Sat - January 7, 2006

Dangers of Kayak Photography

Philip Tulin wrote a long list of useful Kayaking Photography Hints and Tips in Outdoor Eyes:
Kayak photography is an ongoing challenge since there is constant motion from either side to side or up and down. Water conditions can change in a moment with your life saving paddle not in your hands. And, at the same time, you have an expensive camera in your hand that can not take a dunking in the water. The lighting conditions are also a challenge as well as height of the camera, which remains the same as your sitting position within the kayak. You don't easily have the ability to change the height of the camera, even though some of us have been taught to stand up on the seat of our kayak while the kayak is in water (I don't recommend trying this). So, as we all can see, kayak photography can be frustrating, dangerous as well as rewarding. Most On-The-Go Kayak Photographers will not spend the necessary time needed to photograph, since holding a camera puts the photographer in a very unstable situation.
Paddling Sisson Nucleus, a tippy multisport kayak, I have to agree with his point that photographing from a kayak is dangerous:
16. It Is Dangerous: Kayak photography is dangerous because you have to set your paddle down, grab the Camera Protection System (CPS), remove your camera from the CPS, hold your camera for the photograph, place your camera back into the CPS, put the CPS away and grab your paddle. All this might have to be done in a very short period of time. If you have a sprayskirt, it also might mean that you are opening and closing your sprayskirt, too. When you don't have a paddle in both hands, you lose stabilization that the paddle offers. Don't try to photograph over your limits as a paddler. Your camera can always be replaced, but you can't.

However, a small and waterproof camera like Pentax Optio WP(i) dramatically changes that risky situation:

1.The camera is waterproof, so you don't need to worry about Camera Protection System. The camera can be kept on a deck under bungee, in your pfd pocket or a pouch attached to the pfd as I am doing. So, it is ready to use!

2.You don't have to drop a paddle from your hands. Since the camera is tiny you can use the paddle to stabilize the camera for shooting. In the case of my kayak, this approach helps to stabilize both the camera and the kayak, and the paddle is ready for bracing.

You need to keep your camera on a leash. It is useful to tape a piece of rubber, neoprene or other non slippery material to the middle of a your paddle shaft.

Of course, the Pentax Optio WP is just a small point-and-shoot camera and cannot compete with features and picture quality offered by SLR camera systems. Nevertheless, it provides a good compromise for photographing from a kayak.

Outdoor Eyes is a web site devoted to adventure and outdoor photography. You can read two other kayak photography articles by Philip Tulin there: Kayak Photography Techniques and How to Protect Your Camera During Kayak Photography.

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Posted at 07:00 AM    

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