- Driving to the ARK: Being in the Moment
- Springtime in the ARK: Friends of Churn
- New Book Websites Up & Running: Again!
- The Local Quilt Exhibit: Amazing!
Last week I set off for two days of photography in Churn Creek Protected Area, an area within the Chilcotin ARK, the subject of one of my new books. After filling up with gas and topping up my coffee mug at Tim’s, I left 100 Mile House at 5am.
There is always that tendency to just get to the destination in the shortest time possible, but if there is one thing I have learned over the years as a photographer, it is to slow down and be in the moment. I make a conscious decision not to drive over 90 kph on highways and much slower on back country roads.
© Chris Harris
Photographer’s Notes: As I came around a sharp corner between two mountain cliffs I saw this wetland in early morning light. What caught my attention were the bulrushes silhouetted against the brighter reflections. It was this contrast that made me stop, for I could immediately envision the image you see above. Canon EOS-1Ds MkIII, iso 100; f-22; 1/8 sec; lens at 82mm; on a tripod.
A little ways further, I spotted a Sandhill crane sitting in a small depression out in the grasslands. I stopped immediately which must have alarmed her, for she got up and started to prance about.
If there is another thing I have learned over the years, it is to be prepared for the unexpected. Beside me in the passenger seat were two camera bodies with two different lenses. One was my EOS 50D with a 500mm lens attached; just what I needed.
© Chris Harris
Photographer’s Notes: In my truck is a bean bag which I place over my window after winding it part way down. This provides a cushion for my long lens. As such, it acts as a tripod and also absorbs any camera vibration. This is extremely important when shooting with a long telephoto lens. I have also used a high iso and shutter speed to further reduce shutter vibration. Canon EOS 50D, iso 800; f-11; 1/800 sec.
Still further along the road I saw this Saskatoon bush in full blossom, beautifully situated along an old fence. I made a documentary style image to start with, but then I contemplated how else might I portray this wonderful feeling of spring. The shape of this fully-blossoming bush alone would have made me stop, but to see it in conjunction with this old, fast-disappearing fence, had me on cloud nine. The challenge as a photographer, was how do I photograph it in order to express that feeling.
© Chris Harris
Photographer’s Notes: I set the Nikon’s custom function to ‘multiple exposures’ and selected 2 as the number to make. Putting the camera on a tripod, I made one exposure in focus and the second exposure completely out of focus. This effect softened each blossom giving it a feeling of burgeoning life. I also used f-8 in order to keep the background trees out of focus, thus putting a greater emphasis on the Saskatoon bush. Nikon D700, iso 400; f-8; 1/60 sec.; focal length at 100mm.
In Newsletter #68 I wrote about why I had purchased a Nikon D700 for its creative function of multiple exposures. This was the perfect opportunity to use that camera. How I used it to generate this explosive feeling of spring is described in my ‘photographer’s notes’ above.
Once in the Churn Creek Protected Area (CCPA) I drove down to the bank of the Fraser River to smell the fresh spring scent of the cottonwood trees and get a feeling for the power of the swollen and fast-moving river.
Within seconds of arriving, I spotted a Northern flicker checking me out as I drove by. With my 500mm lens close at hand, I used the same technique as described above to make the following image.
© Chris Harris
Photographer’s Notes: One of the most challenging aspects to bird photography is dealing with the background. On the one hand I wanted to give a sense of the bird’s natural habitat, but at the same time, not have that vegetation compete for attention with the centre of interest (the bird). Changing ones perspective by just an inch or two can make all the difference. By using f-8, I felt I could keep the entire bird sharp, while at the same time, throwing the background vegetation and Fraser River out of focus. Canon EOS 50D, iso 800; f-9; 1/500 sec.; 500mm lens.
Friends of Churn:
Ever since the release of my book Spirit in the Grass: The Cariboo Chilcotin’s Forgotten Landscape, there has been a renewed interest in the central interior grasslands. In 2009 a non-profit organization called Friends of Churn Creek Protected Area Society was formed to help BC Parks achieve its conservation and cultural heritage vision for the area. Two of its executives, Ordell Steen (president) and Kristi Iverson (secretary) were the two main contributors to the Spirit in the Grass book, representing the Grasslands Conservation Council of British Columbia.
