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Old July 9th, 2010, 06:39 PM   #1
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Shooting Kayakers

I am shooting some whitewater kayakers from land on the Chattooga River to add to my portfolio. Anyone have any specific advice for this subject. Will be using a HPX170.
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Last edited by Mark Williams; July 9th, 2010 at 09:53 PM.
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Old July 10th, 2010, 04:45 PM   #2
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Don't fall in! Hardy-har-har!

Seriously, this could be a difficult shoot unless you have a way to get downriver faster than them. Are there any roads that have shortcuts where you can get ahead of them? Are there any bridges you can use to get different angles? Are there shallow spots with slow water you can safely wade into to get them passing by? Are they going to do more than one run so you can get multiple takes from different locations?

First, cover the basics and gets lots of different angles. Do things like getting the kayak hull skimming along. Maybe get a low-angle launch of a kayak. Get a paddle dipping into the water. It might be interesting to do some slow and intimate shots first then build up the pace going into the whitewater. In the whitewater, it is probably a good idea to have a really long lens so you can compress distances and extend the shot. A good bend in the river where you can get a really long shot with a few kayaks all in frame as they go through rapids would be ideal.
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Old July 10th, 2010, 05:25 PM   #3
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Waterproof everything, get a rain cover or make one from plastic sheet. Rent some fishing trouser waders and take a change of clothes.

A tripod will be a pain and you'll miss stuff .. a monopod might be better.

To add some 'exciting' water rushing sounds get close to the falls, point your cam etc .. strip the pix and just use the audio. Saves taking an extra audio recorder. Yeah as Marcus says don't fall in :)

Cheers.
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Old July 10th, 2010, 05:31 PM   #4
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I would be cool if you could get a helmet cam on one of them...

Most of the ww kayaking videos I have seen are of super extreme kayaking like dropping off waterfalls etc Usually filmed from shore but you watch all of the kayakers go over the obstacle several times.

Of course the best stuff to watch is the carnage.

So I think if you find some cool spots on the river to film the kayakers it will turn out good especially if you can get to several spots before the kayakers get there.

Have fun...
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Old July 10th, 2010, 10:04 PM   #5
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Thanks for all the comments. Scouted out the area today and learned a couple of things. There is no need to get there early in the morning as at this river there appears to be no early risers. That means shooting in more harsh mid day lighting. More popular locations have a lot of onlookers that can get in the way and spoil the shot. Will have to plan shots accordingly. River levels are critical. The higher levels result in more dramatic shots but less kayakers on the river due to the higher skill level needed. Talked to several river guides that were a wealth of information. There is good river level information at http://waterdata.usgs.gov/ga/nwis/rt
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Old July 11th, 2010, 04:30 AM   #6
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Those little helmet cams can provide some nice POVs. They can be mounted in front of and behind kayakers, in addition to being mounted on helmets. You'll get the kayaker as well as the surroundings.

Multiple cameras along the route would be ideal, depending on how long the run might be.
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Old July 11th, 2010, 06:26 AM   #7
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Mark, I was videoing kayakers yesterday. I was on the Ocoee River just south of Ducktown, TN, about 1 1/2 hours from Atlanta (I live in Va-Hi). The river is running high. There are many areas at the visitors center where the foot bridge crosses the river, as well as just off the road to shoot by. I usually find an area where the kayakers find whitewater where they can do their acrobatics. Get lots of close ups and slow it down in post. I concur about the tripod, it will slow you down. Also, there are numerous rafters on the river and they made great b-roll as the rafts are all different colors. The Ocoee is where they held the 1996 Olympics. Bob
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Old July 11th, 2010, 07:30 AM   #8
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Bob, thanks for the advice. The Ocoee is on my list of places to visit.
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Old July 11th, 2010, 03:21 PM   #9
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And watch your exposures closely. There's a lot of white in whitewater, and on a bright day, it's a tough balance between not blowing out the rapid while still getting good exposure on the kayaker.

This is one of the places where I really like my Gitzo legs. They can pop down right to water level. I would tend to disagree with the "no tripod" plan...especially if you have a longer lens. The extra few seconds setting it up really pays off with being able to get close and stay close, or grab that highly compressed shot up the river.

Play with some high shutter speeds, as well, if you plan on doing some slo-mo in post. The water tends to look very cool, especially the spray around the boats.
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Old July 11th, 2010, 04:05 PM   #10
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Thanks Bill. Good tips on exposure, shutter speed and tripod use.
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