Details From Wedge Pond

Well, these have taken me a little while but I finally have some more images from the awesome morning I spent at Wedge Pond in Kananaskis Country with Wayne Simpson and Darwin Wiggett a couple weeks ago. As I mentioned already in an earlier post from the day, this was one of the most enjoyable shooting trips I’ve done in a long time, and I think the fact that we all came away with so many nice images is a testament to that. Great locations, awesome conditions, good company, and the right frame of mind all added up to some very productive shooting and memorable images.
If you haven’t already, make sure you go and check out Wayne’s blog and Darwin’s blog to see their awesome images from the trip.

Darwin and Wayne, thanks again for the great trip guys, I look forward to doing this again!

This one was posted as the photo of the week a couple weeks back but I decided to make a few changes to it in processing. I think I’m happier with this new version.

Photo of the Week: Week 32

This week’s photo was taken late last week on a quick (and early!) trip up to the Graveyard Flats area on the Icefields Parkway. It’s just about a 3 hour drive from Calgary so getting there for sunrise makes for a pretty early start this time of year. As in hitting the road at 2:00 am kind of early… yawn…
The weather on the drive out was pretty sketchy with heavy clouds and a lot of rain and for a while it really wasn’t looking good for me. I’d checked the forecast and radar the night before and it looked like the worst of the rain should have been moving off close to sunrise, especially towards the north end of the park where I was headed, so that’s what I was hoping to find. It was looking pretty bad though and I was almost convinced to turn around and just cut my losses for the morning when I noticed, thanks to the light of a nearly full moon, a few breaks in the clouds showing up with some clear sky behind. With my hopes renewed, I continued on made my way to the flats and got ready to shoot.
While the cloud was still too heavy to really let the sun in and light things up, there were some nice patterns of clouds moving through and plenty of fog in the valley bottom near the water to keep things interesting. Normally there is lots of room to walk out onto the flats and many choices for foregrounds but this time I wasn’t able to get very far from the road at all due to the high water level. I did find this little spot though and kind of liked the curve in the shoreline along with the shape of the rapids in the water. I spent a nice amount of time here just working this little spot as the clouds and fog moved through before the sun was fully up for the day. This was one of my favourites from the morning, I hope you enjoy it too.

Photo of the Week: Week 31

This week’s photo of the week is the first of my images from the morning’s shoot at Wedge Pond on my trip out to Kananaskis with Darwin Wiggett and Wayne Simpson just over a week ago.

As we headed out form the campground hoping for a great sunrise, we very quickly realized that just wasn’t in the cards that day. Thick and low lying clouds were covering the entire valley and we couldn’t even make out any of the surrounding peaks. After looking around a little and discussing what some of our options were, we decided to head over to Wedge Pond to see what we could come up with. We figured that if some light did materialize and the clouds broke up, we’d be in a good spot to capture it but if not we’d at least have some options for detail shots. As we headed down the path towards the flooded shoreline of the pond, we quickly forgot all about trying to capture a great sunrise and simply immersed ourselves in the beautiful scene around us. As we began to look around, even before taking out our cameras, more and more potential shots came into view and before long we were each in our own little world and hard at work making images. We ended up spending several hours wandering around the pond making images of the shoreline, trees, reflections, pathways, wildflowers, and anything else that caught our eyes. It was so relaxing to just take our time and really explore the scene and make images as we saw them. We easily could have spent more time there but our stomachs and the unfortunate reality of our busy schedules back home were all that forced us to leave that morning. This was by far one of the most enjoyable outings I’ve been on in a long time.

Here’s one of the first few images I made that morning looking across the perfectly calm water to the shoreline on the opposite side. I’ll have a few more images from the morning coming in another post later this week, stay tuned…

More From Highwood Pass

Here are a few more images from the evening shoot on my trip last week with Wayne and Darwin to the Highwood Pass area in Kananaskis. This little spot Darwin shared with us was great because it provided views in several directions and plenty of choices for compositions depending what the light was doing. As the three of us spent the evening working this area, the light just got better and better and we were treated to a gorgeous and dramatic sunset to finish things off.

What a great way to spend an evening!

The guys, hard at work:

Up next, my images from the next morning at Wedge Pond. If you haven’t already, go check out Wayne’s blog and Darwin’s blog to see their images from the morning. Stay tuned for their shots from the evening as well, I know I’m looking froward to seeing them!

