Newsletter No. 14: August, 2006
© Chris Harris. All rights reserved.
Recently, Ordell Steen and I traveled to the grasslands south of Kamloops to photograph rough fescue and Burrowing owls, both of which do not exist here in the Cariboo-Chilcotin grasslands. This was the first time I had visited these grasslands where I found the landscape to be spectacular. Below is an image of the view from our camper where we stopped for an evening meal.
Evening light over the Grasslands
© Chris Harris
70-200mm @ 93mm; 1/5 sec, f/32; Mode: Manual
ISO: 400; AF mode: Manual
White balance: Color temp=5300K
4 landscape images stitched together
One of the more important images we were looking for on this trip was that of rough fescue. Rough fescue is a native, perennial bunchgrass. As it is relished by cattle and horses and does not tolerate excessive trampling, it is very susceptible to over grazing damage. This field of rough fescue had not been grazed for several years and was in outstanding condition. I made this image in the evening light when there was good side lighting and contrast in order to bring out the bunches.
© Chris Harris. Canon EOS-1D Mark II
Lens: 17 to 35mm; Focal length: 19mm; ISO: 200;
Shutter speed: 1/6 sec; Aperture: 22; White balance:Color temp=5300K;
Exposure mode: Manual
2 landscape images stitched together
The other important subject we were hoping to photograph was the Burrowing owl. This owl is a grasslands specie and is on the British Columbia endangered list. It lives in underground burrows that are usually excavated first by animals such as badgers but then renovated by the owls for nesting by using their feet, beaks and wings to scrape the dirt out. Their golden brown colour provides excellent camouflage in grasslands habitat as they hunt for insects and rodents. Because they have a fairly high tolerance of humans, they are one of the most observable of owl species.
In my next newsletter, I’ll show you a few more owl images I made during that exciting two hour shoot.
© Chris Harris
Canon EOS-1D Mark II
Focal length: 700mm; Shutter speed: 1/800 sec; ISO: 800
Aperture: 8; Exposure mode: Av; Exposure compensation: +1/3
After a successful day of shooting, we drove out to one of Ordell’s secret grassland hide-a-ways to spend the night in his camper. As soon as we parked, we got out to witness a beautiful sunset that was intensified by smoke from local forest fires. Even the moon became part of the landscape as I dropped behind a clump of bunchgrass to make this image.
Bunchgrass at Sunset
© Chris Harris; Canon EOS-1D Mark II
Lens: 17 to 35mm; Focal length: 38mm; ISO: 400
Shutter speed: 1.3 sec; Aperture: 18; Exposure mode: Av
Exposure compensation: +1
I was exploring up a mountainous logging road in the Bella Coola Valley when I slowed down to cross a narrow rickety old bridge. It was here that I noticed the classic S curve that the glaciated mountain stream was taking through the rain forest. I stopped, got out my tripod and set up on the bridge. Fortunately there was no wind that day, so I was able to use a polarizing filter and a slow shutter speed of ¼ sec. The polarizer was to knock out all the reflecting light off the rocks, water and tree needles, thus saturating the colour, and the slow shutter speed was to soften the water and create a reflective mood.
© Chris Harris; Canon EOS-3 film camera
The real story about the image ‘Verdant Forest’ is what happened seven years later! A gentleman came to a small exhibit I was showing in 100 Mile House and purchased an 11″; x 16″ print of this image. Several months later he invited Rita and I over to his house on Back Valley Road at 105 Mile Ranch for supper to show us where he had hung it. While having a drink on the front porch overlooking a moonlit lake, I remarked on the silence and the wonderful view. He then told me there were two more properties for sale next to his. The rest is history! We now live on Back Valley Road where we have built our little straw bale home and gallery. So there you go! You never know what might happen when you set up your tripod!
In response to continued requests for my photo seminars, I am now bringing them online as an ongoing feature in my Newsletter. They are designed to give you techniques and insights gained from my experience in the field in the hope that they inspire you in your own image making.
Part 1: Gearing Up
I thought I would start this series by describing what equipment I use in the field and a few comments for beginners. A lot of attention is paid to equipment these days, however, the most important aspects to photography are still having fun making imagery and the art of seeing. First, lets talk about having fun! Great images appear and disappear very quickly so you need to have a camera with you all the time. And if you are like most, you dislike carrying a lot of weight and you hate tripods. Well, there are no more excuses as digital technology has changed everything. You can now carry a pocket sized pro-am 8-megapixel camera with auto-stabilized zoom lenses that make images in any format including RAW (more about that in future newsletters). They even shoot panoramas and take great video’s – all for about $500.00! So put one of those in your purse or on your belt and stay visually sharp by making imagery everywhere and all the time!
Photographing at Sunrise
© Chris Harris; Canon EOS-1D Mark II
Shutter speed: 1/4 sec; Aperture: 11; Exp. mode: Manual
ISO: 400; Lens: 28 to 70mm; Focal length: 43mm
If you want to take photography more seriously with greater options such as lens choice and more mega-pixels for commercial opportunities, you will need an SLR camera. I primarily use a Canon EOS 1D Mark II 8.2 megapixel camera body but still carry my EOS-3 film camera for doing abstract multiple-exposures. My Canon lenses include:
- EF 17-35mm f/2.8
- EF 28-70mm f/2.8
- EF 70-200mm f/2.8
- EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 IS
- EF 500mm f/4 IS
I also carry a Sigma 14mm f/2.8 lens, 1.4 and 2.0 X extenders, Sandisk Extreme 1 GB memory cards, Gitzo tripods with Kaiser ballheads. All gear is carried in various Lowepro camera bags – mostly of the backpack variety. Most important is knowing how to best use one’s equipment in order to combine technical know-how with creative vision.
Stay tuned for Part II in this new online workshop series. If you have friends who may be interested in photography, forward this Newsletter on to them or have them subscribe through my website. Thanks and have fun photographing!
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