The real voyage of discovery consists
not in seeing new landscapes,
but in having new eyes.
– Marcel Proust
In mid-October, 2004, my friend Kevin Raber and I were on a two-day shoot together in and near Algonquin Park in North-Central Ontario, Canada. It had been a most lovely Fall, with warm days and lingering fall colour. Kevin was shooting with a Mamiya 645 and Phase One P25, 22 Megapixel back, and I was shooting with my Contax 645 and 16 Megapixel Kodak DCS Pro Back. Camera gear aside (not to mention P25 envy on my part), we had a very enjoyable time shooting, and each of us came away with a surprising number of strong photographs. Kevin, for the record, is the U.S. Vice President of Sales for Phase One, and incidentally, quite a fine photographer in his own right.
It was late afternoon, and the low Autumn sun was only 90 minutes from setting. We were hurrying, trying to get to the Park in time for sunset, But as we passed a small tree-shaded lake, the low sun filtered through some dense maples, and the intensity and beauty of the light caused me to do a quick u-turn and see if there was any potential there.
There, turned out to be a rise overlooking Bunny Hollo, a 1950’s looking group of cabins beside the lake. There was no sign of the missing W that belongs at the end of the camp’s name.
The grounds were closed for the season, and the place had a melancholy and deserted air about it. But, combined with the low warm light, and brilliant fall foliage, it turned out to be a wonderland for the type of shooting that we both enjoy doing. This small portfolio contains some of the images that we both made during a very enjoyable 40 minutes spent exploringBunny Hollo.
Blue and Green Cabins
Each of us saw different things to photograph. While Kevin was working the trees, at first my eye was captured by a group of ramshackle cabins. Two in particular, caught my eye, one trimmed in blue and the other in green.
My approach to photographing buildings is to try and isolate those aspects that “define” it; in this case the brightly coloured doors and trim. The leaves also needed to be included, since they added so much to the special ambience of the place at that time of year. But, to my eye, the leaves mustn’t be allowed to dominate. A little colour goes a long way.
Blue Fence Reflection
As I continued to concentrate on isolating details on the buildings, I noticed this fence reflected in the window. I wrestled with the composition, both when shooting it, and again afterward in Photoshop, but in the end decided that centering the window in the frame was the only composition that worked.
What appeals to me here is the coldness of the window and its fence reflection, in contrast to the intensity of the red maple leaves, and especially the yellow ones, which seem to delineate the top of the frame.
Kevin took a somewhat different approach to mine. On the one hand he embraced the vibrant colour, whereas I used tight cropping. He also worked some images after the fact in B&W. I did this as well (though none appear on this page).
Below is a brief essay by Kevin about our shooting together…
© 2004 Kevin Raber
Mamiya 645 with 55-110mm zoom and Phase One P25 back
There are many magic moments in photography. The first time we see a print being developed in a tray. The moment the first digital image pops on the screen. The magic of a sunrise or sunset where you can experience an evolution of light and color. I am sure that many of us have had many a spiritual moment enjoying our passion. I have been blessed with many of these moments in my life and Bunny Hollo provided another one of those moments in time.
All day long Michael and I were stopping along the way north and photographing just the most wonderful scenes. We by-passed so many of those “been there and done that” scenes too. But as we raced north to make the sunset we drove around a curve and were up a short hill when we both noticed that we were twisting our heads towards this little spot that was called Bunny Hollo. One look at each other and the car was in a “U” turn heading back down the hill.
The scene was one of a kind. A true hollow. The light was in one those magic moments, low, and streaming in through the colors of changing leaves. The trees were on fire with color. Every time you stepped sideways there was a different feel. It was unique. But, the uniqueness didn’t stop there.
Michael and I slipped down the hill into the hollow and discovered even more color and uniqueness. Not your contrived shots that we so often find ourselves settling for. There were cute little cabins, roofs covered with leaves, fences, potted flowers left since the summer but still blooming. There were the damp fresh fallen leaves that seemed to be sticking to everything. And, then there was the light. This absolutely wonderful light. It seemed as if this spot was put there just for us.
It was a great moment, and if you could have seen us, you would have had a chuckle. Each of us exploring different parts of the hollow. Each of us finding something that was unique to our own vision. We would pass each other occasionally as we scurried about and would comment, “Did you see that? What about this color? Look over there? Do you believe this?” This was one of those special moments. No matter which way you looked up, down or sideways there was something that just begged to be photographed.
© 2004 Kevin Raber
Mamiya 645 with 55-110mm zoom and Phase One P25 back
Knowing we had to go, we reluctantly left. After the gear was packed in the car and we were on our way, we just looked at each other and said “wow”. Sometimes that says it all.
Later that evening, after shooting a spectacular sunset, we relived the moment as we downloaded the images to our computers while back in the hotel room. Both of us cropping and editing like mad and reliving the moments of a great day. Since returning home I have shared my images with family and friends and enjoyed making some wonderful prints.
It was late this evening as I was looking over my images that I realized that I was blessed with a number of things. First and foremost the images I had of the trip would let me experience the magic moments time and time again. Light and color and most of all seeing. Well you must be saying, as photographers we experience this all the time. And, you would be correct. But ultimately for me it was therapy. The chance to step back and see again. To put the craziness of life aside for a few moments and be humbled by what is around us. As I do in many of my photographic adventures, on this one I walked away with a great feeling, but I also walked away with something even better. I walked away with a new friend. Michael and I talked for hours and shot together for hours. Hardly ever taking the same shot but seeing things from different perspective. Simply put “Oh what a joy”.
Having the chance to spend a few days with Michael was great therapy.
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