This tip is for the Camera Club assignment on summer retreats.
With the long weekend upon us, thoughts for many will turn to taking canoes out of storage and planning for trips local and afar.
Whether you're paddling on a local river or taking an interior canoe trip in a provincial park, chances are your camera will be nearby to capture friends and family on their water-bound adventures. Wildlife is also a favourite subject for paddlers and can often be found during canoe trips.
When I began solo tripping in Algonquin, I started by bringing everything photographic except the kitchen sink, which made for long carries over the portages. I wasn't bringing the gear for specific shots, but more for those "just in case" scenarios. I've since distilled what I bring on trips to a single SLR body and two lenses: usually a wide angle zoom (24-50) and a short telephoto zoom (75-150). This will fit nicely into a Pelican waterproof case.
I tend to fall back on wide angles if I see a wonderful scenic photograph like a sunrise, sunset, waterfall or rapids. Wide angles will often give you very dramatic photographs if you take care to frame your foreground and background elements.
I've had good fortune on some trips with a 300mm telephoto lens, coming across moose feeding in the water. More often than not, these moose will ignore me after a cursory look to see if I pose any threat and proceed to get back to eating water lilies.
Aside from the SLR camera, I also carry a small point-and-shoot for quick shots, which also goes in a small waterproof case while on the water. These cameras are great for quick photos of your friends getting in or out of their canoe or perhaps a picture of someone landing a big fish just before releasing it back to the water. It's a very versatile camera to have.
One option I'm considering for future trips is one of the current waterproof point-and-shoot cameras available from the major manufacturers. As well as being waterproof, the casing is usually drop-proof so it can take a tumble on the dock or shore as you get in and out of the canoe. They're also perfect for use in sandy environments like beaches. No harm, no foul, and the camera keeps ticking. Stick the camera in your PFD pocket and it's always ready.
There are various ways to keep your gear safe while paddling and Pelican cases tend to be the go-to for camera safety. Keep in mind that gear stored in these cases aren't immediately accessible so you may lose a photo because of this. Pelican type cases come with pick-and-pluck foam so you can customize your case to specific gear which has the benefit of keeping it from rattling around inside. They're available in a number of sizes from small, about the size of a paperback book, to huge suitcase-sized models that could conceivably carry the kitchen sink.
Make sure you have enough digital storage and fully-charged batteries as you head out to the cottage or campground. Do this and you're sure to come back with many memorable photos of your canoe trip.