When Batut begun to think about kite aerial photography, it was an unknown world. He entered in this adventure as a pioneer. At each step he had to create the tools which will be the most appropriate. Not only the combination between kite design, camera technical features, photographic treatment and kite flying had to be performed, but in each topic major technical feasibility had to be improved.
For this invention the major items needed were:
a kite
a kite line
A kap methodology


a camera
a film
a remote trigger
In the 1880's many aerial photography from manned ballon ascension were unsucceessful. Kite aerial photography was more challenging.
 Except one kite created 2 years before, available kite designs didn't have the required features.
The lines were heavy and not reliable. It had to be selected carefully. Steel wire was used but required special winches which couldn't be easily handled and moved.
There was no kiting methodology and kite scientific applications started efficiently only a few years before.
Cameras were heavy, the shutter too slow and the photographic surfaces not sensitive enough. Lenses had small angle of view.  The wide angle lenses didn't had aperture open enough.
Remote release systems had to be adapted. Most of the modern ones, electric release, clock timers, were heavy.
A. Batut checked all available kite designs and after some benchmark choose the "cerf-volant sans queue", the tailless kite of J. Esterlin.
The drawing have been published in La Nature weekly magazine dated February 28th, 1887. It's a bowed diamond kite.

A. Batut customized it. The frame have been modified; even it flies tailless, A. Batut added a fuzzy tail to dampen the moves of the kite. A. Batut have also flown two as a train. The dimensions were 2,5 m high, 1,75 m width, weighting 1,8 kg First made of paper, kite was later made of clothe. When it was created, the Esterlin's diamond kite provided a higher line angle, a higher pull and an increased stability compared to other kites. It was the best kite with qualities required for kap, giving to Batut the more chance for success.



In the European and American countries J. Esterlin's creation was the first modern kite and the first dihedral kite. Later, in 1891, Eddy (USA) started experimenting tailless kites and after looking at the Malay kite he ended to the Eddykite in 1894. At the same period Woglom (USA) also reviewed oriental kites and from them designed the tailless bowed Parakite which he used as train. Then the Levitor of Baden F. S. Powell (England) and the cellular kite of Hargrave (Australia) were created.

The above outline of diamond kites have all the same length of spine.

About Esterlin's kite read P. Mazieres' paper in NCB n° 137 issued in 2007.

A. Batut recommended a hemp line. He choose the lightest one with enough resistance, Ø 3.5mm. He also designed and recommended a reel made of wood for easy manoeuvre.
He set a rubber between the bridle and the line to dampen the gusts of the wind on the line. He used wooden olive bead for fast attachment of kite line.



A. Batut didn't ignored the use of steel wire preferred by many kiters who performed experimentations in France especially for cloud electricity.  But he didn't recommended steel wire as "such a wire is comparable to a sharp blade, capable to cause severe wounds in case of accidents"

Note: The line and the rubber killed many vibrations which are unavoidable with steel wire.

There are many details in the way A. Batut proceeded that let aware he had carefully imagined and organized it. Let's see some of them.
   - record the attack angle of the kite.
   - procedure to launch a kite in calm winds
   - reach a higher altitude with a second kite
   - record the height of the kite with a photograph of index of aneroid barometer
   - how to be positioned to aim the target?
   - how to stabilize the kite when shooting: see opposite
   - display a paper strip to see when it's released


