Monday, 28th May 1906: Aerial panorama of San Francisco in ruins

Picture by George R. Lawrence

3 Responses

  1. StanFlouride

    This photograph was taken from a camera suspended from a group of several kites flying 2000′ over the bay.
    “In 1906, George R. Lawrence took oblique aerial pictures of San Francisco after the earthquake and fires. Using between nine and seventeen large kites to lift a huge camera (49 pounds) he took some of the largest exposures (about 48 x 122 cm or 18 x 48 in.) ever obtained from an aerial platform. His camera was designed so that the film plate curved in back and the lens fitted low on the front, providing panorama images (Figure 7a). The camera was lifted to a height of approximately 2,000 feet and an electric wire controlled the shutter to produce a negative. Lawrence designed his own large-format cameras and specialized in aerial views. He used ladders or high towers to photograph from above. In 1901 he shot aerial photographs from a cage attached to a balloon. One time, at more than 200 feet above Chicago, the cage tore from the balloon, and Lawrence and his camera fell to the ground. Fortunately telephone and telegraph wires broke his fall; he landed unharmed. He continued to use balloons until he developed his method for taking aerial views with cameras suspended from unmanned kites, a safer platform from his perspective. He developed a means of flying Conyne kites in trains and keeping the camera steady under varying wind conditions. This system he named the ‘Captive Airship’
    (Figure 7b here:)


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