Photography from a Kayak

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by Aushiker, Sep 18, 2015.

  1. Aushiker

    Aushiker Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Sep 12, 2014
    Fremantle, Western Australia
    Andrew
    Hi

    Probably just a wild idea at my end but I like photographing ships and some of the berth locations here are not accessible from land but could be accessed from the sheltered water (well maybe the refinery security people might be a bit sensitive and enforce the 800 metre exclusion zone :)) but otherwise I think the other berths would be okay.

    Anyway I was out this morning and saw three folk fishing from kayaks including this guy who stood-up, which suggests to me that stability is pretty good with his kayak at least.

    21494324922_3acca43a81_b.
    Stability Testing Hobie Kayak by Andrew Priest, on Flickr


    So the long and short is has anyone got any experience doing this? Thoughts on the idea? Would a more basic cheap kayak do the trick?

    Thanks
    Andrew
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2016
    • Like Like x 5
  2. maritan

    maritan Mu-43 Veteran

    388
    Oct 30, 2014
    Paging @Phocal@Phocal. I think he does this kind of craziness all the time (at least for birding), but maybe I have him mixed up with someone else.
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  3. Phocal

    Phocal Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 3, 2014
    Yes I do a lot of photography from my kayaks. On my phone now but I will post some information when I get home and can use my computer.
     
    • Like Like x 1
    • Appreciate Appreciate x 1
  4. Crdome

    Crdome Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Sep 11, 2011
    West Central Indiana
    Chrome
    Just curious. Do you know what the big round thing and the canon like tube in ground of it are.

    You'd truly,

    An Inquiring Mind
     
  5. Aushiker

    Aushiker Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Sep 12, 2014
    Fremantle, Western Australia
    Andrew
    Wheels - trolley for wheeling the kayak on land. All three I saw had their wheels/trolley with them.

    Something like this ...

    418801-h16..

    Andrew
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2015
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • Informative Informative x 1
  6. Klorenzo

    Klorenzo Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 10, 2014
    Lorenzo
    I shot for two days on the Danube Delta from a small 4 seats boat and from a bigger 10 seats and in other similar situations. With a decent shutter speed you avoid the boat rolling but prepare yourself to re-level almost any picture. With the boat moving S-AF was often off. Seems like a beautiful idea. My two cents.
     
  7. TNcasual

    TNcasual Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 2, 2014
    Knoxville, TN
    Yes, the tire is surely a cart for the boat. The "cannon" is a for holding the fishing pole when not actively using it.
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  8. Phocal

    Phocal Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 3, 2014
    All the above about the stuff on the kayak are correct.
     
  9. Phocal

    Phocal Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 3, 2014
    I have a lot of experience shooting from a kayak, but it has only been in lakes and rivers. I have no experience about shooting off shore or in bays open to the ocean.
    Here are my experiences from photography from a kayak.

    There are 3 basic kinds of kayaks:

    1: The first is the traditional kind that most people think of when they think of a kayak. They are called Sinks (or Sit in Kayaks) and are the kind with the hole you slide in with the skirt to keep water out. I have never done any photography from this kind of kayak but I have used them in white water, not a place conducive to photography although a GoPro would be ideal.

    2: The second kind are what we call SoT's (or Sit On Top) and basically have a molded top section for you to sit in. They have double hull so there is an internal area that is dry (although some water may leak in so anything in there needs to be in dry bags if you care about it getting wet) and they have what are called Scupper holes. The Scupper holes allow water that washes in to drain out the bottom, pretty slick design actually. Here is link to my SoT: http://nativewatercraft.com/product/manta-ray-12/

    3: The third kind is the newest and is called a hybrid. They are basically a canoe that is designed to be paddled with the double sided paddle that you use with kayaks. So, they are a single hull that is completely open and any water that washes in has to be bailed out by hand. Here is a link to my hybrid: http://nativewatercraft.com/product/ultimate-12/

    I started with the SoT, but originally got it for fishing. It was while fishing from my kayak that I realized how much closer I could get to wildlife, the different views I could get, and the new places I could finds things to photograph. The first thing I had to figure out was how to carry my camera. If you look at the SoT I linked (which is typical of any SoT on the market), you have a place to sit and the back section where I kept my cooler/fishing gear. That leaves the hatch up front as the place to store the camera while moving about, which becomes a pain to get to your gear when you need it. To protect the camera I got the ThinkTank Digital Holster 50, which was originally to hold my gripped 7D with my Sigma 150-500 attached. Well, it turns out this bag is perfect for either my gripped EM1 and 50-200 SWD with hood attached or my 150 ƒ2.0 with hood attached. I then place this inside a dry bag with the top of the Digital Holster unzipped and opened so I all I had to do was open the dry bag and pull out the camera. I have since found that Lowepro makes the DryZone DF 20L and I wanted one until my camera shop got one in. The material does not feel durable enough to me for the money they want and my solution actually works very well. Digital Holster: http://www.thinktankphoto.com/products/digital-holster-50-v2.aspx Lowepro: http://store.lowepro.com/dryzone-df-20l

