Thursday, September 23, 2010

Featured Image #1

When I started this blog, I always had the intention of featuring images from time to time. I figured I better get around to it... So, here is the first.

This isn't one of my favourite images, and it certainly has its faults, technically. The reason I'm selecting it is that it takes me back to the beginning. This is from the first roll of Velvia I ever shot. (Remember that stuff called slide film?) I've been shooting pictures for as long as I can remember. I started with a 110 format camera. (If you're under 30-35, you may never have seen this format, which really never went beyond the point and shoot cameras--although someone--Pentax? and maybe others--did make a 110 SLR; click here for the Wikipedia page to read about it.) I then got a 35mm P&S and my Dad taught me to develop and print B&W film in the basement (using some antique equipment that he hadn't used for years before). Before long, I moved up to a 35 mm SLR (by Ricoh). That was soon replaced by a series of Pentax cameras over the years, until I made the switch to Canon (after a burglar cleaned out most of my gear) in 2003. I went digital a bit over a year later, in 2004. But step back a bit... In 2002, I discovered NPN and started posting pictures for critique. At the time I was shooting exclusively colour negative film. It didn't take long for me to realize that the best shooters (of those who hadn't made the switch to digital yet) were shooting slide film, and Velvia was the film of choice for landscapes. So, in the summer of 2002, I bought a couple rolls of Velvia and headed to the mountains. I had two cameras, so I put Velvia in the manual focus one for landscapes, and kept colour negative film in the AF one for other pictures. The rest, as they say, is history.

So, this shot. It's of the upper falls in Johnston Canyon, in Banff National Park. This waterfall is 97 feet high (and was once the highest waterfall run in a kayak--that record has since fallen). It's a walk of approximately 3 miles to get here, on a well maintained, semi-paved trail. Parts of the trail are on catwalks suspended from the canyon wall. This makes the walk easier, since you're not going in and out of the canyon, but also lets you enjoy the canyon far more than if you were walking up at the top rim. The downside, from a photographic point-of-view, is that many shots are going to have the catwalks in them. You can either make use of them in your compositions, or shoot to avoid them--there are certainly lots of opportunities to shoot without including them. This canyon can be very busy at times, especially summer weekends. Most of my visits have been in the evenings when it's quiet. But sometimes you just have to go during the day to get sunlit shots that wouldn't be possible when the sun is low. Winter trips provide a wealth of different shots, but you need something like YakTrax on your feet, as the trail is not maintained in winter, and the large numbers of visitors quickly pack the snow into ice.

a bit more about this shot. As I said, it's shot on Velvia slide film (Fuji, ISO 50). The Velvia colours clearly shine through! I've got digital versions of this shot (including one with a rainbow), but I find that digital just doesn't give the same impact as Velvia. (Not that I have any intention of going back to film, though!)

I shot this with a Pentax SLR, with a cheap, consumer-grade 28-80 zoom lens--or something like that. (It was another year or two before I started investing in good glass.) I don't remember if it was polarized or not, but I'd guess it was. The upper falls have two viewing platforms--one each at the top and bottom. This is obviously from the bottom. The platform is not large, so angles are limited. I'd love to have been able to shoot this from a few feet further right, but it was not to be. (I have done it in winter, though, shooting from out on the rocks and ice, but that wasn't possible at this water level.)

Enjoy. I'm sure I'll feature more Johnston Canyon shots in the future...


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