The organization is involved in a number of very worthwhile projects including a trail guide which will enable people to walk and explore these extremely beautiful grasslands. These grasslands represent a natural wonder of the world, and should you live in the area or would like to contribute to the CCPA in some way, please check out their website. They are a wonderful group of people and they would sincerely appreciate your support.
Hiking in Churn Creek Protected Area
© Chris Harris
Photographer’s Notes: My considerations in making this image were to keep both Mike and the landscape beyond sharp and in focus. Canon EOS-1Ds MkIII, iso 400; f-11; 1/160 sec; lens at 58mm; on a tripod.
On an earlier trip this spring, Mike Duffy and I hiked for miles through the grasslands, searching for photographic opportunities. I don’t think there is a more gentle and pleasing environment in which to hike.
© Chris Harris
Photographer’s Notes: Using a tripod from ground level looking up is never easy but imperative if you wish to be deliberate with both your composition and technique. EOS-1Ds MkIII, iso 100; f-23; 1/20 sec; lens at 20mm; on a tripod.
After two weeks of computer upgrading, we are finally up and running with our two new book websites – once again. Check out the Fly-Over website and follow along as Sage and I create the aerial book, describing the aviation legacy of the Cariboo-Chilcotin-Coast region of British Columbia.
Sage is just completing another book but will join us soon with fascinating blog stories, drawing on the memories of legendary bush pilots.
I will be photographing throughout the year and posting a “Fly-Over Picture of the Day”. You got it – a new image every day! What better way to start your morning along with your “Coffee of the Day”.
Hiking toward the ARK
© Chris Harris
Photographer’s Notes: To compress the distance between Mike in the foreground and the ARK’s grassland slopes beyond, I used a telephoto lens. This perspective adds drama to the landscape. Canon EOS 50D, iso 400; f-14; 1/100 sec.; 100-400mm lens.
The Chilcotin ARK website is also back in full swing. Dave will be posting a weekly blog every Thursday, describing the many amazing aspects of the ARK. He will also be posting weekly Questions & Answers to challenge your knowledge about the ARK. It’s a great way to learn. If you are in school, get your teacher and class involved.
I will also be posting an “ARK Picture of the Day”. Eventually these images will be entered onto the Gallery Page so that you can get an overview of the size and diversity of this entire book project as well as the ARK itself.
Join us on this exciting journey of discovery.
On May 13th and 14th the Cariboo Calico Quilters Club put on a giant exhibit in the 100 Mile House Community Hall; an event they hold every five years. I had never been to this event before but this year I had good reason to attend.
At the request of four quilters, I provided my photographic print titled “Full Moon over the Grasslands” from which they would create their own interpretations. As you can see above, four very different and beautiful quilts were made, based on the print in the upper left. It was quite the buzz at the Exhibit; lots of laughs and well-documented on Facebook the next day.
But, for me, that was just the beginning. I set off to explore the more than 230 quilt items; a true “ “Bouquet of Quilts” as they called the exhibit. I was amazed at the talent and I couldn’t begin to comprehend the hours of effort and dedication that went into their creation.
As I stared at the more traditional designs, I imagined myself as a mathematician. There had to be complicated formula’s behind these patterns. Incredible. There were also quilts that were imaginative works of art. As a photographer, I found myself examining their composition. I analyzed the shapes, lines, textures, and colours. I wondered why I was drawn to some more than others. I was spellbound.
Then I happened upon the above quilt made by Donna Fillmore. As soon as I saw it I knew I HAD to have it. It spoke to me in a powerful way. I was about to purchase my first quilt!
Over the years I have come to realize that I seek out triangular shapes in my photographic compositions; far more than any other shape. I am not sure why, but when you look at the quilt I fell in love with, you will notice two very powerful triangles. Was that an influence on me?
While writing this, I flashed back on an image I made back in 2005 while photographing for the grasslands book. Now I am really intrigued! What is it with triangles??
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