Public Lab Research note

Hope in Bloom: Hope in Balloon

by stevie | May 06, 2014 16:27 06 May 16:27 | #10428 | #10428

On Tuesday April 29th, Liz and myself met with El Puente Green Light District for their event “Hope In Bloom” in Brooklyn, NYC. Our event for the day was to do a balloon mapping of the gardens in the neighborhood with the students of El Puente Academy with the mission to engage the students on arial photography and highlight community garden spaces.

Liz spearheaded the mission of filling the balloon with helium from a store a good distance from the site of the first mapping. Before the students arrived to the garden, we attempted a trial run with the balloon and camera set. The weather had been blustery all morning with guests up to 15mph. We used two tethers to raise the balloon in hopes of keeping it steady in the wind. In spite of the fact that we had a generally clear overhead (with a single shed to the side and one pruned tree) the balloon was taken by a large gust of wind and plummeted towards the tree, popping on impact.

Luckily, we had a second balloon on hand. We identified a shop about four blocks from the site that was abel to fill it. Although this new shop was in a good location for us, it did not have double doors. This meant that we would not be able to remove the balloon from the shop once it was filled. To tackle this obstacle, the cashier rolled the helium tank to the door of the shop and we filled the balloon through the doorway.

Once the balloon was filled we walked it back to the garden. At this point the students had arrived and were working on various projects in other groups. The balloon arose great interest among the students, but unfortunately we had not filled it with enough helium to support the camera case. Since the shop was only a few blocks away, I took the ballon back to be filled again. At this point, the weather had gotten worse. It began to rain and the wind had increased.

Back at the garden, we attached a third tether to the ballon in hopes of managing the wind. Although the balloon now would lift the camera set, it was still unsteady, diving and weaving about in the wind. At this point, we also started having problems with the camera. Perhaps due to the rain, the camera began shutting off in its casing.

All in all, we did not get arial photos that day. However, with a good bit of trial and error, and some great talks about arial photography, I believe we all walked away having had a good and successful experience. Perhaps next time the weather will be more in our favor.


What type of balloon are you using? Latex? Size?

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@ckmguy - I imagine it was the standard one in the balloon mapping kit.

Yikes, sounds like you could have used a kite, huh? I usually don't use a balloon if there is any noticeable wind at all -- did you see the wind guide on the Kite Mapping Tips page?

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the urban environment was too crowded with buildings to use a kite

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sounds like a good place for a pole. Love how inventive you got with the store owner and his tank.

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