Paddling Photography



I really do take a camera everywhere. Carrying a camera is like having a heightened sense of sight, and I can see so much more. The more you get out there and shoot, the more likely you are going to start taking better photos.

You don’t need to spend a lot of money to get started. I have a $300 Cannon waterproof camera and it’s a little gem. I have also been told that the Olympus brand has good waterproof cameras too. It’s a good idea to secure a float so it doesn’t sink. I have mine tied into my swimsuit top.

You never know what to expect when out on a paddling adventure. Since a kayak is low and silent, you have an easier time approaching wildlife. You can also travel into waterways not accessible to motor craft.


Fill The Frame:

Make sure you don’t have to point at the subject in the photograph and say, “This is the whale.” This is what I had to say about some of my photographs when I paddled about 30 yards from the Humpback Whales and all I had with me was a waterproof 35mm disposable camera. Try to get as close to the subject as possible or use a longer lens. Make sure the subject fills a third of the frame.

The Horizon:
                                                                                                                        Always make sure that the horizon is level (if that is the way it is supposed to look). Make sure it does not appear exactly in the middle of the photograph. Always try to break up the horizon with a kayak, an island, a rock, etc. to make the photograph more interesting.

Emphasise Action:
                                                                                                                   Try panning to emphasize the subject by blurring the background or blurring the paddle in motion. Try to use motion blur to soften the water.

Overcast Skies:
                                                                                                                      Watch out for overcast skies. Unless there are dramatic clouds or blue sky, do not include overcast skies in the photograph. Overcast skies, especially on water, create flat lighting.

The Foreground:                                                                                                                 Add some interesting subjects in the foreground. Kayaks in the top third of the photograph and water in the other two thirds of the foreground usually does create an interesting photograph. When photographing from the water to land from the kayak, try to keep the water in the photograph at a minimum and have the subject in the bottom third of the photograph.

Include The Deck:                                                                                                                Try to include the deck of your kayak in your photographs. It puts perspective to how close you might be to a situation as well gives identity that the photograph was taken while paddling a kayak.

Watch Out For The Caps Or Hats:                        
                                                        When you are including people paddling in photographs, be aware that most kayakers will be wearing a cap or hat that will darken the subject’s face. Be aware of the position of the sun in relationship to the kayaks or the person’s face.

Watch Out For Footprints Or Foreign Objects:                                                    There is nothing worse than seeing your photograph include a bottle cap, plastic or anything else that has washed up on the beach. Unfortunately, this does happen, even on a remote beach. So look for the footprints that you might not want to be included as well as foreign objects.

Vertical Photographs:
                                                                                                            Don’t forget to also take vertical photographs for a possible magazine cover. Leave enough area for the name of the magazine and the necessary information on the articles that are included in the issue. If you write articles for magazines, they might just ask you for a vertical photograph for the cover to highlight your article. Vertical photographs also hang nicely on the walls of your house.

Break The Rules:
                                                                                                            Sometimes, when an opportunity arises, break the rules and experiment.

Have Fun…..

Currumbin Creek Mouth - The Ally
Currumbin Creek Mouth – The Ally
Paddling towards North Burleigh
Paddling towards North Burleigh
Varsity Lakes – Andrew


Near Mt Warning

WIvenhoe Dam
Wivenhoe Dam