Garden photography during the first days of summer          

 

 

 

Last Wednesday was the first day of summer here in Canada and I finally made time to wander our garden for my monthly photo session with the flowers growing there.

I had photographed the garden in May and although there were some early blooming roses and tulips, not much was going on.   However, since then the cool spring days here in the interior of British Columbia lengthened and warmed and the summer heat is coming.   Everything was in bloom and waiting for my first-days-of-summer photographic expedition.

The sky clear with a slight breeze as I walked around in the cool morning.   It was comfortable, but neither worked for me. I was hoping for some clouds and didn’t like the breeze at all, so I waited.

About 2pm slight clouds started gathering and the breeze quieted.  I attached a flash on a lightstand, mounted my 70-180mm macro on my camera and started searching the garden.

It doesn’t matter if I am photographing a person or a flower, I like to use an off-camera flash.   Sure there is nice natural light once in a while, but it is so much easier to control the light with a flash then to hope and wait for the sun to be just right.   Normally I like using an umbrella, but there was that intermittent breeze that didn’t bother my waiting subjects too much, but the tiny gusts could easily blow my flash over with the large umbrella, so I left the umbrella on the porch and instead employed the diffuser that came with the flash.

A flash lets me control the ambient light using the shutter speed and I stop down my aperture to disguise background distraction by under exposing or open up the aperture to reduce depth of field.

I thought about getting in the car and driving over to the pond to check out the geese, or maybe make an attempt at photographing a nearby waterfall that I am sure was loudly crashing into Chase creek. Those are more exciting subjects than flowers, but I promised myself I’d get a good record of the flowers this year. Anyway the afternoon garden and the surrounding neighbourhood was quiet, the plants were patiently waiting, and I was too lazy to go for a drive.

Summer is here and the flower’s bloom won’t last long. The mountains around here have ticks, snakes, and maybe hungry bears (well, probably not hungry bears and I haven’t seen a rattler in years). The water is to high to get good shots of the waterfalls and anyway if one waits another week I expect there will be plenty to photograph on Canada day.  So for now I suggest one more leisurely and safe foray, with camera and flash, into the garden before summer’s heat takes the bloom’n colour away.

The Vancouver Camera Show and Swap Meet       

 

Lots to buy

Wow a 4X5

Sales tecnique

What about this tripod?

Try this one

One of my favorite photography events, the The Vancouver Camera Show and Swap Meet, has come and gone again this year. For over 20 years I have spent the weeks prior to this long-running event, that has now reached it’s 40th year, looking forward to the day I get to attend this ever-so-fun photographer’s gathering put on by the Western Canada Photographic Historic Association, and organized by Siggi and Brigitte Rohde.

There cannot be a better way to spending a rainy spring day than being surrounded by a vast array of cameras and photography equipment, all the while getting a chance to talk with other photographers.

Again this year I made the journey from Kamloops the day before and lodged overnight so I could arrive bright eyed and eager to join the other vendors setting up at early the next morning.

I go wondering what the latest trends will be, or what is popular with the photographers that attend. And, of course, keeping my fingers crossed that the equipment I have on my table is what they are looking for.

The last few years there’s been a major change in the venders being replaced by a much younger crowd. The stuff they have on their tables is much the same, but the vendors’ faces are younger, and there are a lot more women standing behind the tables discussing and selling photography equipment than there was when I first started attending.

As I have said before, the word “diversity” is the best way to describe the mixture of photographic types coming to this camera swap meet. There were all kinds of lifestyles and interests, and specialties in photography, film, digital, past and present technology. However, what they all had in common was that they all were excited, searching for sweet deals that I am certain they got.

This year was no different than last, in that I spent an exhilarating day talking non-stop with other photographers about their different interests in photography and, as always, it was invigorating.

The Vancouver Camera Swap Meet is a splendid way to meet and exchange information with other photographers, and to look at and check out a grand selection of photographic equipment that would not be so accessible anywhere else in Canada.

I write this every year, but I’ll say it again anyway. I had a great time with the photographers I met this year and the depending on who joined me at my table, the conversations always changed. My day of selling was a success, as it was for most of the dealers and very happy bargain hunters I talked to at the end of the day.

Camera's Shot

And…when the camera decides to take a picture by it’s self….

 

 

A Good Day for Infrared Photography            

Pritchard Train crossing 1a

Reflection

Log jams 1b

Salmon 2b

Bridge crossing 1a

 

The past few weeks have been apparent with flat and overcast skies. That’s certainly not inviting for anyone chomping at the bit to get out with a camera around Kamloops, British Columbia.

Only a short month ago the landscape was covered with glistening white snow that even on overcast days created some interest. However, that snow has melted this month leaving colourless meadows and a washed-out-looking, green forest of trees. In my opinion, the best word to describe the landscape, even with today’s sparkling sun, is grey.

I suppose many landscape photographers get creative and spend some time behind a computer manipulating that grey landscape. There are a myriad of programs designed to manipulate image files allowing black and white conversion or gritty oversaturation. But those conversions, although creative, in my opinion, don’t really give much life to the landscape.

