One of the great things about kayaking is that it gets you out into nature and away from the crowds and the bustle of everyday tourist attractions. And it also presents the alert kayak photographer with opportunities to take some unforgettable wildlife and scenic photos–whether you’re shooting film or digital.
Now, if you’re a whitewater paddler, you probably don’t have time to do much photography–at least when you’re out on the water. But there are always those breaks between runs, when a good camera can come in handy indeed. And of course if you’re a sea or flatwater paddler, there will often be many opportunities to give that camera shutter a workout
Kayak Photography Tip #1 — If you’re shooting wildlife, it’s always a good idea to make your approach from upwind and at a distance. Just let your kayak drift into the scene, moving closer and closer, and wait for the wildlife to adjust to your presence. And having a longer zoom lens always helps in getting those great close-up shots.
Tip #2 — Dusk and dawn are the best times. The light in the morning and evening has that soft, buttery quality that makes for great photographs. And the wildlife is active in those times as they hunt, forage for food, and go about their business.
Tip #3 — Get as close as you can. Even with a zoom or telephoto lens, it seems like the best photographs are taken up close, within 30 or 40 feet of your subject. Make eye contact if you can, and move slowly and carefully to avoid spooking your subject.
Tip #4 — Don’t scrimp on the film. You’ll probably have to take lots of photos to come out with a handful that you really like, so take along lots of film–or memory cards, if you shoot digital.
Tip #5 — Keep your gear dry. Kayak photography is great, but you won’t like that repair bill if you get water in your expensive digital or 35mm camera. One idea is to keep your gear in zip lock or waterproof bags when not in use, and keep your camera strapped around your neck at all times.
And there you have it. The best way to learn this fascinating hobby is to just get out into the wilderness and shoot some pictures. If nothing else, you’ll be out in a place that’s beautiful and quiet and balanced in a way no city could ever be. And if you’re real lucky, you might just catch that once-in-a-lifetime shot that makes it on the cover of one of those glossy nature magazines.
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