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Kayak Rigged for Photos and Video

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Kayak Rigged for Photos and Video Photographs by Rob Choi

By no means would I call this a definitive guide to rigging a kayak for photos and video - more along the lines of some personal preferences I have acquired over time. I'm sure they will evolve as fresh ideas emerge and innovative new products serve the needs of this ever-changing sport. For now, I'd like to share the setup I used to shoot footage over the past two years, along with some new items that I've acquired. I will use scenes from my last video, Addiction: Kayak Fishing, to refer to some of the angles I talk about. Although it was a lot of work putting it together, I found it very rewarding to look back, relive, and share those cherished moments on the water.

A little background info: The cameras I used were the Olympus “Tough 8010”, GoPro “HERO” standard definition, and GoPro “HD HERO”. The Olympus is my point-and-shoot photo camera, as well as a decent 720p video camera with sound. It has little to no wide-angle effect and a short zoom. It's not the best camera out there for shooting video, but it gets the job done for now. I retired the standard definition GoPro recently and upgraded to the HD camera. GoPro no longer carries the standard definition cameras, and I found the quality to be quite inferior to HD. I used the standard definition anyway, because I wanted as many angles as I could get. The HD HERO is a great camera and most of the crisp clean shots in the video were taken with it. I look forward to testing out my new “HD HERO2”, as I hear it's even better.

The first thing I'd like to mention is that putting the camera mounts in places you can reach is very important. Being able to turn the cameras off and on is definitely a good thing. I understanding that some cameras come with a remote control, and GoPro is coming out with a remote system as well, but it's still a good idea to be able to access them. You will have to change out batteries, switch modes, etc. at some point.

With that being said, the mounts I have toward the front of the kayak are as follows:

FrontmountslayoutFront mounts layout

A. I bolted the helmet strap attachment that came with my GoPro to the “Sonar Shield” on my OceanKayak “Trident”. The scene that starts at 1:30 is the view you get from that mounting point. It's very flat to the deck, which I think is a cool view. You can raise the Sonar Shield while using a depth finder and have the camera at a slightly higher angle as well. Unfortunately, in the video, I was using the old standard definition GoPro, so you will notice the lower video quality.

B. YakAttack “Mighty Mount” attaches to the hull using four bolts, washers and nuts. A T-bolt slides into the slot and screws into the bottom of the “PanFish Portrait” (also show in right of picture). The wave crashing over the bow, the spade fight scene that starts at 0:51, and many more clips were shot from that angle using the HD HERO.

C. Another Mighty Mount was mounted toward the front of the hatch to create a little more distance and a more “straight-on” view. Although cropped in, the first sheepshead fight at the beginning of the video was shot from this mount. It was a cloudy and rainy day, so the lighting wasn't so great, even with the HD HERO. I hear the HD HERO2 does a better job in low light conditions.

D & E. YakAttack recently came out with the “GearTrac”, which comes in 4" increments up to 16". I attached two 8" tracks with the stainless steel thread-forming screws that came with it. That means you don't have to reach behind and use bolts. Just line up the GearTrac, use the provided drill bit for pilot holes and drive in the thread-forming screws. The versatility of the GearTrac is really quite amazing. As you can see in the picture, I have the “Panfish Portrait” attached to the GearTrac, but it can also be used with any RAM ball accessory, various rod holders and can serve many other functions. For more info check out this video. I don't have any shots taken from these angles, but I plan on using them extensively in the coming season.

For the rear of the kayak, I like having the camera up a little higher than most, so I attached the YakAttack “Panfish” to my crate using Mighty Mounts screwed into each corner.

Panfishsetup1Mighty Mount attached to crate top

Scenes from behind were all shot from one of the two mounts. The tog hook ups at 2:21 and 2:53 along with the tunnel at 2:35 and the splash at 3:16 are prime examples.

As I alluded to earlier, some of my preferences have already started to change. With the introduction of the GearTrac, I can use the entire length of the crate, not just the corners. I was planning to use a piece of a cheap cutting board to use as a surface for attaching the GearTrac. Being the problem solver that he is, Luther Cifers (owner of YakAttack) created a piece of plastic to fit just right. I doubt he's going to go full production with the piece, but if you think this setup is right for you, you can probably make a similar one with a cheap cutting board.



BarattachedtocrateAttached to crate edge

YakAttack_Track12" Gear Track atttached to the top of the crate

The Panfish and Panfish Portrait slide in and out of the GearTrac very smoothly. Loosening and tightening the T-bolt is quick and easy. Also, both the Panfish and its smaller counterpart have a friction plate in the middle, so the top portion can rotate while the bottom stays firmly attached to the mounting point. It's a great feature that is really the namesake of the products, since you can "pan" the view.

As I mentioned before, the GearTrac offers many options for mounting, and I believe that the crate is a great elevated platform to take advantage of those options. From the “Screwball” and various RAM products to the new “Dogbone” for extra versatility, the possibilities are endless. Check out YakAttack's site for the full scoop on all their innovative products.

With all that said, I still feel the need to utilize an apparatus I created a few years ago. I told Luther about it and he understands my affinity for it.

