Newsletter No. 19: December, 2006
© Chris Harris. All rights reserved.
In terms of my photography, I have been blessed with the influence and inspiration of two painters, my sister Jane and her late husband Tony O’Malley and one photographer, my father Chic. At this time, I would like to express my appreciation to Jane, as she is presently having a one-person exhibition at the Taylor Gallery – the most prestigious private gallery in Dublin. I have chosen 3 of her 57 exhibited works to share with you.
Still Life by the Sea
Isla de Graciosa – 2005
Gouache, crayon, acrylic & collage. 12"x16"
© Jane O’Malley
When I look at these paintings of Jane’s, I am drawn not only by her meticulous use of texture, line and shape, and the strength of her compositions, but by the energy she creates between her subjects. I get the feeling her vases are humanlike and are in joyful conversation with each other (above & below). In the painting titled "Oscar", the tension between the cat and the birds and animals outside the window is powerfully real. I feel it is this communion that draws me back time and time again to revisit her paintings.
Still Life by the Sea – 2005
Acrylic & collage. 20"x16"
© Jane O’Malley
Brian Lynch (author of the novel The Winner of Sorrow which was short listed for the 2006 Hughes & Hughes Novel of the Year Award), wrote mostly about "movement" in his review for the Irish Arts Review. Still-life paintings did not become animated, revealing the vitality and personality of the artist, until after the impressionists Monet and Van Gogh. Brian writes:
"Arrangement, unshowy but dramatic, decides the dynamism of these paintings. It is their fixative. The precise location of forms in their proper places tenses and unifies the space between them. Contemplation of the result leads to an understanding that what moves and what is fixed can amount to the same thing. Movement, arrangement, rhythm, harmony – these are musical terms. At their composed best, Jane O’Malley’s paintings, although they are still, dance to the music of time."
‘Oscar’ – 1996-2006
Oil on Board. 12"x12"
© Jane O’Malley
As I used to say in my photographic seminars, my advice to photographers has always been to look at and study as much imagery as possible – from TV ads to paintings by the Masters. Whenever I am visiting a city, I always visit their galleries, for as a photographer, I have learned just as much from paintings as I have from studying other photographs.
Thank you Jane. Your paintings have always been a tremendous source of inspiration for me.
Presenting: The Bowron Lakes: A Lifetime Journey
Thoughtful Moments in the Morning Mist
© Chris Harris; Canon EOS-3 film camera
On Sunday, December 17th, we are having an Open House here at the Chris Harris Gallery to celebrate the release of The Bowron Lakes: A Lifetime Journey. This book is truly a legacy book, encompassing one man’s intimate exploration of a landscape and the meaning of being human in it.
The books are due to arrive here around Dec.9th and we are very excited. For those who have already ordered, we will be shipping as soon as we receive them. For those closer to us, we’re hoping you will drop by and share our excitement and our pride of achievement with this very special book. There will be a chance to chat and swap stories from the Lakes and have your book personalized; as well as enjoy some treats from my kitchen. Early next spring when the transition to digital presentations has been made, Chris will launch a broader book tour, showing presentations here in the Cariboo and further afield. Meanwhile, other places and dates where Chris will be for book signings are:
- December 15th, 1-4pm at The Open Book in Williams Lake.
- December 16th, 10am-4pm at The Farmers Market in Quesnel.
- December 17th, 12 noon – 5pm at the Chris Harris Gallery, 105 Mile Ranch
Here at the Gallery, our opening hours for those who are unable to drop by on the 17th are: Thursday – Saturday, 12 – 5pm until January 15th, or call us to be sure we’re in. For those who don’t order a book in time for Christmas, remember, we pay the shipping until December 31st. Full details about the book and ordering are on Chris’ Newsletter #18.
We thank you all for your support, appreciation, and friendship. Without you, our work has no meaning.
Storm Over Bowron River
© Chris Harris; Canon EOS-3 film camera
One of the things I love most about photographing, is to look at an image I have taken perhaps years ago, and have the feelings, memories, and even the smells come flooding back.
