Before any workshop, I typically put myself on location at least 1 week in advance. Now, of course, this is not always possible. I cannot exactly show up on a boat in the Galapagos a week early for instance. However, when feasible, this is standard protocol and was exactly what I did before my Wildlife of the Canadian Rockies workshop this fall.
The week leading up the trip saw some pretty significant snow fall across the mountains around Jasper National Park. Knowing that the higher I went in elevation, the more snow I would come across, I quickly found myself cruising up to the Pyramid Lake area in search of late afternoon elk. Well, as fate would have it, I never found elk. In fact, as soon as I stumbled upon this gorgeous wooden canoe moored out in the lake, I knew there was no chance of photographing wildlife as THIS was going to be what I worked.
I love canoes. Well, let me rephrase that. I love wooden canoes. Personally, I prefer paddling kayaks to a canoe any day. But there is something so nostalgic and beautiful about a hand crafted wooden canoe. And when it comes to photography, in the snow, with steam rising up off the lake, there is just something about this imagery that pulls at my heart strings and makes me want to run away to a cabin in the Northwoods.
The wind wasn’t blowing hard, but it was enough to keep the canoe drifting and spinning around its mooring. This allowed me to work a number of different angles as the steam rising off the lake waxed and waned. This is my favorite of the series.
While post processing this image I made an artistic decision to reduce both clarity and the dehaze sliders in Lightroom Classic CC. The reason for this decision was to soften the photograph. It is snowing. There is steam rising up. The mood of the image is to be peaceful, serene, dreamlike, and ethereal. Hardening lines and increasing contrast creates tension in the subconscious of those who view our images. And with this composition, that was exactly what I did not want to do.
Some photographers make a pretty big deal about the addition of the “hand of man” in a nature photograph. Many contests will disqualify an image for instance if something like a canoe pops up in the composition. For me though, I think all of this is ridiculous and I find myself asking the question, “since when did we stop being a part of nature?” I don’t know about you, but I am a mammal. I’m warm blooded. I have hair. I don’t produce milk, of course, but I am just as natural and a part of nature as those snow covered trees in the background and those trees that were felled to craft this canoe.
I believe that this whole ideological separation between ourselves and nature is the driving force behind what we are doing to our home. As long as we see ourselves as seperate from, then exploitation, commodification, and destruction of the environment can always be justified on some level. Only once we evolve beyond this medieval mindset will we begin to realize that we are apart of a greater community of life on Earth and begin to realize that or own health and wealth is inextricable from that of the ecosystems we make our home in.