Below are Alan Ernst’s image from the Spring Photo Tour in the Canadian Rockies. For those interested in one of the best spring photo tours in the Canadian Rockies, I highly recommend the tour based out of Aurum Lodge with friend and fellow photographer Royce Howland. To sign up for the Spring 2012 Photo Tour (May 12-16) contact Alan at the Aurum Lodge (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Driftwood at Graveyard Flats
Lumix GH1, 14-45mm lens at the equivalent of 42mm, ISO 125, 1/60 sec, f 13, +1/3EV
Landscape extractions and landscape detail are often overlooked when photographers are out to capture the grand mountain landscape, chasing after the magic light. When the light is less than spectacular, great foreground subjects can often be turned into interesting images on their own. I chose orientation, aspect ratio and focal length to exclude all the clutter around and behind my subject, moving back and forth, sideways and up and down until I had a composition I liked. Strong graphic images like this work great in black & white too.
Lumix G1, 45-200mm lens at the equivalent of 168mm, ISO 125, 1/3 sec, f 10, +1/3 EV, Cokin blue/yellow polariser
Tele-zooms are the ideal lens for landscape detail, as they allow you to crop close and refine your composition from any vantage point, while minimising surrounding distractions. The light was flat and visiting Mistaya Canyon ten times a year or more, I wanted to try something different. I rarely use the blue/yellow polariser and if I do, I generally try to “dial” it back from the peak saturation to avoid that artificial looking colour cast. In this case, I decided to max it out though, to emphasize the mill hole in the rock. Again, I spent a lot of time trying different orientations, angles and aspect ratios, until I found the one which showed only the components I wanted: the mill hole and the rock strata which seem to radiate away from it.
Misty Morning in Kootenay Plains
Lumix GH1, 14-45mm lens at the equivalent of 28mm, ISO 100, ½ sec, f 11, 2-stop hard edge grad, solid ND
Fog is rare in our valley but it always makes for interesting moody shots, no matter where you are. The group of pine trees against the background mist attracted my attention first. After a few shots at various angles and orientations, it just seemed too flat however, so I started looking at foreground more closely to generate a feeling of depth. The young aspen tree worked well compositionally, but the flat backlight made it look dull, even though to the eye the leaves were a strong green. I tried fill flash first, which was too directional and affected the entire foreground. It then crossed my mind that light painting might do the trick, so I mounted an extra ND filter to slow down the exposure and shone a small LED flashlight top down onto the little tree.
Morning Dew on Shooting Star
Lumix GH1, Olympus 50mm macro lens (100m equivalent), ISO 125, 1/30 sec, f 10, + 1 2/3 EV, silver reflector
Mist on a calm and cool morning sets the stage for dew on just about everything. Spring is a great time for wildflowers in the area and the soft light created by the fog was ideal. To remove the flower from the distracting background, I had to go as low as I could and point the camera upwards, which created a silhouette against the bright sky. I did want to capture the subtle colours of the Shooting Star however and thus overexposed as far as I could without washing out the background sky. A small reflector to bounce the light back in to the flower was all that was needed to get the right balance, as fill flash would not have worked at this close distance.
Rock and Water on North Saskatchewan River
Lumix G1, 100-300mm lens at the equivalent of 516mm , ISO 125, 1/125 sec, f 8, + 2/3 EV
Rocks around fast flowing water are usually polished smooth, showing the strata and seams very prominently. Various rapids and canyons along the North Saskatchewan display some very interesting patterns in the rock. In this location, the rock is intermittently covered by water gushing over a small fall. Thank God we have digital cameras nowadays… I took over 100 images of this scene at varying shutter speeds to create different blur and they range from no water showing to water only. The best results were the ones which were about half rock, half moving water as in this case.
Spotlight on Grizzly Bear
Lumix G1, 100-300mm lens at the equivalent of 200mm, ISO 250, 1/160 sec, f 5.6
Springtime from mid May to early July is the best time to see bears in this area. We have been fortunate to see and photograph a few black bears on virtually every spring tour and on some occasions have encountered grizzlies, like this one sauntering along the Icefields Parkway. When driving in this region, it is always advisable to keep a camera with long lens attached and all settings ready for grab shots. I tend to set my camera to Programme exposure mode, ISO 250 or higher, image stabilisation on, and continuous drive. Often there is only time for one or two shots, so preparation is the key.