Newsletter #133: August, 2016
© Chris Harris. All rights reserved.
The New Book Countdown Continues!
It’s always an exciting day when the book proofs arrive from the printer. With a book launch and book tour engagements already planned, it’s also a little nerve-wracking; there is little time for corrections. I was hoping none had to be made.
A few photographic experiences, and thoughts behind the images, round out the Newsletter.
This is the 133th consecutive monthly Newsletter; the start of my TWELTH YEAR
without missing a single month! Enjoy!
Our goal at the Chris Harris Gallery is to share photographic adventures and inspire others in the creative process. Please share this Newsletter with friends. We appreciate your interest and continued support for my work.
- The New Book: the proofs arrive
- The Art Within: journeys toward the ‘essence’
- I Took a Road Trip Last Week: I’m always amazed
- Unexpected Encounter: always have your camera ready
- Composition: Looking forward to our next photographic workshop
1. The New Book: the proofs arrive!
After years of exploring and photographing from the sky, mountains, lakes, and rivers; and months of image editing, writing on the computer, and working with editor Harold Rhenisch and designer Bill Horne, the week finally arrived when Rita and I would get a glimpse of what the book will really look like in real life. When the call came from Mr. Fed Ex., we (and the dog) jumped in the truck and drove to the bottom of our Back Valley Road to meet him. The proofs had arrived!
Back at the house we chose our favourite spot (where the light is best) to review the proofs. Page by page, I examined the photographs first, checking for colour and sharpness. As always, being overly critical, I managed to imagine a few flaws, but in reality, the images are FANTASTIC. I felt a sigh of relief.
The photographs looked fantastic!
The next morning, they looked better than ever. Apart from one text spacing glitch (easily fixed by Bill), the book was ready to be printed. I signed off on the book, drove to the Fed. Ex. depot in Kamloops, and sent the proofs back to the printer.
The next time we drive down our road to meet Mr. Fed. Ex., it will be to receive four advance copies…the real thing! Can’t wait!
2. The Art Within: a journey toward the ‘essence’
Out picking raspberries before writing this article, I realized that I was doing in the raspberry patch, what I must remind myself to do when photographing a subject.
When I first pick the berries off a stalk, the most obvious raspberries get picked first – the ones I see at eye level. It’s when I get low to the ground and look around from a new perspective that I see more berries, usually hidden under leaves.
my self-assignment – or – my ‘raspberry patch’!
Last week I took an old Dodge car as my subject for a self-imposed photographic assignment. My goal was to look deeply, and search for the ‘art within’. I worked with several lenses, and two hours later, I returned home with a selection of imagery I never knew existed when I started.
This is a double exposure I made to add a touch of magenta to the composition
In many ways, a deep visual study is like a meditation. At times I just sat down and starred at the car, focusing my attention on visual design. Eventually, the essence of that old Dodge, its lines, shapes, textures, and colours, began to appear. It was as if an old energy was creating a new energy in the form of creative inspiration. It was the best two hours of my day.
3. I Took a Road Trip Last Week: I’m always amazed
I picked up my friend Mike Duffy at 4:45am and drove south to Clinton, then west toward Kelly Lake, and then north along a gravel road toward the Big Bar ferry. Our first conversation on every road trip is “I wonder what the planet will throw at us this trip”? It seems we never have a ‘dud’ trip; something miraculously wonderful or beautiful always happens. This trip proved no exception.
As we descended into the mid-Fraser River canyon, we stopped on one of the steep switchbacks, just as the first rays of sunshine hit the canyon walls. Warm light reflected onto the river like I had never seen before. As a raven’s call broke the morning silence, I made my first image of the day.
reflected light I
Time was of the essence now. We quickly descended a few more switchbacks before stopping again. This time I used my 100-400mm lens to change my perspective. This is how I photograph visual narratives. It’s like a new paragraph within the ‘road trip’ story.
reflected light II
Once again, we descended as quickly as the road allowed us until we reached the valley floor. The river was still in shadow, absorbing warm light from the canyon wall when I noticed two pools of reflected light in the river bar know as High Bar.
pools of reflected light
Once again I switched to my telephoto lens for a more intimate look into the reflected pool of light. Within 5 minutes, the entire river was bathed in direct light and the contrast was gone.
pool of reflected light
Mike and I looked at each other and smiled; and that was just the first half-hour of photography!
3. Unexpected Encounter: always have your camera ready
During workshops I always remind participants to have their camera at the ready; not in their camera bag in the trunk of their car. I even suggest setting their camera to ISO 400 at f-8, to be ready to capture any wildlife that may appear. Believe me, this tactic has paid huge image dividends over the years!
As Mike and I continued our slow drive high above the Fraser river, we saw a group of horses up ahead. One was in the middle of the road so I just stopped and turned off the engine. No need to worry about traffic out here!
our journey came to a stop. now what?
The horse was curious and started to come toward us. I had two cameras on my lap; one with a 100-400mm lens, one with a 24-105mm lens. Never did I think I would need my 16-35mm lens! That was in my camera bag.
she introduced herself and peered in
I don’t smell alcohol, but can I see your license please!
I thanked her before she left to join her friends
Once it was determined that we were friendly, they joined up together and headed off toward the river. I got out of my truck and made one last photograph.
off they go!
So off we went to, continuing on our morning road trip. Throughout our entire journey along the canyon, we never saw another vehicle or person. Apart from the ravens call, and the song of meadowlarks, we enjoyed the silence of this very beautiful part of British Columbia.
5. Composition: Looking forward to our Tallheo photo workshop
One morning during the spring Tallheo photographic workshop, I went for a walk before breakfast. While looking out to sea at high tide, the pilings of an old collapsed cannery building caught my attention.
A more traditional composition
Making the above composition was easy. Basically it shows a diagonal line of timbers, with two triangles of water. It has a sense of balance. From a narrative perspective, it spoke to the collapse and gradual disappearance of a large structure.
I explored further, seeking new compositions with a possible new narrative.
A more thought provoking composition
When looking through the viewfinder, I remember feeling a tinge of discomfort, along with a tinge of excitement, with this composition. I knew I was breaking the traditional ‘rules’ of composition, however, I made the image with a sense confidence and purpose.
This image has a different narrative. The larger space given to the open ocean speaks to the power of the sea. Whatever these pilings were a part of has disappeared. Soon these very pilings will also disappear.
During workshops we often discuss the fear that comes with being an artist, and ways of moving past it. Creative expression requires original thought, coming from the imagination. This implies exposure and vulnerability, and therefore, risk. It takes a bit of mental muscle to face down the feeling of risk, and to go for it.
I’m happy I made this image. When I look at it, I ask questions; many questions. I like that about this image.