Capturing Canada’s Beauty
Zach Baranowski, Torontonian and professional photographer, is living his dream of taking photos full time. He took to photography at a young age, and adopted an enthusiasm for the outdoors around the same time. His two loves combine to become his livelihood. We see Zach’s passion for adventure as he explores our Canadian backyard in his photographs.
Recently, Go RVing sent Zach and his girlfriend on his first cross-Canada road trip in a Ford F350 camper conversion truck. The couple set out on the 27-day trek on April 20, and returned on May 16, 2017. His only goal was to soak in the beauty of Canada and capture his favourite moments with his camera. He travelled from the coast of Newfoundland, through Ontario’s Algonquin Park, slept beside the hoodoos in the badlands of Alberta, and landed on the West Coast.
Now that he is settled back at home, and has rested and reflected after his adventure, we get to revisit the moments he captured. We sat down with Zach to hear the story that reads alongside his images.
How did you get into photography?
I have been shooting photos for as long as I can remember. Ever since I was a kid with my first Polaroid camera, I have been taking photos of everything around me. In 2010, I bought my first DSLR camera. I began to shoot more and think more creatively. A few years ago, I started shooting professionally taking on new clients with hopes of becoming a full-time photographer.
Why did you choose to focus on landscape and nature photography?
I shoot a variety of types of photography including sports, portraits, and other commercial photography. However, I prefer to shoot landscape, nature, and adventure photography. I like to shoot these things because I have a passion for adventure and the natural world. I am drawn to explore what this world has to offer—its endless wonders.
What inspired you to embark on a cross-Canada road trip?
I’ve always wanted to explore more of Canada. I’ve seen so much of its beauty in photos and through stories from friends, but until now had seen very little of it myself. Before this trip I had only visited half of the provinces, but now that I have visited them all I am wanting to see each one more in depth. I also want to push further North to the Territories.
Was this your first cross-country trip?
I have been on many road trips before, but nothing quite to this extent or across the country.
What were you most looking forward to before heading out?
The two provinces I was most looking forward to were Alberta and Newfoundland. They both offer such dramatic landscapes and I had never seen them before. However, I was also looking forward to the unknown: the places, experiences, and adventures that awaited us around every corner.
What type of camera do you use?
I shoot primarily with a Canon 5D Mkii, but also use a Canon 7D as a backup camera and for shooting high speed photography.
When photographing Canada’s landscape, it’s difficult to create an image that matches the details our eyes see in the moment. Your photos capture these difficult details. How do you do it?
Over the years I’ve developed my shooting and editing style to try and show through my photos both what I saw and felt in the moment. I try to compose and edit my shot to give an understanding of what was occurring while the photo was captured. I want to make the viewer feel as if they were there as well.
Did you grow up camping? Tell us about a childhood memory of camping.
I grew up camping with my local boy scouts group, and multi-day canoe trips with summer camps. Over the last few years I’ve spent even more time outdoors and camping on trips that I have organized with friends.
I remember going on my first canoe trip. There was so much to plan the week before and I didn’t know what to expect. I was quite young, but I was already well experienced on a canoe—although I had never been on a portage before. I remember feeling proud of myself at the end of the trip. I had tried new things, pushed myself, and stepped out of my comfort zone. I was happy that I did.
What do you like most about camping?
I love being surrounded by the natural world and all its sounds. Especially deep in the wild where you are completely removed from the sounds of civilization and can connect with nature.
Where is your all-time favourite campsite?
For me, deep in the lakes and canoe routes of Algonquin Park is one of my favourite places to camp. The milky way at night, beautiful sunrises, vibrant sunsets, and vast silence create a very comforting feeling for me.
On the cross-country trip, camping in the badlands of Drumheller, Alberta, was also a favourite experience of mine. Being surrounded by and waking up to views of those unique landforms was something I’ll never forget.
What was your favourite spot—either to photograph or to camp—on your cross-Canada road trip?
Many spots throughout the trip, like the Rocky Mountains and the rainforests of British Columbia, left me amazed and longing for more.
A very special moment was when we arrived in Bonavista, Newfoundland. What we found blew our expectations away. We arrived on the coast just as the sun was setting to find the shore surrounded by ice and icebergs. The sunset cast beautiful colours on the sky and ice. We wished it could last forever. The sun set, so we had to call it quits for the day, but we were happy to experience such a beautiful moment that very few get to experience.
What are your top three must-pack items to bring on any adventure?
The bare minimum: my camera, a water bottle, and some good shoes are three things I always make sure I bring with me. Depending what the situation is, each adventure calls for its own list of gear to get through whatever it throws at you.
Did you face any challenges or learn any lessons on your road trip?
The weather was a big challenge on our trip. In most cases the RV was a great tool for getting us through these situations. If we didn’t have the RV we definitely would have had difficulties finding places to stay, especially since the summer season had not begun yet. Lots of hotels and places to stay were not operating yet.
No matter how much planning you put into something, things can and will go wrong. It’s just up to you to adapt to the situation.
What advice do you have for someone planning a cross-Canada trek?
Planning is very important with an adventure like this, especially if you have time constraints. The unexpected will happen, so always leave room in your time and budget to allow yourself to adapt to changes.
How do you find your wildhood when you don’t have time to plan major adventures? How do you find your wildhood close to home?
When I can’t plan a big adventure, I try and find new places to explore close to home, or revisit some of my favourite locations. Whether it’s a weekend road trip, a single day adventure, or a quick paddle around the lake, I love to explore new and old places. Adventures can happen at any time!
How are you celebrating Canada’s 150th?
I am celebrating Canadas 150th by exploring what this beautiful country has to offer and sharing my experiences with others. After this trip, I have now visited each of the ten provinces and I hope to spend some more time exploring some of them again. I also want to travel north to the Territories.
I think that Canadians should consider travelling in their own country and seeing what it has to offer before travelling overseas. We should see what we have in our own backyard.
No time to plan a cross-Canada road trip for yourself this summer? Live vicariously through Zach Baranowski’s photographs. Check out Zach’s cross-Canada photos at www.Canada150Photos.ca or on Instagram: @zbaranowskiphotography