The wheels were turning in his mind. Spectacular waterfalls. Cascading streams of water. Powerful torrents pounding the rocks below. Dad could see it in his mind. Now he just had to find it.
From the minute that Dad learned advertising executives were looking for a spectacular waterfall as part of their new ad campaign, he began researching potential spots even though the advertising execs hadn’t decided which photographer would win the assignment.
Undeterred by this minor detail, Dad flew to Canada, a place his research confirmed had many spectacular waterfalls, to hunt for the perfect one. First stop on his quest–the remote Bugaboo Falls in British Columbia, Canada.
To reach the waterfall, he and his assistant zoomed down 50 miles of rutted, rough logging roads in their rented truck. The duo then hiked down into the river valley lugging camera gear (which meant they hiked back up hill too) for Dad to get this shot.
This photo could have been taken with any number of cameras. Dad chose the Horseman SW-612 for several reasons. The waterfall was quite wide. Since this was taken in the days of film and Photoshop was in its infancy, shooting the picture correctly was of primary importance. A panoramic camera would allow Dad to show the full width of the falls without distracting distortions that could happen with a regular 35mm camera and wide-angle lens.
The Horseman is a lightweight camera compared to other medium format rigs. Since Dad was hiking to the falls, every ounce counted.
The camera also had a viewing lens on top along with masks to fit three different size lenses. It was almost like using a view camera, a tool that many landscape photographers routinely used. A view camera is a heavier and more expensive option than the Horseman.
Finally, the size of the film played in Dad’s favor. Knowing that the advertising execs would blow the image up to billboard size, Dad chose the Horseman because he could use 120 roll film as opposed to 35mm. The large size of the 120 roll film provided more detail and resolution, something you definitely wanted if a photo of epic proportions would be greeting you along the highway.
To create that epic photo Dad got up very early one morning waded knee-deep into the water at the base of the falls and set up his heavy-duty Gitzo tripod in the swirling, churning waters. He shot for about two hours, choosing a slow shutter speed to create the foamy streams of water cascading over the rocks.
All of that hiking and shooting created a big appetite. Once the shoot was in the can, Dad scrambled out of the river and exchanged his muddy duds for clean jeans. He and his assistant headed up river for some goodies at the ski resort along the creek.
They didn’t stay long, though, because a giant storm was pressing down on the area. They needed to get off the logging road before it turned into a muddy monster that could suck a small truck into its depths. The pair made it safely back to Radium Hot Springs before the worst of the storm hit. Despite the quick exit, it had been a successful day at the waterfall.
Upon his return to Dallas, Dad learned that the advertising folks did want him to shoot the ad. He showed them the Bugaboo Falls photo along with several other locations and then waited on their decision. He waited. And waited. And waited.
The advertising team finally decided they wanted to use the Bugaboo location, but it was December and the range was buried under 30 feet of snow. (That wasn’t a typo. They really get at least 30 feet of snow in the winter.) That extreme weather also freezes the waterfall during wintertime. So Bugaboo Falls was a no-go for this particular ad campaign.
Luckily Dad knew how ad agencies worked. He already had a “Plan B” ready for the ad folks in case they took too long deciding on Bugaboo. He would piece together three different photographs from Canada and Colorado to create the perfect backdrop for beer sales. At one point, he would find himself dangling over a half-frozen creek to get “a part” of the shot. You can read all about that adventure here.
While the advertising folks weren’t going to use the Bugaboo photograph, Dad realized he had a very nice image to add to his portfolio. Plus he had a great story on the lengths he’d go to make his clients happy.
If you like this photo, check out some more fun Outdoor Art!