When I realized what made the crunching sound under the BF Goodrich tread of my truck tire, I felt like I had just run over my dog. At the Dead Mans boat ramp on the Salmon River near Challis Idaho in a hustle and a hurry, I backed over the video camera that helped me get where I am today. Not by any means considered new, high-end, or cutting edge, the well worn Canon XH-A1 was a pretty bare bones HD camera rig. But to me it was always more capable as a camera than I am as a photographer. It was sturdy and forgiving to use in the mountains and on the river, and on several occasions produced what I considered really nice images.
The camera rig had been an absolute workhorse for me in the 3 years that I had been shooting with it. Even before the camera ended up in my hands via a trade out with Doug Powell & Chris Keig of the Fly Fishing Film Tour and Bill Farnum of Casting 4 A Cure, it was a well-traveled veteran of fishing film craft. One of the original cameras of Thad Robinson and the now defunct AEG crew, it had been to NZ, Iceland, Patagonia and BC producing 3 major films for the Troutbums. So fresh off the job, when it arrived at my door and I unpacked it from the beat up and sticker-covered Pelican case, I found raw video footage from Metalhead still in the mini DV deck.
As the main tool of fishbite media, we recorded events from C4C Steamboat and Victor, trout and steelhead promos on the Deschutes for Fly & Field as well as Deschutes River Outfitters, North Umpqua Winter Steelhead for DRO, Summer Steelhead/Mountian Bike cross over film featuring Team Giant Cycles Pro Carl Decker (un-released and still in production) and most recently the award winning SCO production Doc Of The Drakes.
I consider myself an amateur/student when it comes to technical skill behind a camera. But with a great host of available manual adjustments, I learned a ton about videography working with this camera. From setting white balance and color gain, to manual exposures adjusting the shutter stops and iris ring, I learned like the slow kid in the back of the class. Slowly and gradually, one year at a time.
The last events the trusty A1 captured were gorgeous. SCO veteran guide Skooter Gardiner was hosting Robert and Linda, a wonderful couple who travel the globe together stalking trout. We were just pulling Skooter’s stunning wooded drift boat from the water, and I scrambled around filming the closing shots of our float. After the crunch we rolled back to the Sawtooth Hotel in beautiful Stanley and enjoyed the finest pizza I’ve ever had. One camera lighter I headed home, shaking my head with disgust. Upward and onward from here, with extra care backing up!