Some of my most memorable experiences with nature take place within my kayak. I can reach coves, beaches, rock outcroppings, and other locations otherwise inaccessible on foot, and paddling stealth-like makes me more acceptable to wildlife that would flee in most other situations. I’m also a photographer, so my two pastimes eventually went hand-in-hand.
Shooting from a kayak offers photographers access to unique landscapes. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve hiked to a high spot on a island and seen a potentially beautiful islandscape from above, only to become frustrated be- cause I had no means of getting there. In a kayak, much of that frustration is eliminated.
For me, that means access to more sea caves than anywhere else on the planet at the Channel Islands National Park, off the coast of Santa Barbara, CA, where I work as a kayak guide. The archipelago is honeycombed with toothy grottos that make for great silhouettes with paddlers or wildlife in the frame. Many of the sea caves inhabit pinnipeds and seabirds that need to haul out to rest or roost inside. Keep in mind that wildlife has the right of way inside caves, so paddlers should remain silent in and around sea caves and other venues where nature has the right of way.
Sea and wildlife
I use a sit-on-top kayak called a Dolphin, with two water-tight storage compartments and plenty of space for multi-day trips. I keep my camera gear in my lap at all times, always at the ready. I use a clear dry-bag (a special waterproof gear bag available at outdoors stores) to keep my equipment dry. I can see what I want to grab through it, and keep a small towel inside the dry bag to quickly dry my hands if, say, a harbor seal or a common dolphin breaches next to my boat.