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Bathgate Spring Run, LEAP helipan aerial by Aaron and Ken Tamminga, 2011                                                                                                                                                                                    click on image to go to

Images of landscape and place, 
and some of the tools that capture them, have fascinated me since I purchased my first SLR (a Konica T4)
three decades ago.
The camera, the robotic gigapan, the helikite, the camcorder -- these devices
help me and my colleagues to achieve fresh
perspective and see contexts and embedded details.
Beyond landscape representation and analysis
, I've been pursuing and teaching photo/video making as
a collaborative process that enhances interdisciplinarity, stimulates visual understanding in
seminar, and empowers communities to tell their own stories.


LEAP takes flight, 2005

it just fits...

  detail revealed: fulmar pair nesting on the
mill's flagstone-and-turf roof (adaptive reuse?)
Low Elevation Aerial Photography (LEAP)

Collaborators :
   Tom Yahner and Tim Murtha

Funding :
   Stuckeman Endowment for Design Technology grant, 2005

Components :
   - helikite,
1.6 cu.m. helium capacity, 2lb. no-wind payload (much more with wind),
     polyurethane and rip-stop nylon, supplied by Allsopp Helikites, Ltd.
   - Ricoh GRD III camera, fixed 6mm (28mm eq.) /f1.9
lens with interval shooting capability
  mast package--
   - LW-40 telescopic
fiberglass mast and aluminum tripod, extends to 40', supplied by Floatograph Technologies
   - Sony DCS V3 and Sony H50 digital cameras, mounted on pan/tilt, with ground console monitor
   - standard golf cart for field mobility

Presentations and Projects :

   “L.E.A.P. to get a bird's-eye view: Low elevation aerial photography for site design and landscape research,
   LABash 2009 National Conference.

   North Orkney Population History Project, Sanday collection, with Tim Murtha
   LArch 312 Community Studio,
Circleville Farm collection, with Tom Yahner
   The Arboretum at Penn State
, Hartley Wood Restoration, with Sam Grinstead
LArch 332 Planting Studio, Ag Commons Project, with Tom Johnson
   Millbrook Marsh wetland and fluvial geomorphology collection, with Aaron Tamminga

faculty meeting, 2006, Stuckeman Family Building patio

in 2007, Tim Murtha and I surveyed many old crofts and outbuildings on Sanday (a north Orkney isle), Scotland
taken with LW-40 telescopic mast and Sony DCS-v3, prior to 3D photo-modeling

Boloquoy Steading water mill, Sanday, Orkney, via telescopic mast, with T. Murtha

mini-pan of Torsker croft, showing exceptionally intact hearth, Sanday, Orkney, with T. Murtha

Red pine plantation, Heart's Content 2009
 (click on image to go to

Thangka, Kathmandu 2006
 (click on image)

Hagerstown Ap horizon, zone of root proliferation,
 organic matter accumulation, and crumb structure


  Fellowships and
Funding :

  Fine Outreach for Science Fellowship, Fine Foundation
  CREATE Lab, Robotics Institute,
Carnegie Mellon University
  Stuckeman Endowment for Design Technology grant, 2009

Components :

  gigapan package--
  - GigaPan Epic 100 robotic camera mount, supplied by Carnegie Mellon University / GigaPan Systems
  aerostat helikit and camera  (see LEAP, above)

  software and web hosting--
  - GigaPan Stitch 1.1.1565 optimized stitching software
  - GigaPan Upload 1.1.1565 uploading software
  - gigapixel panoramas hosted at

Papers, Projects, etc. :

Exploring the excited skin: Gigapixel imaging of soil profiles and landscape contexts,” Proceedings of the
   Fine International Conference on Gigapixel Imaging for Science, paper #3, Carnegie Mellon University, 2010,
   with Rick Stehouwer and Patrick Drohan      paper    video  (item #5)
   “Gigapixel imaging, interdisciplinarity, and knowledge integration,“ Fine Outreach for Science
   GigaPan Workshop #4, Carnegie Mellon University, 2010

