Clearing my cameras for Canada

If all goes well, my three-day Canadian Pacific Holiday Train 2022 chase will begin with a stop or two in Quebec. One stop to photograph the Holiday Train as it passes over a bridge; one stop as it arrives at a town.

This would be my first trip to Canada in six years. I’ve already renewed my passport and updated my vaccinations. Even made sure my passport says “Chuck Miller” rather than the deadname of Charles.

But here’s the thing. I travel with an assortment of cameras. Some of them are inexpensive, some of them cost arms and legs. And if I bring them across an international border, I need to declare them at customs. This way, there’s no suggestion or implication that I’m trying to sell the cameras internationally, or that I bought them and tried to skirt any duties or taxes.

For this one trip, I narrowed my camera haul list to my two Nikon Df shooters (for stereoscopy) and my Nikon F2S (which still has a roll of Ektachrome EIR in it). All the other cameras can stay in America and I’ll pick them up for Days 2 and 3 of the train chase, where all the photos will take place in New York.

So for me, that means taking my cameras (along with the lenses) to a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol office. The customs officer looked over all three cameras, and we filled out a form that contained the cameras and their serial numbers (as well as the lenses’ serial numbers). Everything was itemized and detailed, and then Customs stamped the form.

Essentially, it’s a passport for my camera gear.

This is important. I’ve waited three years for this CP Holiday Train Chase. Three long years.

And the last thing I need on this trip is for anything to go wrong.

Believe me. It’s the LAST thing I want.

But all this takes preparation. Confirmation. Dedication. And communication.

And as I said before, I’m planning on using all my cameras in New York – Kodak Red, Raskolnikov, the Penatcon Six, the Rollei, all of them.

But for the first day … I need some color infrared shots, and I need some stereoscopy.

I know. I’m hyper-focused on this. I’m over-preparing. I’m even expecting the border guard to ask why I have a pink Nikon camera.

And honestly … there’s a reason why Nikon Athena has a pink hue.

I chose pink because I turned away from a more esoteric option. See, the company that produces custom camera leathers actually offers exotic animal skins as camera covers. I could have asked for snakeskin or alligator skin on this chassis. But because I knew that one day in the future I might want to travel overseas, I knew that some countries have prohibitions on the importation of certain reptile skins, and I didn’t want to run into THAT argument. Better safe than sorry.

Besides, how cool is a pink camera? Still plenty cool to me.

Only 16 / 17 / 18 days left.

Let’s make this happen.