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A look into the past at Tallheo Cannery
A look into the past at Tallheo Cannery


I recently had the chance to spend several hours in one of the many fish canneries that dotted the British Columbia coast for much of the 20th Century. Built to process the salmon that was brought in directly by the fishboats, the few remaining canneries are a testament to the entreprenurial spirit in the face of many challenges. The need for canneries next to the prime fishing locations diminished when refrigeration technology meant that boats could take their catch directly to the larger operations. The Tallheo Cannery closed a few decades ago and is only accessible by a short boat ride from the Bella Coola marina.  Now a family run B&B and museum, Bella Coola’s Tallheo Cannery offers comfortable accommodations, a real sense of history and a peaceful spot with beautiful surroundings. Garrett and his wife Skye live in one of the many heritage buildings on site and are ready to welcome you with a friendly tour of the cannery operation.

After giving us an overview, we were set free with our cameras to explore the site and its many artifacts. Walking through the office, store, workshop and net loft, one can almost feel the presence of the many people who worked there. The office records show the handwritten lists of customers and the items they purchased from the company stores.  The rusting tools and machinery speak of the resourcefulness needed to keep the operation running without a supply of spare parts. And the many nets hanging to dry in the net loft hide the ghosts of some of the enterprising pioneers of our past.

As the pictures show, a visit to the Tallheo Cannery is a great way to take a step back in time and, if you love photography, a chance to photograph history.

photocrati gallery

Photographing in Historic Buildings

Several of the images in this set were created using HDR (High Dynamic Range). When photographing in old buildings that are so full of texture, HDR is a great way to emphasize the detail of the elements. It also allows one image to display the full range of tones from light to darks, such as when you are in a dark building and looking outside to a bright area. All of the HDR images were made from three or five files and processed in HDR Efex Pro.

The title image at the top of the post was created inside a store room. My eye was caught by the wide array of  containers in the room, in various stages of decay. The different shapes and rich colours of the metal and glass, with the beautiful sidelight from an open door, simply called out to be photographed. Arranging the shapes into a pleasing composition took a lot of trial and error. The wood tones of the storage shelves in behind and the lines of the floor leading into the containers all worked together. Placing my camera on a tripod, I put it  as low as possible to emphasize the lines in the floor and the height of the main elements.

The image of the retired fish boat resting on the shore (last image) was edited with Snap Art by Alien Skin, which allows you to add a painterly effect to the image. And thanks to Dennis Robinson who filled in as the ghost in the net loft. This was an in-camera double exposure.





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