Sometimes photography is luck, sometimes it is patience and planning, and sometimes it is ingenuity and problem solving.

While canoeing on the incredible Devils River in west Texas, I wanted to get a shot of still water with my canoe and the surrounding landscape.  I could shoot it from the unstable canoe with a high ISO and fast shutter speed, but I would also pick up all the litter ripples in the water moving.

I shots a few like that but I knew that was not what I wanted – I wanted no ripples, so I needed a long shutter speed and that was not possible shooting from a drifting canoe in a deep river. Hmmmm, what to do?

Then I saw a dark shadow in the water and paddled furiously up to it. Low and behold, it was a big boulder in the middle of the river that almost reached out of the water. I paddled out and carefully hopped onto it. The boulder was not quite high enough to beach the canoe and keep it perfectly still, so the canoe was still floating freely.  But I could now use my tripod for a long exposure! One problem solved.

Next problem, how to keep the canoe still during an exposure long enough to render still water? I looked around the big boulder until I found a crack and wedged my paddle into it to pin the canoe between me and the paddle. Problem two solved.

Final problem – getting the shot!  I figured I could probably get away with a ½ second exposure at f/16, so I set it up on my tripod and shot it again and again.  Of 20 images I shot at .5 seconds, three were tack sharp on the canoe (I focused on the left screw on the front gunnel).  All I need is one good image, so I call that SUCCESS!

Devils River Canoe

Canoe on Devils River above Dolan Falls, Devils River, Texas. Canon 1Ds Mark III. 16mm. ISO 160. f/16 @ ½ second. EV +1.