Video_shotScreen shot from Addiction: Kayak Fishing video

My extending monopod has come in handy on countless occasions, and I rarely get on the water without it. If you haven't noticed throughout the video, I almost always have it sitting in the flush-mount rod holder behind me. It's essentially just a retractable aluminum pole with JOBY “GorillaPod” parts on the end. I took a telescoping mini-paddle, cut off the paddle blade, and wrapped that end with electric tape. I also cut off the excess parts of the handle. The ball legs of the GorillaPod pop off with a certain amount of force. I screwed the ball onto where the handle of the paddle used to be, then popped the rest of the adjustable leg back on. I made sure to get the GorillaPod that had the quick-release attachment so I can easily separate the camera and operate it manually (zoom). Then I also took one of the many GoPro mounts that came with the camera and attached it to the third leg of the GorillaPod. All hardware is self-tapping stainless steel, and “Amazing GOOP” was applied to the joining pieces.

Monopodattachments2Gorilla pod mounted to the telescoping mini paddle

Unlike many other products, I can change the angle of the camera with just one hand. The GorillaPod parts stay stiff enough to hold the camera in place, but I can also quickly and easily adjust the angle, rotate or reposition without putting down my rod. Although I don't recommend making it a habit, I have bumped and scraped it on bridge pilings many times, and much to my satisfaction, it has held up well.

As I mentioned earlier, most of the time the monopod stays in the flush-mount rod holder behind me. There's a groove at the bottom of the rod holder, and the flap that remains after cutting off the paddle blade fits right in and keeps the monopod from spinning in the holder. A lot of over-the-shoulder scenes where you hear me talking, including the red drum fight starting at 1:06, were shot using the monopod and Olympus “Tough 8010”.

Monopod_endTelescoping mini paddle end

When I want to snap a picture of myself with a photo-worthy fish, I place the monopod in a Scotty rod holder in front of me and set the timer. The electrical tape adds just enough thickness so the monopod doesn't slip out of the rod holder. For smaller fish, I can keep the monopod short. For larger fish, I can hold the camera farther away by extending the tube.

While shooting video, the monopod has the advantage of being very mobile because it's not attached to anything. You can quickly take it out of the rod holder and bring the camera to the subject, instead of always trying to bring the subject to the camera. This is especially handy when filming your fishing buddy with his catch (1:27). Also, all the underwater scenes in the video were captured using the monopod. Being able to extend it from 22" to 42" not only allows you to get the camera deep under water, but you can also capture footage from a higher vantage points (1:53). Since most small cameras have little to no zoom capability, having the few extra feet can help you get those close-up shots.

Monopod_and_PanfishTelescoping mini paddle mounted in a Scotty rod holder

Also, to creat some unique perspectives, I can put it in a Scotty or RAM rod holder behind me to capture some wide side-view footage. If I angle the rod holder down, I can also get continuous underwater footage. All the while, at any time, I can still reach behind, undo the latch on the rod holder and pull the monopod and camera out with one hand if I need to.

All in all, the Panfish and Panfish Portrait are the stationary mounts that I rely on for consistent footage. For everything else, I enjoy using my monopod, and every once in a while I'll use the GoPro headstrap.

Many of you probably think that most of the things in this long post are overkill. I really enjoy seeing other people's videos that show many different angles and creative views, so I try to put out what I like to see. I hope you all found something useful in this post, and I look forward to seeing some of your great kayak fishing action in the near future.

Read 11278 times Last modified on Wednesday, 15 February 2012 10:54

Rob Choi

About the Author: Rob Choi is an avid kayak angler from Richmond, VA and although he lives close to the mighty James River, he frequents the Chesapeake Bay more often. His addiction to the salt has earned him a reputation among the locals as the fish junkie with reckless abandon to logic, time, and societal norms in his pursuit for the “tug that is the drug”. What he lacks in long term experience, he makes up in his passionate dedication to the sport now. He shares his love of the sport through his blog, www.angling-addict.com, as well as being a prostaff member at Ocean Kayak, Maui Jim Sunglasses, YakAngler.com, YakAttack, Werner Paddles, and crew member of HOOK 1 and Kayak Bass Fishing.

Website: www.angling-addict.com


# Seth Goodrich 2012-02-17 10:38
Great read Rob! Im just trying to get my boat set up for filming, so this was very helpful. Using the video as a reference was great to see where you had the camera mounted and what the pov looked like when mounted there. Thanks Bud!
# Hammerhead 2012-02-17 18:24
Thanks for the tips Rob!
# robchoi 2012-02-20 08:10
Glad to do it, Gregg.
# Pam 2012-02-18 00:40
Rob, you rock. Just sayin'
# robchoi 2012-02-20 08:10
8) Thanks, Pam.
# Bobby Horvath 2012-03-27 10:26
Hi Rob,

If you wouldn't mind, could you please let me know where you got your GoPro items that you mounted on the milk crate? The rods and the track? I already have an telescoping handheld aluminum rod from eyeofmine.com i ordered, but I like the idea of being able to secure it to the milk crate. Thank you for your time.

Bobby Horvath
# imnohero 2012-09-15 13:18
Cool rigging, thanks for the info.

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