Newsletter #143: June, 2017
© Chris Harris. All rights reserved.
This is the 143st consecutive monthly photographic Newsletter; my TWELTH YEAR without missing a single month! Enjoy!
This is going to be an exciting month! They all are I guess, but this is going to be extra exciting! I will be joining up with my musician composer friend Ken Marshall to produce several slide-show documentaries on the Chilcotin Ark and the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast region. Along with voice-over narratives, they will all be put to original musical settings by Ken. I can’t wait to get started; it’s a very exciting process and project to be involved with.
Once completed, these documentaries will be made available online. Stay tuned. Newsletter subscribers will be the first to hear about their availability.
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.
10 Minutes of Photography: An unseen world is always calling for our attention
30 Minutes of Photography: Two images with opposite intent
The Sun and Moon Playing in the Mountains: Caught on film!
- Looking Back in Time: In future Newsletters, I will re-visit some of the highlight experiences of the past 25 years in the mountains.
The Gallery is Open: Come visit us. Experience the Chilcotin Ark
Our Journey Home! It’s always an adventure!
1. 10 Minutes to Photograph: An unseen world is always calling for our attention
It was June the 4th and our Tallheo photographic workshop was over. Two-thirds of the participants had left by boat for the Bella Coola mainland and the rest of us were on the wharf awaiting the boats return.
I was remembering an interview response of a hobby photographer who was a busy physicist and family man. When asked how he made such exemplary photo work he described how he was able to take even 10 minutes for photography here and there. A dedicated hour was a rare gift.
I have never photographed that way but the thought struck a chord in me. I politely terminated a casual conversation and grabbed my camera. I had about 10 minutes. Here are three images I made during that time.
Pilings of a collapsed cannery building
This was a perspective of the pilings I had never experienced before. I enjoyed the viewscape and the undisclosed narrative behind those pilings. They somehow spoke to me in a secretive way.
Pilings of a collapsed cannery building II
I listened. They spoke about the rising and falling tide-water that engulfed them twice each day. I made several more images, interpreting their existence in a new way.
Then, turning 180 degrees, I looked at the rock cliff which rose up from the ocean shore. I studied it for areas of tonal and colour contrast (those are the first elements I look for within a landscape). I made my arrangement decisions, carefully juxtaposing light, dark, and colour. My final decision was to shoot it in a more expressive way than pure documentary. I made this image with multiple exposures combined with slight camera movement.
2. 30 Minutes to Photograph: Two images with opposite intent
During the course of our week long photographic workshop at the Tallheo Cannery, Dennis Ducklow and I would find short snippets of time to photograph while participants were busy with art projects. On one such break, I hiked across a small bridge and down an old trail to where I found an abandoned one room building just above the beach. I went in, tested the floor to see if it would hold me, and then made this documentary image.
Documentary photographs are meant to record things; basically replicate or duplicate a subject or location. Such images are designed to show reality rather than interpret reality.
After making the documentary image, I thought about what other approach I might take. I tried a few more expressive and creative approaches but they failed to capture that dilapidated sense of abandonment I was hoping for. It was then that I turned to complete abstraction.
Abstract photographs have no context; they represent nothing that we have ever seen or can identify with, and are thus called non-representational. Generally, they are not well understood by the viewing public and I feel they would not garner many ‘likes’ on Facebook!
Each image is original and can never be duplicated. There is also mystery in abstraction. If I saw this image in an art gallery, I would be thinking about what it was, or what was on the artist’s mind. What was the artist trying to express? In other words, I would be captivated by intrigue.
These two images are opposites to each other. One depicts reality while the other interprets reality. Between these two extremes is the broad expressive area where most photographers do their image making.
3. The Sun and Moon Playing in the Mountains: Caught on film!
Smoke drifts in over Shack Lake
In August of 2010, I was photographing in the Coast Mountain foothills of the west Chilcotin. Smoke from a forest fire in Yukon had drifted south and was engulfing our surroundings.
