Newsletter #147: October, 2017
© Chris Harris. All rights reserved.
This is my 147th monthly photographic Newsletter; my 13th 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.
About this Newsletter
If you are a photographer, you should be aware that attention to compositional detail is very important to me. In our workshops we discuss the role of every element, its placement, and if it should be included in the image or not. The study of composition, or what an artist might describe as visual design, is a fascinating subject. If you enjoy these images, much of that feeling has to do with compositional strength.
October has been a beautiful month in the Cariboo. A few rain and snow-flake showers, but mostly warm and colourful fall days. Hard to beat!
This Newsletter is a journal of several short photographic adventures I have made over the past 2-3 months; some during the fire season and some after.
The Cariboo Chilcotin is a wonderful region of British Columbia to explore. It’s beauty and diversity is unparalleled. Enjoy the journey!
The Wildfire Summer of 2017: a documentary in the making.
A Huge Discovery: just 500 metres away!
After the Fire: two days in heaven!
An Autumn Trip to Barkerville: and a new workshop location.
The Wildfire Summer of 2017: a documentary in the making
My forest fire documentary will be released in November
I am presently working on a documentary with my music producer friend, Ken Marshall, chronicling my experiences as a photographer throughout this fire season. You will be notified of its release in my November Newsletter.
There are many threads to this story, I share here a few tiny ones from a single, 2-day, road trip across the Chilcotin Plateau.
The backcountry was closed but Highway 20 was still open. I decided to go.
As the fires close to home became more contained, Rita’s and my thoughts turned to our many friends in the west Chilcotin. On August 9th, I decided to drive west on Highway 20, across the Chilcotin Plateau to Anahim Lake. The Hanceville – Riske Creek fire, the Kleena Kleene fire, the Precipice fire, and the Plateau fire (the largest fire in BC history) were highly active.
The highway up onto the Plateau was hardly visible. The smoke was intense and I found breathing, with my heart condition, difficult.
When I reached Hanceville, I bore witness to the remains of a Chilcotin landmark. This historic café dated back to the gold rush and early ranching days in the Chilcotin. As I photographed, I reflected back on the many pieces of pie I had enjoyed there over the years.
Lee’s Corner. The remains I
Lee’s Corner. The remains II
Lee’s Corner. Abstract.
Once I had documented the café as it lay before me, I decided, as I usually do, to express my deeper feelings in the form of art. From out of the rubble seen in the previous photograph, I used my camera and 24-105 mm lens to create what I consider to be one of my very finest abstract images. Made in the spirit of a Tony O’Malley painting, it will soon hang in my Gallery as a large print.
Further on, I stopped to photograph on the Mumford’s ranch which is regenerating after the forest fires of 2010.
In memory of photographing that fire on this ranch seven years ago, I made this more expressive image of burnt tree trunks amidst a regenerating forest floor.
Driving further west, approaching the Kleena Kleene fire, I saw through a landscape of thick smoke, a calcareous lake with shimmering yellow algae. The colour was intense and mesmerizing, so I stopped to photograph.
Calcareous lake. Abstract
I spent some time there. I wanted to photograph this remarkable phenomenon in a way that captured the eerie mood of the place.
Eventually, after many stops to photograph, when all light disappeared, I thought of where I might spend the night.
I drove to the end of a distant dirt road to Six Mile Ranch. It’s where ranching friends Wanda and Roger Williams live. I have spent many a night there so I know, it’s never too late to arrive at the Williams’ ranch. Over drinks and a caribou steak, we joked and laughed into the night, reminiscing about past adventures in the Itcha and Ilgatchuz mountains.
We were all up early the next morning as another forest fire, the Precipice fire, was acting up not far away.
The plan for the day was to push cattle up into the mountains, out of the way of any oncoming fire activity.
Cody Chamberlain gathers up the horses.
Punky Hatch saddles up her horse
Magalie Steiner pays close attention to detail.
Are you ready yet? What’s taking you so long!
I photographed them as they disappeared into the smoke. They would be gone for at least two days.
Please look for my wildfire documentary coming soon.
These are just a few of the stories of my trip out west to Anahim Lake in the West Chilcotin. There were many more on the way home.
A Huge Discovery: just 500 metres away!
A smoke filled journey to 105 Ranch
When you leave Highway 97 to travel up Back Valley Road to our home and gallery, you pass through the old 105 Ranch which used to be a much larger ranch belonging to the Monical family. Today it belongs to the Blue Goose Cattle Company.
I have passed through this beautiful ranch with its historic barn and old homesteads, hundreds of times, rarely stopping to photograph. Then one day soon after we returned to our home after the evacuation, the ranch took on a new light. With the sky still consumed with smoke, the evening sun cast a warm eerie glow over the ranch as I have never experienced before. Suddenly, the ranch that is so familiar to me became this place of beauty, calling to every emotion in me. I immediately drove home, got my camera gear, and returned to photograph. I photographed every evening for four nights until finally, the evening light began to cool. Here are a few images that have become very meaningful for me.
To appreciate the eerie feeling of the smoke-filled atmosphere, I gave space to it in my composition.
Similarly, I gave the homestead space to breath.
A sense of history, I
A sense of history, II
Eventually, I went to the ranch to photograph in the RAIN! It felt good.
The 105 Ranch is now a favourite place for me to photograph; rain or shine, smoke or mist, and it’s only 500 metres away!
After the Fire: two days in heaven!
A good friend of ours, Remco Wijnhorst, purchased a beautiful home on Horsefly Lake to offer as a rental vacation property. Needless to say, this summer’s fire season interfered with his plan, but he very kindly offered Rita and I a post-evacuation weekend get-away. We accepted with glee; it was a time for Rita and I to reunite after our separated fire evacuation experiences. Naturally, I brought my camera equipment and photographed our experience there. These few images speak to our relaxing time and beautiful lakeside location.
Our home for two days which overlooked Horsefly Lake at the foothills of the Cariboo Mountains.
We were treated to the comforts of a delightful home away from home
And I was treated to Rita’s exquisite culinary treats. Yes, wine for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!
Enjoying our private lakeside retreat!
One day we paddled to a distant shore and had a delicious picnic lunch.
Sunsets were one of the delightful pleasures of a smoky sky.
On our last day, the skies finally cleared. Rita and I celebrated with a most enjoyable paddle.
Thank you Remco. That was a weekend to remember. If this kind of vacation fits into your family holiday plans, you can check it out at: Birch Haven.
An Autumn Trip to Barkerville: and a new workshop location
Two weeks ago, at the height of a most beautiful fall colour season, I had to drive to Barkerville to check out a potential location to operate a new photographic workshop.
After leaving sunny Quesnel, I drove into a winter blizzard!
I was to meet my good friends Dave Jorgenson and Cheryl Macarthy, owners of the St. George Hotel which is situated right in Barkerville Historic Town.
Dave ushered me into the townsite past historic St. Savior’s Church.
In front of his St. George Hotel, we look back down the main street toward St. Savior’s Church.
Barkerville, a Canadian National Historic Site, is an authentic, unique, world-class heritage experience.
When driving home, mostly in 4-wheel drive, I stopped by a wetland to make this image. As I love both wetlands and the beauty of winter, I thoroughly enjoyed making this photograph!
Stopping further down the road, I made this image out of my truck window!
Dates and location information about 2018 photographic workshops will appear in an upcoming Newsletter. Teaching partner Dennis Ducklow and I are getting excited to break the news!