As I pointed out in my previous Okanagan beach post, I am not much of a beach goer. However, last year while at Ellison Provincial Park I photographed Otter Bay Beach during a sunny spring day. On my trip this year I went back to this location, but the conditions were not quite right for photography, unfortunately. I will probably be back to try again this fall or in spring 2014.
When a photography plan goes awry, or the weather changes, there are almost always images that can still be made. I often can look back on such instances at photos that I never would have been able to make if my plans had come to be. Sometimes those are the most satisfying.
Years ago when I would go on a day trip I would try to plan very thoroughly. No matter how much forethought had gone into a trip I found myself throwing off the whole plan because the first or second location I’d visit had more photo opportunities than I had anticipated. I would then rush through the remaining locations and not feel that relaxed when doing so. I’ve realized how silly this was.
Now my planning tends to be towards becoming familiar with locations in the area and not always the order I plan to visit them. What locations might be good at sunset, for early morning, for the harsher midday light? I find getting this information beforehand, if possible, means that I can adapt to the conditions available. After all, the conditions will seldom adapt themselves to my plans!
During my last trip to the Thompson Okanagan region of British Columbia, I had to be flexible on many occasions. While attempting to photograph wildflowers in Kekuli Bay Provincial Park and the local populations of Osprey, Red-wing Blackbirds, and Killdeer I was instead presented with wind and near horizontal rain. This didn’t bother me much either, as I already had figured this could occur and had a place to go when the weather cleared. This change in my plan did create an unforseen opportunity, however.
So I relaxed in my car reading a photography magazine and eating cold soup for dinner. I watched the rain fly past my window horizontally. Looking out my car window I saw a Yellow-bellied Marmot (Marmota flaviventris) peeking out from its burrow – then scurrying up the bank and eating some of the grass. I’d never seen a Marmot before – and I still might be able to say that if the rain hadn’t changed my “plans”. This was near a path up to a children’s play area near the campground – and I’d walked within a few feet of this burrow about 20 minutes before without noticing it. I turned the car around (less rain flying in my face) and made the above photo from inside the car. Getting my magazine wet was worth it!
As this was Vernon and not an area near Vancouver, the rain didn’t last too long, and the storm moved on. I then headed bakc in the direction of Ellison Provincial Park to see what the sunset might have in store. I’d noticed a few spots down there earlier in the day that would be great for a sunset shoot. I drove to the parking lot, walked part way down the path and realized that sunset light was just not going to happen. So I left in order to see what else I could find to photograph.
Just as I exited the parking lot I noticed a few Mule Deer (Odocoileus hemionus) laying down in the Pine forest along side the road. They didn’t seem to mind me photographing them, though I didn’t get out of my car either. Just as I turned onto the main road on the park border – I noticed about 15-20 Columbian Black-tailed Deer (Odocoileus hemionus columbianus) grazing in a field. I parked the car, put the 1.4x extender on my 70-200mm f/4 L IS lens for just a bit of extra reach. I suppose deer are pretty common in the area, but I liked how they were grouped together, and in the earlier photo I posted how they seemed pretty unconcerned with my presence. Though in the above photo I certainly looks like I’d been spotted!
So what I am trying to suggest is that if you are planning your photo trips too tightly – relax! I enjoy photography a more when I’m not as concerned with where I have to be next. The planning I do helps me adapt to changing weather conditions and my own timing – allowing me to make photos during times when I would have just considered that moment a failed plan. Photography is a lot more fun that way.
Otter Bay Beach on the shores of Okanagan Lake at Ellison Provincial Park in Vernon, British Columbia, Canada
Otter Bay Beach at Ellison Provincial Park (Purchase)
-click to enlarge-
Last week I went on a photography trip to Vernon, British Columbia. I headed up the Crowsnest Highway 3 through Manning Provincial Park, through Princeton, and then on to Keremeos, Penticton, Kelowna and then Vernon. On a previous trip to the area I stayed in Lake Country which is between Kelowna and Vernon but found that most of the areas that attracted me, namely Kalamalka Lake, were near Vernon and not Kelowna.
On the second day of my trip I visited Ellison Provincial Park. I didn’t really know anything about Ellison except it was close to Vernon and is on the shores of Okanagan Lake, not Kalamalka Lake. I parked in the day use area parking and walked down the short trail to Otter Bay beach. The first photograph here is of Otter Bay beach – the shallow water warm enough to exhibit some of the green minerals in the water. I made a few photographs of this area and then moved onto the adjacent rocky hill and photographed this Ponderosa Pine (Pinus ponderosa) along the shoreline. If you look closely at this second photograph from Ellison you can see the small, purple wildflowers of the Shrubby Penstemon (Penstemon fruticosus). These flowers were everywhere between the rocks, as well as some sporadic Arrowleaf Balsamroot (Balsamorhiza sagittata). Photos of those will be coming soon!
Later in the day I had waited through a brief but interesting storm in the parking lot at Kekuli Bay, but since the storm had somewhat cleared I was searching for a place to view a potential sunset. The night before there was a good sunset – but I was too unfamiliar with the area to find a good place to photograph it. I was stuck on the wrong side of some hills and ran out of light before finding a way around them. Earlier in the day at Ellison I had figured this would be a good place to go for sunset, if I didn’t find anything else better in the rest of the days exploration. The sunset light never really materialized, but in preparation for it I had found myself back near at Ellison just in case. I didn’t go down to the water as the light just wasn’t there but just as I was leaving I had the opportunity to photograph some Mule Deer (Odocoileus hemionus) and in an adjacent field, a larger group of Columbian Black-tailed Deer (Odocoileus hemionus columbianus). While making the photographs of the Black-tailed Deer, I tried to not just get “closeups” of the animals with my 70-200mm lens (plus a 1.4x TC for good measure!) but also zoom out a bit to get the animals in context with their environment. Sometimes a photograph showing the animal in their habitat can be stronger than one showing just the animal. I’ve started to do this with wildflowers as well.
Many more photographs of this trip are to come. I think my favourites are from Kalamalka Provincial Park – a place that will definitely be on my list to visit when I travel back here in the Fall!