The sun turns into a yellow ball
As the smoke intensified, the sun became a yellow ball with red fringes. It was then I realized what was about to happen. The sun would eventually land on the ridge of the mountain. I set up my tripod and awaited that very second.
The sun rolling down the mountainside!
In August of 2012, I was once again photographing in the foothills of the Coast Mountains, this time at Ape Lake. It was early in the morning when the earth’s rotation was sending the full moon toward the horizon. Once again I realized it was going to hit the mountain peak, so I set up my tripod and waited for the moment of collision!
At 6:30am the full moon collides with the mountain top!
At 6:34am the full moon rolled down the other side of the mountain!
4. Looking Back in Time: In future Newsletters, I will re-visit some of the highlight experiences of the past 25 years in the mountains.
I call myself a narrative photographer because I have always been interested in capturing the story.
In the early 1970’s I had fallen in love with the Bowron Lake canoe circuit. Over time I began to hear the stories of old-timers in the area and the one that captured my imagination the most, was that of Old Freddie Becker.
Old Freddie was a trapper who would leave his wife and family in Barkerville before freeze-up and head out to his trapper cabin on McLeary Lake in the south-east corner of what is now the Bowron Lake canoe chain. There, he would spend five dark lonely winter months with his dog Pupper. Travelling by snowshoes, he would trek over frozen lakes and rivers, back and forth to his tiny line-cabin in the Hanging Valley of the Cariboo Mountains. It was a life of high risk and reward.
I strongly related to Freddie’s story and lifestyle, so when I was photographing for my first book The Bowron Lakes, published in 1991, I wanted to capture the feeling of solitude he must have experienced there.
Freddie’s trapper cabin on McLeary Lake.
I set off for Freddie’s cabin in early November, just before freeze-up. Snow was creeping down the mountainside and there was not a soul in the park. I spent an emotional night there reading by candlelight. I could feel Freddie’s spirit as if he was in the cabin with me. It was a night I will never forget.
To capture the essence of Freddie’s home in the wilderness, I placed my red-handled axe on the porch and my Chestnut canoe along the shore, lit a fire and then climbed a tree to make the above image.
5. The Gallery is Open: this season we have put new energy into the Gallery and have a new staff person; check us out!
Our 14th year and more exciting than ever!
“For visitors experiencing the Cariboo Chilcotin for the first time, or for those who make their home here, the photography of Chris Harris brings our region alive”.
Experience Chris’ work through books, art prints, or through stunning slide-sound sequences and HD-quality documentary productions viewed on a large screen in the comfortable setting of the gallery.
A comfortable place to view documentaries
With his most recent book, Chris reveals for the first time the unique and globally significant Chilcotin Ark; the largest, contiguous, and most diverse wilderness complex in the temperate world.
Part of the upper gallery
Chris and Rita are also happy to introduce Birgit Bienek, a long-time friend who is now managing the Gallery full time.
Birgit and part of the lower gallery
The Chris Harris Gallery is open for the season; May 1 to September 30, 10am to 4pm, Tuesday through Sunday. Other times, or bookings for special events and presentations, can be made by contacting Birgit at the Gallery.
5577 Back Valley Road, 105 Mile, BC. Tel: 250-791-6631
6. Our Journey Home! Another adventure and photographic opportunity!
To end this Newsletter on a lighter note, I’ll share a fun moment Dennis and I had on our way home from the Tallheo Photographic workshop.
We drove up ‘The Hill’ without incident, and were within 2 km of pavement when I felt the truck start to wobble. I knew instantly, and said to Dennis, ‘we have a flat’. We stopped, opened our doors, and smelt the aroma of burnt rubber! After looking at the tire, or what remained of it, we just laughed!
Dennis at play!
After having to get the instruction booklet out to access the spare, we agreed that we would not apply for a job changing tires on the Nascar Racing Circuit !