking Down:NCMA” piece for the North Carolina Museum of Art.  Other than some high winds and thunder storms, it was a beautiful weekend.  Lots of sun that caused crisp shadows.   The camera was walked around the entire campus at least once.

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Balloon Aerial Photography Test 3

May 5, 2012.      Almost there.  This test was with a bigger balloon (5′), a more stable camera rig, and a camera set manually with intervalometer script and shooting RAW files.  These high resolution images are then collaged onto a low-res satellite image.  This detail of the final test collage does not give a true indication of the range of information available, so I have posted a zoomable version on 

Images from this gallery

Balloon and Asian Rock Garden Aerial Balloon Photo Collage of Asian Stone Garden Dan with Aerial Photography Balloon Dan Bailey with Balloon Aerial Camera
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Aerial Photography Balloon Camera Rig #2

May 5, 2012.      Here is a quick video from the Oak Branch Series that describes a new version of a camera rig to hold a small point-and-shoot camera from a helium balloon.  This builds upon all the good work that The Public Laboratory ( has done in this area of balloon and kite photography for mapping purposes.  The refinement gives more control and stability of the camera as it is buffeted by the wind.  

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Canon PowerShot S95 with CHDK running.

Hacking a Canon PowerShot for Time Lapse.

After months of reading, there are only a few options for launching a high quality light-weight camera onto a balloon that can take photos every few seconds.  I went with hacking a Canon PowerShot camera with CHDK.  Haven’t floated it up yet, but on the ground it is allowing full manual control of everything and it shoots RAW images.  Perfect for the quality that is needed.  Next step is to use it in the air.  If you want a bit more information on CHDK,  continue reading…

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Self-Portrait Shadow with Balloon Aerial Camera

Balloon Aerial Photography Test 2

This image is about the only good thing to come from this second test of the GoPro Camera hanging in a plastic bag on a 3 foot helium balloon.  I was able to photograph for almost an hour before the balloon just exploded in mid-air and the camera landed at my feet.  The camera was OK, but the 300 recorded images finally confirmed that the GoPro camera is just not going to give me the quality that is needed.  I need a camera with a decent lens, ability to shoot RAW, and can be manually set for all things: color […]

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Balloon Aerial Photography Test 1

First test used a GoPro Camera hanging from a 3 foot helium filled balloon in a plastic bag.  The bag simply cradles the camera aiming down and the lens pokes through a hole in the bag.  This is a simple light-weight and weather-resistant solution.   The GoPro camera was set to time-lapse mode and shooting an image every 5 seconds.  It was raining, the balloon was quite wet and there wasn’t enough helium in the balloon to keep it floating well.   This was done at Penland School where the front knoll is mowed with this crazy random path and […]

Images from this gallery

Penland Aerial Balloon Test 1 Balloon Test 1 Documentary
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