A. Batut gave full description of all details of his method in his book published early 1890: La photographie aérienne par cerf-volant.
He explained how to practice a safe launching
He accounted for checking the time of shutter release and "walk downwind with sufficient speed so that the kite has a tendency to come down. Under these conditions, it will recover its necessary stability to allow the obtention of a photograph."
He also provided updated informations in a paper published in La Nature, January 1897:
Note: Because of the line and its easy anchoring, it was easy to move for targeting the picture and compensate for wind changes.
A. Batut fabricated a body to have a light and rigid camera. He described how to make it.
The lens was a Steinhell aplanat 166mm focal length and used at its maximum aperture. It gives few distorsions. Batut put it inside the body so it was fully protected.
The main problem was the shutter speed. Most cameras had shutters speeds between 1/10 to a few seconds. During this period appeared the "instantanés" which were pictures shot at higher speeds 1/10 to 1/50s. Only special cameras had shutters up to 1/100 to 1/150 s however the measure of the speed by the makers was not trusted.
Arthur Batut overcame the problem by designing, making and testing himself the shutter. It was set outside the camera, in front of the lens. Anything else with a shutter speed not faster than 1/50s could only get blurred photographs
In the 1890's there was a considerable improvement in the photographic industry with photographic surfaces more sensitive. Thus new shutters were fabricated with speeds up to 1/250s.
From there A. Batut improved his equipment and used a rotating shutter. He also modified the rig hanging the camera.
Here are two drawings showing the camera and its evolution. The upper figure from his book early 1890 and the lower one from his paper in La Nature in January 1897.
First Batut's design shutter
Batut's improvements
Photographic surfaces were not very sensitive. Apart from glass plates, the sensitive emulsion could be spreaded on paper, or on soft plates.
A. Batut used both. Film plates are lighter than glass plates, but were difficult to maintain flat. Batut taped them on the bottom face of the camera.
Most of photographers had to develop themselves. A. Batut was a keen photographer with a large experience. He knew how to get the best of it.
The low sensitivity of photographic emulsion required long exposure. Most photographs were on glass plates, some on soft plates or directly on paper. The roll film was not yet in use. George Eastman created its soft plates in 1880 and the film in 1885. Because of the technique there was no enlargements and thus dimensions of the camera and of the photographic surface were large.
It must be noted that color picture was only experimental.
A. Batut had the choice between many available techniques but most of them were heavy. As for the other items, A. Batut preferred the lightest solution. He took the lightest and the unfailing one: the time delay wick, or match. He made tests and the time of the release was measured and checked.
Until the electronic superceded all other devices, the match have been used by generations of kapers, as Batut said: " simple, even primitive, invariably functionning at the precise instant which we previously set."
Arthur BATUT has really pioneered kap techniques and is the inventor of kite aerial photography.
The first known photograph is one of the two photographs he sent to Gaston Tissandier in August 1888.
Then, the first publication about at kite aerial photograph is Tissandier's chronicle in the French weekly magazine La Nature August 25th.
 Arthur Batut improved fast his technique. The picture of Labruguière dated 1889, March 29th and published in his book  is displayed here. The kite line is seen at the bottom of the picture.
There is no other substantiated evidence of kap invention. Any kind of allegation of invention before 1888 is simply historically unfounded.


The first known kite aerial picture was shot by Arthur Batut in May 1888. It is a perspective picture 8x10 cm.and, as said Tissandier, still imperfect.
This photograph is preserved in the ESPACE ARTHUR BATUT in Labruguière, Tarn, France. It has been titled by Batut " Le chemin et le ruisseau", the track and the brook. It shows also tree line and hay stacks. The hay-making in this area being from end of April to end of June, the date of the photograph is prooved genuine. It is the world first kite geomorphology  and agricultral survey aerial photograph.
All informations and datas provided in this page are coming from historical documents and from informations distributed by Foundations preserving historical knowledge. It is not based on unverified citations from other authors.
The truthfulness of these informations is established as kap history.
 ¤ LA NATURE papers issued 1887, February 28th; 1888, August 25th; 1889, March 23rd; 1890, March 15th; 1891, September 26th; 1897, January 2nd.
¤ La photographie aérienne par Cerf-volant, Arthur Batut, early 1890. o
¤ KAPWA magazine, July 1986
¤ La Bruguière, 1988
¤ Aerial Photography taken from a kite, KAPWA foundation, 1995
¤ Arthur Batut, Regards; S. Negre & S. Desachy, 2008
Espace Arthur Batut in Labruguiere, Tarn, France
A recommended historical survey on kite and kap aerial photography is Andrea Casalboni's pages.
There is no historical doubt about Arthur Batut's priority on Kite Aerial Photography invention. There are historical documents, facts reported by witnesses, and many preserved photographs and apparatus to substantiate it.
It is well known that an allegation of E. Douglas Archibald in 1897 has been spreaded since 1967. In 1986 KAPWA magazine have published an historical investigation showing that this claim had not been verified and demonstrating it was a fake.
 I have done a new analysis of the historical documents. This survey establishes without any doubt Arthur Batut's priority and invention. It includes all references and extracts of historical documents. Download this survey.