Photo of the Week: Week 30

I had the pleasure of doing a short trip out shooting late last week with friends and fellow photographers Darwin Wiggett and Wayne Simpson. After setting up camp at one of the campgrounds in Kananaskis Country, we spent a great evening shooting at one of Darwin’s secret spots he shared with Wayne and I. We were treated to some great sunset conditions and despite the “helicopter sized” (to quote Darwin) mosquitoes worked the little area surrounding a beaver pond for several hours, making the most of the quickly changing light show. The image below was taken towards the end of the night, just as we were about to head back out to the road. Darwin had already left and Wayne and I were in the process of packing up our bags thinking we’d make our way back out to the road as well and maybe make a few more shots if some more interesting light materialized. Just as we were taking our cameras off our tripods we noticed the clouds starting to light up and quickly decided we’d better stay put or we’d risk missing the show completely while hiking back out. Within minutes the sky lit up all around us and as it did I was able to capture this scene.

Stay tuned for more images from this trip coming soon, and in the meantime head over and check out the latest post on Darwin’s blog for his insightful (and entertaining) write up of the trip along with his (Awesome!) images from the next morning’s shoot. Be sure to keep an eye on Wayne’s blog for his images from the trip as well.

Thanks Wayne and Darwin for a great trip!

Photo of the Week: Week 29

This week’s image is all about simplicity and seeing the less obvious. You’d never guess that I had gotten out of bed at 1:45 am to drive a few hours out to a location in the Rockies to be in position for sunrise by looking at this image would you? So often it seems that some of the most satisfying images for me come from the small and intimate scenes right under my nose, that I don’t even start looking for until after the dramatic light has come and gone.

On this particular morning I had set out with the intention of getting a nice sunrise shot of one of my favourite areas up on the Icefields Parkway but just didn’t have the conditions on my side. After the pressure of racing the light and setting up the big picture style compositions was over, it was as though my mind and eyes relaxed and I actually started really seeing what was around me. It was as if the anticipation and build up to the sunrise and the 100 or so frames I shot prior to this one were just the warm up exercise.

This image was one that I spent quite a bit of time on, even before ever lifting the camera to my eye or making any clicks of the shutter. At first I spent a while just looking at the grass along the riverbank and studying the shapes and reflections in the water, trying to find patterns I could isolate and focus in on. I actually found this particular spot twice without even knowing it… I shot a couple images that I thought were pretty nice, then moved on and somehow came back to the exact same spot and shot it again, only later realizing I had ended up back at the same place. I guess this little spot really had caught my eye!

So while I still don’t have the sunrise image I was looking for from this location, what I do have is an image I would never have thought I would make and one that I’m quite happy with. I have to continually remind myself not to get too hung up on my preconceived objectives and to be open to what images I can find just by slowing down and taking time to really see what’s around me. While you might say it was a waste to go all that way and to all that effort only to get an image I could have made in any old puddle with some grass in it, I think the process is what was most important to the success of this shot. Had I not spent those first hours looking so hard for images and watching the light so closely, I likely would have just walked right by this little scene and not given it a second look. It was only after immersing myself in the scene, and really spending some time studying what was going on around me that I was able to find and make the image.

Thanks for looking today, I hope you enjoy this one.

Photo of the Week: Week 28

This week’s photo is from the same location as last week’s image up on the Icefields Parkway. After shooting the sunrise and making my way back towards my truck and some hot breakfast, I stopped to make a few detail images along the banks of the stream. I liked the combination of the new green leaves of the bushes against the cooler blue of the stream in the background. With the sun not fully up yet, the valley was still shaded which provided the perfect light for some water motion shots. It took a little experimenting to determine a shutter speed that would provide a nice blur to the water without losing all of the texture (1/6th of a sec in this case), but once I found the look I was after, it was just a matter of framing up the shot and then waiting for a break in the breeze to keep the leaves from moving during the exposure.

Thanks for stopping in, Enjoy!

Photo of the Week: Week 27

This week’s photo was the result of a bit of a gamble, a hunch, and a little luck. As I was approaching the location I had planned to shoot sunrise last week, I was noticing the weather was worsening and the conditions deteriorating the closer I got. I usually try to at least have a plan B location in mind, if not a plan C as well, just for situations like this when my first choice doesn’t work out. On this morning however, my plan B spot wasn’t looking so great either and with the sunrise quickly approaching, I was at a bit of a loss as to where to go and not sure what to do. As I was driving my way back towards what I though might be a decent plan C option, I quickly realized that I wasn’t going to have time to get there before the light showed up and that I was going to need to find something closer. After hurriedly looking around I decided to take a chance on a spot that I was hoping would give me the view of the nearby peaks I was after. It meant that I would have to hike up along a creek a little ways and hopefully find a clearing in the trees with a view towards the west. This would let me use the creek as a foreground while hopefully catching some nice light and sunrise colour in the sky on the peaks across the valley. I really didn’t know if I’d get it or not but with time running out, this was going to be the only shot I had to catch the sunrise light. I also knew that if this didn’t work out, I’d definitely be out of luck with no time to go anywhere else. Here’s what I ended up with, I’d say the gamble paid off, and I did get just a little lucky too. There were actually several nice shots to be had here of which this is just one. It’s always great to find a new spot, especially one with so much potential as this one. I’ll definitely be returning here to try my luck again soon!

