Newsletter #199: June, 2022
© Chris Harris. All rights reserved.
Celebrating my 17th year writing this Photographic Newsletter!
Happy Canada Day weekend!
My June Newsletter is delayed by a few days due to computer repairs and a ten-day trip to Bella Coola; exploring photographic expression and teaching a 6-day workshop. To be honest, I have enjoyed its absence, but today, 3 weeks later, I am happy to be back writing my Newsletter and sharing my photographic adventures and discoveries.
Over the decades, our cameras have technologically changed, yet when I think about it, how we express our feelings, thoughts, ideas, and memories, using our cameras, have remained relatively unchanged.
Canoe Moonscape, above, was made using film while paddling the Bowron Lakes over 30 years ago. I have paddled over 15,000 kms on these lakes; I know this landscape intimately and my feelings run deep there. Having a strong desire to share those feelings, I often made solo trips with the sole purpose of making images that communicated my strong connection to place.
This expression comprises two exposures made at two moments in time, three months apart; I waited three months for a clear night with a full moon to make the second exposure. Making these images required mathematical calculations, pre-visualization, and extreme dedication to one’s craft. If the result was unsuccessful, it might take several years to get back there under similar conditions. It would be much easier to make this image today.
Forest Trail is also an image made on the Bowron Lakes canoe circuit. I tried to make this image one year and failed. The next year I was better prepared.
This photograph required pre-visualization months in advance of reaching the capture location. It also required considerable calculations to figure the exposure settings and reciprocity failure to blend a total of 16 exposures correctly. With my present camera, I could make this image in seconds, and if unsuccessful, I could spend an extra few minutes until I got it right.
These two images have been best-sellers at the Gallery for years, and I feel that is because they convey the almost spiritual connection between who I am and the place I was in. It is like a reflection of the meaning behind the expression.
The Tony O’Malley Studio, 2021
As previously mentioned, our present-day cameras have provided us with a sophisticated tool with a multiplicity of options by which to express ourselves. On the one hand, these tools and options have made expressive photography easier than ever before. On the other hand, the over abundance of options can lead to despair.
So, how do I express myself photographically?
Especially here at my Gallery, visitors often ask, “how do you make images like these if you don’t use post-production methods to create them?” As I sometimes explain, I consider four things:
Perspective (what lens to use, and what position I choose in relation to my subject).
Exposure Triangle (I make the creative decision of what shutter-speed, aperture, and ISO settings to use).
Camera movement, or not (photographers have expressed themselves through camera movement since the beginning of photography. Recently, the concept has been branded as ICM, and photographers suddenly want to learn how to do it as if it’s something new. It’s as old as the hills!).
How many subjects and how many moments in time (number of exposures) do I want to blend together to accomplish my expression?
These are some of the thoughts I encompass as I interpret my surroundings.
The real answer to the question ‘how to’ goes far beyond technique. All expression, in any art medium, originates with a feeling. It’s what we communicate verbally, musically, through dance, or through the photographic images we create.
A Piling is ‘More’ than a Piling
The secret is to discover the ‘more’.
Just recently, Dennis Ducklow and I finished teaching a week-long workshop at the long-abandoned Tallheo Cannery in Bella Coola, BC. The Newkirk family have been our wonderful hosts there for seven years.
One of my favourite subjects there, has been the remaining pilings from cannery buildings that have collapsed over the years.
Remains of the Tallheo Cannery
During that time, my expressions have changed; moving back and forth between Representational, Expressionist, and Abstract.
Just as with literary languages, clear expression is critical if we are to be well understood. Should a child, for example, not understand what we have said, we rearrange the elements of our language (nouns, verbs, adjectives etc.) to be understood.
Likewise with our visual language of photography, to better express our thoughts or feelings, we rearrange the elements of visual design (line, form, contrast, texture, and colour) to communicate in new ways, and be understood.
The following images depict my love-affair with the Tallheo pilings.
As always, the challenge is to discover the ‘more’.
Rita’s Garden; the first wave
The first wave of colour to adorn Rita’s Garden is the beautiful violet-blue of Blue flax, a perennial that was first introduced from Eurasia.
The flower is ephemeral in that they only last from daybreak until around 2pm when all the pedals drop to the ground. The next morning at daybreak, an entirely new bloom appears. This miraculous ritual goes on for several weeks.
Here are a few images I made earlier this week.
Aspenhouse with Blue flax
Aspenhouse with lava boulder and Aspen tree
Blue flax in bloom
A patch of poppies
The colour of Blue flax permeates our small fir forest
The colour of wind blowing above our tiny aspen forest
An impression of fir trees, aspen leaves, and flowers
When we make art, or view art, we should consider the meanings behind the expression. Enjoy.
All of us at Chris Harris Photography thank you for your subscriber support!
See you in August!