However, for me it’s simple. I just grabbed my infrared camera and drove down to the large Thompson River that cuts through the valley on its way to Kamloops and then to the Canadian west coast.

For years I have enjoyed capturing landscapes (and cityscapes) using first, infrared film, and then for the past ten years, a camera converted to only “see” infrared light.

Infrared light is invisible to the human eye. To capture it with a modern DSLR, the camera is converted by blocking all but the infrared light from hitting the sensor.

I enjoy how infrared photography gives me a scene illuminated by that part of the colour spectrum we can’t see, with delightful images that couldn’t be captured in any other way.

Dark skies and glowing white trees are some of my favourite infrared effects. It is those fresh and exciting photographs (done with very little computer work) that separated my photography from both the monotone conversions, and the oversaturated scenic, that had been viewed on posts by other local photographers.

I like to wander along the winter beach not far from my rural home. Normally the turn-off and sparsely tree-lined beach is well used by locals with motorbikes and bicycles, walking their dogs, or launching their fishing boats. However, the winter beach on the river is empty, especially on cold days, and it’s those days that I enjoy the most. I can stroll along the narrow walkway that goes over the bridge while taking pictures of the river valley. And although there is a sign that tells walkers not to loiter or fish from the bridge, in all the years that I have been making pictures from it, no one has ever bothered me. Most of the time people smile and wave from their vehicles as the pass me.

I roam under the bridge and search the sandy riverside photographing interesting features and trash left over from winters’ storms, and, in spite of everything being shades of grey, infrared changes everything, and I have the choice in post-production to choose surreal coloured, or unique black and white images.

I’ll repeat what I wrote when discussing infrared in my article last November, “Infrared allows a photographer, and gives the viewer, a completely different feeling of a subject. Making an image with a modified camera is an exploration and a discovery that moves a photographer far from the usual”.

Snowshoes Are Perfect For Winter Photography         

Passing the shed

Afternoon sun

Melting snow

Barn View

Winter is here and there is enough snow for me to put on my snowshoes and make my first winter hike to the high meadow above my home. Last January my walk up into that meadow’s deep snow was on a cold, -3C day, under a bright, almost-cloudless, blue sky, and I remember I was shooting with a lightweight, 18-105mm lens on my cropped-frame camera.

Yesterday I had chosen to mount a lightweight 24-85mm on my full-frame camera. Both this year and last I incorporated a polarizer to darken the skies, increase the contrast in the scene, and suppress glare from the surface of the bright white snow, on the partly cloudy +1C day that had me wishing I didn’t wear the extra undershirt.

I trekked up the hill, and as I had so many times before, I photographed everything. There are rarely any animals in sight in that long meadow. If so they can hear my snowshoes crunching through the snow on the long hill and stay hidden just out of sight. As there usually is when I begin to cross the meadow, a crow cries out a warning to the silent watchers. Then it got quiet with only the sounds from my snowshoes and camera’s shutter as I tramped around photographing the hilltop meadow above the Thompson River Valley.

As I have done so in the past, and too many times to count, I wandered around the snow-covered grassland photographing the two remaining structures from an old homestead under the looming Martin Mountain. I don’t know how long ago that area was farmed, or how old the buildings are, but there is what’s left of an old car that appears to have been wrecked and left behind some time in the 1930s or 1940s. There is an abandoned cellar, a barn, a shed, a fruit tree, a garbage dump, the detritus of a family’s life, a family who shut down their farm and left.

I like the solitary walk. I closed the front gate to our yard and started out on the road following tracks a lonely coyote made during the early morning hours. The tracks led up the road to a lower field and headed uphill following snowshoe tracks that one of my other neighbor’s must have made. I always expect to be the only human making tracks up there, however, this time I followed someone that took much shorter strides than me, eventually crossing the creek at the far end of the meadow and to keep going out of sight through the trees without returning.

I like snowshoeing. When I was a youngster snowshoes were the perfect winter accessory. We’d snowshoe up the hill, change to our skis that had been strapped to our backs and ski back down. I remember a trip with my younger brother Rodger, and a friend named Alan. We traveled for three days sleeping in snow caves we made by digging into snowdrifts. Snowshoes got us up hills and skis got us down.

All these years later I am still wandering the winter backwoods, only now I always carry my camera. Snowshoes are perfect for the winter photographer. I have also skied with a camera, but there is always the chance of falling and covering the camera with wet snow. At my age snowshoes are safer and besides it’s easier to position and reposition oneself while composing a photograph. Skis would not work as well.

There is Nothing Like Photography  

White church

Fraser River view

Anacortis Oil Refinery

Lilloet

Coastal tree view

Hay Field

 

“In visual terms there has been nothing like photography in the history of the world. There is no vocabulary for it. Photography literally stops something dead. It’s the death of the moment. The second a picture is taken that life is held, stopped and over. That moment is over.”

I found this quote by photographer Richard Avedon that I had tucked away years ago into the pages of a book of photography by Eliot Porter entitled, “Intimate Landscapes”.

Photography is powerful that way. There has never been a medium that has captured the interest of so many people like photography. When it became popular in the 1800s, no one could have envisioned how important to the world and to our personal lives photography would become.

