Night photography in kayak

I have an Optio W10 that I use for my kayaking photography. One thing I have not been able to do is to get good nighttime photos on full moon paddles. Flash is not really useful for anything over 10ft away so downwstream photos are very dark. If I switch to “NO Flash” setting the shutter speed is so slow that everything is blurred by even slight movement in the kayak. Any recommendations for the best changes to make in Exposure, ISO, Mode, or other settings for nighttime river photos. I do realize this may be asking more of this simple camera than it can deliver.

Note: Portrait shots of nearby kaykers or close shoreline works fine with the flash. It is the “landscape” pictures that I can not seem to get to come out. We really had a beautiful full moon on Friday’s paddle and none of the photos were worth saving.


Get out of the kayak
and use a tripod.


Yup! n/t

maybe asking a bit much from your Optio
to be able to take half decent images with moonlight alone the Optio won’t cut it.

Even having the camera mounted on a tripod on shore still won’t work. The Optio does not have a shutter speed long enough to capture night scenes.

Increasing your ISO to a max of 400 ISO (beyond that is often just junk) might give you a slight advantage.

Realistically the best you can do is just at dusk, not full nighttime.

I had similar conditions with full moon but my paddle started at sunset and I knew that only the images taken before total darkness will work.

To view what the limit of capturing images on a compact camera is, similar to your Optio, go to

You might try
mounting you tripod on the front deck of you kayak, Then you will not have to get out . . . Oh yea, never mind

limitations of the camera
unfortunately you may have reached the limitations of the camera. Try setting your ISO as high as possible. If you are standing you can set your shutter to 1/60 or even 1/50, any lower than that and you will probably get motion blur. If you are in your kayak the shutter speed will need to be much higher 1/160 I would imagine.

The sensor of your camera probably does not have good low light capabilities so there isn’t a whole lot you can do.

Trick the camera…
When the flash is used the camera works at a slower shutter speed, tape over the flash with electrical tape so the flash doen’t reflect back into the lens…

(You know how your headlights reflect back at you in the fog?)

I’ve gotten better photos with various cheap cameras this way…(and no, not dissin’ the W10, just sayin’ I’m a cheap old curmudgeon who uses cheap cameras hisse’f).

Another trick…
…would be to zoom in on the moon, half click & hold the shutter button to lock the exposure on the moon, then compose the shot you want and let it rip. Would be helpful if you could switch to spot metering/focus. Won’t be perfect but probably the best you can get with a point & shoot.


hold your breath

Hold it, and then some…
The breathing technique that you speak of is a bit more refined that just holding your breath.

You take a deep breath and exhale slowly and completely, take a second deep breath and exhale, but only half way – then hold your breath. This is as steady as you can get without a tripod – and it takes practice.

I take a lot of night photos from the kayak. All hand held – usually with image stabilization turned on, but sometimes without (fireworks always seem better without IS).

Here’s a link to a sampling of some photos that I took at night with my old Canon S1 IS point and shoot camera (scroll about halfway down the page).

To take the shots in that link the camera was in Priority mode, I bumped the ISO up to 200, and shortened the exposure by 2/3 of a stop. This generally puts the shutter speed at about .25 second or more – so the breathing technique outlined above plays a big part in the quality of the photos. I should also mention that most of the photos that I take at night are generally blurry – but I get lucky most of the time and usually get a few that turn out nice and sharp. On the evening that I took the above shots, I got particularly lucky and got about a dozen good photos out of nearly 100 shots.

Hope this helps.


Fireworks photos from kayak
I found a bunch of fireworks photos that I took from the kayak. No image stabilization was used for these but the breathing technique was used. You’ll have to scroll a ways down the page to see them:


Thanks to everyone
I had completely forgotten that I had a “Fireworks” mode. I will try that one next time I do a night paddle. I also found a “Night Scene” mode. I am not sure how it differs from “Fireworks” but I will try that one also.

Do you think that breathing thing will help in 3ft waves :).


Nice shots!
Your photos are well done and definately keepers. Especially considering the camera’s limitations for night photography and the not so small fact that you were seated in a kayak.

You hit upon one of the secrets, take lots of photos. easy enough in this digital age.

It will definately make for some interesting effects!

Have your subjects hold flashlights or light bars. The light trails could make for some really cool pix.