Nature Photography on the UNESCO Rideau Canal

Capture the beauty of the Rideau Canal like a photographic pro with insight and tips from photographer, Simon Lunn

Wildlife and landscape photographer, Simon Lunn, is no stranger to finding the best spots from which to capture Canada’s natural beauty; this Parks Canada biologist has been working with – and photographing – protected natural and historic landscapes throughout Canada for more than 30 years. From the Rocky Mountains and Maritimes to the Rideau Canal, Lunn has had no shortage of stunning subjects at hand to inspire his photographic interest. 

“I’ve worked for Parks Canada for my whole career, and it’s hard to hold back from photography when you’re working in some of Canada’s most beautiful environments,” Lunn said, “The Rideau Canal specifically is incredible to photograph, it’s got a little bit of everything – scenery, trails, wildlife, living history and more.”

It seems the rest of the world agrees with Lunn.

The beauty of the Rideau Waterway has made it one of the most sought-after tourist destinations in Canada, and in 2007 waterway was named a UNESCO World Heritage site. In 2018, Le Boat, set up its North American headquarters in Smiths Falls, the heart of the Rideau. 

With settings that range from urban to rural and pristine natural environments, the Rideau can be a photographer’s dream destination. It is a unique spot that offers fantastic photographic opportunities at every turn. 

“On the Rideau there are so many different shots you can take, whether you’re looking to photograph natural or urban locations you can do it all in one visit on the Rideau Canal,” Lunn explained. “It can be whatever you want it to be.”


Capture the best sunset shots

Sunset on the UNESCO Rideau CanalWhen it comes to capturing the best sunsets on the Rideau Canal, Lunn heads to Bascule Bridge, the oldest surviving rolling lift bridge in Canada, and a national historic site located in Smiths Falls. Lunn explained that one of the first photos he took of the Rideau with a digital camera was of the Bascule Bridge under the northern lights at night, and that the raised bridge also makes the perfect foreground for taking sunsets shots. 

From Bascule Bridge, you can see into the nearby swale, a marsh which is teeming with wildlife, including birds like the osprey (a fish hawk), bald eagle, wood duck and pied-billed grebe. It’s Lunn’s go-to-spot in the heart of the Rideau for amazing sunset shots without a long hike! 

Capture the stunning sunrise

Stunning photograph taken on the Rideau CanalAsk any photographer and they’ll tell you that getting up early to catch a sunrise will be well worth a little lost sleep. The lighting at sunrise offers interesting lighting situations that have the potential to create dramatic photos. Lunn acknowledged that getting out the camera and heading outside to discover such photographic opportunities on the Rideau Canal is even easier for Le Boat customers, who don’t have to make the drive to reach the Rideau Canal, it’s right outside their front door! 

Lunn’s suggestions include trying to capture sunbeams in the mist; the profile of a heron or person fishing from a dock or below a lockstation’s spillwater dam; a dew-covered spider’s web, or a sunrise of soft colours reflected in the clouds above and water below. His favourite sunrise spots include Clowes, Edmunds and Kilmarnock Locks, and Beveridges Bay viewed from the lakeshore below Lower Beveridges Lock. The village of Westport, where the docks sit amid a particularly beautiful setting is a great spot to capture birds silhouetted against a rising sun in the mist, and charming small-town scenery.


Capture the best wildlife and scenery

bird splashCapturing an eagle in full flight, a loon yodelling at sunset, or an otter playing at the river’s edge can be a magical experience, and a photographer’s dream. Lunn’s favourite stretch of the Rideau Waterway for capturing wildlife and scenery runs between Newboro and Jones Falls, where there’s plenty of natural shoreline and smaller lakes with remote islands where wildlife can be found. 

When on the water, keep your eyes open for loons, herons, osprey, mergansers, as well as turtles, and deer, mink, otters, and racoons along shorelines. One of Lunn’s favourite ways of getting closer to wildlife is by kayaking into the marshes and wetlands, or close to the shoreline. Le Boat customers can rent a kayak from Le Boat to get a different perspective on the shoreline, but be careful with camera equipment, a dry bag can protect your camera from an unexpected spill. 

For a good osprey shot at roughly eye level, Lunn suggests standing on the bridge just above Lower Beveridges Lockstation, where you’ll have a good chance in early summer of catching an adult osprey with young in its nest atop a tall hydro pole. A camera with a telephoto lens capability is required. 


The prettiest spot(s) on the Rideau

Autumn leavesFor a one-two-three picturesque trifecta, Lunn recommends making a stop at Jones Falls, Chaffeys and/or Davis, three of the prettiest lockstations on the Rideau Waterway. Next door to the historic Hotel Kenney, Jones Falls has a blacksmith shop, several impressive deep locks, an historic lockmaster’s house, a trail around the turning basin and a dramatic 60’ stone arch dam, the highest in North America when constructed in 1831. 

Chaffeys adds quaint boathouses, a local museum, an old mill and the recently renovated and historic Opinicon Hotel, while Davis has a short trail, is small, laid back and sits in a picturesque natural setting. These locations have Lunn’s vote due to how scenic the areas are, especially draped in autumn colours (late September/early October), and how easy it is to get stunning shots no matter what time of day you happen by.