    When I first saw the hybrid kayak I wanted one because I knew it solved the gear access problem. It also has the most comfortable seat of any kayak and the new version is even better. This kayak may not be for everyone because it is a bit harder to get back into if you fall out. OH, practice getting back in because you will tip over some day and that is not the time to figure out how to get back into your kayak. With my hybrid I can just slide forward and easily grab my bag of gear if I need to, well that is if I am out fishing and taking photos (something I do a lot of). If I am out just to take photos I typically have the dry bag right in front of me between my legs. When I am doing anything risky like getting in or out of the kayak or in an area with lots of trees just below the surface that can unbalance you and turn you over I will have the gear in the bag and it sealed up. But, most of the time I have the camera pulled out of the bag and laying on top of it so I can grab it fast if needed. This is where having weather sealed gear is a huge blessing because water does drip off the paddle and the camera is usually wet the entire day. I can also easily set up my tripod in the kayak and I do use it a lot. My tripod has a removable center column which I take out when in the kayak because of the hump in the middle of it.

    Another very valuable addition to a kayak is an anchor trolly. This is a loop of rope that runs from the front to the back of the kayak and at the end points runs thru a pulley. The rope has a triangle that the two ends are tied to, the triangle is to run your anchor rope thru. This allows you to pick the spot where you are anchored from, thus allowing you to control the direction the front of the kayak points because of the prevailing wind or current. Very neat little trick that is indispensable if you are going to be anchoring. I usually try to find some vegetation that I can pull up on to keep me in place but if none is available I will drop the anchor.

    There are a lot of tricks when dealing with your anchor:

    - The first is to mount some sort of floatation device to the end of the rope. If you have to get out of the way of another boat fast or just need to get unanchored fast you can just untie and go but the end of your rope is floating and not sinking so you can come back when it is safe and retrieve you anchor.

    - The second is to attach a piece of chain to the end of the rope. This will force the anchor to fall over and dig in as it was designed. It will make a huge difference especially if you are trying to anchor in a strong current, I learned this the hard way. Little known fact, the chain is actually what holds a ship in place when they anchor, not the anchor which is just designed to get the chain to the sea floor.

    - The third is to attach the chain to the back of the anchor and to run it up the shaft and attach to the top of the anchor (where you would think you should attach the chain to) with a small zip tie. If your anchor gets stuck, you pull real hard and snap the zip tie. Now you are pulling the anchor from the back side and it comes free and you get your anchor back. Just carry extra zip ties because this is not an uncommon thing to happen in the tree filled lakes here in East Texas.

    If you have more then about 1 foot of chop it could pretty tricky getting sharp photos. You would have to use a high shutter speed and time your photos for the top or bottom of the swell. It could be done, will just be a bit difficult. Given the different views or access to places you could not get, I say it is well worth the effort, especially because you could use it other places if you want to.

    This is probably my favorite bird photo from my kayak. This was taken with my EM5 and Canon FD 400mm ƒ4.5 in Lake Houston, Humble, Texas. I was floating with the current, using a manual focus lens, and the bird jumped towards me to get the fish and had to refocus. I was using a tripod, but even using a manual focus lens in a kayak that is moving you can get sharp photos.


    I was lucky to get this one because I was paddling along (again in Lake Houston) when I spotted him. I grabbed my EM5 w/ Olympus 75-300 and had to shoot while twisting backwards as I passed him. While it is a bit soft because of the shooting conditions I love it because it is my first and only otter photo, they are pretty rare around here.


    If I think of anything else I will make another post. If anyone has any questions don't hesitate to ask and I will answer as best as I can.

    Ronnie
     
    • Winner Winner x 11
    • Like Like x 4
    • Informative Informative x 2
  10. Aushiker

    Aushiker Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Sep 12, 2014
    Fremantle, Western Australia
    Andrew
    Thanks heaps @Phocal@Phocal. This is most helpful. I am familiar with what we called canoes (the ones with spray covers) as I grew-up playing in (literally way to often) New Zealand's rivers with them but that was a long time ago and it seems the kayak world has moved on considerably. I do like the idea of a pedal powered hybrid but do wonder if the weight/cost provides sufficient benefits over a paddle only model. My initial thought was that the pedal approach really frees up the hands and means one can shot quicker if required.

    Thanks to your post I have a good starting point to explore the local options further and see what is offered new and second hand. Looking at what one of the main paddle stores offerings it seems hybrids may not be that common here but I will need to check out some of the other retailers.

    Andrew
     
  11. fredlong

    fredlong Just this guy...

    Apr 18, 2011
    Massachusetts USA
    Fred
    I've shot from kayaks from time to time. I've used a large cockpit recreational kayak, a Wilderness Systems Pungo, as well as a more traditional narrow, small cockpit boat.

