I recently spent a week on Lac Seul in northwestern Ontario walleye fishing with my father-in-law and some friends. When compared to the sorts of places in which I have spent most of my life, Lac Seul is notable for having visible stars at night, total freedom from wired or wireless communication networks, and an extremely favorable walleye-to-human ratio. It is also quite photogenic.
Click on any image for details, coordinates, and larger versions, or click here to see all of my published images from Lac Seul (sixteen public images, with more if you’re one of my flickr contacts). I have included notes on equipment (for photo nerds planning similar trips) after the jump.
Notes for photographers
There were a lot of fun challenges surrounding photographing this trip. Usually when I’m going out to take pictures, I can choose two or three lenses to shoot with for a couple of hours, but I needed to bring with everything I thought I might need for a week. I also am typically near a computer shortly after shooting and can check focus and exposure on a large screen. Since I didn’t bring a computer along, my experience was much closer to shooting film.
I brought two zooms (a 10-22 and a 70-200), fast normal and telephoto primes, and a macro lens. (The latter is my go-to lens for photographing my kids these days, and I thought I might find some interesting textures to shoot. I wound up not using the macro lens or the tele prime at all.) Although I usually prefer using prime lenses, I shot with the two zooms almost exclusively. Partially this was a matter of where I could get interesting focal lengths, but it was very convenient to not have to drop my tackle to switch lenses on the boat.
If you’re packing photo gear for a similar trip, note that the two focal length ranges I brought along might not be the most versatile. In particular, 70mm on a crop sensor is probably too long to shoot a portrait of a boatmate, but 200mm isn’t long enough to fill the frame with a shy animal. (Fortunately, we encountered some quite brazen eagles.) The 10-22 is capable of extremely dramatic images, but most of its range is not useful for conventional portraits or the sorts of landscape pictures you’re likely to get from a boat. (It will capture a great deal of the starry night sky, though!)
I never felt like I couldn’t get a shot that I wanted because of my equipment, but if I had an unlimited budget and could only pack two lenses, I’d bring a slightly-wide to slightly-telephoto zoom (like a 24-70) for people, and a very long zoom like a 100-400 for wildlife. Either of these will also work well for certain kinds of landscape shots.
Bags and other equipment
Typically when I’m shooting close to home, I carry my gear in a Lowepro Slingshot that Andrea got me for our anniversary a couple of years ago. This is an excellent bag. It is convenient, comfortable, and well-organized, and it has one of the best user interfaces I’ve ever seen in a bag of any kind. Unfortunately, it won’t accommodate lenses much larger than the Canon 10-22 or 135/2.8.
Instead of carrying my Slingshot and a separate case for my zoom, which is possible but unwieldy, I brought a Lowepro Flipside backpack. The Flipside is a backpack that opens on the panel facing the wearer’s back. I suspect it is harder to lose gear from it as a result. I packed a camera with a long zoom, a pair of speedlites, accessories, and four other lenses and had room to spare. The Flipside also has a tripod holder that does an adequate but unremarkable job of hanging on to my small Manfrotto tripod.
I also brought along a Seal Line Baja 30 dry bag. This bag is just large enough so that the Flipside could fit snugly inside sans tripod. Fortunately, we had great weather almost every day and I never had to see how quickly I could isolate my gear.
Finally, this trip was the most hostile environment yet for my Luma Loop. This clever strap absolutely lives up to its considerable hype. If you ever use heavy lenses or need to have a camera accessible when you aren’t just taking pictures, you should check it out.