A peek inside Lunn’s camera bag

Camera equipmentGetting a sneak peek inside a photographer’s camera bag can give you a perspective on what they consider to be essentials to capture the best shots. Lunn explained that one of the best investments a photographer can make is in his/her camera bag, and recommends a backpack bag rather than a shoulder bag. The backpack will leave your hands free, and make carrying heavy equipment a lighter burden to bear. 

For most work, especially when travelling, Lunn likes to carry a compact or bridge camera (non-DSLR) with its 1” sensor and a 24-600mm lens that takes the place of wide-angle, macro, standard and long-range telephoto lenses, all combined into one good quality built-in lens. He stressed that there are many good quality compact cameras with a less fancy lens that still make a great and lightweight travelling companion (photographically-speaking). 

In his camera bag (shown here) he also packs a

  • DSLR for more professional work and as a back-up,
  • with a standard 18-55 mm zoom kit lens,
  • a wide angle 10-22 mm lens,
  • a 100-400 mm telephoto lens
  • and sometimes a 60mm macro lens.

Lunn also carries an extra battery or two (fully charged), extra memory card(s), snacks, lens cleaners and bug spray.


Lunn’s Tips for Photographic Success

  • Try to enjoy the moment, without always reaching for your camera.
  • Always carry an extra memory card, but don’t necessarily purchase the largest size memory card you can find, the more photos on the card the more risk if the card gets damaged.
  • Purchase quality photographic equipment from a knowledgeable seller, and try it out first to make sure it’s comfortable for you.
  • Pay attention to lighting; the best time of day to get high quality photos is early morning, no later than 9 a.m. or 10 a.m. Evening lighting is a warm, buttery light that can also create interesting shots. Light cloud cover can help saturate colours and reduce contrast.
  • When getting close to wildlife, never rush, and be aware of your surroundings and potential hazards like uneven or slippery ground, other people, boats and road traffic. 
  • If you have to get closer, take photos first from a distance and then move slowly forward at an angle to your wildlife subject. If the animal begins acting aggressively or nervously, back off.
  • For wildlife that is moving, instead of using your camera’s auto setting, try using sports mode or Speed Priority, set to a minimum of 1/500 seconds or faster. You can also manually increase your camera’s ISO setting; just don’t forget to turn the settings back to normal afterwards!
  • Resist the urge to use the digital zoom range that many compact cameras provide for extra telephoto. Instead, stick with the optical zoom range and crop or enlarge your image later on your computer.
  • To increase the impact of a sunset shot, try using the camera’s sunset setting (if it has one), or intentionally underexpose your photo.
  • As a general rule, try to keep the sun behind you so that it lights up the front of your subject. 

Le Boat's Top Photo Aps for travel

Here are Le Boat's top picks for best photo Apps.  We have done the research so you don’t have too! Some of these we have used personally and others come highly recommended by top travel bloggers, photography magazine and friends show are very good “armature” photographers. I do have a great semi pro– DSLR, but always surprised at the quality of photos I get from using my phone and tweeking the images a bit with simple to use apps.  Sure we all love our DSLR cameras, but I do love how easy it is to travel with my phone in my pocket and that it is always with me for those unexpected moments that happen when travelling.        




Worth the $1.99 Charge for professional quality photos from your Iphone. Though do keep in mind that it does take three photos of the same image –so you need a steady hand, and people in the photo who can stay still for 3-5 seconds. It's particularly great for landscapes.

I also find that it is good if you have something to lean the phone against vs hand holding for that super sharp image.       


Thanks to Pro HDR, you no longer have to choose between a blown-out sky or a hopelessly dark foreground. Bringing automatic high dynamic range photography to your iPhone for the first time ever, Pro HDR captures an image exposed for the highlights and another exposed for the shadows. It then aligns and merges the images, giving you a gorgeous HDR image at native resolution (up to 12 megapixels) like nothing you've ever seen from such a tiny device.




Snap Seed



This App comes highly recommended by those who love using INSTAGRAM. Snapseed is a complete and professional photo editor developed by Google.


• 29 Tools and Filters, including: Healing, Brush, Structure, HDR, Perspective (see list below)
• Opens JPG and RAW files
• Save your personal looks and apply them to new photos later
• Selective filter brush
• All styles can be tweaked with fine, precise control



NightCap Camera



nightcap camera

I think we have all have been the position of having the most beautiful night skyline but can’t seem to take a good photo of it with your phone.  Well, this app may be the solution. It is toted as the “the ultimate low light photo, video and time lapse camera with AI assistant for easier shooting,

Here Is the app description from the Apple Store:   Do you find your photos and videos dark and grainy in low light? NightCap will help by unlocking the full potential of your iPhone or iPad's camera. AI camera control makes it easy by automatically setting optimum focus and exposure for a brighter, clearer shot. All you need to do is hold steady and tap the shutter. If you prefer manual control then instant gesture based adjustment is always available, and special camera modes give you DSLR like results. Shoot photos, videos and time lapse in black and white if you.

There is a cost of $2.99 for this app but has been featured in may photography magazine and names a best app by Apple    


Adobe Light Room



This app came up on many top travel blogger website as the best editing app to use for your travel photos.  If you are an avid home photographer you may already be familiar with Light Room as your go to editing software--- well now you can download it on your phone and professional edit your photos on the go!  Plus, its FREE and features easy to use “sliders” to edit the exploure, colour, highlight etc. and also have some pre-set options to choose from if you want some quick adjustments.    


Lightroom help you create beautiful photos and makes you a better photographer (through editing & small adjustments) .