These are strange times                                                    

One would think with all the pictures of the crowds of people at parks and beaches on the news that many folks have decided that the Covid-19 pandemic isn’t a big deal, but take a drive on any country side-road and it is very evident that something has changed.

This week I had to make a short trip to pick up supplies for my shop.  I have made the two-hour drive south on that double lane road for years and there is always lots of traffic any day of the week at any time of day, but for the first time it was almost devoid of the usual large trucks, passenger cars and motorcycles.

As readers know I like wandering the back roads with my camera. I will place my cameras and lenses ready to use on the backseat of my car and go for short drives to photograph anything and everything that seems interesting.

When I return home I load the images into my computer and spend hours having fun seeing what I can do with them. With jazz music blaring and a glass of wine I sit at my computer and get creative. I always will have one image opened with several different versions. Some manipulations stray pretty far from reality, but heck its fun doing anything with photography.

I remember when I would return home with several rolls of exposed film. I would process the film then wait for an overnight dry and print photographs all the next day. I guess I haven’t changed very much, its fun doing anything with photography.

My friend Jo and her family have been isolating themselves from other people for just over two weeks and I haven’t been near anyone since I closed my shop a month ago. So we figured it was safe when I asked Jo if she wanted to join me for the drive. We each have been driving our own cars and it is good to be able to go together again.

The drive along the mostly deserted road was filled with good photo opportunities, and we could pull off the road almost anywhere without worrying about other vehicles. I wonder how long that will last.

When we got to our destination I knocked at the door and stepped back off the porch. A fellow opened the door and placed my package on the steps and moved back so I could get it. We said hello from the government recommended, “social distancing” and I commented that I hope we can get together at the next Vancouver Camera Swap Meet. (If there is one in October and it is safe to attend)

These are strange times.

On our drive home we made several stops to make photos and even took a quick turn through a fast food drive through. We returned home with some good photos and had a nice easy and very safe drive on the almost deserted roads. These are strange times.

As I sit to write this I am thinking about how addictive this wonderful medium so many of us are dedicated to actually is – in spite of the crisis we are enduring.  With that thought here is a quote by the famous American photographer Richard Avedon, “If a day goes by without my doing something related to photography, it’s as though I’ve neglected something essential to my existence.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Good Day of Roadside Photography

River view copy   REd pier copy Horse running copy

I recently talked to a long time photographer that said the landscape photography in early advertisements by the American Automobile Association was what got him into photography. That organization was once the best place to get maps for road trips in North America. They sent their employees out, with cameras and mapping instruments, across the continent finding the best and most scenic routes. I remember seeing pictures of their big, four-door cargo vehicles with people poised on platforms on top of the vehicle with large tripod mounted 8×10 cameras on some obscure dirt road in the middle of North America. It all looked very exciting.

We both remembered pictures of Ansel Adams standing on a platform on top of a vehicle very much like those used by the American Automobile Association with his large camera making wonderful photographs that scenic photographers still admire.  I actually sold my jaunty, little, two-seater MG that was so easy to get around the streets of Los Angeles, and bought a bright yellow International Scout 4×4. Underpowered, poor turning capability, uncomfortable on long trips with back seats that were only accessed by climbing over a metal barrier behind the front seats, it was perfect in my young mind and meant that I, like Ansel Adams and the folks from the AAA, could gleefully travel the back roads in a cool looking vehicle with my camera capturing the natural world on film.

Years have passed, and technology has changed, and so have I.  There are still lots of back roads to explore and photograph, but the days of climbing on my car roof are long gone.  The American Automobile Association no longer explores the country, and today I check maps on line or my cell phone. I don’t need a large 8×10 view camera like Ansel Adams used with the accompanying long hours working in a chemical darkroom to make good enlargements, and certainly don’t want to drive around in that uncomfortable, gas guzzling International anymore.

I thought about that conversation and the many scenic photographs I have made while driving along the South Thompson River towards Kamloops, British Columbia as I pulled off the road to meet up with fellow photographer Peter Evans. Evans and I were hoping the sun on the gray, overcast day would poke through the clouds enough for us to make some worthwhile pictures. We had headed out on the snow-covered roads without a plan. Not the best way to success, but both of us just wanted to get out.  We drove along the highway photographing horses, snow covered trees, and Evans even jumped out trying for some photos of distant deer bounding through a meadow. There were lots of opportunities in spite of the flat light, but our main problem was getting my car far enough off the snow lined highway so as not to be clipped by large passing transport trucks.

We stopped and wandered along the Shuswap Lake in the small town of Chase , and photographed the pier, reflections in the water, and trees along the white icy shore.  When the sun finally peaked though and we dashed back to the car, our goal to catch the sun along the river near a bridge that crosses the Thompson River a few miles from where we were. Chasing the sun seems to be part of roadside photography sometimes.

By the time we reached the Pritchard river crossing the sun was creating diagonal shafts of light that slowly illuminated some features in the landscape, and then in minutes moved leaving them absent of light.

We parked and rushed on to the bridge, yelling at each other, “look, look, look”. Then in spite of cars crossing the narrow bridge, we stood by the railings and shot away. The river scene was exciting, and I constantly altered my meter trying to keep the exposure under the fast moving light. Then in about ten minutes the sun moved into the clouds and dropped behind distant hills and the sky, hills, and river were back to unexciting flat light. However, we were like two happy young kids as returned to the car talking about our luck with the light.

That’s what I call a good day of roadside photography. Pictures of running horses, reflections on the lake, cool shots of the Chase pier, all capped with luminous pictures of the river and I didn’t even need a platform mounted on a gas guzzling vehicle, a big heavy camera, or back roads.

I appreciate your comments. thanks

My website is at www.enmanscamera.com