Stunning pictures that show the Fens at their best - wide open skies and endless horizons

Photos from the kite camera of the Fens from Saddlebow by Bill Blake. Picture: BILL BLAKE.

Photos from the kite camera of the Fens from Saddlebow by Bill Blake. Picture: BILL BLAKE.

They are stunning pictures that show the Fens at their very best: wide open skies, endless horizons and washes that continue for miles.

Yet these striking images have not been captured from a hi-tech drone or light aircraft, but from a rather less sophisticated piece of kit – a kite carrying a digital camera.

They are the work of Bill Blake, who has developed a series of custom-built kites with which to take aerial photographs. A surveyor, who previously worked for English Heritage, he uses the devices both for his work and as a hobby.

At its most rudimentary, one simply involves a camera hanging on the kite’s string and takes pictures automatically throughout the flight, having been pre-programmed.

Another one features small electrical devices, which allow the camera to be panned and tilted, to take wider shots of landscapes. It also features an extra battery pack, to allow more pictures to be taken. The resulting images cannot be seen until the kite, which reaches up to 200ft, is brought back to land.


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“It is the least reliable method of aerial photography because the equipment just ends up where the wind wants to take it,” Mr Blake said.

“But I really like taking the photographs and I also like the sense of surprise when scrolling through the images on the cameras afterwards – a view that cannot be captured from the ground is revealed.

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“Of course there are other methods of taking these images, but there’s a significant added expense with drones and aircraft – particularly when it comes to the licences I would need.

“But taking kites up into the skies of the Ouse washes has definitely sharpened my awareness of the landscape. You can see a different perspective of the area from the sky.”

Mr Blake, from Cambridge, was at Tail Sluice at Saddlebow, near King’s Lynn flying his kites above the River Great Ouse and the Relief Channel. Weather permitting, he also plans to run workshops on his kite photography for the public during OuseFest, a festival organised by the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership to celebrate the unique heritage of the Fens.

The festival will be held between July 28 and 31. Details are available at www.ousewashes.org.uk

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