UBC Camps International – Deep Cove Kayaking

UBC Camps International is an education and adventure camp for kids. Each participant gets to spend two weeks with UBC-led instructors on a variety of educational and outdoor activities spread out across Vancouver and the Lower Mainland.

We were invited to provide both photography and cinema for this project. All of July, we were shooting and producing ‘take home’ photo and film packages for the campers to share back home with family and friends. This was super exciting for all of us at Picture and Color Media because it meant telling new stories from a totally new perspective, through the eyes of campers!

Here is us joining the campers on their Deep Cove Kayaking adventure.

This shoot was epic. Not only for the technical results — which I’m extremely pleased with — but also for the way in which we achieved these spectacular stills and footage.

One of the main goals of this project is to obtain photo-journalistic style, action photos capturing 1.) emotions of the campers, 2.) the specific tasks of each adventure and 3.) the beauty of Vancouver and its surroundings. Most of the time, this meant getting in close with our gear and capturing the moments from the perspective of the campers and instructors. This wasn’t always easy to do because things happened extremely quickly, kids never slowed down and it was easy to miss a crucial moment.

On this particular shoot, the only way to do this was to get in close with action shots at eye level with the kayakers. This meant not shooting from above (say from a power boat) and not shooting from a long distance (say from the shore). I knew right away that I had to jump into a kayak.

With my Canon 5D Mark III, my 70-200mm F4L, and my Zacuto striker shoulder rig and Zacuto viewfinder, I had perhaps more than a few reservations about jumping on the front of a tandem Kayak with an unknown driver. After all… salt water does not go nicely with electronic equipment and in the event we tipped over I was all but out of luck. But this is Picture and Color Media, and we never let our apprehensions get in the way of our creativity!

Thankfully, I found my driver in one of the UBC Chaperones. His name is Cooper and he told me he is an expert kayaker. So off we went, excited about the possibilities!

In the end, his driving was awesome. He followed my instructions exactly, getting close and alongside and across the main group, when and where I needed it, giving me ample opportunities to snap away and roll film. I started with AF one shot mode on the 5D Mark III but quickly switched to AI Servo with additional AF points to cover a larger focusable area. Shooting often at full telephoto at 200mm at a moving object and sitting on a moving platform, it took all my energy to stabilize the shots and keep the subject in focus around the AF region. Thankfully, the Mark III delivered everything I needed and I got a lot of spectacular photos!

The Zacuto viewfinder was invaluable to help me both review my still shots and make it possible to shoot video. The LCD is all but invisible under the bright glare of the sun.

In the end, I returned to shore safe and sound and very happy about the footage collected. Here it is below.

Oh, and I mustn’t forget the pair of GoPro HDs which we hastily mounted on to the front of two kayaks to capture the emotions of the kayakers up close and personal. We love getting stories from different perspectives, and this one we were especially happy about taking the time to set up.

2nd stills camera shot by Faye Tong. Images processed by Patrick Lui. Video edited by me.

What an incredible day and what an inspiring project for all of us at Picture and Color.

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