When it comes to photographing the great outdoors and the wildlife that inhabits it, there are not many more unique ways to capture it than from the water in your kayak. That is why a lot of veteran kayakers love to take their camera with them, allowing them to capture some of the incredible scenery, flora, and fauna they discover while exploring.
When you take to the water, you will be able to reach places that are difficult or even impossible to get to by foot; allowing you to see the world from an entirely new perspective. Capturing these moments can help you to make life-long memories, so to ensure that you are able to consistently take the best pictures possible we have put together our top tips for kayak photography, no matter your experience or the equipment you have.
1) Secure your camera!
This is the number one rule no matter the equipment that you are using. No matter if you are grabbing a quick pic on your smartphone or are shooting a professional image on a high-spec camera; make sure it is securely attached to you.
If you have ever been kayaking before, you will know just how easy it is for things to accidentally fall into the water. So do not risk losing your expensive camera equipment and make sure that you have attached a strap to it, which is connected either to yourself, the kayak or your life jacket.
If you are using a camera that is not waterproof, then take a look at purchasing a case for your camera or smartphone too which will protect it should it come into contact with water.
2) Leash your paddle
A similar tip to securing your camera, if you are planning to get some shots while kayaking you will likely need to set your paddle down during the process. The last thing that you will want is for your paddle to then float away when you are taking the picture so make sure that you have securely leashed it to your kayak.
3) Change the scenery
Capturing those beautiful views always makes for a nice picture, but it can be very easy to snap away at the same views again and again… leaving you facing dozens of pictures of very similar landscapes. Don’t be afraid to try changing things up a little bit by adding some different styles and pictures into your repertoire.
This could be anything; from capturing your friends as they paddle to photographing that school of fish that might be swimming nearby. Take some time to try out taking different pictures, although you might end up with plenty that you will delete straight away, you might just capture that fantastic and truly unique image.
4) Include your friends!
Capturing pictures of your friends is another great tip when you are out kayaking. When you are on the water you will be wanting to make memories that will last a lifetime so why not capture those memories with your friends.
Rather than just putting them in landscape images, focus on capturing their smiles and reactions. You should also try playing around with different styles; from up close portraits to wide lens styles that take in the scenery with them.
5) Include your kayak
OK, this might be a bit of a cliché picture but it is a popular image for a reason. It is a great way to showcase what you are doing and to show off to your non-kayaking friends what incredible images that you regularly see on your trips.
The key to the perfect image is to offset the horizon depending on which part of the view that you want to emphasize. As this is such a common image, try playing around with the angle, light, and zoom to create something truly unique.
6) Get the right light
Have you ever wondered how the professionals seem to always capture the most beautifully colored images? The trick is to get out on the water either very early in the morning or towards sunset, as this will help you to capture that gorgeous light as it bounces off the water as well as enjoy those stunning orange and red skies.
7) Get up close to the scenery
Kayaking gives you access to places that you could never reach by foot, so instead of taking those scenery shots from a distance, try getting up close to the shoreline and seeing what you can discover. This will let you find things that you might never have seen from afar.
8) Keep a check on your equipment
The one problem with photography and kayaking is that your equipment will be exposed to water. Although most cameras are now waterproof, water droplets on your lens can ruin your perfect picture – so carry a small cloth with you and use it to wipe your camera dry before using it.
9) Get out of the kayak
When you begin to get the idea of what is required to capture the best pictures, try changing the angle up a little by getting out of the kayak and into the water. This will let you get closer to the water and provide you with a completely different perspective to one that you could capture by remaining sat in the kayak.
10) Explore underwater
If you have a waterproof camera, you could try placing the camera below the waterline and capturing what is happening below the kayak. You could even try a 50/50 split, with half of the lens in the water and half above, allowing you to create a unique perspective of your environment.
Top accessories for kayak photography
With the right amount of patience (and a little bit of luck), capturing the perfect picture does not require specialist equipment. However to make things easier and to help you with your photography, there are some accessories and equipment you can purchase and use to make your life a lot easier.
One of the most useful accessories that you could want when you are taking photographs while out kayaking is a tripod. This will help you to keep the camera completely level when taking the picture, ensuring you do not end up with a blurry or out of focus image.
Working in a similar way to the tripod, a gimbal is a great accessory to have if you want to capture some images while you are on the move. A gimbal moves with the motion of the kayak but will keep the camera at a steady and level position so you will always be able to capture what you were aiming at.
These are an invaluable addition to your accessory list and can help you ensure that all of your photography equipment is securely fastened down to your kayak and will not accidentally slip off and fall into the water!
Dry Bags & Waterproof Cases
No matter how experienced you are on the water, you will end up with water in your kayak and on your belongings. Having your equipment stored in dry bags will keep them safe from any wind spray or splashes from your paddles.
Equally as important is to protect your camera itself with a waterproof case. There are many options on the market to choose from so you will be able to find a suitable option to keep your camera dry and safe from any water damage.
The best way to protect your equipment however is storing it in a protective hard case. When sealed, they are completely airtight as well as being dustproof – offering more protection than you could get from a dry bag.
These can be a little bulky though so make sure that you get one in a size that fits your kayak and is able to be stored and secured safely.
Kayaking is a lot of fun and will let you create memories that can last a lifetime. As you explore new areas and see the world from an entirely new and unique perspective, it is only right that you would want to remember these views with some truly stunning photography.
No matter your skills or experience, take your time and you will soon be able to capture the perfect image!