Newsletter No. 90: January, 2013
© Chris Harris. All rights reserved.
1. The “Flyover” Book Tour: It has been an honour
2. Answering Your Questions:
3. The Next Book: What will it be? Take a guess!!
4. First Photo Shoot of 2013: What an day!
5. Why I love my Canon EOS-5D Mark III: It keeps me out of the Box!
6. An Unparalleled Landscape: Fraser River tour – workshop
7. Because of a Bowl of Porridge: A new world opens up!
This Newsletter marks the beginning of a special year. This is the 10th anniversary of the Chris Harris Studio Gallery. That is hard to believe. My last four books had not been published (or even conceptualized), these monthly Newsletters had never been thought of, and the conversion to digital seemed unlikely.
To commemorate, several events are planned throughout the year, so stay tuned. We hope you will have an opportunity to visit us.
2013 will also be an important year of photographing toward what I consider to be my most important book publication. More about that in subsequent Newsletters. Right now I’d like to share some of my more recent photo adventures!
Our goal here at the Gallery is to share the creative process, and promote the arts; thus strengthening our artistic community. Please share this Newsletter with friends. Thank you.
Hiking across the Cariboo Chilcotin grasslands
1. The “Flyover” Book Tour: It has been an Honour
During the past three months, Sage and/or Rita and I have been on a British Columbia book promotional tour with the latest book Flyover. Although there are still a few more presentations to make, we would like to personally thank all the organizations and their organizers for their effort and support; and a huge thank you, of course, to all those who attended these events. It has been an honour to preserve, in some slight measure, this important chapter of B.C. aviation history and to share it with so many British Columbians.
We have received dozens of calls, e-mails and cards from people around the world who have expressed their appreciation for the book. I have also heard from dozens of others who so enjoyed the slide presentations.
The ‘collectors’ limited edition hard cover books sold out before Christmas and the soft cover version is selling like a “best seller”. Never have we had so many people comment on their appreciation for this local human story.
Ape Lake, Coast Mountains
2. Answering Your Questions:
At these presentations, I often am asked questions regarding the publishing and distribution of my books. I’d like to say a few words to help clarify what we do at Country Light Publishing; why being an independent publisher is so imperative, and why the organizations that host our presentations are so meaningful to us.
Why Self-Publish? My goal as a B.C. publisher is to bring awareness, knowledge, and appreciation to the land and the people of central British Columbia. Within my last three books, with writers, consultants and editors Kristi Iverson, Ordell Steen, Dr Mary-Lou Bevier, Harold Rhenisch and Sage Birchwater, we have brought to the publications the highest level within the capacity of this publishing company of scientific accuracy, literate writing, and engaging story-telling all for the purpose of placing value on our natural and cultural history.
As the photographer, I have attempted to capture beauty that inspires, evokes emotion, and provokes thought. Together we share a vision to ignite a new consciousness about how we in the Cariboo Chilcotin can better connect with the planet, with relevancy and integrity.
The alternative to self-publishing would be to take all our images and thoughts for each book to an outside publisher.
Firstly, one would have to find a publisher who thought the subject had enough interest to generate a profit or be eligible for a publishing subsidy or grant.
Secondly, in all probability, the publisher and in-house designer and editor would not have an understanding of our book subjects, nor its goals. Instead, the publishing company would choose all the images, edit all the text, decide on the books title, and design the book – all according to its own imperatives of economics and therefore its own market projections. The spirit of the photographer, the spirit of the writers, the spirit of the land and human stories would be subject to these priorities.
I consider being an independent publisher as the most paramount aspect in the creation of these books.
Echo Lake, Coast Mountains
Where can I purchase your books? Flyover has been met with unconditional kudos from everyone who gets it in their hands, and has been selling like a ‘best seller’.
Cariboo Chilcotin book stores have enjoyed HUGE success with it, along with a few select, creative retailers in other regions.
One would expect it to be a popular item among the independent booksellers of the province, but this is not the case.
Let me illustrate;
Two months ago we made a Flyover presentation to a packed house in Vancouver, hosted by Nature Vancouver, at which $2,000. worth of books were purchased. That revenue on a per person in attendance basis, was indicative of all fifteen appearances we made last fall.
Where we presented, we contacted local bookstores to advise them of the opportunity to carry our books. We actively encourage people to support their local book stores, advise them their favourite store can order wholesale from us and assure them that we do not retail through big-box or online retail distribution. Frequently attendees elect to support their bookstore, even knowing that sales at presentations contribute to our livelihood, and we encourage this.
