Shooting From Canoes And Kayaks; Gear, Prep, And Image Ideas Page 2

Most first time paddlers and many infrequent paddlers use an outfitter to rent a canoe/kayak and related equipment, and this is a great option. Most outfitters have several types of canoes and kayaks available and should be able to help you choose the right one, depending on how much weight and bulk is being transported, whether or not there will be white water rapids, how much portaging the trip will include, etc. I have a 16.5-foot Wenonah made of Royalex, which is a durable, reasonably light, fiberglass-like material. The length is shorter than a "standard" canoe, which makes it easier to handle when going solo. The material is durable enough to run over rocks on low-flowing rivers and lighter than aluminum for portaging. Just like all equipment, choosing a canoe or kayak is a series of compromises, and what works best for one person might be a poor choice for someone else.

Kawishiwi River
Kawishiwi River, Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Superior National Forest, Minnesota. This is the area where I was photographing when it hit me how much more of nature can be explored and photographed by using a canoe or kayak. (Canon EOS-1Ds, Canon 28-70mm f/2.8 L lens, B+W polarizing filter, Gitzo tripod, f/22, 2 seconds.)

Planning a float trip on a lake or series of lakes is similar to planning a hiking trip, with the added convenience of loading pounds of supplies and camera gear in a boat rather than on my back! Keeping weight to a minimum is still necessary, however, especially if portages are involved.

Nina Moose Lake
Nina Moose Lake, Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Superior National Forest, Minnesota. This photo was taken from my campsite on the shore of Nina Moose Lake. Located approximately four hours of paddling and portaging from the entry point, Nina Moose Lake makes a good stopping place on the way to larger lakes farther north or as a beautiful destination itself. (Canon EOS-1Ds, Canon 28-70mm f/2.8 L lens, B+W polarizing filter, Gitzo tripod, f/18, 4 seconds.)

Planning a float trip on a river, on the other hand, can be considerably more complicated, since backtracking is usually not an option. Possibly the easiest solution is to work with a shuttle service or outfitter. The obvious advantage is the ease of getting back to the launch site parking area (or wherever your vehicle is). The problem is that these services aren't always available when a photographer might need them (e.g., 4:00am and 11:00pm), nor are they available everywhere. If a second vehicle and driver are available an easy option is to leave a vehicle at the exit point before the trip starts. I've also left a bike at the exit point, which would have worked better if the bike trail and the parking area would have been on the same side of the river.

Islands In Kabetogama Lake
Islands in Kabetogama Lake, Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota. While exploring the islands in this rather large lake, I came across several areas covered with brilliant orange lichen, and this one was my favorite. This area is only about an hour paddle from the entry point and several of the surrounding islands hosted campsites. (Canon EOS-1Ds, Canon 24mm f/2.8 tilt shift lens, B+W polarizing filter, Gitzo tripod, f/16, 1/4 sec.)

There are so many places I've found that can only be enjoyed and photographed with the aid of a canoe or kayak that my canoe has become one of my more important pieces of equipment. From sheer bluffs along a hidden stretch of river to the moon setting over a secluded lake, there's a whole world waiting to be explored while on the water.Transportation provided by a 16.5-foot Wenonah canoe for all photos.Clint Farlinger can be contacted via e-mail at or through his website,