Fall in the Canadian Rockies Photo Tour Results – Alan Ernst
Bog Birch Branch
Lumix GH2 with Olympus 50mm/f2 macro lens at f 5.6, 1/15 sec, +2/3 EV, ISO 160
Waiting for a sunrise at upper Waterfowl Lake, I wandered off into a meadow. Mist coming off the lake on this frosty morning made for great close-ups of hoare frost covered vegetation. The colourful leaves of miniature birch shrubs caught attracted me but I had to search for a while to find a branch which had a good mix of colour and could be isolated from its surroundings / background without too much clutter. Once I found a suitable twig, I focused on one leaf and then ran a whole series of shots at different apertures to see the difference in depth of field. The exposures at f4 and f 5.6 turned out to be the best with sufficient selective focus while still keeping the background out of focus completely.
Driftwood in the golden light
Lumix GH1 with 100-300mm Lumix lens at 280mm (35mm equiv. of 560mm) at f8, 1/60 sec, +1/3 EV, ISO 320
On our very first morning shoot at Whitegoat Lakes, participants had packed up and were waiting for the rest of the group to return to our vehicles. Sunrise was over, the clouds were turning white and grey, the reflections on the pond were gone. Time to pack up? Maybe not! When photographing in a group, some people will always be done sooner than others and then sit or stand around, waiting for the rest of participants to wrap up. In these situations, I always continue to scan my surroundings looking for worthwhile subjects.
I had noticed a kaleidoscope of colours on the pond caused by the reflection of warm early morning light on Mt. Stelfox when the bobbing driftwood caught my eye. I knew the moving wood in the water would be problematic in this relatively low light and did not want to step up the sensitivity too much (four thirds sensors are not much good above ISO 400), so set the drive to continuous and rattled off a few shots in succession to hopefully capture the driftwood when movement was minimal. One shot turned out to be sharp.
Lumix GH2 with Olympus 11-22mm lens at 14mm at f8, ¼ sec, + 1/3 EV, ISO 160 Polariser and 2 stop hard edge ND
In overcast weather we often venture to canyons and waterfalls or into forests, to take advantage of the diffuse light. Mistaya Canyon never disappoints, with many interesting angles, layered rocks and moving water. At this spot, shooting into the canyon upstream, instead of a solid ND, I used a 2 stop hard edge ND in reverse and at an angle, to darken the foreground and white water, while capturing more detail in the dark of the canyon. Although I bracketed for an HDR image, I found to my surprise that the filters applied were sufficient to even out the contrast to use a single exposure with only a small amount of shadow / highlight adjustment.
Mount Wilson Spires
Lumix GH1 with 100-300mm Lumix lens at 100mm (35mm equiv. of 200mm), at f8, 1/200 sec, +1/3 EV, ISO 125
When passing Mt. Wilson in the afternoon or evening I always crane my neck to look at the jagged peaks towering almost vertically above the Icefields Parkway. Most people drive right by as they cannot be seen until you look straight up. I have many great images of these turrets in all kinds of moody or warm light, shrouded in mist, covered in snow or ice, etc. On this occasion, stopping a little further along the Hwy, I noticed the almost perfect repetition of outlines of the lower and upper mountainsides, something I had never observed before. We were running late for our sunrise shoot but decided to stop anyway for a quick grab shot from the road.
Lumix GH1 with 100-300mm Lumix lens at 240mm (35mm equiv. of 460mm), at f8, 1/800 sec, + 1/3 EV, ISO 125
Returning from our photo hike to snowy Wilcox Pass, the early afternoon light was still very intense and not overly suitable for overall landscapes. However, the fresh snow which made walking a little challenging by intermittently turning the steep trail to ice, slush or mud, also covered the rocky slopes of Wilcox Ridge and Nigel Peak, making for very contrasty patterns of rock and snow. I managed to get some good landscape extractions but my favourite one turned out to be these amazing folded rocks on the flanks of Nigel Peak, which beat any fault formations I have seen before. I have walked this trail half a dozen times but never noticed it before.
Windy Point Sunrise
Lumix GH2 with Olympus 11-22mm lens at 12mm (35mm equiv. of 24mm), at f9, 1/2 sec, ISO 160, 3 stop hard edge grad
Usually we reserve sunrises like these for our November tours, when the likelihood for blazing colours is fairly good. However, it takes a number of factors to provide this kind of light and they generally will only occur 10-15 % of the time between end of September and early April . Our fall tour participants were treated to three very good sunrises in six days and were lucky indeed. The wind was fierce on this morning however, ripping along the lake and around Windy Point. I only managed to get two or three shots from this elevated location, when filters flew out of my hand and my backpack rolled down the hill. I could hardly hang on to my tripod and had to retreat to a lower viewpoint which was far less impressive but also, much less windy…
The regular November tour out of Aurum Lodge sold out a year ago but if anyone is interested, an additional tour has just been added to this year’s schedule, which runs from late afternoon on Wed. Nov. 16th to mid day on Sun. Nov. 20th. Four nights, single occupancy, C$ 1,359 all-inclusive – contact Alan at email@example.com to reserve your spot.