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12-08-2014, 10:01 PM   #1
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Kayak as photographic platform

I live near a lake and look yearningly at the flocks of various birds far from shore, the nesting areas far from human habitation, etc. Does anyone have experience with a kayak as a platform for photography? They are small, light, but some of them are prone to tipping over. I'm considering a short, 13ft with a wide beam, 26". Any suggestions?

12-08-2014, 11:00 PM   #2
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A waterproof bag and lots of practise
12-08-2014, 11:02 PM   #3
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I have a long, narrow 'surf ski' kayak that's fast but too tippy when stationary let alone swivelling at the hips with a camera.


But I also own an ideal photography platform - a fishing kayak. They're wide and very stable.


The longer ones can cut through the water and often have rudders.


The shorter ones can have trouble 'tracking' and it's difficult to go decent distances since you tend to zig zag your way across a lake instead of go in a straight line.


Sea kayaks are wonderfully stable ... here my wife at the front doesn't appreciate me putting down my paddle and getting the camera out ...


12-08-2014, 11:07 PM   #4
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I paddle a Wilderness Systems Pongo 14 on protected bays, lakes, and rivers on the California Coast. It's 28 inches or so as I recall. You can see some of my images here on flickr. https://www.flickr.com/photos/blackcloudbrew/sets/72157624621706328/

Sounds like what you are looking at should be fine. The main thing is to have a good waterproof case for the camera. I use a Pelican Box something like this model. Pelican 1200 Case to keep my DSLR 1) dry, and 2) safe if I flip (and I've done it once in 7 years). I also use an older Option 80W waterproof camera for quick snaps when I don't want to get the big camera out. I usually take my K5 with a short lens and something longer for birds (like the DA 55-300 or similar).

Photography from kayak's is a bit more difficult because even if the water is calm, it's still moving. So you keep your shutter speeds up and pick your shots. OTOH, when you get somewhere and pull out for say a lunch stop, you've got your good camera to explore your landing spot.

12-09-2014, 05:14 AM   #5
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I did a photography workshop with this guy in the smoky mountains. He also does Kayak photography workshops and he talked about kayak photography being his primary interest.
Check it out if interested:

Kayak Photography Workshop on Lake Superior ⋆ Bryan Hansel Photography
12-09-2014, 06:21 AM - 1 Like   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by derekkite Quote
I live near a lake and look yearningly at the flocks of various birds far from shore, the nesting areas far from human habitation, etc. Does anyone have experience with a kayak as a platform for photography? They are small, light, but some of them are prone to tipping over. I'm considering a short, 13ft with a wide beam, 26". Any suggestions?
I have evey kayak under the sun...i do both whitewater and flatwater so you have to have a different boat for different things (that's my story and i'm sticking to it )..your best best is a sit on top...they are very stable and you can take a dry bag with you and should be fine...years ago i was on a boat like clackers showed paddling around the potomac and the washington memorial...i had my trusty k200 and a da 18-250 (that gives you an indication of how long ago it was)...i had the zoom extended and was taking a picture when a slight wave hit me...i went over with camera in hand...instinct took over...my entire body was under water but my hand with the camera was extended above the water...got to make sure you have your priorities right ...the camera and lens still working great and are part of my collection
12-09-2014, 06:31 AM   #7
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I used these stabilizers and they make it impossible to flip a canoe or kayak. These are ideal for a floating photo platform. I had them for about 10 years and recently sold them. They were still in excellent shape. They also make your kayak stable enough to support a sail ( I used the downwind type.)

Link: Sailboats To Go

12-09-2014, 07:01 AM   #8
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You want to check out the Hobie Mirage line. Pricey but the perfect system for photography and they hold their value should you decide you're more of a landlubber.
12-09-2014, 07:04 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by derekkite Quote
I live near a lake and look yearningly at the flocks of various birds far from shore, the nesting areas far from human habitation, etc. Does anyone have experience with a kayak as a platform for photography? They are small, light, but some of them are prone to tipping over. I'm considering a short, 13ft with a wide beam, 26". Any suggestions?
Go all out get a Hobie, with mirage drive (leg powered) you can take photos on the move and great for fishing as well. This shot was from my hobie in the Newcastle Harbour entrance, the mirage drive is great as you don,t have to worry about paddling. Got a nice fish the same morning a Mulloway.
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12-09-2014, 07:05 AM   #10
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Lol. I beat.
12-09-2014, 07:09 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by halfspin Quote
Lol. I beat.
Yes you did, I had to find the old photos and give them a bit of PP. So you only just beat me. Cheers.
12-09-2014, 07:52 AM   #12
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Wow, thanks all. Much to read and consider. I like the idea of an outrigger and wondered if they were available. Years ago I did some sculling, very narrow unstable boats, and the paddles were used as stabilizers. Is there some clamp mechanism to use the kayak paddle in that way?
12-09-2014, 10:06 AM   #13
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You can stand up in the Hobie's with no problem. If you add outriggers to them they become unflippable but even without them you'd have to try hard to flip them.
12-09-2014, 10:17 AM   #14
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The only problem with using a clamp system with paddles/s is the lack of positive buoyancy and the fact the paddles are not immediately accessable. I found that currents, wind, etc necessitated regular corrections to get the right angles for light and background framing.

The last thing you want is the need to do something fast and tip the kayak. It could be a very expensive experience.

I also keep all equipment sealed in float-able double sealed bags when not in use.

You can get some great shots of wildlife and landscapes from the water.
12-09-2014, 10:31 AM   #15
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I have done a little shooting from kayaks... I found the drift to be really annoying- by the time I crack the Pelican and get the camera out, I've moved off from where I wanted to shoot. End up paddling gingerly back with the camera on my lap..... might get a small anchor this year!
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