We flew a big red balloon over New York City Saturday, generating excitement, cheers and about 300 aerial pictures of the tippy-top of Manhattan.
And we had a bunch of fun.
Soon, I'll stitch the pictures together into a mosaic of the park.
For the how and why we did it, read on!
About a year ago, during a conference at the MIT Center for Future Civic Media, I met Jeffrey Warren and other folks behind Grassroots Mapping. They had done fascinating work mapping and photographing the Gulf Oil Spill with kites and balloons.
My only motivating cause was that flying a camera-balloon seemed like a fantastic project, and something my kids would love. (I was right on both counts.)
Idea to Imagery
I started with this complete guide of everything necessary and hit online and local stores for balloons, cranks and string.
The trickiest part was hacking my Canon camera to automatically take a picture every 15 seconds. There's a guide for that, too, of course. The hack turns out to be especially challenging to do with a Mac, but I was determined to pull it off, and did one evening.
Saturday morning at 8:45 a.m., in a field at Inwood Hill Park, we inflated the balloon, sealed it with cable ties, turned on the camera and hooked it up with a carabiner.
Then we sent everything flying on 400 feet of pink string.
My children and I walked around the park's lagoon, joined initially by our friends Brad, Liz, Molly and Tessa -- who spotted the balloon out their 7th-floor apartment window -- and then by more families from the area.
Navigating trees was the hardest part, and twice we landed the balloon to get to the next open area. But otherwise, no snags of any sort.
My plan is to use Cartagen Knitter to stitch the images together into one big mosaic.
When it's done, I'll post that here, too.