Newsletter #152: February, 2018
© Chris Harris. All rights reserved.
We haven’t had so much snow in decades. The shoveling and cross-country skiing is exhilarating; all designed to keep me fit enough to continue my photographic explorations into the back country!
This Newsletter is going to take us out to the grasslands on two different trips to Farwell Canyon. It never ceases to amaze me how each trip to Farwell Canyon is so entirely different. In the back of my mind, I keep waiting for the trip when I get skunked, but it just never happens. The grasslands are so sensitive to environmental change, that they yield photographic surprises each and every time.
Over time the grasslands have provided me with the deepest sense of place. I feel a spiritual resonance there; an emotion I try to capture in my image making. Enjoy.
Line, Shape, and texture
Farwell Canyon: the simplicity of line and shape. A dedication to Fred Chapman
Farwell Canyon: adding texture to line and shape makes my heart soar
A Recent Blog Post: Artistic Photography
1. Farwell Canyon: the simplicity of line and shape. A dedication to Fred Chapman
A Dedication to Fred Chapman
It was in the early 1980’s when Fred took me to his photographic gallery in the basement of his home. There before me were a dozen or so photographs which he had meticulously printed and framed. Each masterpiece was a winter landscape depicting simple line and form compositions; each defined by fences, telephone poles and trees. I never forgot that experience, and I have searched for similar compositions ever since.
I think mentors are important to each and everyone of us. Fred inspired me to take my work seriously. He remains a wonderful influence. I have made many a winter image because I knew that if Fred were with me, he would have made a very careful composition which might, one day, hang in his gallery.
Fred has always had a willingness to share. Many of us from across Canada are better photographers because of Fred. I certainly am one of them. Thank you, Fred.
For a day of photographing in the grasslands, I chose a day when the weather appeared unsettled. I enjoy not knowing what to expect; it provides a mindset that keeps me alert and excited for dramatic light.
Heading out in a blizzard had me excited for the day!
I crossed Sheep Creek Bridge and drove up onto the Chilcotin Plateau. It’s there that I experience a tremendous sense of freedom. The Plateau and the Coast Mountains beyond does that for me.
The blizzard had stopped, but the flat light provided new opportunities. When I saw a lonely clump of trees off in the distance, I could visualize the image potential in a heartbeat.
I pulled over, opened a rancher’s gate, and walked out onto the field where I could eliminate the telegraph wires. I set up my tripod, rotated my camera to a vertical format and made the following image. I was so excited with my first capture of the day. I was pumped. I knew the rest of the day would not disappoint.
Composition was critical. The division of space spoke to the sense of freedom I was experiencing.
I drove on. The winter landscape is simple in design, and every tree or fence post adds contrast. The result was a viewscape of line and shape. To simplify things further, I visualized everything I saw through my 100-400mm telephoto lens.
I felt so inspired. I wondered to myself, ‘what is it about line and form that excites me so much?’ I drove on, stopping frequently to capture the beauty of each passing moment.
Eventually, the day cleared as I approached the Chilcotin River. The wildfires of 2017 had left a new beauty which the sun so generously revealed to me. I changed my boots and waded out in knee deep snow, seeking a burnt sagebrush with sufficient white space around it for my envisioned composition.
Each line had been duplicated. My excitement doubled.
Later in the day, clouds provided new opportunities with bursts of shadow and light. Usually I am not one to wait for light, preferring to keep moving, knowing that another opportunity will always reveal itself. But not this time. I knew that the two fence lines and undulating snow swells provided an unapparelled opportunity if the light cooperated.
I waited for 45 minutes, making images as the changing light danced over the land in my viewfinder. Eventually, it happened. A beam of light provided the line and shape I was waiting for. Ecstatically I clicked the shutter. Click!
What a day in the grasslands. They never disappoint. A home cooked meal with Rita rounded out the day. Does it get any better than that?
Farwell Canyon: adding texture to line and shape makes my heart soar.
On another trip to Farwell Canyon, the light was such that texture became the dominant element. I continued to use line and shape, however, but in a more contextual role. To amplify the texture, I made the following images using my camera’s multiple exposure function combined with camera movement.
Continuing with the road theme as an element of line, I noticed a small bush to include and provide a sense of balance. These two elements seem to reveal themselves from within the carpet of textured snow.
This image is a single exposure designed to soften the textured grass background. The panning movement had to be precise to maintain the definition of the road. The division of space above and below the road is a personal compositional decision.
As you can see, these two trips to the grasslands couldn’t have produced more contrasting results. It’s one of the many reasons why I love them, and why I will always continue returning there.
A recent Blog Post: Artistic Photography
As I mentioned in my last Newsletter, I am writing more frequent photographic blog posts. If you enjoy photography, you may wish to subscribe to be notified of their publication. I will be doing three or four each month.
In future, they won’t appear in my Newsletter. They can be found on my website under Blogs. Please subscribe, and tell your friends!
A rainforest – a documentary view
Whenever I go for a walk, as I did in the above rainforest, I see the world around me as it is. The world as it is, however, is not necessarily based on realism, it is also based on imagination. That’s the reason for enjoying the arts and being an artist; to stimulate our senses and imagination.
As a photographic artist, as I visually absorb landscapes, I begin to imagine them differently. They become ‘mindscapes’. I see what is visual, then imagine what is invisible.
On this particular forest walk, I began to visualize the rainforest in ways that took me beyond realism. Below are some examples.
Artistic interpretation I
I feel there is less and less call for images that depict the world as it is. We know what the Eiffel Tower looks like; do we need yet another look-alike photograph? Let’s try and go deeper, and try to express how we see the Eiffel Tower as no one has ever seen it before. We can do this as expressive photographic artists.
Artistic interpretation II
When we study the history of painting, for example, we read about artists like Monet, Van Gogh, and Kandinsky who were courageous enough to break away from the establishment. They believed in their new work, they valued it, and they brought about tremendous change. We too can become creative and expressive photographers.
Artistic interpretation III