We have also had people who then had to get the book from us online and pay the postage because the store they chose to support declined to order from us.
When we presented at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, the evening was preceded by a CBC radio interview, a television appearance on the CFJC Midday Show, two local newspaper articles, along with extensive publicity by the hosting organization and ourselves.
We called the largest independent book store in town to let them know about the media coverage and offered to personally deliver our books to save them postage. They elected not to order. The very next week we processed a dozen online book orders to Kamloops where each buyer had to pay over $10.00 in postage per book.
These instances are not anomalies, they are now the norm. One store owner described us as ‘Cariboo-centric’ as a reason not to carry the book, which a customer of hers had asked her for and she had declined to order, and even though we ship books all over North America and beyond.
So to answer your question truthfully, there are not many bookstores in B.C. where you can purchase any of our books. We depend on Cariboo Chilcotin bookstores and a few other retailers, our book-tour presentations, and sales from our own website and Gallery.
Bridge River Glacier, Coast Mountains
Why are we Celebrating? Simple; the number of organizations and individuals who place personal value on the quality of our work, the intent of our work, and the subject matter about which we publish.
It is a daily and astounding realization for us, that enough people in the world, and in our province, will step outside their personal convenience and comfort zone to create a venue for us, market and gather an audience for us to present a slide show and share the story behind the creation of each of these books.
Our audience sends enough signals for us to comfortably claim that we are not only regional, but global; that the themes we explore and the images I create are much more than ‘Cariboo-centric’; that we have a subject and approach to the work we do for which many people all over the world hunger, and that there is a sense of integrity and connectivity with the land.
The degradation in the writing/publishing/book selling world is not a degradation of audience. It is a degradation of quality, originality, integrity, excellence, creativity and service.
In conclusion, I reiterate what I said in article #1. On behalf of all the writers, editors, book designer, and other collaborators of our books, Rita and I thank all organizations and their organizers, all individuals who attended our book presentations, and all those people of the planet who order online, visit our Gallery and other local retailers, and support our publications. This support enables us to continue. For this we are most appreciative.
3. The Next Book: What will it be? Take a guess!
Almost daily I am asked, what are you planning for your next book?
Every day I think about it.
Every day I visualize it.
Every day I do research on it.
Every day I photograph it in my mind.
Every week I discuss it with associates.
Every week I pore over maps.
Every week I search through my images
Every week I plan out this year’s photo shoots
Fresh water iceberg, Coast Mountains
Day by day and week by week the project gets clearer and clearer. I get more and more excited. I photographed toward this book last year but this year I will be really going for it. I can’t wait!
These Newsletters are the place to watch for progress, insights and adventures of the new project; so subscribers are the first audience to get a glimpse.
4. First Photo Shoot of 2013: What a Day!
Earlier this week, Mike Duffy and I headed out on our first photo day-shoot of 2013, and we had a blast. In total darkness after a night of heavy wet snow, we drove to Farwell Canyon, 4-wheel drive all the way! When we got there we found a winter landscape I had never witnessed before.
My objective for the image below was twofold; show the sage beautifully laden with wet snow, and provide context by displaying the canyon landscape. To do this I choose my 14mm wide angle lens.
Snow-clad Big Sage and Chilcotin River, Farwell Canyon
|Notes on composition & technique: The Canyon landscape was what it was. The challenging part of this composition was choosing which sage bushes to include or not include. With a 14mm wide angle lens, the most important compositional ingredient is the immediate foreground. With the lens pointed right down toward my toes, I searched until I found the double white lead-in lines on either side of the lower centre bush. Now the sage bushes and the pure white pathways lead my eye throughout the picture space in a revealing way that accomplishes my original objective. To keep the snow white, I over-exposed 1 2/3rds f-stops.
EOS 5D Mk III; iso 100; f-22; 1/8 sec.; focal length: 14mm; On a tripod
I have never feasted on such beauty, as when I looked out over these Big Sage clad in white snow. The fog filled sky added to the mood.
Snow-clad Big Sage, Farwell Canyon
|Notes on composition & technique: Once again, the challenge was finding a route that would take viewers’ eyes through the sage and out into the landscape. Eventually I found one that branched out in two directions. Using a very wide angle lens, I aimed it down to my feet. The white pathway takes us out on a visual journey throughout the entire landscape. To keep the snow white, I over-exposed 1 1/2 f-stops.
