KAP Panoramas

One way of taking advantage of the high viewpoint offered by the kite is to capture a mosaic of panned shots to build up the wide view.

Perhaps the most famous KAP image of all time is George R Lawrence's 160 degree panorama of San Fransisco in ruins in 1906. The camera was specially constructed for panoramic capture using a rolling slit shutter exposing a radially mounted negative.

Digital KAP panoramic image by Pierre Lesage from 10 GoPro images stitched with AutoPanoGiga 2.4

The problem with using a kite as a photographic platform is the amount of movement that has to be accommodated in stitching.

4 methods are used to overcome the movement issue.
  • Use of extremely wide (fish eye) lens
  • High speed panning
  • Synchronized multi camera
  • '360' camera

Stitching can be as simple as a 2 image match for a Bubble Panorama or one of a number of edge matched methods reprojected as cylinder, sphere, perspective, rectilinear. 

multi image of projection types

How many images?

Fewer is better.

Using a very wide lens with a deep overlap causes stitching difficulties. 

How much overlap?

It is suggested that you shoot each photo with 15 to 20% overlap. It is preferable to use a lens which doesn't have  distortion toward the edges. If you use a wide-angle lens, the edge of the image will be severely distorted, and you will have difficulty stitching the photos due to the distortion in the overlapping sections.

Sim Hyun-Jun

Taking the shots as quickly as possible helps reduce variation in exposure and limit the amount of camera travel.

Camera aspect

A portrait mounted camera is likely to get better stitching across the horizon line 

Mosaic of 11 portrait aspect frames fitted by AutoStitch.

Re-projecting the image to remove the curved horizon allows the centre portion to be cropped into a single image:

360° Bubble Panoramas

Only two images are needed to create these panoramas. I take one looking straight down from the kite using a simple rig, and a second looking straight up from the ground. Both images are shot with a circular fisheye lens that has a 180 degree view (Nikon FC-E9).

You can think of it as if each image contains a “hemisphere” of information: the image from the kite is the southern hemisphere, and the image from the ground is the northern hemisphere. When you rotate around in the image, you are viewing it from the center of a sphere that you're inside of. The image is projected onto the walls of the sphere; It's like being at the center of a bubble, looking around.

First, I touch up the two initial images, fixing color balance, contrast, etc.

The next step is to “unwrap” the circular images into rectangular images. For this, I use PTGui, an excellent software tool for warping and stitching images to create panoramas.

Finally, I bring these two images into Adobe Photoshop and combine them, using layers.

The finished result. Apple Quicktime projects this flat image onto a sphere as you rotate around.

I stretch the sky shot vertically so that any visible ground features can be hidden behind the ground shot in the composite image. Then I use a layer mask to make the seam between the two images as discreet as possible.

Scott Haefner

Software tools for panorama building





Key feature






Limited support


PT Gui


New House Internet Services BV

Editable mosaic preview.

Big selection of projection types.

Camera and lens parameters used.

Manual control point matching method option.

Difficult horizon stitching.


AutoPano pro



Editable mosaic preview.

Overlap cropping option.

Manual control by line fitting option.






Simple interface.

Excellent edge matching.

Limited projection options


Microsoft Image Composite Editor



Sphere or cylinder Projection choice.

Planar/Rotation movement selection.

Mosaic editing difficult.








Photoshop Elements



32bit colour



Open source

Stitch Panorama plugin required

Complex installation


KAP Examples & tutorials

James Gentles

Philippe Hurbain

Scott Haefner

Tom Benedict

Chris Benton