Saturday, September 25, 2010

Day 4: Many Glacier to Waterton Lakes National Park

We woke up at 6:00am, prepared a quick breakfast, and headed back to the hotel in the hopes of capturing the morning colors. The wind was very strong, and it didn't take too long before I realized that without some form of shelter, none of the photos in question would be usable because of the wind buffeting both the camera and tripod. One obvious place was the levy just before the Swiftcurrent lake, which offered a bit of shelter.
From 2010 Canadian Rockies Fall Colors

Then I saw another photographer with a giant stroke of genius: this man had his wife drive his minivan before the bridge, and then shot from behind the mini-van's wind shelter. Not being ashamed to borrow someone else's great idea, I shot from behind his mini-van as well as the sun rose from behind the horizon.
From 2010 Canadian Rockies Fall Colors

The light changed rapidly, with the scene changing dramatically from minute to minute, to the point where the same picture taken just a few seconds later would be quite different.
From 2010 Canadian Rockies Journalism
From 2010 Canadian Rockies Journalism

In just 10 minutes or so clouds moving rapidly over us obscured the sun and we immediately lost all the golden light which made photographs so pretty! This pattern would continue for me throughout the rockies, making this two week trip by far some of the most challenging shooting I have ever done. You literally had to move quickly or your opportunities would be lost. The photographer with the mini van left, but not before telling me to hike the bear's hump in Waterton Lakes for a good view of the village.

Mike and I had more breakfast, and then decided to go for a walk together up to Redrock Falls. Mike had recently gotten into shooting HD video on his 7D, and was excited about waterfalls the way I'm excited about rainbows. The hike up was along the continental divide trail, with beautiful autumn leaves and a nice lake, but with the drab lighting very little inspired me.
From 2010 Canadian Rockies Fall Colors

Mike, however, having discovered ND grad. filters as a tool the day before had gone crazy with them, and was shooting everything in sight. It helped that he had his laptop with him in the trailer and was therefore in no danger of running out of memory cards. We did reach Redrock Falls, which were a multi-layered set of falls that were quite pretty.
From 2010 Canadian Rockies Fall Colors
From 2010 Canadian Rockies Journalism

After our shoot, we returned to the trailer, where Mike powered up the generator and I gave all my batteries one final charge before heading over to Waterton Lakes. Mike could not join me, because he had a gun in his trailer, and therefore would be barred from entering Canada with the trailer. We ate one more meal together, and he mentioned that since I had a 2 whole weeks, I should consider driving over to Banff and Japser.

The drive over to Waterton Lakes was very pretty. Upon entering Waterton Lakes I noted that the Canadian parks charged by the day, and that I was better off buying an annual pass (again) for $66 if I would spend a week or more in the various parks, as Banff and Jasper were about $10/day each! Upon arriving at the visitor's center, I asked about the Crypt Lake hike, which I had first seen a video of 15 years ago. To my relief the water taxi shuttle was still running for the hike, and it would still be a good hike to do. The timing was great as well: the morning service started at 10:00am, and the return was at 5:30pm. That meant that my sunrise and sunset shooting schedule would be uninterrupted, and I would not loose a sunset or sunrise. I was even further pleased to find that Waterton Lake's campground still had shower and water. I was not pleased to find that the wind was forecast to be even stronger the next day! Waterton Lake village had many many tame deer coming through. It would not even be a challenge to approach the deer!
From 2010 Canadian Rockies Journalism

I found a campsite, walked around town for a bit, ate an early dinner, and proceeded to climb Bear's Hump with my photo gear. The walk wasn't very long, but it was quite steep. The views at the top was very good, but the wind was even stronger. This led me to find a location where I could wedge myself and my tripod deeply into crevices for better stability, and then I proceeded to shoot. My first subject was the Waterton Lakes hotel:
From 2010 Canadian Rockies Fall Colors
This was particularly tricky because my ballhead would work loose from the tripod every time I rotated the head. The insecure connection was driving me up the wall, and I resolved to find some loc-tite as soon as I could, but Waterton Lakes did not have any.

My next subject was the village itself. The sun was far from setting, but the mountains meant that the village was already in shadow. This meant that I had no chance of getting alpenglow on the nearby mountains, but with the appropriate use of ND grad. filters, could keep the village in view and the lit up mountains on the opposing side would not be too blown out. The wind whipped up waves in the lake, creating ripple patterns that were high and furious.
From 2010 Canadian Rockies Fall Colors

The wind was really unpleasant, and after a few more attempts at some backlit shots of people, I decided that I was wasting my time: by the time the light got really good, the mountains would all be in shadow and I wouldn't have any more good photos. I started the walk down and encountered two women from Cardston who were out on their first hike. They asked for a photo, and said, "Can you make us look skinny?" "You know that the camera can only add weight, right?"
From 2010 Canadian Rockies Journalism

I went on down the mountain, got into my car, and drove to see if I could find better views. On a whim, I started down Red Rock Canyon road, which was where my family and I started an ill-fated backpacking trip 15 years ago. There was not any good light to be seen, but there was a traffic jam on the road. I stopped my car and got out of it to see what was going on, and immediately encountered a bear:
From 2010 Canadian Rockies Fall Colors

II was shooting with a 200mm lens, but it was still a bit too close for me. I walked slowly back to my car and proceeded to shoot more photos in the fading light. I would encounter 3 more bears along the road that evening, but the light got really dim and the shooting was no longer any good.

I got in one more shot of the full moon rising over the plains towards the East, and then called it a night.
From 2010 Canadian Rockies Journalism


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