Photography Tips Part 2
Getting the shot – Part 2
More kayak photography tips…
By Ross Baringer
I’ve got a few more strategies to add to follow up my last post and help you get the most out of
kayaking with a camera. Let’s jump right in:
4. GO EARLY / GO LATE
My last list ended with an emphasis on going out to your chosen site as often as possible. Now I want
to get a little more specific about when to seek your subject. Just like last time, this topic has a lot of
overlap with strategies that hunters employ. This is because most wild animals are creatures of habit.
They know when their prey is active, or when their predators aren’t. Typically animals are most
active in the early morning and evening, specifically around dawn and dusk. Incidentally this also
happens to be the time of day when you’ll get the best lighting for your shot. Since wildlife
photography is done mostly in the field a photographer doesn’t normally have control over how their
subject is lit. In the middle of the day the sun is high overhead and its light is harsh. This often forces
you to compensate with ND filters or drastically adjusting exposure, both of which can limit your
ability to control other aspects of the shot. Shooting at dawn and dusk gives you warmer and more
interesting light. The term “golden hour” exists for a reason. Get up early, pack a thermos full of
coffee, and arrive at your favorite spot before the sun comes up. It will make all the difference.
5. SEEK THE ELDERS
Sometimes all the internet research available still doesn’t measure up to first hand advice from folks
who’ve gone before you. Find out if there are groups or clubs in the area you want to shoot who may
have knowledge to share. The most useful advice I ever receive is the advice that is specific to the
place and the animal I want to capture. That almost always comes from locals who have already done
what I want to achieve. In the age of google it’s easy to feel like all the answers we seek are online,
but there are some things, especially in the wild, that are still secrets. Making friends with people
who share your interests is the best way to discover those secrets, short of uncovering them yourself.
Besides, its always good to have someone to bounce your own ideas off of and share your passion
6. BE SAFE
This is a big one guys, maybe THE BIG ONE, and it’s the only thing on my list that isn’t really specific
to photography. Kayaking into the wilderness to photograph wild animals can be an amazing
adventure, but part of what makes it an adventure is the element of challenge and even a little
danger. It is extremely important that you do as much research as possible before going out, not only
about the animals you intend to shoot, but about the environment itself. Know the weather forecast.
Know the topography of the land around you. Have a plan for how to get yourself out of there in an
emergency. A important element of that is letting someone know where you are, and how long you
intend to be gone. I can’t stress this enough. Kayaking and wildlife photography are a lot of fun, but it
stops being fun when your life is at risk. Be aware of your surroundings, and don’t let your desire to
get the shot drive you to make dangerous mistakes. Even a very experienced person can make those
mistakes too, for example: I paddle around alligators all the time. I know how to keep them from
perceiving me as a threat. I know what signals they give when they feel threatened, and the only time
I’ve ever failed to recognize those signals was when I was too distracted by getting the shot. I got
lucky that day and got out of the situation unscathed, but I learned a valuable lesson: you can’t share
your photography with anyone if you don’t make it back from the field. So be safe out there, friends.
And have fun.