Danny Gariepy is back at it, this time with some really good kayak photography tips. All photos and words are Danny's.
The following blog is a few tips that will hopefully help with your photo game while you are on the river. Taking good photos is something that you can practice and experiment with for your entire life. The following points are pretty basic, but is information that I definitely found useful. I hope you enjoy!
Always Bring Your Camera With You
This may be an obvious one but have your camera with you. It is always tempting to go for the lighter boat, but if you have your camera with you, you are going to get some shots. Think about a retail store, if they are only open once a week, they are not going to sell many products. Also having a slick system to access your camera helps, if it is hard to get at your camera in your boat you are less likely to use it. I like to keep my camera in a Watershed Bag between my legs. If you are uncomfortable with that, another great system is to keep it in a small Pelican Case or Watershed Bag right behind your seat.
Paddler: Aniol Serrasolses on the Ashlu River, BC
Setting intention for your trip is always important, if you are hoping to take some photos let your paddling partners know, and let them know what shots you are thinking of. Most of the time fellow paddlers are very keen for someone to take photos of them while they are paddling. However sometimes they might not be into it, and would prefer just to run the river. Taking photos always adds a bit of time to your trip, by having intention of what shots you want to get you can make the photo making process a little quicker, as well as get your fellow paddlers stoked on the idea.
Paddler: Allen Yip on Cataract Creek, AB
Having a lighter setup can make it easier to justify bringing your camera every time. Personally I lug a heavy Canon set up around with me because it’s the set up I have (and if you already have a set up you are happy with, I would not recommend running out and getting another one). However if you have been wanting to upgrade or are just looking at getting a camera, there are some great lightweight mirrorless ones on the market. For instance a few good photographers I paddle with use the Sony A6000 and A6300 cameras, and these cameras are little Mighty Mice. For lenses I usually just take my 24-70mm lens with me (unless I have a specific shot in mind) however if you have a lighter setup you can get away with tossing a few smaller lens’ in with you.
Paddler: Tim Shaw on the Pipestone River, AB
With composition I am always thinking about how I can set myself up to take a shot. I always keep the rule of thirds in mind when I am paddling, which is the idea that you split your camera into three horizontal and vertical lines and where those lines meet are your points of interest and most pleasing points to place your subject.
Example of a photo grid
A little trick I like to use is to show where the paddler is going, this is pretty obvious and people will usually do this instinctively. In Practice think of a river running right to left, I would place my paddler in the upper right corner of my frame and show them moving down to the left. This helps the viewer understand what is happening in the photo and tells a bit of a story.
Paddler: Brandon Willms on Cataract Creek
What is interesting?
Always think about your surroundings, sometimes you are in a spectacular location which is part of what is amazing about that river, in that case it can be nice to shoot wide and give people an idea of where you are. However sometimes you can be in a tighter canyon and there is not much of interest besides the paddler and the rapid, in that case you can shoot a little tighter. I like to think of it as filling your frame with what is interesting to you, if you look through your frame and there is a lot of sky or perhaps cliff wall that is not adding anything to your photo get in a little tighter, or widen up your view to add more interesting aspects to your photo.
Paddler: Dave Fusilli on Boundary Creek , AB
Always be thinking about how you can take a different shots to get a unique angle that also helps to tell your story better. That can be walking into a pool to get a better angle or shooting with something in your foreground (I am a sucker for placing objects in my foreground, I think it helps add a lot of depth to your photo). Earlier this year I was paddling and shooting with Tim Shaw, who is quite a proficient paddling photographer, and he lowered himself off the side of a cliff to get a better angle of a certain rapid, and it turned out to be one of the better photos I had ever seen on that rapid. That being said DO NOT put yourself or other paddlers in danger to get a shot, but within the realm of good sense don't be afraid to get a little weird.
Paddler: Spenser Sedgwick on Cataract Creek, AB
Taking photos is a game of volume, take as many shots as you can and try as many techniques as you can. Don’t be afraid to experiment and have fun with it. Sometimes I will take a hundred shots in a day and maybe one or two will be good. Paddling can take you to some pretty incredible places, and taking photos is a nice momento to bring home from that experience.
Words By: Danny Gariepy