A pleasant photography trip to Southern British Columbia

My wife, Linda, and I decided to make a short getaway to sunny Osoyoos. The drive, about four hours from Kamloops, constantly changes making the journey fun. And what can be better than new opportunities for photography?

On the way we stopped in Kelowna and swapped lenses with a photographer I had met online, and made my wife the happy owner of a Nikon 70-300mm lens. Then we were off, stopping along the way for snacks to eat, and quick photos of the changing countryside.

Osoyoos, for those unfamiliar with this British Columbia border city, is nestled around what is described as Canada’s warmest lake, great for swimming, boating and packed with orchards and vineyards. I recommend lots of available trunk space for fruit and wine.

We booked ourselves into a lakeside motel upon arrival and after a short rest and a cooling dip in the water, took off to picnic at a lakeside park. I like picnics because I get to wander around with my camera. I have to admit my travel photos always show people relaxing and eating, and yes, I know it isn’t art, but sometimes I just want the memories of that moment. The day was quite contrasty with a bright sky and deep shadows so I used the on camera flash, moving closer with each shot until the limited flash power was bright enough to illuminate Linda setting out supper. A larger flash or even a reflector would have been more effective, but I didn’t bring either, although our car had plenty of trunk space and I would have made much better pictures if I had.

The next morning after sitting around drinking coffee, eating breakfast, and snapping pictures at the motel’s lakeside patio, we struck out to visit some nearby vineyards. In wandering the back roads looking for our designated winery we discovered great photo opportunities and a vineyard or two.

North of town we encountered a route that took us along the valley’s edge and through orchards and vineyards, and it was on that drive we accidentally found the first historic building built in the Osoyoos area, and of course stopped for pictures. In 1861 John Haynes, a policeman from Victoria was sent there and the structure we found was a combination customs house and living quarters. The visitors guide says, “As the representative of justice in the South Okanagan and Kootenay regions, Haynes tried to bring law and order to mining towns that had sprung up with the arrival of the gold-seekers.” And on the construction of the building we spent our time photographing, the guide went on to say, “one of Haynes’ duties as customs officer was to levy taxes on the cattle that were being herded across the U.S. border to the Cariboo gold fields.” The cattlemen would sometimes substitute cattle for cash; and I suppose that’s why the structure was called the Haynes Ranch.

The shadows were harsh so I decided to let them stay deep and under exposed and kept my metering for the bright mid tones as I worked on the buildings themselves, trying to photograph them as part of the surrounding landscape. I had brought other lenses, but I stayed with an 18-70mm and made most of my shots at the shorter focal length. The board building, a rock filled cement wall, and the multi-coloured sage became a perfect foreground for the deep blue, cloudless sky and distant green orchards. Linda used her new 70-300 lens to photograph interesting features of the decrepit building and its location with the tight, compressed perspective the longer lens allowed. I didn’t ask her if she had more fun photographing that building, or when she was photographing sailboats and seadoos from the lakeshore later that day.

Our Osoyoos trip offered a perfect photographer’s getaway and, as I wrote earlier, the drive down was pleasant and filled with photo opportunities, and splashing around in the warm lake was fun also.

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