For those of us in Canada the first known photograph was by an Englishman named Pattinson, here on a business trip in 1840. He was a student of an early form of photography perfected by Louis Jacques Mande Daguerre and had stopped at Niagara Falls to produce the now cherished historical Daguerreotype photograph.

The Daguerreotype would have taken more than 20 minutes for the scene to expose on a silver-coated plate inside his camera. Later he would surround the plate with warm mercury fumes that would slowly make the image visible.

I begin to think about photographing the landscape near my home this morning and I almost headed out, but the flat light and icy cold rain made me change my mind.

To keep myself in the mood I decided Eliot Porter’s book of photographs from northwestern New Mexico and southeastern Utah would be perfect to review with a cup of coffee. I find Porter’s photography stimulating.

Porter wrote, “The natural world has always attracted my eye: associations of living and inanimate phenomena, from the tropics to the poles and from rain forests to deserts, have been favourite photographic subjects for almost half a century. Grasses and sedges, especially, appeal to me – an appeal like disordered hair across a face, or a windblown field of hay before the mowing…”

Reading his or any other book on photography for that matter, helps me examine the way I make photographs and try to photograph things differently.

I do think photographic ideas and opportunities sometimes happen in a moment that once passed will never be the same. Many times I just want to make a photograph for no other reason than it is fun to make.

Here is another quote from Porter’s book that I endorse as well. Porter says, “I do not photograph for ulterior purposes. I photograph for the thing itself – for the photograph…” I like that. Sometimes just the process of making a photograph for no other reason than doing it is enough.

Photography in this digital age has become so very easy, but I think good photography can be as time consuming as it ever has been, requiring practice and education by those that take it seriously.

As I turned the pages of Porter’s book I thought about how nice it would be if the hills above my home get lots of snow in the coming winter. If you have a moment check out landscape photographer Eliot Porter in your local library, or on-line, and hopefully his photographs will inspire you as he does me. You might also look up Richard Avedon.

 

 

 

Vancouver Canada, Camera Show and Swap Meet

At the swap meet  Swap meet deals  Dave at swap  Another good deal  Photo equipemtn for sale  Check a camera

The clock on the stove signaled 7am and I heard the sound of my friend, Peter getting out of his truck in front of the house. I had my car ready as it was idling on the cold morning, and we jumped in and left for the hour-long drive to meet up with two more photographer friends, Dave and Pat at Dave’s place.

A bit over three hours later we had stopped for coffee in Merritt, driven across the scenic, mountainous and snow lined Coquihalla summit, driven through rain as we passed Hope, crossed the Fraser river into the warm coastal city of Burnaby and were parking across the street from the Cameron Recreation Center that was hosting one of my favorite events each year, The Vancouver Camera Show & Swap meet.

I will say the four of us were pretty excited. We had talked about the trip for weeks and had just driven for three hours talking about photography the whole way and now were walking into a large hall filled with photography equipment, all for sale.

Put on by the Western Canada Photographic Historic Association, and organized by Siggi and Brigitte Rohde, this long-running show has now reached its 38th show and makes the claim of being the largest in Canada with, I think, about 120 tables. And when I talked to the fellow at the door later that day, he thought well over 1,000 people had walked through the doors.

Yes, we were excited as we gazed at the crush of people. Hmm, maybe it was a congregation and we were entering some chapel filled with the faithful. Anyway, as soon as we walked in, Peter yelled, “see ya later” and headed off disappearing into the crowd and Pat and I started looking in earnest for a 60mm macro lens that he could mount on his new camera. I noticed Dave in deep discussion with a couple of photographers he had just met at a table packed with Canon gear.

The event was, as usual, well attended with all types of photographers from all walks of life. Photography, after all, is enjoyed and practiced by men and women of all ages and all cultures and I can safely say every demographic was there.

I have been attending The Vancouver Canada Camera Show and Swap for over twenty years and that was evident with all the familiar faces and constant catching up with people I only knew from this occasion each year. I even stopped to talk and congratulate the organizer, Siggi Rohde on another successful show. He mentioned how some people had wondered as far back as 1992 when the first one was held if a camera swap meet could be successful.

Well, the proof this year was in all the smiling photographers cradling gear in their arms as they wandered to the next table to purchase that one more “must have” item. I have always found the secret is to buy a camera bag in which to put stuff. And what about my friends, Dave, Pat and Peter? Dave decided against the lens he had checked out, but grabbed a neat photography vest, Pat found the 60mm macro lens he wanted, and Peter ended up with a Fuji 6×9 film camera. Oh, and although I wasn’t looking for anything in particular, I did find a great deal on a manual Yongnuo flash that will fit in perfectly in my off-camera flash kit and just for fun, bought an almost new camera bag with “Nikon” boldly sewn on the top. However, Pat talked me out of it on the drive home.

Now another Vancouver Camera Swap meet has come and gone and I am left with memories of how much I enjoyed myself. Truth be known, I could go without a cent in my pocket and still have a great time, but who wants to do that? I really enjoy all comments. Thanks, John My website is at www.enmanscamera.com