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It's in the Can

This story featured in the March 2013 40th Anniversary issue.

Photo: Richard Hamilton Smith

It’s always tricky messing with the karma between a man and his boat, especially when asking to clamp a camera box onto his canoe before he runs a big drop in the Grand Canyon. Fortunately Bob Foote likes a challenge.

You might ask what’s the big deal. People put GoPros on boats all the time. Well, it was 1984. The 35-mm film camera was cradled inside a .50-cal ammo can, its lens pointing out a small window I’d cut into the steel and then covered in Plexiglas. When Bob triggered the remote switch, the motor drive went ZZZIP-ZIP until the entire film roll was exposed. One of those shots became the April 1985 cover of Canoe magazine, but Bob drew the line when I asked him to run Lava Falls with it. —Richard Hamilton Smith

Photo: Greg Von Doersten

Tyler Bradt and three friends captured the action inside the world’s biggest whitewater rapids with cameras about the size of a deck of cards. That footage was good enough for the award-winning film Congo: The Grand Inga Project, but in still photography, image quality is king. So when I got the chance to film Tyler and the boys training on the White Nile I used a professional DSLR in an Aqua Tech water housing. The rig weighs 8 lbs. and is similar to Richard Hamilton Smith’s ammo-box in one way: We both had to convince someone to strap it to their boat and charge giant whitewater. ­—Greg Von Doersten

Photo: Richard Hamilton Smith

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