Articles

  • In 2003, I was introduced to kite aerial photography (KAP) by Ali Fujino and the Drachen Foundation. It was a pivotal turning point in my life and my career, as it widened my perception and understanding of planet earth to a much broader and more objective perspective from above. By this time, I had been studying whales for a decade. As an oceanologist, I realized I could use KAP to document whale behavior and interaction around my boat from an external perspective that was clearly not subjective.
  • It’s time to reflect on twenty years of the Drachen Foundation and talk about some of the moments that have made us proud. Before doing that, let me take a moment to thank three people who made the Foundation what it is. First, my wife Sherry, who agreed so many years ago to let me pursue this passion and then participated in funding the organization through its history. Sherry was nice enough to let me travel the globe while she managed kids, dogs, and household emergencies. Without Sherry’s support, the Drachen Foundation would have remained nothing but a dream.
  • In July 2010, Drachen Foundation and Deep Blue Conservancy supported Oscar Frey and his team to achieve new goals and results in the ongoing development of Kite Aerial Photography (KAP) applications to survey the archeological and natural resources of the Yucatán Peninsula. Since 2006, we have done KAP surveys and workshops in the Yucatán Peninsula. We have achieved liaisons with different scientists and research institutions that are now providing new opportunities for the application of KAP in Mexico.
  • On June 17th, I traveled from my home town of Seattle to Holbox Island, Mexico. For the next week, I was able to watch and work with marine biologist Oscar Frey and his team as they used Kite Aerial Photography (KAP) to capture the extensive wildlife which inhabits the island. Oscar is working to document the erosion which is destroying habitats on the island, as well as to perfect the methodology of KAP for research.
  • Kite aerial photography (KAP) has allowed me to widen my perception of the earth and has provided me a new approach to document natural resources and phenomena in a nonintrusive manner.
  • There is no doubt that influential Mexican artist Francisco Toledo is taken with kites! After last fall’s successful Toledo-inspired kite exhibit in Oaxaca, Mexico, for which the Drachen Foundation contributed over 50 art kites created by international kite makers, Toledo exerted his influence to exhibit the kites in Puebla, Mexico, a town two hours south of Mexico City.
  • Big projects start in small ways, and so it was with this fall’s Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebration in Oaxaca, Mexico. Almost two years ago, former Drachen Foundation employee Melissa McKelvey dashed through Seattle – to and from Mexico – and in her wake she left a Mexican kite, crudely framed and bridled, but with beautiful graphic treatment.
  • An important Drachen Foundation grantee, Frey is using KAP to assist his research in identifying whales and documenting their behavior. A marine biologist and professional photograph by professions, Frey has been studying whales for 20 years in the San Ignacio Bay of Baja, Mexico, and elsewhere. Frey uses a state-of-the-art camera rig consisting of a Nikon D70 with wide angle and fisheye lenses so as to cover as many mammals in as much area of the water as possible.
  • A high school physics teacher in Seattle, Eric Muhs has a resume that says “Fixer of anything.” The legend is both testimony to his confidence in himself and his unusually wide range of skills. Highly verbal, Muhs is one of those inspiring teachers that make a difference in the lives of students. His kite aerial photography has ranged from Hawaii where he documented Polynesian rock art to Baja, Mexico where he studied whales.
  • In one of its more adventurous research projects, the Drachen Foundation is funding Mexican marine biologist Oscar Frey in his study of the impact of humans on humpback whales. In its test phase in the Bay of Bandaras, north of Acapulco, Frey joined French photograph Nico Chorier and Drachen Administrator Ali Fujino in making kite aerial videos and still photographs of the giant whales. Going out to sea daily in a heaving 27- foot boat was real punishment, says Fujino, and seasickness was rife. But the team carried on without a hitch.