    The Pungo's cockpit is large enough to drop your equipment inside right in front of you. With a more traditional boat it can go on the deck. If you're comfortable in your boat and comfortable just dropping your paddle and losing the control it offers, adding a camera is no big deal.

    The most important thing for me is feeling confident that my equipment is protected from water. I use a waterproof bag-like thing from Dicapac. The port is "optical quality" polycarbonate. It is truly optical quality. Unfortunately it is poor optical quality so I unscrew it when I'm actually shooting unless it's just snapshots of paddling companions.

    There's a lot of info about shooting from kayaks here.
    Kayak photography | Galen Leeds Photography

    Fred
     
    • Like Like x 1
    • Appreciate Appreciate x 1
  12. Lcrunyon

    Lcrunyon Mu-43 Top Veteran

    758
    Jun 4, 2014
    Maryland
    Loren
    I'd love to try this someday, and have even looked at buying a two-seater kayak for this purpose. Unfortunately, my garage is just too small to store one, no matter what means I consider.

    Thanks for that detailed explanation, Phocal. I found it very informative!
     
  13. Klorenzo

    Klorenzo Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 10, 2014
    Lorenzo
    What about the first one here?

    http://www.onthewater.com/2013-fishing-kayak-buyers-guide/

    And I like the splitting one too :)
     
  14. Phocal

    Phocal Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 3, 2014
    I have thought about getting a Hobie pedal drive kayak but they are just more money then I want to spend and are to heavy. I am not sure I would want to get one on and off the top of my Jeep by myself. They are about the only really functional pedal drive kayaks out there, there are others but I would not consider them.

    I highly recommend buying used. After a few trips a new kayak is starting to get beat up and the resale on used is not that great. You can save a lot of money buying used. My hybrid kayak I got used (been in the water once) and it was 50% cheaper then new.
     
    • Appreciate Appreciate x 1
  15. Phocal

    Phocal Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 3, 2014
    That is a good link, will have to read thru it when I get some time.

    I have a leash on my paddle so when I do drop it over the side I can easily retrieve it. Most of the time I will lay in my lap and with practice you can learn to use your elbow to push a side of the paddle into the water and get limited steering. It really is not that hard to do and is better then putting your camera/fishing pole down to make a small adjustment.

    I hate using bags around my camera and is one of the reasons I moved to Olympus. Their weather sealing is top notch and I don't have to worry about my gear getting wet in my kayak. FYI, if it was truly optical quality you would not have to remove it to shoot thru it. To me, optical quality means I can shoot thru it.....poor optical quality is just crap that gets in the way and is not optical quality.
     
  16. Phocal

    Phocal Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 3, 2014
    I thought about the two seat version of my hybrid kayak but really did not want the extra length. I find 12 foot is about the perfect length for a jack of all trades kayak. The shorter 10 footers are great for rivers but give up some things when in lakes. The 14 foot plus are great out in the open water because they glide and track better but are a pain when in the rivers. Ideally I want them in several lengths for the type of water I will be on, but I don't have the money or space to store 3 or 4 kayaks (already enough problems with 2 but I like the 2nd so I can take people with me).
     
  17. Phocal

    Phocal Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 3, 2014
    Inflatable kayaks are terrible. They track like shit and have terrible glide ability, takes to much effort to go anywhere or do anything. Also, I am not putting $4,000 worth of gear into something that can pop and sink. Here in east Texas there are lots of underwater trees that you don't know are there until you run over them.
     
    • Like Like x 1
    • Useful Useful x 1
  18. Lcrunyon

    Lcrunyon Mu-43 Top Veteran

    758
    Jun 4, 2014
    Maryland
    Loren
    The max I can fit would be 12', but I don't think they make 2-seaters that small (aside from the inflatables or segmented kind). Of the three types of kayaks, are there any differences in stability?
     
  19. Phocal

    Phocal Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 3, 2014
    I am not sure if there are any under 14' that are 2 seaters. Honestly, the 12' kayaks are more then big enough for photography and trying to paddle a tandem kayak solo is really tough because the seat is not optimally located. The Native (my hybrid kayak) tandem allows you to move the seat to more center for a decent ride as a solo kayak, which is the only reason I considered it.

    Stability is a result of width but is a huge compromise because the wider they are the less maneuverable and worse gliding ability. So it is always a trade off. The Sink's are probably the less stable of the bunch because they tend to be made narrower or designed to roll with you in them and come back upright. I feel that my Native is good compromise between stability and maneuverability. I can stand up in both my kayaks without much difficulty and can fish will standing in them. Ocean Kayak makes a wide kayak but it is beast for maneuverability. I know a lot of guess that go offshore to fish in their kayak like them because they are super stable, just sucks getting around in them.
     
    • Informative Informative x 1
    • Useful Useful x 1
  20. Aushiker

    Aushiker Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Sep 12, 2014
    Fremantle, Western Australia
    Andrew
    Thanks. I now have an alert at Gumtree (our local craiglist) for kayaks. Pricing is differently more favourable :)

    Andrew
     
    • Agree Agree x 1