Monday, October 22, 2012

Flying Shadow Paddlers

 Still water, a low sun and a flat vertical surface; perfect conditions for a double shadow, or shadow paddler.

Unlike a mere shadow,  shadow paddlers don't appear below you, but above.  They don't just have one head, but two, an upright head, and reflecting head below.  And there is no dark shade connecting you to a shadow paddler.

They are most easily spotted against a solid surface, a cliff or a wall, but can also be seen in the leaves of trees growing on the sides of rivers.

The top part of the double shadow comes from light reflecting up from the water which is blocked by your body.  The upside down shadow is light blocked by your body first, or, another way of describing it, your shadow's reflection.
This photo shows the light points creating shadows

Whatever the cause, it always seems magical to look up and see a shadow paddler beside me, paddling through the brush and over rocks.

Magical, and maddeningly difficult to capture on film.  By the time I notice conditions are right, the wake from my kayak is dissipating the  shadow paddler.  Wait for the water to still, and by then the sun has moved, or the wind picked up.

It's easier to see the double images in a video.  The video below was created from stills, so it is a bit choppy.

Have you had any luck capturing Double Kayak Shadows?


  1. Awesome! I love it. Never even knew about them. Wow... something to "shoot" for next year when we are back on the water!

    1. Good luck in your quest! Easier to see than to capture...