Pics VS Video: The Good, The So-So, and The Ugly

In another topic by @eckilson, the subject of utility of pictures vs video in paddling came up.

For me, as mostly a self-coached, solo paddler, I find video very helpful in furthering my skills and my understanding of the venues that I am interested. Some video are edited to show “the best” (most of mine are like that), but the most useful videos (for learning purposes) are those that share the “the good, the so-so, and the bad.” I think this video falls in that category:

I also think this “carnage video” is really good showing what not to do:

I think pictures are great for memory snapshots but have little/no utility for coaching purposes.



I agree. I have watched a lot of canoe wreck videos. Always interesting to see what went wrong and how they retrieved their pinned canoe etc.

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So, here’s a video of my “back surfing” practice. I committed consistently the same mistake – bracing down wave and behind me – essentially guaranteeing that I would trip and capsize. :face_with_peeking_eye:

I had to put a couple of good front surf runs in the video to make myself feel better. :face_with_symbols_over_mouth:

So, I know what I have to work on – putting that blade towards the bow to act as a supporting brace/rudder. I still have yet to really ingrain this. But at least I know what I am doing wrong because of the video.


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The “good…”

This person only created one video in 2 years. Too bad because it’s a good video! Using an overhead from a drone camera, you can see how well the wave was being riddened, the spatial relationship of the boat to the wave, and the stoke techniques and adjustments made to stay on the wave, even after a broach. Nicely done - video edit and wave riding technique!



The less-than-good…

Came across the video when I was researching the Dagger Stratos kayak’s capabilities for surf and rock hopping venues. The one “bad” thing clearly is that the paddler was not wearing a helmet. He was paddling small waves which means that a capsize would have been in shallow water where his head hitting sandy/rock bottom would have been highly likely.

After the above observation, not much else can be said. The video is comprised largely of a string of still photos. You cannot observe or assess the paddler’s techniques at all on the wave. Why chose a string of still photos for a youtube video is beyond me…


Personal instruction is best, but there is no doubt that videos are great teaching tools. When I started out with my whitewater canoe I watched and practiced “cab-forward” paddling (carving and using off side strokes rather than switching sides) with the Tom Forster videos until I finally got it.

When I got my sea kayak I worked my way through the lessons at Online Sea Kayaking.

The video lessons are great, and I am still subscribed because I still have a lot to learn. Again, if you can’t learn in person with an instructor, a good video is the next best thing.

I’ll also tape myself so I can see how I’m doing. They can be painful to watch, but if you speed them up you’d be surprised what you see. I’ll often edit out the bad stuff and include music - like this one.

I know a lot of people like to browse YouTube videos - I’ve never been one to do that. I do appreciate it though when someone takes a video of me during a run - amazing what you learn.


Love the video!!! All that work and build up to one great surf! :+1: :love_you_gesture:


Learning styles and the level of kinesthetic awareness greatly determine how well an individual can learn from video, or benefit far more “hands-on” personal instruction.

Having been engaged with a bunch of martial arts and dance since I was a young teen, I have a pretty well developed kinesthetic awareness that fortunately allows me to watch, try and practice. Personal instruction is great, but I frankly don’t have enough time and (more likely the) commitment to seek it out. I generally don’t even want to coordinate with a “partner(s)” to go out. When surf is up, whenever that is, I just go!

This may change in the next year when I pull the plug on full time work. :slight_smile:


You’re right - time, cost and the limited availability of good coaches make personal instruction less viable for most of us. I still jump on it when I can get it, but most of us are on our own. Around here you can find beginner and advance sea kayak training from really good coaches, if you’re willing to pay. For WW kayak there is a least beginner training. If you paddle a canoe you are pretty much on your own - get out the video :wink:

nice, thanks for that
It’s nice to see the formation of the waves in and around the paddler.
I wish we’d see more of these type, though I suspect it’s not that easy to do:

  • licensing
  • wind
  • airspace restrictions (the area I mostly surf is near Mayport (naval base))
  • etc

What is pretty impressive with the surf paddler is that of the boat. It looks to be a 17’ plus long expedition kayak. Not doing diagonaling back and forth like with high rockered Sterling kayak and the like, but definitely with directional control.

