Kenduskeag Stream Canoe Race

Occupational Hazards

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Camera rig by the side of a stream - photo by Michael Alden
















So I had a good time at the Souadabscook Stream Canoe Race today, snapping photos of all the paddlers who had a rather tough time negotiating a tricky (but fun) set of rapids.

There's always an element of risk involved whenever a photographer brings expensive camera gear close to a body of water. A paddler cruised by and carelessly threw a gallon or more of water all over me and my camera rig while bailing his canoe. As a result, my 300mm telephoto lens isn't working, and it will have to be sent to Nikon for repairs.

(The photo above is of my actual camera rig by the stream - I took this snapshot just minutes before being completely doused.)

It was a honest mistake, of course. The paddler didn't even see me and so he has no idea that he totally ruined my day. And I should have placed some sort of protection over my lens to make it a bit more waterproof. I know better, but oh well. Live and learn.

By the way, check out my website for Maine whitewater races, MaineCanoeRaces.com, and you'll find photo galleries from these whitewater events leading up to the Kenduskeag!

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What NOT To Bring?

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As a general rule of thumb, it's a good idea to leave behind anything you can't afford to lose if you're doing the race. Actually, I think this applies to boating in general.

Car keys and wallets are a biggie. Might want to leave those with a friend or someone you can trust ahead of the race for pickup later. Replacing the contents of your wallet is a mega-bummer. I've been there. And car keys? Well...how will you get home? Oh, a taxi. Great, but if you've also lost your wallet, you can't pay for one.

Cell phones and cameras are items many boaters like to bring along with them (myself included!) but if you don't need them, don't bring them. I know, you're probably going to bring them along anyway. Let's be practical about this!

If you must bring them you can at least take a few precautions. I use Pelican hard shell cases (see photo above) for cell phones and small digital cameras. They're great! Waterproof down to several feet and you have that hard plastic shell with the sponge foam lining inside for extra padding. Do I sound like an ad here? Sorry. It's just that I really like these things. I've seen them in various sporting goods stores.

Cost is between $12 and $30 depending on how large a case you buy, but it's worth it considering you often have hundreds of dollars invested in your electronics. There are cheaper solutions. Mini dry bags, for example, run about $10 a pop. They don't offer the same protection from bumps and bruises, but they are waterproof - or at least water resistant - and that might be all you need. Then there's the good ol' Ziploc bag. Well, it might work. Good luck with that...

Keep in mind, there's an odd chance you can lose your expensive goods whether they are protected or not! So that takes us back to the general rule of thumb: if you can't afford to lose it, don't bring it along in the first place.

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