   Nearby Nature, GigaPan Magazine, Nov. 2011, vol. 3(11), co-editor with A. Smith and D. vanEngelsdorp
   Initiator and Juror, Nearby Nature gigablitz, with Alex Smith, Dennis vanEngelsdorp, and CMUs CREATE lab, 2010-

   Soils 101 digital soil profile archives (with Rick Stehouwer)
   LArch 272 Ridge-and-Valley layered gigapan data base (with Tom Yahner)
   LArch 424 Landscape Film Seminar (see below)

Soil profile gigapans 2009, with R. Stehouwer  (click on image above to go to

in the pits, Larson Experimental Farm                                                                                                                                 Hagerstown soil showing sub-angular blocky structure


Could helikite photo series be stitched and uploaded as gigapans ? After some concerted helikiting and digital tinkering by my son Aaron (Ph.D. cand., fluvial geomorph.) and myself, we decided, yes. So we dubbed ourselves 'helipanographers'. We think there's great promise in online low-altititude (to 100m AGL) vertical and oblique aerial panoramas for landscape analysis, resource management, and earth science research. Testing is ongoing...

Components and Funding : see LEAP and Gigapanograpy, above

Projects :

Millbrook Marsh wetland and fluvial geomorphology collection, with Aaron Tamminga

2005 helikite image of north subcampus area, processed as a prototype helipan in 2011

helipan aerial of Slab Cabin Run, Millbrook Marsh, 2011, with A. Tamminga (click on image)

Suraikhet School PV training, Uttarakhand, India

Dalchowki School PV training, Nepal

Film Seminar visit to WPSU studios

to view a LArch 424 video, see:

The Brick Pile (8:08) by Kyle Stauffer

Lots of Potential (10:30) by
Jeff Holzer, Connor Kane and Hailey Rohn

Bridging the Gap (9:30) by
Tom Wenner and Jordan Weber

Landscape Documentary and Participatory
Video (PV)

How can landscape and place be better understood and communicated through the moving image, voice and sound ?
I'm interested in videography as an action research tool and a way of seeing,
learning and empowering.

   Kevin Thompson (Negotiated View Filmfest, particpatory video), Barb Bird (Negotiated View Filmfest, fimmaker and guest critic),
   Chris Lunch (InsightShare, PV specialast, guest lecturer), Chris Hoadley and Sameer Honwad (The Mountain Project, PV),
   ALCCAR colleagues (action research videodocumentation), LArch 424.3 and 510 students (landscape-based film critique,
   landscape documentary shorts), Mindy McMahon (filmmaker, Pittsburgh Studio video and guest critic)

Filmfests :
   LArch 510 Graduate Seminar FIlmfest, Dec. 2006
   The Negotiated View Film Festival, CELA
2007 National Conference, co-curator with K. Thompson and B. Bird
   LArch 424 Landscape Film Festivals, Dec. 2009, Dec. 2011

Papers :

   “Technology-supported cross-cultural collaborative learning in the developing world,”
with C. Hoadley and S. Honwad,
   Proceedings of the ICIC 2010 International Conference on Intercultural Collaboration. Copenhagen, Denmark:
   ACM Digital Library, pp. 131-139. 

   “Grounded: Walking journeys and environmental monitoring as portals to anticipatory learning and resilience from and within
   the working landscape,” Resilience 2011, Arizona State University, with Jen Schaffer and ALCCAR core team.

V in action research : The Mountain Project (north India, Nepal)


Action Research videodocumentation of indigenous knowledge and climate change : ALCCAR (Ghana and Tanzania)


Walking Journeys : capturing indigenous knowledge in Mlingotini, Tanzania                          Esther Prins filming environmental monitoring workshop in Odomase, Ghana

WPSU videodocumentary : The Pittsburgh Studio : Regenerative Design in Stressed Communities

on location in Larimer, PIttsburgh;  videodocumentary produced and directed by Mindy McMahon   ( click on image to see short video )

Landscape Film Seminars : landscape videodocumentary; critique of place-based film (LArch 424 and 510)


Viewing landscape-based film and exploring gigapans in SALA's Immersive Enviroronments Lab, LArch 424

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