Connecting with other photographers, especially those with skill and experience, is a very satisfying and worthwhile experience. Some months ago, while reading my favorite online forum, http://www.Canadian-Digital.com, I came across a request from Jeff, a Manitoba photographer, who mentioned that he would be visiting relatives in Kelowna and inquired if any local members could point him in the direction of good scenic locations in the area. I posted that I couldn’t really help him with Kelowna, but if he was interested I would gladly spend a day introducing him to Wells Gray Park, and added a link to the park’s website.
He sent an enthusiastic return email and we made plans to spend a day wandering my favourite roadside locations in Wells Gray Provincial Park. Photographers that haven’t been able to visit the fourth largest park in British Columbia are missing a visual treat.
Wells Gray is a spectacular, almost pure, wilderness area that is easily accessible by car. Although the website advertises it as a world-class destination for canoeing, kayaking, hiking, and camping, photographers can enjoy a photo-packed day trip wandering along the pleasantly-winding, park road and will return home with memory cards filled with quality wilderness images.
I anticipated that photographer Jeff, my new friend from Manitoba, had no idea what to expect other than the picture postcard images from the website, and I was pleased when he remarked that he would like to look for more creative opportunities than those most would make from the dedicated tourist lookouts.
The experience of meeting a stranger, and then spending the day driving, talking, and site seeing might be uncomfortable for some, but for photographers, I think they only need photography in common to have an enjoyable time. At any time, if the other person’s opinion causes unease, just change the subject to cameras, lenses, or any other thing photographic.
In order to get to Wells Gray early, Jeff had to get up before the sun for a two-hour drive from Kelowna to Kamloops to meet me at my shop at 6am. (I wasn’t being mean! It was his choice.) We bought coffee and departed for Clearwater, an hour and a half drive away, because we had decided to be in the park taking pictures for 8am. From Clearwater we then roamed into the park with our cameras at the ready.
When I put my camera gear on the backseat of his car I had to move his tripod, and remarked that I liked the ball head he had attached to it. He said, “I always use a tripod”, and I thought to myself, “I think I’m going to like this guy.” There’s nothing like a tripod to let one know they are with a serious landscape photographer.
Wells Gray is a great park for roadside photographers with many places to stop, to photograph the spectacular waterfalls, old homesteads and the river’s many geological features tucked only a short walk away, and that is just what we did. Unfortunately, the wildlife was timid and we only briefly saw one black bear.
The comfortably cool day was excellent for photography with a slight overcast and high moving clouds. Jeff changed lenses and filters regularly as he worked the new environment, but for me Wells Gray has been a regular location for years and I was content to stay with my well-used, 24-120mm lens as I photographed the familiar landscape.
The internet is a wonderful way of bringing people together and I know I would really appreciate photographers extending hospitality to me when I travel to some far off place. In the event of any concern, checking up on other forum members is easy. I reviewed Jeff’s online posts (as he had mine), and when he wrote he was visiting BC I was sure he’d be fun to know and to stand beside as we made pictures. One doesn’t always have to participate as a host, but I am sure suggesting locations for photography would be appreciated. For local photographers who have never made the expedition to Wells Gray, it is well worthwhile.
Contact me at http://www.enmanscamera.com