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Getting Started with Kayaking Photography

Capturing the great shots from your kayak can be a bit tricky. Learn some basics for improving your kayaking photography.

So, you want to be a nature photographer. You really need only two things to get started: nature and a camera you’re comfortable using.

But, photography from a kayak can be a little more challenging. Because of the motion of your boat, water reflection and limited space, kayaking shutterbugs have more things to consider when trying to get an amazing shot. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be complicated and the payoff is definitely worth the effort.

The Right Gear
In recent years, smartphone camera technology has improved by monumental leaps. So, for paddlers, it just makes more sense to harness the power of your smartphone instead of turning to the labor-intensive practice of shooting with a DSLR camera.

Your smartphone is small, light and easily stored in your shirt pocket. It also allows you to instantly share your treasures on social media or back them up to your Cloud account for safe keeping.

Once you get to know your smartphone’s camera settings (and get more comfortable using them), you’ll be better able to capture the perfect shot - in virtually any condition.

The Right Shot
Shooting from your kayak can offer the opportunity to capture amazing landscapes and waterscapes. Using the rule of thirds in your composition will help you create more interesting visuals. Shooting from the perspective of your boat is also great for capturing your fellow paddlers, wildlife and the features surrounding the body of water you’re in. Try a variety of different angles on the same subject to mix things up.

The best times to plan your shoots are dawn and dusk. The softer natural light can improve your overall composition and decrease the amount of fleck or reflection from the water. When shooting fellow paddlers (or wildlife), overcast days provide a diffused light that makes your subject ‘pop’.

It’s also best to get a little closer to your subject. Shorter focal lengths will help reduce blur caused by your boat’s motion.

Whatever your subject, take plenty of shots. The more you use your smartphone camera, the more you’ll get to know what to expect from it and how to get the most from it.

Do a Little Research
If you know a bit about the area, you’ll be better prepared to get some amazing photos. For instance, season changes, bird migrations and flora cycles all factor into what kinds of shots you’ll end up with. Plan your outings while keeping in mind what types of photos you’re hoping to capture.

Knowing the time of sunrise and sunset is also helpful if you’re trying to harness the best possible lighting.

That’s the Post
Post processing is a fun but necessary piece of the photography pie. There are free photo editing apps readily available as well as higher-end software suites for workflow and image processing. Using software (or native smartphone apps) to fine-tune your images can open up new creative avenues and allow you to express yourself through the process.

And, you’re not alone! There is a wealth of tutorial content available online to help you learn the tips and tricks needed to turn your images into masterpieces.

Whatever your level of skill, photography and kayaking can go hand in hand, if approached with a little care. Your outings in nature can be shared with friends, displayed on your social media accounts and even saved in a photobook to be cherished for years to come. It’s a great way to unleash your inner creativity.[a]

You can also share your photos with the entire Oru Kayak community. Our Social Photo of the Week feed is where you can submit your own paddling photos and enjoy submissions from other customers. Take a look here.

Oru has a full range of kayaks that are perfect for photographers, adventurers and casual paddlers. Check out the lineup here.