A snowy walk to Chase Falls

 

The day was grey, flat and cold. but, I was bored with watching TV and wanted to get out and put some footprints in the snow.

I lazily thought about wandering the deep snow in my yard or just taking a drive on the slushy roads above my home. However, I hadn’t visited the nearby Chase falls since a hot day in July and I thought it would be fun to see if there was any water coming over the falls.

When I visited the falls last summer I was joined by my photographer friend, Jo McAvany. I remember Jo loudly complaining about the mosquitos on that hot dry summer day. So I called her and asked if she wanted to trudge through the two-foot deep snow up to the falls and promised the mosquitos wouldn’t be too bad this time of year.

I don’t know what kind of deal she made with her husband on his day off work, but she said, “sure I want to go”.

As I thought, the trail into the falls hadn’t been tramped down by people, and other than foot prints of a lonely racoon that I expect has a warren somewhere in the river canyon to hide in when he’s not marauding garbage cans in the tiny town of Chase, we were breaking trail.

Last July Jo complained about the mosquitos. However, this time it was me complaining that I should have worn high top boots because the snow that filled my short-topped boots left little room for my feet.

I would have liked to climb down to the falls, but the snow hid all the boulders and caution said venturing beyond the trees might end in a very cold bath.

Jo had mounted a 24-105mm on her camera and I had my trusty 24-70mm on mine. We both had put longer lenses in my backpack, but the wide-angle lenses were the most comfortable to use.

The day was mostly cloudy and flat, but every now and then things lightened up just a bit. Not enough to create shadows, but at times there were highlights on protruding rocks, tree limbs and the water.

On a bright day one always struggles with overexposure on a waterfall. I prefer a slight overcast or a foggy day, and I did get some reasonable photographs of Chase Falls this time. Bright sun, deep shadows, a scene with too much contrast or mosquitos didn’t bother me this time. But just a bit more light (and less freezing snow in my boots) would have been nice.

Over the past forty years have visited those falls at least once in every season, and I can’t begin to count or even remember all the different cameras I have pointed at the falls and the surrounding area in that small canyon.

There has been lots of change as the canyon errodes, logs and boulders are swept over the falls and trees and foliage grow taller and denser. I am hoping to be making that short walk each season for at least ten more years.

Shooting Infrared on a Colourful October Day      

canyon

blue-falls

pool

stream-bed

driveby

chase-pier

fisheye

Fisheye is so much fun

 

 

 

Fall snuck up on me this year. I guess I wasn’t paying attention. Maybe that sharp and very quick transition from season to season will become the norm.

I had an appointment that meant a drive down and along the river valley to the village of Chase.  As I walked out the door not thinking about anything but the 20 minute drive that would probably turn into 30+ minutes if I got caught in the extensive road construction going on between my home in Pritchard and my appointment in Chase, Linda called “take your camera”.

Oh, right. Taking my camera is always a good idea.

As I drove along looking at the changing colours I thought about the constant submissions of fall pictures I have been seeing on the local photographer’s facebook group, however, I had decided I would have more fun being different and instead chose my infrared converted camera and added a 10.5mm fisheye lens I had just got into my shop.

I pulled onto the Trans Canada and turned into Chase 20 minutes later. The traffic was fast and I had driven through the construction without a stop. I made my appointment in plenty of time, but the receptionist informed me they had decided to close early and I would have to come back another time.

In frustration I walked back to my car, but fortunately I had my camera. So instead of returning home I decided to wander around Chase.

The fisheye was fun. I could take pictures of people on the sidewalk without pointing the camera at them. Admittedly the pictures were pretty weird with everything on the edges bending inward and I got bored with the town’s limitations. Fortunately Chase has a neat waterfall on one side and a big lake on the other. I left downtown and began with Chase Falls.

I photograph Chase Falls quite often, but this was the first time I was shooting in infrared and the first time I used a fisheye.   One can set up a tripod and capture the wonderful October colours that surround that inviting waterfall anytime, but capturing Chase Falls in infrared and with a fisheye is great fun, and a long ways off from what most photographers would every think of doing.

After an interesting time manipulating that environment I headed over to the lake for a complete change of scenery. Instead of large rocks, overhanging trees and falling water, there is a long pier jutting out into Shuswap Lake, large trees on the edges of a small park, and a wide sandy beach.

Infrared turned the trees to white, the sky a strange shade of blue and everything else a slight magenta. And what about the fisheye lens? Well, the fisheye lens just added to the already unreal quality of the image.

