Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Best (Kayak) Camera Is The One That's With You

Fish Eating Creek overflows live oak and palm tree forest last October near Lake Okeechobee. Shot with Canon PowerShot S100 point 'n shoot digicam.

Today I'm attempting to connect the dots between a weekend conversation, a trending style of internet photography and, lastly, staying creative while paddling a kayak. Let me know If I've succeeded ...

Sunday I had my photojournalist hat on while on assignment at the Miami’s Marlins Stadium, shooting two foster children and their adult mentor for an upcoming multimedia program. I had my two Nikon D300 DSLRs with three zoom lenses while I worked in and around the fans seated near my subjects, when a young woman asked what I was doing. I explained the story, and she said “wow those are pretty nice cameras, you must be getting great photos”.

Most professional photographers have heard such remarks many times, and I admit, even my 2008 era digital cameras, now a generation out of date, do allow me to make images in difficult situations. In the stadium, I needed wide angle to telephoto focal lengths, a fast motor drive and good low light capabilities.

Rainbow at sunset this January while paddling in Atlantic Ocean off Bahia Honda Key. Shot with Canon S100.

But it’s not the camera that makes the photograph, I thought to myself, it’s your story telling eye, your vision of the world and your people skills that capture the images.

In a rush, I not very eloquently told her that such cameras "help, but you still need a brain!”

Just because I go out and buy a set of law books doesn’t make me a lawyer, nor having the cash to buy a Ferrari won’t make me a race car driver. Heck, even buying the latest and most expensive Nikon won’t make me a better photographer. (Note to Santa, a Nikon D4 and a D800 would be sweet!)

While paddling the back country in Everglades National Park's 10,000 Islands area, I photographed wave details with Nikon P6000.

Several years ago photographer Chase Jarvis’ The Best Camera Is The One That’s With You became a sensation,  in which he urged everybody to just use that camera phone in you pocket. Shoot what you see and experience every day. It’s your creativity that matters, not fancy equipment nor exotic locals. Keep it simple, and practice practice practice.

Sorry this post is not another iPhoneography convert having fun with cool camera apps. I’ve used my iPhone camera a little, but somehow that internet phenomenon of post processing camera phone photos with colors, effects and borders hasn’t clicked for me. I’ll leave that to others, including friend Steven Boxall’s I Shoot You Long Time blog.

Clouds are icing atop Miami city skyline during paddle around Elliot Key in Biscayne Bay. Nikon P6000.

But my creativity and insatiable curiosity about nature and the outdoors gets going the moment I sit in my kayak, launch onto open water, and I pull out my digital point ’n shoot camera to document what I experience and discover. I used to paddle with my DSLRs and long lenses, but once I began to  record audio from my kayak, I was carrying to much gear to have any fun. My current Canon PowerShot S100 is about the same heft and volume as my iPhone yet packs a lot of capability. 

It goes without saying that only having my point 'n shoot with me in my kayak makes that camera the best at hand. And as long as I “... still need a brain”, I'll make out just fine.

Dry season on Nine Mile Pond in Everglades National Park forces me to share shallow water with several alligators. Note, as your review mirror warns, wide angle lens makes six-foot gator seem further away than reality. Nikon P6000.