So, I actually picked a DJI Mini drone about 4-5 years ago. It’s small and exempted from the licensing requirement. Only has a half hour flight time capability. Wind seems to impact only by cutting the amount of flight time because more power is used to stay on flight path. Have not found a time or occaison to use it, except to fly it around my local reservation. I can’t use it at my primary homebreak either because that is under the flight path of the local airport.

At some point, I’ll try to edit and publish a drone video.


Fun videos. Moving water makes it a lot more interesting.
We used to spend a lot of time on regular old surf boards around Ocean City.
After while it become apparent that all breaking waves are either lefts or rights. Hurdling towards the beach at right angles to a wave is not the best approach. An acute angle to a wave is what you want. Sometimes just “getting out” is the greatest challenge.

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Yes. In most instances, the waves will be breaking left or to the right. That’s why it’s go to sit/stand and observe the waves a bit before paddling out. Going with the breaking direction gives a longer ride. Going against the breaking direction gives a shorter ride, but also an opportunity for a “hero” move where you crash into the oncoming pocket and do something spectacular (or specularly bad) for a ride ending move.

On some beach breaks with an even bottom, a wave coming in perfectly perpendicular to the beach can break all the way across - “closing out” - with no peeling to left or right. These closeout waves provide much shorter rides. In this situation, look for areas with rip currents. A rip can mellow out a section of the wave and offer a slight peel to the right and left of the rip itself. Kind of like looking for the silver lining in otherwise grey and dull situation. But, ultimately, I’ll take a closeout wave to no wave at all.


Sing makes the important observation about sitting on the beach and watching for awhile before you go out. It is a classic thing that surfers habitually do. You want to know how the waves are breaking so you can ride them. By all means keep an eye out for rips. The more you watch waves the better your observations become.

My brother made a trip across Africa by truck. He was about to enter the beach off of Senegal when the locals warned him about rips. He had been a competitive swimmer trying out for the Junior Olympics. It was the closest he has ever come to drowning.

So, I just found this Neptune’s Rangers’ video - “An Odd Year”. I think it is not only visually fun to watch but, more important, offers a lot of technical paddling (techniques) visuals in ocean white water, over rocks. Good stuff!


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That is really cool. I saw a guy in a Cappella 166 (same as mine) so there is hope for me. Makes me realize that I have a long way to go. I was really surprised about the boats. They are all in cross over designs? I definitely identified one as a Liquid Logic Stinger. Lot are paddling Pyraha, but I wasn’t sure which one.

If he thought 2017 was a tough year, wonder how he felt about 2020. I found some other great videos of his - they are amazing.

Yeah, definitely see a lot of “cross over” white water to ocean rockhopper boats in the 12-14’ range. The RM Capella and Tempest were also in there. In some of the NR’s other videos, you’ll see RM boats such as Dagger Stratos and Alchemy (14-14.5’) as well as P&H Delphins 150/155. After going out last year with the RICKA rockhopping/surf contingent, I regretted getting rid of my Delphin. But, I lucked out in picking up a Dagger Stratos 14.5s this spring.

What I like about this NR video is the integration of drone footage – a whole new element that really enhances. Drone footage is largely absent from most of the other NR videos.

In terms of the observation of “An Odd Year”, I think maintaining perspective of the larger picture is really important. I think the 2020 brought the pandemic to enforce that point.

Here is a nugget of wise perspective from whom I would consider a most unusual source, Mike Tyson.


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Saw this on my walk this morning. A pic that hints at the fleeting beauty of life.

Yes, a picture can be more evocative than video.



Quote from the video:

“As Kayakers and watermen we go to the water to help us deal with life on land. The water helps us move energy, helps us to ground ourselves, it helps us to provide space around a very dense society”.


That was a good line.