Photographing the Chase Falls    

Chase Falls 1

Chase Falls 2

Chase Falls 3

It is just over a year since I talked about my spring visit to a waterfall about 20 minutes from my home. Photographing the Chase Falls is, as the name infers, the falls just across the Trans Canada highway from the center of the small lakeside town of Chase, British Columbia.

Spring with its warm, snow-melting temperatures sure rolled in very early this year. Gosh, who would have thought we’d experience 30+ Celsius at the beginning of June. With that warm weather I was positive I wouldn’t see high, murky, water rushing over the falls.

I arrived around 11am and took the short walk along the sandy path to the falls. And sure enough, although there was plenty of water coming over Chase falls, the creek level was low enough that I was easily able to scramble among the large rocks along the bank and found many comfortable locations to set up my tripod. Ansel Adams said, “A good photograph is knowing where to stand.”

I guess that’s right when it comes to photographing a waterfall, I leaned against a big bolder and pulled out a couple of neutral density (ND) filters so I could reduce my shutter speed by a few seconds, and slow the water down in my shot. Then began moving my tripod from place to place, in hopes of finding that “good photograph.”

Photographing waterfalls and getting that smooth water that is so popular is really easy to do, and not complicated at all. All one needs is a camera, a sturdy tripod and a neutral density filter.

I put my camera on the tripod, focus, place a ND filter in front of the lens, and release the shutter. I rarely bother with a cable release. I usually just select my camera’s self-timer. I use 4-inch by 4-inch square ND filters that are well worn and a bit marked up.

When I purchased the filters they came with a filter holder to attach to the lens front, but that’s just more stuff to carry and instead I hold them by the edge in front of my camera lens and move them up and down so anything on them won’t show up when I take the picture.

I had a nice time taking pictures and even sat for a while on one of the large, smooth boulders just enjoying the cool air and the sound of the water. I think I might go back next week to try out a fish-eye lens that came into my shop.

 

 

Chewy the Marmot and Chase Creek Falls

Chewy the Marmot

Chase creek Falls

Chase Creek April 2015

Path back to town

Spring is here. The weather has slowly warmed up I can see from my porch that the snow on the mountaintops is diminishing, so I decided it was time to visit a waterfall not far from my home.

I usually avoid waterfalls at this time of year because high volumes of murky, spring water rushing over the falls isn’t that photogenic and one never knows if the river’s bank will give away while you position your tripod. However, with the low volumes of water being reported I was sure that at Chase Creek Falls the interesting stream features like rocks and trees would be visible with the reduced water flow.

When I got to Chase Falls and parked my car I noticed a small sign along the trail that said to watch for a local marmot named “Chewy”. And sure enough, as I passed a large pile of very big rocks, there was a big marmot perched on top like some amusement park guard.

Marmots are usually shy when one walks near their burrow, but this rodent didn’t seem to be bothered in the least and readily posed for me as I hopped from rock to rock making portraits of him or maybe her. I did see a couple of immature marmots scurry out of sight; so I might be right thinking Chewy might be her instead him.

When I purchased my first DSLR years ago and began learning how to use Photoshop I remember saying to a friend that what I liked best was how easily one could crop without getting the degradation that came when cropping prints made from film. The problem with 35mm film was that anything shot over 400ISO was always grainy so that shooting wide and cropping later was usually disappointing. That’s why many photographers preferred medium or large format cameras to the tiny 35mm film.

I set my tripod up and focused my 24mm lens on the falls and shot wide.  I knew that when I viewed my images on my computer I would choose a crop that fit the rule-of-thirds without loosing much detail.

Modern DSLR sensors are much better in their ability to capture grainless detail at high ISOs than 35mm film was and even cropping away 50% of the picture doesn’t reduce the quality very much.

The low water level made it easy to scramble among the large rocks along the bank and chose a comfortable location to set my tripod up. I used a couple of neutral density (ND) filters so I could reduce my shutter speed to 3, then 4, 5, and finally 6 seconds to slow the water down and I chose a small aperture for lots of depth of field.

I have always enjoyed photographing that waterfall. I think I made my first photographs of it sometime in 1976, and I cannot recall how many times I have been back there since. I am fortunate to have a place like that so close to home where I can always find something to photograph.

With that I think I should end with a quote by a great Canadian photographer, Freeman Patterson, who says, “Seeing, in the finest and broadest sense, means using your senses, your intellect, and your emotions. It means encountering your subject matter with your whole being. It means looking beyond the labels of things and discovering the remarkable world around you.”

I look forward to comments. Thank you, John