Newsletter No. 24: July 2007
© Chris Harris. All rights reserved.
Spirit in the Grass
The Cariboo Chilcotin’s Forgotten Landscape
On July 3rd, with box in hand, I personally headed to the 100 Mile House post office. Finally, the long awaited book on the grasslands of British Columbia was ready to be sent to the printers. I double-checked all the proper documentation and said bon voyage to 4 DVD’s and a pile of paper work. I felt a lot lighter that night as Rita and I celebrated with a G&T!
This book was a much, much larger project than I ever anticipated. The 3½ years of shooting seemed easy compared to what we have all been through recently pulling all the pieces together. The choosing of imagery and writing of text from both the science and arts perspective was a monumental experience. If it wasn’t for the amazing talent of editor Harold Rhenisch and book designer Bill Horne, I’m not sure we would have made it. The book went through nine revisions and what seemed like 100s of edits. Also, the book which was to be 176 pages ballooned to 224 pages and the number of images went to well over 200. The processing of these images alone took over 250 hours on the computer. The result: I’m over-weight and desperately need to get to the mountains to hike and photograph once again! The most important result, however, will be the book itself and in this regard, we are all feeling extremely positive and excited. It contains sections on landscape, natural history, cultural history, threats to the grasslands as well as a resources page. It’s visually driven and content-rich and with it we hope to do nothing less than awaken and inspire a passion in people that will begin to shift a paradigm forever in attitudes toward the grasslands environment. It’s going to be an AMAZING book and an IMPORTANT book.
This project has been an amazing journey and so many people have contributed to its creation. I have thanked each of you in the book but briefly, once again, I thank each and every one of you for your support. It could not have been done without you all.
On the Road Again!
© Chris Harris
Canon EOS-1D Mark II; Lens: 28-70mm;
Focal length: 38mm; ISO: 400;
Shutter speed: 1/125 sec; Aperture: 14
I will be traveling to several locations throughout the province with a powerful multi-media presentation about the grasslands and the book. Book signings will take place at each. The book promotional tour will begin with the official launch here in 100 Mile House on October 19th & 20th. Other dates which have been confirmed so far are:
- October 25; Vancouver Planetarium with the Vancouver Natural History Society
- November 12; South Delta with the local Delta Naturalists
- November 13; Victoria with the Victoria Natural History Society
If any of you know of anyone or any organization that might be interested in hosting a "Spirit in the Grass" evening, please get in touch with Rita or myself here at the office. We would love to hear from you.
For all the latest information about the book and the promotional tour, stay tuned to this newsletter and/or my website at www.chrisharris.com.
Canadian Geographic responded immediately when they saw my imagery and became aware of our grasslands project. The July/August issue has just hit the magazine racks from coast to coast across Canada and in it you will find a beautiful, comprehensive, and informative photo essay on the British Columbia grasslands and the book. Pick up a copy – it’s a must-see!
Anita Willis, editor-in-chief of British Columbia Magazine has been supportive and interested since the early days of this project. She and writer Brian Payton have spent several days out in the grasslands with us and they will be carrying a full feature article on the BC Grasslands and the book in their fall issue. We are all very excited to have the grasslands featured so strongly as British Columbia Magazine has a world-wide readership, and we feel the BC grasslands are a global treasure.
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 I of this series starts in Newsletter #14.
Book Cover Image
© Chris Harris;
Canon EOS-1D Mark II; Lens: 100mm macro;
Focal length: 100mm;
ISO: 100; Shutter speed: 1/2000 sec.
I thought I would say a few words about the book cover image. This is an environmental book about a subject few people know about, so I knew I needed an image that would intrigue people, capture their imaginations, and make them curious enough to want to open the book to find out more (oh, and hopefully purchase it!). I could think of no documentary image that would do all that, so I went to a more abstract photograph – an image of grass set against the setting sun. As soon as I saw this image I knew immediately it was the cover shot. One might say that it represents a portal through which people can enter the grasslands for the very first time – even those who have been there before. It is designed to put you right into the grass at ground level, so you can feel the essence and sense the spirit in the grass.
I made this photograph with a 100 mm macro lens at a wide-open aperture so as to have a shallow depth of field, and to enlarge the sun by throwing it completely out of focus. This is another example of an image that requires pre-visualization, a very important ingredient in expressive photography.
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. As is typical, I’ve overlooked my own spectacular region in favour of what I imagined as more exotic further afield. So this year I would like to share with you my discoveries closer to home 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.
DECEPTION FALLS – PART II
© Chris Harris;
Canon EOS-1D Mark II; Lens: 17-35 mm;
Focal length: 35mm;
ISO: 100; Shutter speed: 1/4 sec.
In Newsletter #23 I took you through a beautiful birch/aspen forest for a distant view of Deception Falls. I could have finished my image making there, but the falls seemed too spectacular and full of photographic potential not to descend to the valley bottom. The route was wet and slippery and the rocks along the creek were treacherously slick so I don’t recommend others doing this – it’s just that I had to get an image with a fresh perspective! The gorge was deep in shadow creating a bluish cast. What I enjoy most about photographing is the visual exploration of a subject like this. The above image is a fairly documentary one showing the falls in its entirety. The choice as to what shutter speed you use to capture the motion of the water is a purely subjective one. A fast shutter speed of say 1/500 or faster will render each water droplet tack sharp. If you wish to soften the water somewhat, then put your camera on a tripod and use a slower shutter speed. As you can see above, I made this image at ¼ second.
© Chris Harris;
Canon EOS-1D Mark II; Lens: 70-200 mm;
Focal length: 200mm;
ISO: 400; Shutter speed: 1/13 sec.
Aperture: 13; Exp.compensation +1 2/3
While photographing, I was attracted by the rocks in the lower right of the falls. I switched lenses to a medium telephoto and zooming in, I began to explore. In this composition I used the cliffs to frame the rocks and then made several exposures at different speeds. At a distance, I almost always photograph waterfalls at ¼ sec. But because I was a lot closer and using a telephoto lens, I elected to vary the shutter speeds and choose my favourite at home – in this case 1/13th sec.
On my return journey to my vehicle I was blessed with a total visual surprise. Stay tuned for the next Newsletter!
The May 6th evening in celebration of Harold Rhenisch was a wonderful gathering of friends; there was food, drink and conversation, and of course the treat we all came for, Harold reading his work. As you know, Harold was awarded The Malahat Review Long Poem Prize for the second time in a row. This is a very prestigious award in Canadian literature and The Malahat Review will be available on the newsstands by mid-July. The name of his award winning poem is titled The Bone Yard. Be sure to search that out as well as Wolves at Evelyn and Winging Home; a Palette of Birds. Both are available here at the Chris Harris Gallery or you can visit www.haroldrhenisch.com and the complete overview of his books. They come highly recommended.
Thanks to everyone who attended this event making it a truly memorable occasion. It was an honour to have held it here at our home.
Harold reading a poem he wrote for the Spirit in the Grass
© Chris Nickless, 100 Mile Free Press