Simple tips for kayak photography

This egret was over 30m from shore, too far to easily capture without a boat

The first time I brought my camera on my kayak with me, I was a nervous wreck. I was worried about getting my camera wet, dropping it in the water, dumping myself in the water AND getting the shots I wanted.

Yes, taking pictures from a kayak can be a worrisome task, but there are a few steps a person can take to relieve some of that tension so that she is able to enjoy her trip to the fullest.

Decide how you want to keep your camera safe, when it is not in use- an underwater housing, a dry bag, a hard case with built in o-ring (like Pelican cases,) or a simple zippered plastic bag (like a ziploc. )They all have their pros and cons, which I will be addressing in future articles. (I myself generally use a dry bag, because it fits my style.)

There are a few things you can take care of, before you ever set foot in your kayak. First, know your camera and your equipment before you head out on that river, lake or bay. It can be tricky enough figuring out all the settings while hanging out on dry land, it’s more difficult when you are bobbing around, or having to watch where you are going.

Plan your early outings (at least to a small degree.). Your first kayak trip, start out simple. Put the camera into the more automatic modes. As you get more familiar with kayaking with a camera, you can get a little more creative with your settings, but at first keep things as simple as possible.

Once you are underway, be aware of water droplets on the lens of the camera or the front glass of an underwater housing. These can easily confuse a camera’s autofocus. If you don’t notice a drop of water, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll go home with blurred pictures.

Go for a slightly larger memory card than you normally would. While paddling in a kayak you may find it is a slightly trickier place to switch from a full memory card to your spare. And if you drop that full memory card over the side…

Be careful of setting your equipment in the lowest part of the boat. That is where the water will collect. Bring along a pad or small cooler to set things in or on, just to lift them up an extra inch or two to keep them out of the water.

Make sure you are not worried about the safety of your camera equipment. Start with a cheap camera instead of that $1,200 SLR with the $1,500 lens. Once you are confident in your abilities and believe you can keep your camera safe, then bring it out. If you’re worried about it, you will not have as much fun, and paddling, above all, is about enjoying yourself.

 

Author Bio

Galen

Wildlife and nature photographer exploring northern California and beyond on his feet and in his kayak. Galen Leeds is one of the premier kayak photographers in the western United States. He has spent many thousands of hours on the water experimenting with technique and equipment. He works closely with his local National Park providing them with images and video for their displays, magazines, and websites.