Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2007/07/18

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Subject: [Leica] Kayaking camera: demonstration of concept
From: leicachris at (Christopher Williams)
Date: Wed Jul 18 19:17:04 2007
References: <>

Thanks for posting Doug, kayaking is one thing I've always wanted to try 
around here. There's plenty of swamp life to photograph!


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Douglas Herr" <>
To: <>; "LEG" <>; "LeicaReflex" 
Sent: Tuesday, July 03, 2007 12:00 AM
Subject: [Leica] Kayaking camera: demonstration of concept

> For some time now I've wanted to take a camera with me while kayaking.
> Background: the kayak allows me much better access to the water side of 
> marshes, and when I'm in the kayak I don't look like a 
> human and can get much closer.
> more background: As most of us know, kayaks are supposed to float on top 
> of the water, but there's always the possibility of 
> turning turtle (flipping over) or becoming a submarine (taking on too much 
> water) so I've been hesitant to carry something like 
> the R8/DMR/280 APO combination in the kayak.
> My solution: About a year ago I picked up from an ebay auction a Novoflex 
> 400mm f/5.6 T-Noflexar very inexpensively, and on the 
> camera end of this lens I've fitted an very ugly but (thanks to DAG and 
> UPS) very functional Leicaflex SL.  Total cost of the rig 
> is about US$375 including the SL, Novoflex lens, its shoulder stock, and 
> the LEA-R adapter for Leica-R.  I won't be happy if it 
> gets dunked, OTOH it's not like I'd have the repair expense of the 
> R8/DMR/280 APO if they got soaked.  On the DMR the Novoflex has 
> proven to be adequately sharp for a good 8x12 print.  Not APO-Telyt sharp, 
> but adequate.
> The kayak is a fiberglass sea kayak, the Easy Rider Sea Hawk.  It has a 
> covered deck, a big open cockpit so I can get legs or 
> camera in and out easily, and is known as a 'dry' boat, i.e., water 
> doesn't splash in easily.  I've found that I can keep the 
> camera out of the kayak's bilge by balancing it on my legs as I paddle, 
> and far enough forward that it's out of the way of errant 
> splashes from the paddle.
> The location I chose to test the rig is a marshy backwater off Lake 
> Natoma, a reservoir just west of Folsom California.  From 
> put-in to the backwater area there's a stretch of open water that can be 
> crossed in fifteen minutes or so and given the 
> unpredictable nature of winds and of other boaters this is probably the 
> riskiest part of the test.  Once in the backwater area 
> there's very little boat traffic and the waters are sheltered from most 
> winds.
> Among the wildlife I spotted during the test was a river otter, several 
> Mallard families, a Common Merganser family, and numerous 
> landbirds.  Alos spotted a Great Blue Heron and a Great Egret, but not the 
> Green Heron, the bird I was most interested in.
> The Great Egret provided the best photo opportunities, but only after I 
> figured out what to do with the kayak were the pictures 
> worth showing.  I quickly found that photography while the kayak was in 
> open water was pointless: the kayak is always drifting 
> with the current or breezes or both, the birds are paddling a different 
> direction, and I've got only a limited range of motion 
> while seated in the kayak's cockpit.  This plus the floation vest 
> interfering with the shoulder stock and keeping track of the 
> paddle while holding the camera ... clumsy and uncoordinated are the words 
> that come to mind.
> I found the best way to use the kayak as a photo platform was to run the 
> boat onto soft mud, jamming it in place, and to wait for 
> the egret to approach as it fed, leaning my elbows on the lip of the 
> cockpit for added camera stability.  So without further 
> words, the result:
> technical stuff: SL, Novoflex 400mm f/5.6 T-Noflexar, Kodak Portra 170 NC, 
> kayak.  All comments welcome.
> Doug Herr
> Birdman of Sacramento
> _______________________________________________
> Leica Users Group.
> See for more information 

In reply to: Message from telyt at (Douglas Herr) ([Leica] Kayaking camera: demonstration of concept)