You will find this image in my new release The Bowron Lakes: A Lifetime Journey for it is an image with a vivid personal story and a lot of emotion. I have often said that why I love storms when I’m out photographing is because they usually bring dramatic light. This was no exception. To keep my camera out of the rain, I was shooting from under a big spruce tree. Just prior to making the above image, I was making many others of a beautiful double rainbow (you might still be able to catch its fading arch in the distance) while this huge moose was grazing in the marsh to my left. Sensing the compositional strength of an image with both a rainbow and a moose, I began to ‘will’ the moose to come to the river and into my camera’s field of view. Lo-and-behold, the moose came! He might have been a little late for the rainbow, but he was a total gift nonetheless. You can only imagine how ecstatic I was.
To capture the deep colours of the rainbow and the ominous feeling of the storm, I used a polarizing filter and 1½ stops of under-exposure.
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 V: Creative Techniques Cont’d:
Number 10: Misty Images
In Newsletter #17, I provided a list of 18 creative techniques that I carry around with me in my pocket when I photograph. I refer to them often as I study the image I am making, for they remind me of different approaches I might take to create the feeling I am after. Today I am going to start off by discussing Creative Technique #10 – Misty Images.
Here are two things you might consider if (a) it is a misty day and (b) if you wished it were a misty day.
(a) If it is a misty morning, the most important consideration is exposure. If you set your camera on Program or Automatic, it will provide you with a medium-tone or medium-hue rendition of whatever you are photographing. In other words, medium-grey (half way between black and white) or medium-blue (or any other colour). That is what your camera is designed to do – always. If you take the time to really examine the light on a misty morning, you will usually find that the scene is brighter than medium or middle grey. And if it’s not, you might consider making it brighter in order to provide a lighter and more cheerful feeling than the depressing muddy-grey feeling that the camera will give you. In order to do this, you need to tell the camera to put more light back into the light subject (the mist), and you do this by over-exposing. Below are two examples of the same scene.
The first image was shot according to the meter that provided a rather muddy medium-grey rendition of the train crossing the bridge. The second image is where I have told the camera to provide approximately 1½ stops of extra light i.e. 1½ stops above what your camera’s light meter is telling you. You can easily do this in Manual Mode or you can use the Compensation Dial to override the camera setting if you prefer to shoot on Automatic. This provides a very different feeling – one that I much prefer. Of course, the choice is yours to make. It may depend on how you feel that morning or whether you have had your morning coffee. Try different exposures and see what you prefer. I find that somewhere between 1 and 2 stops of extra light will usually do the trick.
(a) If it’s not a misty morning but you feel like it should be, then try this. Breathe on your lens and you have the most expensive fog filter available! This filter is so good, it even allows you to choose how thick the mist will be! The longer you wait after breathing on the lens, the more the vapour evaporates and the thinner the mist becomes!
For those of you who have subscribed to this Newsletter for a year, you will remember the story of my heart operation in early January (Newsletter #8). This time last year I was hardly able to take my dog for a walk and I was wondering if I would ever publish my Bowron Lake book and finish photographing the Grasslands Awareness Book Project. Well, one year later and here I am! The Bowron Lake book is just being released, the grasslands book has just been photographed, and best of all . . . I have just gone for my first X-C ski in two years!! YAHOOOO!! To once again be able to ski amidst aspen trees through beautifully rolling Cariboo Country is an amazing feeling. It’s why I originally moved here 22 years ago. So once again . . . YAHOOOO . . . it’s GREAT TO BE BACK!!!
Merry Christmas everyone! The midwinter pleasures for us are simple and many; a good book in front of a warm fire; a meal shared with friends; a chilly walk under a clear moonlit sky (tonight’s was under a full moon) and, oh yes, skiing through the Cariboo hills. For all of you we wish the warmth of friendship in your lives and peace in your hearts, even in times of adversity. Blessings to all.
Rita, Chris and Teresa