Kayak Photography: Capturing Nature’s Hidden Beauty

Have you ever wondered how photographers manage to capture stunning wildlife shots from unique angles? Well, the secret lies in using a kayak as a photography platform. By gliding silently through the water, photographers gain access to a whole new perspective on waterfowl, raptors, and even grizzly bears. In this article, we will delve into the world of kayak photography and unveil the gear and techniques behind these awe-inspiring images.

The Perfect Kayak: Wilderness Systems Commander 120

When it comes to choosing the right kayak for photography, stability is key. That’s why the Wilderness Systems Commander 120, originally designed as a fishing kayak, proves to be an excellent choice. Its sturdy build allows photographers to stand up and cast a rod with ease, providing the perfect stability required for capturing those crisp, focused shots.

The Commander 120 also offers ample storage space in its back section, designed to hold a cooler and fishing gear. For photographers, this means a convenient spot to secure a watertight Pelican case, ensuring that valuable camera gear stays protected from the elements.

With a comfortable seat and a strong, stable design, the Commander 120 instills confidence in photographers. Even with a large tripod and camera setup, there’s no need to worry about capsizing. However, it’s important to note that this kayak is best suited for calm waters and should be avoided in rough conditions or white water.

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Trusty Tripod: RRS TFC-24L Mk2

A reliable tripod is essential for achieving steady, professional-quality shots. Among the many available options, the Really Right Stuff TFC-24L Mk2 is a top choice. This tripod, known for its sturdiness, ensures that your camera stays securely in place even on a moving platform like a kayak.

The TFC-24L Mk2’s strong metal hook attaches to the kayak’s base, allowing you to tighten the tripod securely with webbing. This robust connection guarantees a rock-solid setup, enabling you to focus on capturing the perfect shot. Moreover, the absence of a center column in this tripod ensures optimal leg positioning and efficient use of storage space, crucial factors when working in a confined kayak.

Effortless Maneuverability: RRS PG-02 Gimbal Head

To swiftly reposition your camera and lens setups while maintaining stability, a gimbal head is indispensable. The RRS PG-02 Mk2 gimbal head is particularly well-suited for kayak photography. Unlike a ball head, which requires constant locking and releasing, the gimbal head allows easy, one-handed adjustments, ensuring that you can keep your focus on capturing great shots.

The RRS PG-02 Mk2 is not only easy to pack and transport but also serves as a multi-row panoramic head, enabling you to explore various types of photography on your kayak expeditions. With this versatile gimbal head, you can capture stunning landscapes, wildlife, and everything in between.

Secure Your Gear: Tie Downs With Cam Locks

Ensuring the safety of your equipment while on your kayak adventure is paramount. Cam lock tie-downs prove to be invaluable in securing your tripod setup. By attaching one strap to the front of the kayak, pulling the tripod forward, and another to the base plate, pulling it down and backward, you create a sturdy anchor system. Once these straps are tightened, your tripod remains steadfast, even against the forces of nature.

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It’s essential to consider your kayak’s design when choosing where to attach the tie-downs. The Wilderness Systems Commander 120, for example, features metal bars across the front and inside the kayak, providing solid anchor points for securing your gear.

Protection from the Elements: Dry Bags

Working on the water can be a thrilling experience, but it also exposes your gear to moisture. To safeguard your camera equipment from water splashes and spray, it’s crucial to pack a variety of dry bags. Even if you don’t plan on capsizing, water can find its way into the kayak in various ways, including wind spray and paddle drips.

Consider using the Arcteryx Alpha FL45 backpack as a reliable dry storage solution for your camera when it’s not mounted on the tripod. The backpack straps make it convenient to carry your camera to and from the water, and its low-profile design ensures they won’t hinder your movements on the kayak.

Additionally, a small, generic brand dry bag can be hung from the hook of your tripod, providing easy access to essential items such as memory card holders and spare camera batteries. Accessibility is crucial when you’re out on the water, and having these small items at your fingertips simplifies your shooting process.

Expand Your Horizons: Boréal Design Compass 140 Ultralight

If you’re up for exploring the ocean or embarking on multi-day camping trips, the Boréal Design Compass 140 Ultralight offers the perfect solution. This lightweight kayak is designed for adventure, providing a stable photographic platform with its ample cockpit space. The larger cockpit ensures you can comfortably store a super-telephoto lens between your legs, enabling you to capture incredible shots from the open waters.

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While the gimbal setup may not be viable in this scenario due to space constraints, the Compass 140 Ultralight offers exciting alternatives. Its nimble design enables you to access remote locations and navigate faster than with a heavy fishing kayak. With this kayak, you can expand your photographic horizons and uncover hidden gems in the vast ocean.

Now that you have a glimpse into the world of kayak photography, it’s time to embark on your own journey. Arm yourself with the right gear, secure your equipment, and embrace the freedom of capturing nature’s hidden beauty from the unique perspective of a kayak. So, grab your paddle, find your perfect kayak, and let your creativity flow.

A Guide to Photographing From a Kayak

A Guide to Photographing From a Kayak

Images courtesy of Shutter Muse.