One of my great pleasures about living in the Pacific Northwest is the past time of paddling in my kayak. It’s an activity that I took up many years ago now after moving to this area upon the encouragement of a friend.
When you live in the Puget Sound and Samish Sea area, you are surrounded by water. I can’t imagine not taking advantage of the recreational opportunities to be enjoy the natural beauty of being on the water. As I don’t own a sail or motor boat, kayaking is the way I do it.
For me, paddling provides time away from the distractions on land. There are no cell phones, no computers, no televisions, nothing to draw your attention from the task at hand, which is how it should be whenever you’re out there on the water. Not paying attention to the currents, the wind, the waves and the weather can run you into trouble faster than you realize.
I often carry a camera in my boat with me, usually one of my point and shoots so that I don’t risk damaging my single-lens reflex digital cameras. I’ve never invested in a watertight case for my SLRs, something that is on my equipment ‘wish list.’ Usually, I tuck my little compact camera safely inside my life vest (never go out without one) where I can yank it quickly out if I see something I want to try to capture.
One of the tricks of shooting on the water, especially in a kayak, is how to stay in place, bobbing up and down, in order to get the shot. It’s not easy. That’s particularly true if you’re trying to photograph wildlife on the shore. Without a super long lens, I must quietly slip up close to whatever it is I want to photograph until I think I’m in a good range. Trust me, this is not the way the National Geographic shooters do it but it works for me most of the time. I’ve become pretty adept at handling my paddles.
I like going out just before sunset. The water is generally smoother then, the light not so glaring and the colors can be stunning. Early morning is a good time too, especially if there are nice clouds.
Even though I tend to paddle in the same waters here in my area, I never lack material to photograph. The water, the shore, the sky seldom look the same. One day there’s a seal, the next there’s not. Some summers the oyster catchers are there with a new brood, sometimes they’re scare. Sometimes that sunset you anticipate never materializes, sometimes it’s so saturate in color that you’d swear someone has “photoshopped” it onto the sky.
And never, never do I go out alone. That’s just asking for problems, no matter how expert a kayaker you are. A paddle partner also gives me someone else to photograph against the vast, open scene. My paddle partners have become quite accustomed to serving as models for my photographic expeditions.
Only two of the many photographs I’ve made while paddling appear in the show at Stone’s Throw Brewery, up through April. I’ve shared with you here a few of the others. Seeing these images in print, however, offers quite a different experience than viewing them here on-line so I hope that if you’re in the area you’ll stop by and have a look.