Newsletter No. 20: January 2007
© Chris Harris. All rights reserved.
During this past year I was contracted to create imagery for www.SouthCaribooTourism.com. The imagery will be used to help promote the South Cariboo region that extends north-south between Lac La Hache and Clinton along Highway 97 and between the Fraser River in the west and the Cariboo Mountains in the east. This is a spectacular part of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Tourism Region of central B.C. but as is usually the case, I have done far too little photography here, always choosing to head off to what I assumed to be the more distant and romantic corners of the region. Needless to say, I was terribly misled! So this year I would like to share with you my discoveries here in the South Cariboo and encourage you all to visit us on your travels. 100 Mile House is the hub of the South Cariboo and the above web site is where to go for complete information.
Photographing in ‘Your Back Yard’ – Part I
100 Mile House
As mentioned above, 100 Mile House is the hub of the South Cariboo. During the Gold Rush, between 1862 and 1870, over 100,000 people traveled through 100 Mile on their way north from Lillooet (Mile 0), through the Cariboo, toward Barkerville. 100 Mile House was one of the roadhouses along the route known as the Cariboo Wagon Road. Today, highway 97 is known as the Gold Rush Trail.
South Cariboo Visitors Centre
© Chris Harris; Canon EOS-1D Mark II
Focal length: 38mm; ISO: 200;
Shutter speed: 1/100 sec
Aperture: 22; Exposure mode: Av
Exposure compensation: +1/3
When you come to visit, or travel through the South Cariboo, be sure to drop in and meet the friendly staff at the 100 Mile House Visitors Centre. You can’t miss it. Someone took off their x-c skis before they went in the front door – they are the tallest x-c skis in the world!!
I made many images of this building, but one day all the pieces came together. The sky was blue (it’s always sunny in the Cariboo), the moon was up (it’s a romantic town) and a tourist with a yellow canoe (matches the yellow writing on the skis) drove in and parked in the perfect parking spot for this image! Who says luck is not a part of photography!!
100 Mile Ranch
© Chris Harris; Canon EOS-1D Mark II
Focal length: 70mm; ISO: 200;
Shutter speed: 1/30 sec
Aperture: 16; Exposure mode: Av
Exposure compensation: -1/3
If when you head north out of town you stop at the top of the hill and look back, you’ll see the above view of 100 Mile House. The 100 Mile Ranch makes for a wonderful foreground to what was once a well-known ranching community. Although I made several images throughout the year from this vantage point, it is this one with the cattle and fall colours that best captures that old ranching community feeling.
2. What I See and How I Photograph
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 VI: Creative Techniques Cont’d:
Number 12: Painting with Light
The Canadian National Institute of the Blind chose the image below for their 2007 calendar which had ‘Skies’ as its theme. I was the photographer on the Canim Lake Band’s "Cultural Ride", a pack trip which took us high up into the Cariboo Mountains east of 100 Mile House. I was excitedly photographing the many aspects of this enlightening experience, when I noticed the elders putting up a ceremonial tee pee. I knew I wanted to create something special that would speak to me about this very special occasion.
By looking over the Creative Techniques list I gave you in Newsletter #17, you can see there are several ways to approach this. I had previously photographed tee-pees at night under a full moon by using the ‘double exposure’ method, and as a result, I had always wanted to create another such image under a starlit night. All I needed was a tee-pee, a clear night and no moon. Well, as luck would have it, that opportunity was at hand.
© Chris Harris; Canon EOS-3 film camera
By walking completely around the tee pee and carefully examining its placement in relationship to the trees and the sky, I chose my spot and selected my lens of choice to create the above visual design. Next, to capture the stars as star trails, I would need to make the image as a time exposure – the longer the exposure the longer the trails. I never kept the exact details of this shot but by the length of these star trails, I would guess that the time exposure was between 30 and 45 minutes. The next decision was how to capture the tee pee. As this image was taken in the darkness of night in order to capture the light of the stars, I needed to somehow illuminate the tent. This is why I always carry with me a strong Maglite flashlight. I knew from past experience that painting a subject such as this with the light from my flashlight at f-8 for about 8 seconds (that’s every part of the tee-pee for 8 seconds) was a good starting point. I made three images that night, painting the tee-pee for 4, 8, and 16 seconds. The best exposure was that of 8 seconds. The total time therefore of the entire shoot was about two hours. If I had made a two-hour exposure to make longer star trails, it would have taken me all night to have experimented with the three lengths of time I painted the tee-pee with light.
There are many ways to capture a subject. It requires creative vision and technical expertise based on experience. Like everything else, you can’t expect to get a perfect result the first time. It requires practice, experimentation and patience. Why not give it a try? Pick a foreground subject to paint with light and then capture the stars as star trails of any length you wish by making a time-exposure. Come to think of it, it’s +3 degrees outside right now and the snow is wet. Maybe I should go out, make a snowman and paint it with light! Good luck!!
The Grasslands Awareness Project and the creation of its beautiful coffee-table book is now entering its final phase. The images have been captured, the text had been drafted, and now we are starting the process of selecting imagery and working with our editor and book designer. It’s very exciting yet extremely challenging. My first image edit brought me down to about 2000. Now we are all gathering around the computer monitor trying to narrow it down to about 450 images. The final edit will take us to those chosen for the book – approximately 150! Thus the challenge!
My First image
© Chris Harris; Canon EOS-3 film camera
I was just reading through my journal, reflecting on the first day of this project. I headed out to the grasslands west of Williams Lake – excited but apprehensive. My vision of the book was unclear and I had never photographed in the grasslands in winter. Where would I start? I had image ideas in my mind but when I got out there, those images didn’t exist.
The day was dull and the light was flat. What was I looking for? I was seeing nothing. What should I do? I soon realized I had to let go of all my preconceived ideas. I just had to get myself into "the present", to just "be", and allow myself to see what was actually out there. Only then did the landscape in all its beauty slowly begin to unfold. It was subtle due to the flat light but it did begin to appear. The above image was my first. Based on simple lines and tonal contrast, I created a visual design that pleased me. The Grasslands Book Project was under way. I was pumped!
Bonita Forsyth will give a reading here at the Chris Harris Gallery to launch her new book for children – FINN FAWN.
Finn Fawn is separated from his mother and chased by the fox to a mountain meadow, where he befriends a lost and lonely kitten. The two unlikely companions use their unique natural talents to help one another overcome many wilderness challenges in their exciting adventure to find their way back home.
Children of all ages are invited to bring their adults; and adults are welcome even without a child. Each book purchased will give you a chance to win a painting lesson with Bonita in her Studio for yourself and a friend.
For more information about Bonita and her wonderful series of children’s books, visit her web site.
Please join Bonita at:
The Chris Harris Gallery
5577 Back Valley Road,
105 Mile Ranch
Friday, 7:00 pm February 2, 2007
Reservations are strongly recommended. Please call or email. Seating is limited.