EOS 5D Mk III; iso 100; f-22; 1/13 sec.; focal length: 14mm; On a tripod
After an amazing day of photography, we began to drive home. Fortunately (we have learned this many times over), Mike and I kept our cameras in the front seat between us. My two bodies were both turned ‘on’ with pre-set settings, just in case something suddenly happened. Well, something did happen and I was ready!
California Bighorn Sheep, Farwell Canyon
|Notes on composition & technique: When this herd of Bighorn sheep ran across the road in front of us, I stopped the truck, grabbed the body with a telephoto lens, jumped outside, and began shooting. I never had time to change the pre-settings. I just composed and shot. Had I not been prepared, I would never have made this image. In the above instance, I did not have time to make compositional decisions. It was purely instinctual. This is where years of experience in making compositional decisions comes into play.
EOS 50D; iso 800; f-8; 1/640 sec.; 100-400mm lens; handheld
5. Why I love my Canon EOS-5D Mark III: It lets me out of the box!
If you have followed my journey from film to digital, you will remember how frustrated I have been with my Canon cameras; until this year. Finally, Canon produced a model with a multiple exposure function allowing me the option of making images similar to ones I previously made with film.
|Notes on composition & technique: Compositionally, I searched for a spot in the forest that contained no distractions such as a black tree trunk or one that was half fallen over. I wanted all the trees to be vertical and of a similar tone. I wanted the emphasis to be entirely on the texture.
EOS 5D Mark III; iso 200; f-8; 1/200 sec.; 24-105mm lens; handheld
After making the documentary image above, I decided to place the entire
focus on texture. The landscape aspect of the previous image is gone.
Texture alone can be as commanding an element of composition as the use
of lines, shapes, or colour.
Texture – aspen forest
|Notes on composition & technique: There is no focal point in this tonal image. It is just texture in and of itself. To create this image I made 7 exposures while moving my handheld camera slightly. By slightly offsetting a multitude of patterns, I have created a tonal image of texture alone that commands our attention.
EOS 5D Mark III; iso 200; f-8; 1/160 sec.; 24-105mm lens; 7 exposures; handheld
My Canon EOS 5D Mark III is the best digital camera I have owned to date…finally!
6. An Unparalleled Landscape: Fraser River Tour – Workshop
On this year’s Fraser River Workshop, there will be an emphasis on personalized attention to assist people in their search for stronger and more meaningful compositions.
Mid Fraser Canyon
|Notes on composition & technique: The composition here is based on three basic triangular shapes which sit on top of a thin rectangular shape; the water. When travelling through a landscape by boat, it is especially easy to pass by and not recognize compelling compositions. If one is not accustomed to seeing the landscape in terms of shapes, for example, one might not identify the above scene as having great potential. On this trip, I will be pointing out such possibilities, assisting everyone in seeing with ‘photographic eyes’. In the above image, there is also considerable tonal contrast between the left and right hand triangles. This element adds considerably to the scene’s compositional strength.
EOS 5D Mark III; iso 400; f-8; 1/500 sec.; 24-105mm lens; handheld
For information about this photo tour and workshop, visit my website.
7. Because of a Bowl of Porridge: A new world opens up!
This morning, after bringing my pot of porridge to a boil, I turned off the flame, and put a lid on the pot. Five minutes later, as I removed the lid, I noticed that the bottom of the lid was covered with tiny droplets of condensed steam.
Forget about the porridge I thought as I brought the lid out into the conservatory. Allowing the blue sky to reflect off the surface, I went to work with my 100mm macro lens.
Droplets of condensed steam
|Notes on composition & technique: My favourite technique for using a macro lens is to open the aperture to 2.8 and then focus by moving the camera forward and backward. With a minimal depth of field, I search for something to focus on. In my excitement for the subject, I forgot to check my aperture. At f-5 the out of focus ice crystals that were on the distant window became octagons in lieu of full circles. Apart from that, the technique still worked as I focused on the small grouping of larger droplets. Compositionally, as I focused on the droplets, I was also aware of the size and placement of the so called ‘circles of confusion’. I was also very aware of the tiny bands of colour which I could clearly see through the view finder.
EOS 5D Mark III; iso 200; f-5; 1/2500 sec.; 100mm macro lens; handheld
I can’t wait for my next bowl of porridge! Happy shooting.