Can I take Underwater Shots from a Kayak?

Last weekend, I designed another kayak practice session and gear test for this trip. The biggest question to answer was: Can I take pictures in my underwater bag from a kayak? 

I’ll set the stage:

I’m paddling along in my kayak. I’m wearing a lot of *bulky gear and look pretty ridiculous. (Spray skirt, PFD: aka life jacket, a drysuit, winter parka, hat and gloves).

I’ve got a DSLR inside an ewa-underwater bag around my neck (or resting atop the skirt), a protected point and shoot and/or an old iPhone shoved into my PFD and a lens cloth -- also jammed in wherever it makes sense.

Then, I'm dipping the camera in and out of the water from the side of an unstable boat...

So, can I manage all that stuff and take a decent picture? 

The short answer is a resounding, YES!  
The long answer is… it’s complicated.

Here’s what I learned:

  1. You get wet. Which is fine in the warm California waters… but in the ice? Hmmm...
  2. The kayak is wobbly! It takes some getting used to, but manageable with time.
  3. Getting a shot is a big guess. You stick your camera in the water, fire the shutter and hope for the best.
  4. You’re constantly in motion. Between the kayak and moving subjects, I’m not sure I’ll get anything…
  5. Shooting pics on the left side is impossible since I have to cross my body in awkward ways. All the cool stuff better happen on the right, Nature!
  6. It’s much easier to shoot in portrait since I have easier access to the shutter this way.
  7. The big neoprene gloves make it awkward, but it still works!
  8. Paddle management is also super awkward and laughably inelegant. Like eating spaghetti on a first date. It’s all doable... Albeit very dorky.

In sum, I’ll keep practicing! Though, I’m sure I’ll just forget everything when I get there, fumble like crazy and just wing it. Isn’t that how it always goes?

*Note: I didn't actually wear all the warm weather gear for this test. It was 80 degrees out and I just wasn't up for excessive sweating.

Test shots with my DSLR inside an ewa-marine bag from the side of a kayak in Tomales Bay, CA.

Test shots with my DSLR inside an ewa-marine bag from the side of a kayak in Tomales Bay, CA.