It’s a tradition now. Each year my wife and I head up to our friend’s cottage on the Canada Day long weekend, three and a half hours away from the noise and daily routine of Toronto to a small lake shared by two cottages. My friend Heather, the owner of what she calls Kamp Krusty, has pretty much left the land to take care of itself, but does boast a house boat perched on a hill playing the role of guest house.
Early in the morning, and I mean at 5:30am, the lake is still. Each morning there was a mist over the lake, practically a fog on our last day there. I would quietly make my way to the water and set up my tripod, taking photographs and then heading back to bed. One edge of the lake is covered with reeds with several openings and channels. My intention was to take the kayak and venture into these secluded areas to take photographs from a different angle. For a couple of days, the bugs, particularly the deer flies, kept me at bay, but by the third day, covered in “Off,” I pushed the kayak into the water and retrieved my camera from the dock and headed off for an early morning adventure.
There is something special about being alone on the lake early in the morning in the still water. Taking photographs from a kayak takes a little patience and care. First you get into position and then wait for the water to go still again. By then you have drifted out of position, so you learn to drift into the target location while the water calms down. This kayak was all open allowing me to rest the camera, securely around my neck, on my leg. Traditional kayaks offer a little more protection, but with the still water, there was little concern beyond swatting a fly too enthusiastically.
I used my 24 – 120mm zoom – I have no intention of trying to change lenses while adrift. I can hear the kerplunk even as a write and it makes me shudder. The lighting was good and allowed me to use an aperture for some decent depth of field. I’ve been out later in the day and the dynamic range overwhelms the camera fairly quickly, so being early not only brings nice lighting, but is more manageable.
While I come back lumpy from bites, often a little too red from the sun, hauling a huge bag of empty beer and wine bottles, I always come back more refreshed and relaxed. And yes, with a picture or two.