“People don’t realize there are still areas where there’s no civilization at all,” says Brad Beaver. Brad’s a professional photographer specializing in wildlife and nature photography. In particular, he’s capturing the “unseen America” — the hidden, remote, pristine areas many miles from civilization.
Documenting natural areas most people will never see
“My photography is all about capturing beautiful scenery most people will never see unless they backpack deep into the wilderness,” says Brad. And there’s a lot to see out there as evidenced by Brad’s remarkable photos.
Living in Iowa, Brad’s documented the back woods beauty of many Western states. Little by little, he’s compiling a large coffee table book of photos of the natural splendor of America. “I want to photograph all 50 states,” says Brad. “That’s why I call my company ‘Zoom In America Photography.’” 14 states down, 36 to go.
A floating photo studio
How does a photographer get himself and all his camping gear, food, cameras, tripods, light meters, tons of photo equipment, and his dog, Laura, into the outback, many miles from the nearest road? Brad’s mode of transportation is his Sea Eagle FastTrack 465FT. Nearly 15 feet long, rated to carry nearly 800 lbs., his FastTrack holds everything he needs for extended water-based travel, camping, and photography in the great outdoors.
Brad recently visited the Arrowhead Region of Minnesota, about three hours or less north of Minneapolis, home of The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW), Voyageurs National Park, and nearby Canadian Quetico and La Verendrye Provincial Parks. Collectively, they’re called the “Quetico-Superior country,” or the Boundary Waters.
Where fur traders & explorers paddled birch bark canoes
Covering well over 1,000,000 square acres, the Boundary Waters is a deep, north woods wilderness of forest and lakes. Explorers, French-Canadian fur traders, and Indians paddled birch bark canoes through this area 200 years ago and Brad says it hasn’t changed much in all that time. “The only way to get back in there is by boat,” he says.
“Will I make it back to camp?”
Sea Eagle calls its FastTrack kayak a “performance kayak,” and Brad agrees, citing a recent Sea Eagle boating experience. “I was out on a remote lake and the wind started blowing 15 or 20 miles an hour in my face. The waves were crashing and I wondered if I’d ever get back to camp. But the FastTrack cut right through it like it was calm. It was incredible. It didn’t even bother my dog, Laura. She can get nervous in waves but she just sat there.”
The FastTrack is Brad’s second Sea Eagle. Fascinated by the Missouri River and Lewis and Clark’s explorations, Brad and a friend traveled and photographed 750 miles of the Missouri a few years ago in a Sea Eagle SE9. “The SE9 was great on a big river,” says Brad. “But I talked to the folks at Sea Eagle and we agreed that for backwoods exploring, the FastTrack is more nimble.”
“There are places in The Boundary Waters where I’d have to drag the FastTrack over rocks, snags, and even beaver dams,” says Brad. He dragged it, carried it on his shoulders, then discovered the FastTrack can be deflated, rolled up, and worn like a backpack. “I was very glad about that,” he says.
Much more wilderness to explore
What’s next for Brad? He and his Sea Eagle FastTrack will take a trip down the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway — 225 miles of pristine waterway coursing through a lush landscape down the Wisconsin-Minnesota border.