Fire and Ice Photo Tour – Alan Ernst

Below are six of Alan Ernst’s image from the November Fire and Ice Photo Tour. If you are interested in this unique tour contact Alan at the Aurum Lodge to book your spot for 2011 or 2012. Alan has been kind enough to include information on the making of each photo.

©Alan Ernst

Mt Chephren from Waterfowl Lake. Lumix GH1, 14-45mm lens at 14mm (28mm equiv), f11, ½ sec, 2 stop hard graduated filter.

When we arrived at the first location, I initially looked at the round spots in the ice as an interesting foreground. They were only visible well from a higher vantage point, where it was impossible to get a good composition because of the trees along the embankment protruding into the image. I moved down to the shore where this driftwood caught my attention and set the camera up so the wood would point towards the center of the picture and lead towards the spots in the ice and the peak. I then backed off a little bit to include the reflection of the mountain in the ice AND raised the camera to ensure that the driftwood in the foreground would not merge with the dark spots in the ice.

©Alan Ernst

Coyote in Jasper. Lumix GH1, 14-45mm lens at 45mm (90mm equiv), f 5.6, 1/50th sec.

We had stopped to observe a herd of Bighorn Sheep at the side of the road. Normally, we remind our participants to always keep a long lens attached when travelling , as wildlife encounters are most likely along the side of the road and the Jasper area is one of the best locations for wildlife sightings. Generally, I keep a 100-400mm lens and camera set to P, ISO 400, continuous, image stabilisation on, for this kind of situation, which means I only have to pick it up and shoot. For some reason, that morning I forgot to do this and I had my long lens stowed in the camera bag in the trunk. When the coyote appeared, scattering the sheep, I grabbed what I had (standard zoom) and tried it anyway. I knew it was too dark to freeze the motion so panned the camera to follow the movement of the animal at 1/50th sec. I never expected to get anything decent but one out of three frames turned out reasonably well so all I needed to do is crop it.

©Alan Ernst

Patterson Glacier in Banff Park. Lumix G1, 45-200mm lens at 78mm (155mm equiv), f8, 1/320th sec, HDR with three frames at +1 1/3rd and -1 1/3rd exposures.

Returning from Peyto Lake, the sun had disappeared and the light was pretty drab with 100% cloud cover. What caught my eye on Mt. Patterson was the texture and varied patterns of dark and light on the mountain side. The backlit mountain did not lend itself well to a grand landscape so I decided to go for a landscape extraction instead, zooming in on what had attracted my attention in the first place. I chose colour over B&W in this case, because I liked the blue sheen of the glacial ice. I then moved the camera around and played with the zoom until I had a composition I liked, cutting out everything extraneous but keeping the line of trees in the foreground for depth.

©Alan Ernst

Ice at Whirlpool Point, Kootenay Plains Ecological Reserve. Lumix G1, 45-200mm lens at 78mm (155mm equiv), f9, 1/30th sec, +1/3rd exp. comp.

Around sunset, I was looking for a foreground to use with the mountains and underlit clouds (see Darwin’s Nov. 16 blog entry photo). The clouds were interesting but I could not find anything I fancied and the mountain range was turning into a dark silhouette. Thus, I had a closer look at some of the ice patterns and rocks in the ice, when I came across this small rock protruding out of the ice. The almost perfect oval shape and the ice around it caught my eye, so I started looking for a good composition. I tried to balance the heavy rock in one corner with the curved crack in the ice on the left side by placing the two in a diagonal across the frame (which turned 90 degr. clockwise would look like an eye with eyebrow… ). As I take Raw and jpeg combined on most occasions, in this case I set the white balance to daylight / sunny, to accentuate the blue of the ice.

©Alan Ernst

Boulder on Abraham Lake. Lumix GH1, 14-45mm lens at 14mm (28mm equiv), f5, 1/125th sec, 2 stop hard grad over horizon.

On our last morning along the beach near Allstones Creek. I found the light and clouds over the mountain and the pounding surf very appealing but could not capture it well because of the extreme contrast which called for HDR. So instead, I started to look at some of the colourful and interestingly shaped rocks along the beach. Because the light was so drab, I needed an interesting shape / colour to make it stand out and when I found this one, tried to put it in context with the lake and mountains surrounding it. As I don’t have a tilt-shift to get the infinite depth of field, I chose to go the other way and use differential focus with a wide aperture, in order to make the rock stick out from the background. I chose the 16:9 image ratio to concentrate on the rock and include a bit of background to make it a landscape shot rather than a detail only.

©Alan Ernst

Ice pattern on Abraham Lake. Lumix GH1, Oympus 50mm macro lens (100mm equiv), f13, 1/10th sec, – 1/3rd exp. comp.

One of our participants stayed over following the tour, so the morning after I went out with him for another morning shoot at Preacher’s Point. It was not overly colourful as there were too many clouds; again I decided to concentrate on the ice and rocks in the foreground and came across this ice bulb in an almost circular hole, about 2 inches across. Initially I took the entire subject with the hole in the ice and the bulb which looked good on it’s own. However, looking at it on the screen I thought I wanted to close in a little more on the interesting shape of the bulb (about ½ inch across), so cropped a vertical section out of the horizontal image and came up with this one… Whereas the original shot turned out as simply another interesting ice detail image, cropping out 60% on the right, made it a much more abstract and intriguing composition.




8 Responses to “Fire and Ice Photo Tour – Alan Ernst”

  1. I love the intimate detail shots you can get from around Abraham Lake with the way the water freezes around certain objects. Nice pan on the coyote Alan. I’m also really enjoying that first shot, nicely composed.

  2. Hi Alan, really taken with the “ice bulb”. Good eye as usual!

  3. I love the positive/negative relationship of the shapes in the last one-each supports the other. Also appreciate your sharing how you set up the first photo because it reminds me to really look through my viewfinder and adjust the point of view to get more or less of what is needed.

  4. Nice to see Alan kicking some photographic butt, as usual… 🙂

  5. Thanks for the feedback folks,

    As for Bryan – will we see you and your pals up here this winter?
    We have twisted the Masters arm to guide another tour starting January 26th, which will focus on Abraham Lake and “bubbles on the rocks”.
    Promise there will be no butt kicking, however you may see it freeze to the ice, if you take longer than 15 sec per exposure… Shouldn’t be a problem though, as spring thaw usually happens around late March to April…

    Take care

    • I am always amazed by the different shots of the tour participants, but Alans shots blow me away regularly. The detail, the composition, great eye for the detail. Can’t wait to go up the Lodge this winter!

  6. Great photos Alan, thanks for sharing the details and your comments.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: