Guest post by W. Ashley Maddox
I had a chance to partner with an organization that offers motor rafting trips down the Grand Canyon. The Canyon, as they call it, is both wet, windy, rocky, and sandy. I learned a few things while being on this trip and what worked and what didn’t.
One thing that surprised me was my use of zoom lenses. I did bring down some prime lenses but changing lenses in the back of a raft proved to be tricky. So I stuck with 3 zooms. The Canon 17-55mm offers a great wide angle and also gives a great bokah at 55mm for close ups and reaction shots. The Tokina 11-16mm was perfect for capturing those giant canyon walls. At that wide an angle it also really emphasized the speed of the boat traveling down the river. The Canon 70-200mm was perfect for capturing the second boat and for jumping on shore and filming the boats going through the rapids. Both the Canons have image stabilization which was great on a boat where there was no place for a tripod.
I originally bought an underwater bag for my main camera (FS100) but it didn’t fit correctly. So I use a bag that I already had with the Sony NEX-6 and a 10-18mm Sony lens with Optical Stabilization. I found that under the hot sun the bag created this greenhouse effect and made the camera extremely hot. So I took a small cloth and wet it in the cool river. I would store the bag and camera under the wet cool cloth when not in use keeping it cool. I would also place the wet cold cloth on top of the pelican case that I stored my main camera in. That brings me to another great tool. The waterproof pelican case. This case was key to keeping my camera, a Sony FS100, and lenses dry during the rapids. I had coordinated with the guide of the trip to let me know when there would be rapids. I would then store the FS100 in the case and use the NEX-6 in a waterproof bag during the splashy parts.
On hikes I would use a Think Tank speed belt to keep a lapel mic, small reflector, and a couple lenses in. I landed on carrying the 11-16mm for its amazing wide angle and the Canon 100mmIS incase I needed a zoom. It is lighter than the 70-200mm which kept me agile enough to hike ahead of the group. Kyle would usually carry the Satchler tripod and the NEX-6 in its underwater bag. I could of brought a smaller lighter tripod but the smooth pans and tilt of the Satchler proved to be worth the extra effort.
I think the main idea is to keep it simple. Most of the places were impossible to scout. So having a few zooms available gave me a great range to catch what needed to be filmed. At the end of the day I would pack lighter and leave the prime lenses and the slider at home.
Things to bring:
Canned Air – Get the dust and sand out of your gear
Rain-X – Does a fair job at repelling the water droplets and apply often.
Small Cloth – For wetting down and cooling off cases and underwater gear.
Pelican Type of Case – For strapping to the boat and keeping your gear dry during the rapids.
Watch the video here: https://vimeo.com/67966435