Gallery: It’s in the Can
80's photography in the Grand Canyon
This story was featured in the March 2013 40th Anniversary issue.
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
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