Throughout April, many flowers in Osoyoos break out in bloom. I especially like the blossoms in the orchards because they mean that fresh fruit like cherries, apples, peaches, nectarines, plums and pears are on their way. (Richard McGuire Photo)
One of the great things about the South Okanagan-Similkameen region of British Columbia is that you can experience very different landscapes and climates in a very short period of time.
On Sunday, a warm spring day, I took a meandering drive along the back roads of the Okanagan Valley, crossing into the neighbouring Similkameen Valley and back again.
In a very short distance, I passed through wetlands, desert, spreading vineyards, forests of different types and mountain scenery. There were deep blue lakes and a few shallow saline ones. There were cattle and horse ranches and vast expanses of wilderness. Cities, villages and little hamlets. Spreading mansions and tiny hovels.
At the farthest part of my journey, I continued north from Penticton along the eastern shore of Okanagan Lake, past the vineyards of Naramata, and up a twisty dirt mountain road towards Chute Lake. It was a journey I’d never made before, even though it is just an hour and a half from where I live. There, earlier fires have left stick-like trees dotted across the rugged mountains of Okanagan Mountain Provincial Park.
Although the temperature was warm, there was still a lot of snow at the elevation of around 4,000 feet making it impossible to explore further. I took a few photos and made a mental note to come back again when the snow is gone.
It took about an hour and a half to get the shot I wanted. I was in Gastown in Vancouver and it was raining, so there were nice reflections on the pavement. I tried about three angles before settling on this one and setting up a tripod.
I wanted a couple with an umbrella to stop next to a historic steam clock, but I wanted it completely candid, not posed. I also wanted interesting traffic movement, lights and the steam from the clock to be visible.
I waited while people passed in groups, some quickly, some with no umbrellas. A vehicle stopped illegally next to the clock for about 10 minutes. Drunks sometimes almost stumbled into me, and people asked what I was doing.
I was shooting at 1/10 second to get the right blur in the traffic and passing people, but wanted to freeze the subject, so they had to be stopped. Often they were too dark and appeared silhouetted.
Finally this couple stopped in just the right spot, with a beam of light behind them. A red car cruised by, and the steam was right. I held an umbrella over my camera gear and a remote release in my right hand, and in my left I pointed a speedlight at the pavement to bounce up at the couple and their umbrella. Then I fired this shot. I was soaking wet, but didn’t care.
Vancouver’s Granville Street is lit up in lights. The city’s abundant rain intensifies the colours of the light as it is reflected on the pavement. © Richard McGuire Photo
Especially during the holiday season, but also on busy summer weekends, the RCMP set up check stops to look for impaired drivers and other offences.
Before Christmas, I had the opportunity to accompany the police one cold evening as they pulled over cars on a busy street in a residential neighbourhood. I wrote a story about what they do, and also took photos to accompany the story. I had to agree not to show identifying information of people they pulled over such as license plates or clear shots of faces — in a couple cases I had to digitally blur and distort faces before using the photos.
There were several police vehicles and a number of officers involved — to pull cars over in both directions, and in one case to chase a driver who failed to stop.
It didn’t take too long before the police found one woman who blew a “fail” on the roadside screening device. I photographed the process as the constable brought her into his cruiser to record her information and then had her car taken away to be impounded.
It was very dark with only a couple dim streetlights and the lights of the vehicles themselves. It would not have been appropriate for the situation or for the photographs to use a flash. I cranked up the ISO as high as I dared, knowing I could do some noise correction afterwards in software.
Below are a few images. You can read my story here.
I had a chance to photograph some of the grape harvest and winemaking activity around Osoyoos. I also had a chance to sample some of the product, which is very, very good.
Osoyoos, in the South Okanagan, grows grapes for some of the best wines in Canada with its ideal climate and soil conditions. The numerous microclimates allow a wide variety of grapes to be grown.
I was heading home from work on Aug. 19 when I saw smoke on a nearby mountain. As there was a fire ban in force, I thought I’d better check it out.
Fortunately I had my camera with me. As a reporter/photographer, you’re always on call.
It was scary to see how quickly the fire spread from near the top of a large hill down towards the houses of Kilpoola Estates next to Spotted Lake. But it was reassuring to see how quickly planes from the Wildfire Management Branch arrived at the scene, as well as ground-based firefighters. Eventually, there were 35 firefighters, two helicopters and five air tankers used in the effort.
While the helicopters scooped up water from small lakes nearby, the tankers or bombers flew in from their bases loaded up with red fire retardant, which they dropped at the edge of the fire in its path to slow its spread. The fire was under control before it could do any serious damage, but hot spots continued burning for days, keeping ground crews busy.
From Hwy. 3 at Spotted Lake I could watch and photograph the action unfolding, and I captured some of the photos shown here. A couple weeks later, I visited the Penticton Air Tanker Base to interview and photograph the crew there that flies the planes and fights the fires from the air. I’ve included some of those photos here too.
You can read my story about the Penticton Air Tanker operation here.
Richard McGuire I participated in a photo shoot yesterday at an old derelict paper mill in Beauharnois, Quebec. We had permission to use it, and it was an amazing venue for urban decay. I worked with some wonderful models alongside some very talented photographers. (Richard McGuire Photo)