Prussia Cove Permadrizzle

Drizzly, atmospheric winter conditions for a quick sea kayak spin up the coast for some swelly rock-hopping around Cudden Point and Prussia Cove.

Winter always serves more interesting conditions for taking pictures from the cockpit of a sea kayak than the more settled weather of summer. It also has been a while since there was a post of sea kayak flavour, so here’s a quick one of those. Another reason for general lack of posts around this topic is that I frequently can’t be bothered taking a camera along. For years I’ve been using my old X100s fixed lens camera in a Meikon housing, carried in a deck bag; not because it is particularly well-suited to kayak photography (it isn’t) but rather that I simply have it.

For a long time afterwards the local fishermen told of the sound of clinking crystal and laughter rising from the depths, and that when the sea was clear, the guests could be seen far below, seated around the silver table, in their watery grave.

The X100s has been around a long time now, relatively speaking, so the second hand value is trivial, and while operationally it feels a bit clunky, the image quality is still very good. It is a bulky thing however once in the housing, I don’t always want that on my deck, and being a wide-angle fixed lens photographing with it can be hard work; trying to position my kayak, particularly when there is a lot of water moving around, and without ending up in a dangerous situation can be challenging. I frequently look at cameras that, once in housing, would be a similar size or smaller, but add some zoom functionality – there are a number of 1″ sensor compacts for example, but again and again I can’t quite bring myself to commit the ££, so it seems likely my X100s will be doing service for a while longer. Despite the limitations, the wide angle results can be super so, as there isn’t one presently online, I will sling up a gallery of favourites soon. In the meantime however, I caught up with a paddling buddy yesterday for a socially distanced spin up the coast in the permadrizzle for a spot of swelly rockhopping around Cudden Point and Prussia Cove. For a change I could be bothered taking the camera.

Conditions in Mounts Bay were very still, with St Michael’s Mount lost in the drizzle.
Stumbled across a fine example of a Portuguese Man o’War bobbing around near Perranuthnoe. The colouring is quite beautiful, and belies the deadly sting from those tentacles. These things have been washing up on local beaches in vast quantities this autumn.
The dark cliffs of Cudden Point. Local legend has it that there is sunken treasure to be found on the seabed here. A few km inland lies Pengerswick castle, said to be one of the most haunted locales in Cornwall, and home to an allegedly dark history of devil worshipping and other nefarious goings on. The story says that one sunny day, one of the Lords Pengerswick took a bunch of his equally ghastly  mates for a sail around Mounts Bay. While anchored off Cudden Point to dine around a silver table, the boat sank for no apparent reason, taking the lord, his guests, and treasures to the depths. For a long time afterwards the local fishermen told of the sound of clinking crystal and laughter rising from the depths, and that when the sea was clear, the guests could be seen far below, seated around the silver table, in their watery grave.
Swell was a classic long period winter groundswell.
It is always fascinating to see the shapes formed by the water. Light levels were low, so I preset an aperture and ISO of f5.6 and 400 respectively before putting the camera in the housing. f5.6 gives a reasonably workable depth of field for most stuff while still allowing a high enough shutter speed to avoid blur when it’s a bit bouncy.
My Romany on the beach at Long Rock. The excellent rough water handling makes it a super platform for taking pictures, especially when conditions are bouncy.
Camera set-up. The Chinese-made Meikon housings are pretty good value relative to higher-spec dive housings; this one was about £140 if memory serves. It’s proven itself consistently watertight, but it is bulky. I would like some telephoto capability, but I’m not sure if that is best served by replacing this setup, or additionally keeping an SLR or mirrorless camera + long lens in a dry bag inside my cockpit.. only for situations when it’s safe to pop my deck off for a picture.
I would really welcome the ideas and experiences of others with respect to camera set up afloat, so if you’re a kayaker and using something more than a pocket ‘tough compact’ I’d love to hear your thoughts.

 

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