Contoocook River

Several weeks ago, I bought myself a kayak. I’ve wanted one for years, but never bought one. Sure, I’d paddled a couple of times with other people’s boats, but never owned one. Now I do it’s allowing me a new way to engage with nature and my photography. Here it is – a Wilderness Systems Pungo 120 (12 foot, recreation boat) –

What goes better with a Subaru than a kayak?

At first I didn’t really dare to bring my camera with me, but I have worked up some skill and some confidence, so I’ve begun to bring it with me when I’m out. Of course the first time I brought it, I forgot to put the memory card back in. Doh! In a way it was funny. Still had my iPhone with me though, so all wasn’t lost. Here’s the Powwow river –

Clouds over the Powwow river

So on my next outing, I remembered the memory card! Again, I chose a slow-moving river, this time the Contoocook which is a really pretty river and because it’s dammed quite a bit, a lot of it is great for quiet-water paddling. For most of the day, I kept the GH3 in a drybag, but then toward the end of my session, I kept it on my lap. It got splashed, but since it’s weatherproof, it doesn’t matter. I may not keep it there going forward, but for a quiet river it was fine. When I really had to paddle hard into the wind and chop, I put it back in the drybag. This first one is from a side channel I explored for a bit. It got narrow at one point, but I paddled through and look at what I found –


Isn’t it amazing? Without a kayak, I’d have never seen it. I sat for a while, just floating and soaking up the atmosphere. It was a bit like a fairy story – an enchanted pool or magic glade. Dragonflies and damselflies kept me company. On my way back out to the main channel, I turned back to catch these ferns in the sunlight. I wish there’d been a bit of cloud cover to soften the harsh sunlight, but I still like the way they’re lit up. And the reflection.

Soaking it in

Paddling upstream didn’t yield any keepers, but drifting down current did. I would drift for a bit and try for compositions  on the bank. The light and the ferns kept me shooting. And the reflections are just a bonus.


Bright sun isn’t the best light for photography, but I think it can be managed if you’ve got strong, colorful subject and balance to your composition. I drifted into some pickerelweed and kind of sat for bit, hunting a good shot. I’m pretty happy with this since it illustrates the perfection of the day –

Azure Interlude

This section of the Contoocook is dammed to make the Powder Mill pond and part of the joy of paddling here is going under this gorgeous covered bridge. I couldn’t resist shooting it (with a couple paddlers underneath) even though it’s a New England cliche, could you have kept the camera down?

Hancock-Greenfield covered bridge

So that’s my first full day on the water with the camera. I’m not 100% into a groove or routine, so I forgot my polarizer and binoculars, but overall I think I’m getting into the swing of it. I’ve started a new category here on the blog for future kayak posts. More water adventures to come!

5 thoughts on “Contoocook River

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  1. Huge fan of kayaking. I bring my dSLR all the time. If you are worried, you can pick up a pelican case for maximum camera protection. I take mine kayaking all the time. The only thing to watch for if you are trying to photograph wildlife is that the case makes some noise when opening. I will open it up before getting to the places I want to photograph. Have dropped it in the lake so many times and the seal is amazing. I do occasionally use a dry bag, but the cockpit in my kayak isn’t as big and open as yours, so I would rather have the box as I sit it on the bridge of the boat. You could easily use the bag and slip the dry bag and camera between your legs.

    Last week, I did the same – took my camera phone out for a few shots:

    Happy paddling. Looking forward to more of your kayak pictures.

  2. If you go back to Powder Mill Pond, you might spy some bald eagles. They’ve been there for quite a few years. The Stokes reported seeing them again this April. If you do a search, you’ll find other birds folks have spotted there.

    1. Thanks ladies. I’ve thought about a Pelican case, but I’m not convinced that’s the right route. I’m going to do some more paddling before I commit.

      probably will go back to Powder Mill Pond since I didn’t really explore much of it. Mostly I was on the river until it was too choked with water plants. Probably in the fall once the plants die back I can make it to County pond. Where will that leave Powder Mill though? lol.

  3. This looks really fun, and I enjoyed the photos, too. I’ve toyed with getting a kayak myself. I don’t have much upper body strength, though, and I’ve worried whether I would be able to handle it… even get it so I could transport it with my car by myself.

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