Photo of the Week: Week 26

I decided to go in a little more abstract direction for this week’s photo. While I was up on the Icefields Parkway last week, the bright green colour of the new leaves on the trees was really grabbing my eye. I also really liked the way the white bark of the tree trunks stood out against the backdrop of green. After attempting a more literal approach at first, I was finding the image still looking too busy and lacking the emphasis I was looking for. I decided to pan the camera vertically during the exposure to blur the leaves and detail to simplify the image even further and make it really just about the lines and colour. While this is definitely a more artistic interpretation of the scene, I feel quite satisfied with the image in that I was able to capture and emphasize the elements that drew me to the scene in the first place.
As far as the technical details of the image go, it was actually pretty simple. I used a polarizer to cut the reflections on the wet leaves and saturate the colours, then after manually focusing, I played with a few different shutter speeds to get the motion effect I was going for. This one ended up being at 1/3 of a sec with me making a pretty quick dropping motion while holding the camera. The keeper rate on these kind of shots isn’t very high, so after working out the exposure it was just a matter of trying a bunch and getting one I liked.

Photo of the Week: Week 25

This week’s photo is from the Graveyard Flats area up on the Icefields Parkway near the north end of Banff National Park. On the morning I went out shooting last week, I was gambling a little with the weather as I knew that some rainy conditions were on the way. While there was the potential for some great sunrise conditions with clear skies in the east and cloudy skies over the mountains as the storm systems moved in, there was also the very real possibility that I’d just end up under some very boring grey rain clouds. I was optimistic though and had a couple of locations in mind that would put me in a good position to capture the light if it did materialize. As luck would have it however, my gamble with the skies did not play out in my favour and the weather kicked my butt! I ended up searching around for quite a while for a spot to set up and shoot and ventured much further north than I had originally intended to go that morning. When I finally ended up at Graveyard Flats I was relieved to see the clouds breaking up and some light coming out to play so I made the best of it and started shooting. This area is a very interesting area to shoot with so many choices of foregrounds to use and the many peaks surrounding the flats. I’ve only shot here once or twice before and every time I leave wanting to come back to explore and spend more time there.

This was one of my favourites from the morning, I hope that you enjoy it as well.

Photo of the Week: Week 24

Last weekend I had the pleasure of meeting up with fellow photographers Peter Carroll and Wayne Simpson for some shooting out in Kananaskis Country. With Peter being in from out of town for only a couple of days, and a really sketchy weather forecast, it was a bit of a challenging shoot to organize on short notice, but we eventually all landed in the same place for an evening of making photos. We met up at Spillway Lake where the evening light this time of year can be really nice and with a storm system on it’s way out of the area that day, we were optimistic that we’d get some interesting conditions as the sun made it’s way down.
Arriving early, we decided to use some time to both challenge ourselves and warm up a little by shooting some details images in a nearby pond. Each of us had commented that we’d seen this particular spot before and never successfully made an image there, so off we went to see what we could come up with. It was an interesting spot in which we all agreed there was something there to capture, but it was a very challenging scene to make sense of in a single photograph. This shot was my best attempt at it, and while I’m reasonably happy with the result, I do think there is more that could be done there. I’ll be curious to see what the other guys ended up with.

Thanks Pete and Wayne for a great evening!

Photo of the Week: Week 23

This week’s photo was taken on the same outing as last week’s image from Herbert Lake. After shooting the sunrise, I made my way back along the Bow Valley Parkway as I usually do between Lake Louise and Banff. I much prefer the slower speed limit and relaxed drive along that stretch of road to the the busy Trans Canada highway. I had to laugh at one point in the morning when, as I was cooking up some breakfast, a family of tourists stopped and asked me, “… is there anything to see along this road?”. I almost didn’t know what to say, it just seemed like such a silly question! After a quick chuckle (in an “are you seriously asking me that?” kind of way) I politely told them that it was an absolutely gorgeous drive, to take their time and just enjoy the views. I noticed one passenger had a camera at the ready and also mentioned that there was a good chance they might see some wildlife and might be able to get some great shots to take home with them. I really hope they weren’t disappointed with the drive that followed my advice. For me it just doesn’t get much better than driving along that quiet road enjoying the views in the early morning light.
As the sun began to make it’s way over the mountains on the east side of the valley, the backlit trees and their long shadows were really catching my eye. I stopped at a couple different spots to try and capture what I was seeing in a photo and I think I came close to getting what I was after in this shot. I wanted to see the shadow lines of the trees coming right towards me, radiating out from the centre, with a nice sunstar breaking through the tree cover. The challenge I found, was finding a foreground element to add some interest to the front of the image and play well with the lines of the tree shadows.
Thanks for looking, I hope like this one!