Fire and Ice Photo Tour 2010 – Darren Barclay

Below are Darren Barclay’s favorite six photos from the Fire and Ice Photo Tour. Darren has been kind enough to provide technical and shooting information for each photo. To see more of Darren’s work be sure to visit his website.


©Darren Barclay

Aspens. Canon 5DmkII, 0.3sec @ f22, ISO 50, Canon 24-70mm lens @ 65mm, circular warming polarizer.

Having talked to Darwin about these types of “painterly” images, I decided to try my hand at making one. As I was walking back up the trail from the North Saskatchewan River, I noticed that these trees were side-lit. I switched my camera to Tv (shutter priority) and chose a shutter speed of around 1/4sec (0.3sec in this case). I composed the image, tripped the shutter and moved my camera up and down fairly quickly. The result is this abstract image of a small stand of aspens. I spent some time trying different compositions and varying the amount of time and direction that I moved the camera, but this is the image that I like the best.

©Darren Barclay

Mistaya River. Canon 5DmkII, 1/4sec @ f16, ISO 50, Canon 24-70mm lens @ 48mm, circular warming polarizer.

I managed to get quite a few grand scenics and intimate landscapes that I was fairly happy with from our stop at the Mistaya Canyon. For whatever reason, this one just jumped off the screen at me when I was reviewing my images. I had framed this scene a bunch of different ways- high, low, left, right, vertical, horizontal and this comp was the one that seemed to work the best, to my eye anyways. With my camera in Av mode, (aperture priority) I adjusted apertures to get different shutter speeds (the higher the aperture number, the smaller the “hole”, the less light that gets in, therefore the longer the shutter speed) to give me the “streaky” look I was hoping for with the water, all while trying to maintain sharpness. As I was playing around with different shutter speeds/ apertures, the sun popped out from behind the clouds and the light was reflecting off of something behind me causing the ice covered rocks to sparkle. I made a couple of different images before the light fizzled out and this was the one that I liked the best. I processed it in black and white as there wasn’t a lot of colour in the scene other than in the water.

©Darren Barclay

Moberly Flats Ice Bubbles. Canon 5DmkII, 25sec @ f16, ISO 50, Zeiss 21mm lens, circular warming polarizer, 5s neutral density filter, 3s soft graduated neutral density filter.

While I had my dSLR shooting 10+ minute exposures, I decided to grab my point & shoot and wander around looking for interesting subjects. I discovered these insanely cool looking bubbles in the ice and shot a few “test comps.” Once I was done with the long exposure shots, I grabbed my dSLR and moved over to include these bubbles in some shots of Gargoyle Mountain. I set my tripod as flat as it would go and moved my camera as close as I could to the bubbles so I could use the bubbles as a very strong foreground element while still making sure that the reflections from the warm light on the mountain were still visible. Once I was able to get the bubbles as sharp as possible while maintaining good depth of field, I tried shooting this with and without neutral density filters hoping that the movement in the clouds would somehow mimic the shapes and patterns in the bubbles. I settled on using a 5 stop neutral density filter to give me the look I was hoping for.

©Darren Barclay

Moberly Flats. Canon 5DmkII, 80sec @ f16, ISO 50, Zeiss 21mm lens, circular warming polarizer, 5s neutral density filter, 3s soft graduated neutral density filter.

While wandering along the shore looking for some interesting foregrounds to go with the backdrop of Gargoyle Mountain, I came across this patch of grass frozen in the ice. I liked the diagonal lines of the grasses and the windswept pattern of the snow. I set my tripod so that I was able to get as close to the grass as possible while still being able to include the reflection of the warm light on the ice. I used a 5 stop neutral density filter to give me a 1 minute & 20 sec exposure to give the clouds some implied movement. I really liked the way that the diagonal movement in the clouds opposed the diagonal lines in the foreground.

©Darren Barclay

Mt. Chephren. Canon 5DmkII, 1.6sec @ f16, ISO 50, Zeiss 21mm lens, circular warming polarizer, 2s soft graduated neutral density filter.

Mt. Chephren is without a doubt one of my most favourite mountains to shoot in the mountain parks. The shapes, textures and lines in the rock are all pretty cool, especially when covered with some snow and with some warm light shining on it. I always stop there, rain or shine to shoot some images. On this day, I worked along the shore making images as I went and thought that this hunk of driftwood looked pretty cool. I tried to arrange the comp so that the limbs of the driftwood matched and opposed the diagonals of the shoreline, rock and grasses while still having them point towards the mountain. I set my tripod so that my camera was about eye height in order to include as much of the reflection of the mountain on the ice as possible.

©Darren Barclay

Preacher’s Point Sunrise. Canon 5DmkII, 5 minutes & 1sec @ f16, ISO 400, Zeiss 21mm lens, circular warming polarizer, 10s neutral density filter, 3s soft graduated neutral density filter.

Pretty damn epic sunrise on this day, without a doubt. I was heading towards a point of land that juts out into the river when I noticed these bubbles in the ice. I thought they looked pretty cool so I set up a comp with the camera as low as possible in order to highlight the bubbles. Somewhere along the line, the ice cracked and shifted and this hunk of ice popped up above the other sheet of ice so I re-composed a shot to include this in the foreground. To my eye, this scene looked best under exposed so I set about shooting this to highlight the foreground and the sky. I made only one image with a 10s neutral density filter hoping to get some decent movement in the clouds. This is that image, shot with a 5 minute and 1 second exposure at ISO 400. I upped the ISO in order to cut down on the exposure time so that I didn’t miss out on too much of the super sweet light.

18 Responses to “Fire and Ice Photo Tour 2010 – Darren Barclay”

  1. Wow, very nice work. I especially like both your bubble photos. That must of been quite the sunrise for the last one. If I get half as nice of shots on my winter tour I’ll be happy.

    • Hello Stephane,
      We are putting a few bubbles aside for you two every day, so we should have ample supply when you get here in February. Take care and return home safe! Alan

  2. Amazing stuff Darren, superb eye, great variety, excellent use of techniques and thought put into compositions. What more can I say…!?

  3. Such gorgeous images, especially Aspens and Moberly Flats Ice Bubbles. Masterfully composed and crafted, Darren!

  4. Astrid Fernandes Says:

    Wow – loved, loved them all. My favourite is the bubbles shot. Great eye and great technique. A special thank you for sharing.

  5. Wonderful Images Darren! A true pleasure to have hung out with you!

  6. Sean Bateman Says:

    Preachers Point Sunrise is amazing! What is there about this weekend -such incredible intense light [well except for one yr.]

  7. These are all very beautiful, awesome work Darren

  8. Those are some really sweet images, great colors, compositions etc. Keep up the good work, dude!

  9. I must say, the Preachers Point photo has it in Spades !
    thanks for sharing this One Darwin and thank you Darren as well !

  10. How do you fix your filters with the 82mm filter size on the Zeiss 21 mm lens ? Thanks.

  11. Darren Barclay Says:

    Thank you all for your kind words. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  12. Wow, Darren. What excellent compositions! I like the effect that the 10-stop ND filter had on your images too. It really enriched the color in your skies and reflections, taking advantage of the time-lapsed changes that were occurring. Your ‘painterly’ image is awesome; it’s magical.

  13. Great photos. My favourite is the painterly aspens, what a neat effect. Thanks for posting the details of your images. Well done!

  14. These shots are all excellent, Darren. I’m amazed how well your first take on the new technique worked out (image 1). Mark will be so jealous 😉
    My favorite, however, is the last one. The light and color in the clouds combined with the blue ice bubbles are just terrific. I hope you’re gonna print that one big and find a nice spot for it. Congratulations.

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