SUP Photography Tips

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A paddle board offers more than just a great way to get in shape. These boards give you access to beautiful and far off locations that are not boat accessible. If you love capturing beautiful moments in the great outdoors on camera, then why not combine two of your favorite hobbies and take some amazing photos on your next SUP adventure? The following SUP photography tips will show you how you can take advantage of your next paddle boarding experience and take some impressive photos of your surroundings, documenting your time outdoors as you paddle on a calm lake or a fast-running river.

Getting it Together

If you’re someone who often finds themselves on their paddle board every weekend, and you also love to document your adventures via your photography skills, then learning how to take photos as you board can be a great and exciting new experience.

Taking photos on your paddle board isn’t as easy as it sounds. You have to earn how to balance, paddle, handle your camera equipment, search for the right lighting and find a great shot. While it may be a little challenging in the beginning, the end result is definitely worth it. While initially difficult, with some patience and practice, you can get off some great shots the next time you’re on your SUP.

If you’re new to photography, then make sure you practice taking shots with your new camera on land first. Become familiar with the controls. You should also practice shooting using one hand and make sure you’re able to squeeze the trigger while you keep your thumbs and fingers out of a shot.

How to Find the Right Light

Finding the perfect lighting will be your biggest priority, in order to turn out a beautiful shot. Waking up earlier in the morning to capture the sunrise off the water can result in the perfect shot and can take your photography skills to a whole new level. You can also spend more time on the lake and take photos as the sun begins to set. Don’t be afraid to experiment during this time and find the perfect lighting conditions based on the type of shot you want to capture.

Equipment Safety

Pay attention to water conditions before you bring your camera and other delicate equipment out on the water. In calm water conditions, there’s no risk of your board tipping and causing you to fall into the water. Make sure you store your equipment in a water-safe bag and keep the bag zipped up and secure until you’re ready to use your equipment. Planning ahead and checking the water conditions before you hit the water will ensure you don’t take your equipment out in rough waters and risk damaging your equipment.

Use the Perfect Lens

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Most photographers recommend using a wide-angle lens, which will allow you to capture the full landscape. You can also use a long lens in order to zoom in on your subject, which will also make the landscape behind your subject look much bigger.

Explore New Locations

If you’re into trying new adventures, then experiment with your photography skills and head to out of the way places for the perfect shooting location. Search online for new and interesting places to explore, whether it’s a random body of water, a new trail in the mountains, a small unknown lake, or a different section of a river you normally shoot on.

Lens Care

It’s important to keep the lens free of fingers, thumbs, debris, dirt, and water. If you’ve had a great day on the river and captured what you felt were great shots, then nothing can be worse than making it back home to find that all of your photos were ruined due to a dirty lens.

Lining Up a Shot

Most SUP photographers recommend actually incorporating your board in a shot. This can be difficult, but it will definitely make a photo. To do, you’ll need to get low on your board and sit or kneel while keeping yourself stable. You can experiment with different angles and include the tail or nose of your board in the shot. Another option is holding the camera out to the side and shooting across the board. With a little practice and experimentation on your part, you’ll quickly find a shooting style that works for you and one that includes your board to complete the entire picture.

If you have a camera that features a flip-up screen, this can do wonders in terms of easily lining up a shot. All you’ll have to do is look down at the screen, focus on framing the shot, fix the horizon, and snap a photo. If you don’t have a camera with a flip-up screen then you can adjust your camera to display images for three to five seconds. Then, take a shot and you should have more than enough time to double-check your images.

Know Your Camera

If you’re new to photography, then choose a camera that offers great image quality, but one that’s also beginner-friendly and won’t require you to constantly reference the manual in order to figure out how to shoot with it. There are many high-end cameras that come with intuitive, simple controls.

If you’re not sure how to capture a great picture, starting off with having the sun at your back can give you a great chance at correct exposure. However, it’s important that you become familiar with your particular camera. Now models of cameras will usually fix any potential exposure issues for you.

If you don’t want to invest in a camera, it’s totally possible to use your smartphone. These days, the cameras on the leading smartphones can offer image quality that’s comparable to what you’ll get from a high-priced camera.

Point of Interest

With so much beauty around you, it may be a challenge to zoom in on any particular subject. Survey your surroundings. There may be many potential subjects that capture your attention such as a beautiful sunset, expansive coastline, and any type of unusual land formation. When a photographer highlights a focal point it showcases them in their element. Fortunately, you don’t have to choose just one point of interest.

Best Shooting Hours

You’ll find that the right times for paddle boarding is the same as the best times for snapping shots. These hours will offer the best lighting for your photography. A sun low in the sky can offer the perfect effect, or a sunrise can make a beautiful golden image.

Put Your Paddle to Use

You don’t have to purchase a selfie stick for your SUP shots. Instead, take advantage of your paddle, which makes the perfect replacement. Attach your camera to a paddle via a roll bar mount and do some experimenting. Place the paddle in the air and take a shot of yourself on your SUP. If you have a waterproof camera then you can also try placing the paddle in the water for a neat underwater shot.

Board Size

If you want to head out for a day on the water with all of your camera equipment, then you need to use the right paddle board size for the job. These are usually the shorter, wider boards. Make sure your board is able to accommodate the amount of gear and supplies you bring along. This involves paying close attention to how much weight your paddle board can hold. If you’re not sure what your board’s max weight will be, then visit the manufacturer’s website, search for your particular model and look at its spec sheet. The max weight should be clearly listed. In terms of the right choice for photography purposes, the best inflatable SUP will have a high max weight and a broad and wide design. Avoid boards that are long and narrow, which can make it more difficult for you to balance as you shoot. I recommend the Tower Paddle Boards Adventurer. This board offers a stable, comfortable surface and plenty of space and storage spots to secure all of the gear you need.

Final Thoughts

These SUP photography tips will get you started on your next adventure in the backcountry. It’s a great way to share your boarding experiences with friends, family, people on social media, and it can allow you to capture shots that you normally wouldn’t be able to on land.

If you love taking photos and you’re a paddle boarding enthusiast, then combining these hobbies can take your paddle boarding experience and photography skills to the next level. The ability to use your paddle board as a means to seek out far off locations allows you to get more use out of your board as you develop your skills as a SUP user and a photographer. Of course, practice makes perfect. You may not take phenomenal shots your first time out, but you’ll notice that shooting while you’re on your board gives your photography an entirely new and refreshing feel to it.