The Man In The Kayak

If you’re like me, you’d love to spend more time in Nature.

But who has the time?

Tomasz Furmanek has the time.  And we’re grateful he does, because the photographs he produces from the seat of his sea kayak are nothing short of jaw-dropping.

Tomasz is a Norwegian IT professional, kayaker and photographer who is calling us back to Nature with every perfectly-composed shot.

I came across Tomasz’s work on Tumblr, but quickly tracked down his Instagram, where I’d recommend you follow him, as his photos just keep getting better.

The work is nothing short of stunning. The composition and balance are surreal. The light he captures looks almost computer-generated:

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As soon as I saw those photos, I had to know more about this man, his lifestyle, and how he came to capture such beautiful photos.

So I dialed him up for a virtual interview. The results are below.

FG: How did you learn to take such beautiful photos?
I have been working with image analysis and photography related to microscopes for many years. This gives me the technical foundation for understanding how to get a good technical photo in relation to the light conditions. But these days most cameras have good automatic settings, making it possible to focus more on composition. Posting photos on instagram is a good way of getting feedback and evolving as a photographer.

FG: What got you started in sea kayaking?
I started freediving and harpoon hunting 15 years ago. About 10 years ago I bought my first kayak to access diving spots further away from the road. Lately I have spent much more time kayaking compared to diving.

I believe that to gain experience and develop spiritually and mentally, we have to seek situations that involve some risk and uncertainty.Tomasz Furmanek

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FG: Why do you think your photos have been so popular?
My aim is to capture the balance and harmony that I experience while kayaking in nature. The aim of the point of view photos is to transport the viewer into the scene, and create a wish to experience nature from a kayak seat. The captured scenes are calm and balanced, and I usually show locations where it is possible for most people to go kayaking.

FG: What would you say to a man who is stuck indoors all the time, and longs to get outdoors more?
It is very important to go outdoors and experience nature. In addition to having a physical health benefit, experiences in nature have a positive effect on our mental and spiritual development. Even though some people may feel they do not have the time to explore the outdoors, I think it is wise to invest some time in experiences like this.

Anything that is worth pursuing is going to require us to suffer, just a little bit.Chris Burkard

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FG: Where would be your dream kayaking trip if you could go anywhere in the world?
I prefer to go to remote places and like to travel alone. The reason is that I get a higher level of focus when I know that I am alone in nature and have to depend on my own skills and strength. Greenland and Patagonia are two of the locations where I would like to go with a kayak. I believe that to gain experience and develop spiritually and mentally, we have to seek situations that involve some risk and uncertainty. I like to quote the surf photographer Chris Burkard who said in his recent TED talk: “Anything that is worth pursuing is going to require us to suffer, just a little bit.”

FG: Do you feel that IT workers — as a group — generally spend too much time indoors, or do you feel there is good balance?

A lot of people in the IT industry spend a lot of time indoors. We spend a lot of time doing things that our bodies are not genetically wired to do, like sitting in an office for long periods of time. Having a more active life filled with experiences in nature can have a positive effect on our creativity and productiveness. In the long term we gain a lot of positive effects from the time we invest in outdoor experiences.

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FG: Tell us about a typical trip — how long are you traveling, how much distance do you cover, how many hours are you in the water, etc?  

During the week I kayak about 2 times after work for about 2-3 hours, covering distances of about 10-15 km. In the weekends I usually paddle the fjords or by the coast and can cover 30 -40 km a day.

FG: What is your best wildlife story from these trips?
My best wildlife experience is a 4 day kayaking trip on the western coast of Lofoten Islands in Norway that I did last year with a friend. We were kayaking in exposed waters with tidal currents, high cliffs and little access to drinking water.

I get a higher level of focus when I know that I am alone in nature and have to depend on my own skills and strength. Tomasz Furmanek

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Is this experience on your to-do list? You can go to Lofoten yourself with Tomasz.

For venturing out into Nature and bringing back such inspiring images of its’ glory, Tomasz is truly an everyday hero.

I want to extend deepest gratitude to Tomasz for sharing his experiences through such a beautiful visual medium, and for reminding us of the possibility of a life that consists of such close connection to Nature.

Life is short. Most of us are focused too narrowly on making money, or making “it”, or somehow measuring up to some subjective standard we’ve set for ourselves.

What would happen if we set aside our troubles for a moment to get in a kayak and experience Lofoten? Or even somewhere closer to home.

We’d experience the stillness and beauty that is Nature, and maybe, just maybe, we’d find the space that is in ourselves — the deathless peace that contains everything that has always been our true home.

Humans aren’t meant to sit inside, in plastic cubicles, in front of plastic boxes all the time. We’re meant for the open plain and the open water and the salt spray and the sun’s rays.

Let’s go home.

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Also published on Medium.

5 Comments The Man In The Kayak

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  4. Jane

    These photographs are absolutely stunning – especially the one with the large cruise ship on the left and the last image with all the greenery. When I see these images I just want to dive into the water, I think I’d find staying on a kayak frustrating! I love the fact that Tomasz has taken the time to give an interview. I completely agree that we all spend too much time indoors feeling safe – it’s vital to get out there and experience the thrill and risk of being one with nature. Brilliant post!

    Reply
    1. Drew

      Thanks Jane! I felt the same way about the photos honestly. The water is so mirror-smooth and still…how can you NOT want to dive into it?? Thanks for the comment!

      Reply

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