Getting The Shot: Kayaker Dropping Off A 65-foot Waterfall

Bugs, rain, rough terrain and carrying gear– forget about all of that. Shift your focus and get creative all of a sudden. Think: how can you approach taking an image that you'll have just one chance to get, but also capture it in a unique way? One take is all Tim Kemple had, and using a Phase One camera, he scored this shot of kayaker Tyler Bradt going over a waterfall in the jungles of Mexico.

Selected for the National Geographic's Extreme Photo of the Week, Tim went on to say in the article with that photo:
"We could have touched the paddlers as they went by. We were literally dangling a few feet away from the lip of the waterfall. The idea of this vertigo-inducing view, looking straight down a waterfall, was definitely one of those shots that we talked about before arriving in Mexico. We weren't the first people to shoot images in Tlapacoyan, far from it. That became the challenge: How could we use light, perspective, and creativity to capture images that people hadn't seen anywhere before?"

When asked about his camera settings on YouTube, Tim replied to one commenter with this insight into his techniques for capturing his images:

"I'm always shooting at the fastest shutter speed possible, while trying to balance my ISO and depth of field. Because of the nature of the dark canyons in Mexico I shot most of these images at ISO 400 or 800, with the lenses wide open.

As far as focusing, I most often prefocus on the location where the peak action will be happening, but sometimes you aren't sure where that will be. That means auto focus based on trajectory and then switch to manual."


Photo credit: Tim Kemple

If you'd like to see the amazing video that was produced during this expedition by Forge Media, check out the video below.

Mike Wilkinson's picture

Mike Wilkinson is an award-winning video director with his company Wilkinson Visual, currently based out of Lexington, Kentucky. Mike has been working in production for over 10 years as a shooter, editor, and producer. His passion lies in outdoor adventures, documentary filmmaking, photography, and locally-sourced food and beer.

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Hey, if anyone wanna donate a Phase One - just let me know!

Tim Kemple is a great photographer and by all accounts a fantastic person. I thought it was super cool he was taking what I considered to be a risk with some expensive gear.

This makes me want to dust of the kayak and get out with the camera.

incredible work.

Thrilling and inspiring.