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.

A process of observation.       

Salmon Arm

Street rest art

Town sculpture

Shuswap Lake

Pier view

Dragon boat

Lakeside residents

Smugglers love

My wife, Linda, has been wanting to really put her new 135mm lens to the test.   Even though the 135mm focal length is normally used for portraitures, she wanted to give it a roadside work out and suggested we take a short drive. We decided a morning drive along the meandering South Thompson River ending in Salmon Arm, just short of an hour away, for coffee and some photographs.

The British Columbia city of Salmon Arm with it’s unique, picturesque downtown and what residents claim to be the longest, curved wooden wharf in North America is located on the Shuswap Lake, midway between Calgary and Vancouver on the Trans-Canada Highway. The lakeside city also became infamous in August of 1982 when then Canadian Premier Pierre Trudeau raised his middle finger at protesters from his seat inside a private rail car.

When I’m not making portraits I prefer zoom lenses. Using a multi-focal length lens when photographing buildings and other features that one finds along a busy city street makes photography easy to do because it’s simple to crop out people, cars and other unwanted elements. Nevertheless, Linda wanted to use her 135mm and I decided to follow suit and brought my 105mm.

We wandered the downtown photographing anything that caught our attention. It was Sunday and most shops were closed and the streets, other than a couple of people walking to the grocery store or, like us, driving to Tim Horton’s for coffee, were almost empty.

It was a perfect day to walk around, and there was plenty of room to step backwards on to the street or move around in front of shops with our prime lenses. We spent a leisurely hour or so just taking pictures in town before driving to the lakeside park to sit in the shade, take in the view, and talk about our pictures.

My preference would have been to use my 24-86mm and although Linda really liked the 135mm, she wished I had brought along her 70-300mm. However, we both thought using the long prime lenses was a good exercise. Placing a subject and composing the final image took longer than just zooming the lens length forwards or back. Our fixed focal length lenses required that we had to physically move about to get the image we desired. There was also a change in perspective because of the mid-range of our lenses.

I have been trying to think of some words that would sum up our experience. Maybe American documentary photographer and author, Elliott Erwitt, got the closest to what I was experiencing when he wrote, “To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place… I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.” Perhaps our exercise wasn’t so much, “an art of observation” as it was an “act of observation”.

A Photo Trip to Margaret Falls

Linda at Margaret Falls

First bridge

Along the path

Reinecker Creek

Fallen Cedars

Crooked tree

 

 

Bridge to Margaret Falls

Margaret Falls, British Columbia (B)

I have spent the last few days slowly dismantling an old shed I built over 20 years ago. I will say that I enjoyed building that ramshackle structure that has served as a goat barn, a chicken coup, and lastly for storing stuff I didn’t know what to do with. The process of destruction hasn’t been going all that quickly because I have been finding any excuse to delay my work taking it apart and I suppose that’s why when my wife mentioned it would be pleasant to go to Margaret Falls I didn’t hesitate to put our cameras in the car and head out for an easy drive.

Margaret Falls is a 200 feet high cascade that drops into Reinecker Creek on the edge of Shuswap Lake’s Herald Provincial Park. Local lore says the falls gets its name from the first white woman to see them. I also have been told it was called Reinecker Falls. But I wonder what that place was called by those that went there long before the white settlers.

It is the place, and not the waterfall that draws tourists and photographers to make the short trek through that moss covered, old-growth cedar forest nestled in a narrow gorge.

Reinecker Creek falls down a sheer rock face and into the narrow chasm creating a wonderland for those that walk along the beautiful gulley filled with large trees and looming cliffs above.

Before one is even aware of the unique ecosystem, there is the envelopment of a waft cool, damp air that on a hot July day will be a startling difference in temperature. Knowing that we included jackets with our camera gear.

Over the years Linda and I have spent many hours wandering along paths with cameras and tripods, but this time the wind was picking up and we could see large, dark clouds looming. So we just brought our cameras in case we had to make a quick getaway. I do not remember how many times I have taken pictures along that cool walkway up to the falls, or all the different camera formats I have used. I have been there in every season of the year, rain or snow, and I have even photographed a wedding there.

For this visit Linda used a 24mm prime and I used my 24-85mm zoom. Wide angle is a must for that narrow canyon.

The overcast day really wasn’t a bother because our modern full-frame cameras can easily handle 1600 ISO and depending on our subject’s location we could choose either 125th or 250th of a second shutterspeed an still keep our aperture small enough to get reasonable depth-of-field.

One rarely has the trail to Margaret Falls to themselves. To achieve scenic photography photographers have to be patient. However, this outing was petty good. Our only interruption was a guy on his mountain bicycle that turned around and left when he realized there were people on the trail. And we met some people that told us they were celebrating their 70th reunion. They gently ambled up the path to the waterfalls, extended their arms for cell phone snaps and then left, giving us all the time we needed to compose our pictures. I did have a good time, but, as free as I was to wander around with my camera and 24-85mm lens, I missed having my tripod. We have decided to return in a week or two packing tripods and neutral density filters prepared and spend a bit more time.

I always look forward to comments. Thanks, John

 

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