- The Great Bear Rainforest: A Gift from the Oceans
- The Volcanic Itcha Mountains: A Gift from the Mountains
- Back Yard Artist: The Gift of a New Day
- Season’s Greetings
As we approach the gift giving season, and we are all seeking to act in the spirit of generosity, I thought it timely to look back at some of the generous gifts I have received this year.
While sailing through British Columbia’s Inside Passage in an area known as The Great Bear Rainforest, I was witness to one of my most memorable photographic gifts of 2009.
It was a peaceful afternoon when my friend Tom, skipper of the Ocean Light 2, spotted a pod of humpback whales in the distance. As Tom changed course, I excitedly began to check over my two camera bodies while envisioning the image possibilities.
With most people already at the bow, the place with the greatest possible view, I remained content to cross back and forth between port and starboard, hoping to be at the right side at the right moment. After shooting some ‘flipper slapping’ and ‘tail lobbing’ on the starboard side, I followed a hunch and moved to the port side. While looking out at the vast calmness, I stood hoping to see the grandest spectacle of them all, a 40-50 ft. (12-15m) humpback whale propelling its 30-40 tons (23,000-37,000 kg) skyward; twisting while in the air and landing with a tremendous splash.
© Chris Harris
Photographer’s Notes: Canon EOS-50D. In preparation, I put my 24-105mm IS lens on my EOS-1Ds Mk.III, and 70-200mm IS lens on my EOS-50D body which has a magnification factor of 6. I set both cameras to auto-focus; continuous high speed; with image stabilization turned on. I then looked out to sea through both lenses, and depending on how far away the whale might breach, decided which body to use when. By continuously reviewing each possibility in my mind as I stood waiting, I was able to instantly grab the right camera, compose, and fire.
After the thrill of a life time, I anxiously looked at my camera’s LCD screen. I had captured the entire sequence in 14 images and upon checking the time embedded in each image, that entire sequence was made in just under 3 seconds. Was I lucky? You bet. But if you read the ‘photographer’s notes’ you will also see that I was well prepared for that moment. As soon as I saw where the whale’s nose broke the water, I was able to grab the right camera body, with the right lens, and the right settings; compose and begin shooting. Three seconds later it was all over. I had experienced and captured a gift from the ocean.
Humpback Whale Breaching
© Chris Harris
Information Note: Humpback whales follow a regular migration route, summering in temperate and polar waters for feeding, and wintering in tropical waters for mating and calving. They are found near the coastline, feeding on tiny shrimp-like krill, plankton, and small fish. Each whale eats up to 1½ tons (1,361 kg) of food a day.
If you would like to explore and photograph the Great Bear Rainforest by boat, contact Ocean Light II Adventures.
After a full day of shooting while hiking in the Itchas this summer, I realized my battery was getting low at the same time the evening light was getting better…not a good combination! I searched and searched my camera bag but to no avail. Rita kindly volunteered to go back to camp and check my sleeping bag where I keep them warmly stored during the night. I was sure I had brought it; I felt embarrassed that I had forgotten such an important item; and I felt bad that Rita now had to go all the way back to camp.
© Chris Harris
|Photographer’s Notes: Canon EOS-1Ds Mk.III; 100-400mm. lens shot at 340mm. Primary consideration in the evening light was shutter speed to ensure sharply focused goats; and because the landscape was so beautiful, I wanted as much depth of focus as possible. I pushed the ISO up to 800 and shot at 1/500 @ f-11.|
As is often the case, a foul-up turned into a gift. Rita returned. The bad news was there was no battery; the good news was she had discovered a small herd of mountain goats. With Rita now leading the way, we quietly climbed behind and over a ridge to view four beautiful, shedding mountain goats relaxing in the evening light. The setting was idyllic. Four differently coloured diagonal shapes with two sets of goats resting and eating within the two prominent ones. It was a gift from the mountains…and Rita as well!
By the way, I did find my battery in a small never-before-used cubbyhole in my camera bag!
If you would like to explore and photograph the Itcha Mountains area by horse, contact Six Mile Ranch.
As my friend Mike says, ‘every day I can get up, breath on the mirror, and see my breath, is a good day’. In the case below, the comforting warmth of our home breathed on the sub-zero window pane and mother nature created a pattern of beauty.
Looking closely at these intricate patterns through my macro lens, I also have cause to be thankful for a new day. The sun and Planet Earth are once again giving warmth and life to us all.
Sunrise through Frosted Flakes
© Chris Harris
|Photographer’s Notes: Canon EOS-1Ds Mk.III; 100mm. macro lens. At f-32 I ensured that all the crystals were sharp. I focused on the crystals and the macro lens, even at f-32, put the rising sun out of focus. The warm light reflecting off the crystals was magical. ISO 100 at 1/80 sec. on a tripod.|
It’s minus 20 outside as I write this, so Santa must surely be visiting soon. We just need a little more snow, not only for Santa’s sleigh, but so we can get out on the x-country ski trails!
We all had a wonderful and productive year, both here at the Gallery and out photographing in the mountains. Rita and I explored extensively while shooting for the upcoming volcano book while her daughter Teresa gave us that freedom by managing the Gallery. Over the winter a team of us will be working on the new book, which we are all very excited about. If Santa is good to you, maybe you will find a copy under the Christmas tree by this time next year!
Merry Christmas and a Happy Holiday!
© Chris Harris
|Photographer’s Notes: Canon EOS-1D Mk.II; ISO 200; 1/500 sec.; f-9; 17-35mm lens shot at 33mm. Before making this image, I scouted the route and choose a slightly elevated location to get a pleasing perspective on the sleigh. It was very important that the sleigh and the people’s heads not get lost in the background trees. Also, note the placement of the sleigh within the entire composition. It is in the 1/3 position leading into the picture space as well as being separated from the grove of trees on the right. The position of the dog was sheer good fortune!|
Thank you for being a Newsletter subscriber and for sharing in the search for beauty in this wonderful Cariboo-Chilcotin region of Planet Earth. Your emails, thoughts, ideas, and supportive comments are greatly appreciated.
To all, wherever you may live, we wish you health, friendship and peace. Merry Christmas and a happy holiday.
Chris, Rita, and Teresa
If you would like to enjoy a Christmas sleigh ride here in the Cariboo, give the folks at Spring Lake Ranch a call. It’s a beautiful setting.
Chris Harris Gallery
5577 Back Valley Road
Get notified when a new newsletter appears on this site