Archive for Alan Ernst

Fire and Ice Results – Alan Ernst

Posted in Workshops and Seminars with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 15, 2011 by Darwin

Below are Alan’s six favorites from the Fire and Ice photo tour. We had ‘interesting’ weather that forced participants to dig deep to come up with creative images. As you can see from Alan’s images below, there is always something to shoot no matter what kind of light and weather nature throws at you.

©Alan Ernst

Cline River Canyon
Lumix GH2, Zuiko 11-22mm lens at 22mm (44mm equiv.), ISO 160, f8 at 1/60s, + 1.33 EV

©Alan Ernst

Fairyland Gate

Lumix GH1, Lumix 100-300mm lens at 200mm (400mm equiv.), ISO 100, f16, 1/10s, +0.7 EV

©Alan Ernst

Morning Sun on Vision Quest
Lumix GH1, Lumx 100-300mm lens at 170mm (340mm equiv.), ISO 100, f9, 1/40s, +0.7 EV

©Alan Ernst

Panther Claws
Lumix GH2, Zuiko 11-22mm lens at 21mm (42mm equiv.), ISO 160, f16, 0.6s, +1 EV, solid ND filter

©Alan Ernst

Sunwapta Falls
Lumix GH2, Zuiko 12-60mm lens at 21mm (42mm equiv.), ISO 160, f16, 1/5s, + 0.66 EV

©Alan Ernst

The Drain at Whirlpool Point

Lumix GH2, Zuiko 11-22mm lens at 11mm (22mm equiv.), ISO 160, f14, 0.8s, +0.66 EV


Fall in the Canadian Rockies Photo Tour Results – Alan Ernst

Posted in Workshops and Seminars with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 5, 2011 by Darwin

©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.

©Alan Ernst

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.

©Alan Ernst

 Mistaya Canyon

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.

©Alan Ernst

  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.

©Alan Ernst

Nigel’s Navel

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.

©Alan Ernst

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 to reserve your spot.

Nordegg Mine Tour and Athabasca Glacier Walk Result – Alan Ernst

Posted in Workshops and Seminars with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 6, 2011 by Darwin

Below are Alan’s favorite images from the August outing to the Nordegg Mine and the Athabasca Glacier walk.

©Alan Ernst

©Alan Ernst

©Alan Ernst

©Alan Ernst

©Alan Ernst

©Alan Ernst

Spring Photo Results – Alan Ernst

Posted in Techniques, Workshops and Seminars with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 4, 2011 by Darwin

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 (

©Alan Ernst

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.

©Alan Ernst

Mistaya Blues

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.

©Alan Ernst

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.

©Alan Ernst

 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.

©Alan Ernst

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.

©Alan Ernst

 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.

2011 Tours and Workshops – Something for Everyone

Posted in Art of Photography, Artistic Development, Good News, Instruction, Techniques, Workshops and Seminars with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 26, 2011 by Darwin

Below is a listing of tours and workshops available for 2011 and into 2012. Their are only a few spots left in these events so if you want to boost your learning in photography then come join us for a great time:

Fire and Ice Photo Tour – November 10 – 13, 2011

This event is sold out but to be added to the wait list contact the Aurum Lodge or sign up for the 2012 photo tour. This is one of my favorite tours because of the short days with great light and the intersection of new ice with the fiery skies of late fall.

Just Announced! Do to popular demand we have added a second Fire and Ice as of Oct 10. Tour starts Wed. Nov. 16th 5pm to Sunday Nov. 20th 1:30 pm (four nights at Aurum Lodge!), with the option to join a day later (Nov. 17th) for those who cannot make the four nights, but wish to come for three nights only. Cost is C$ 1,359 for the four night tour or C$ 1,019 for the three night tour all in. Contact Alan at Aurum Lodge to book. Only two spots left

©Darwin Wiggett

Ice Bubbles on Abraham Lake – Winter Magic Tours 2012 – Feb. 23-26, and Feb. 29 – March 4, 2012

It seems that the Ice Bubbles out on Abraham Lake have now gotten a bit famous especially after my 2008 Travel Photographer of the Year Win which featured my Abraham Lake shots. I have taken many photographers out on the ice at Abraham Lake and now their great photos are circulating around and getting lots of views. I have been leading these tours since 2005 (see the results from back then when almost everyone was still shooting film!).

It might seem an easy proposition to just drive up to the lake in winter and get great shots on your own; and yes that is possible. But the ice bubble locations change from year to year, and most people are unaware of the extreme dangers of Abraham Lake and of the other great locations near the lake. That is where your guides (Alan who lives on the shores of Abraham Lake) and I can make sure we get you to the best spots in the best light no matter the weather. And plus you get the fantastic accommodations of the Aurum Lodge which is a nice retreat after a few hours out on the ice at -25 degrees C!

In 2012, there are two tours available; Feb 23-26, and Feb. 29 – March 4 (this latter tour is already sold out). So if you are keen to photograph Abraham Lake and other great spots this coming winter, then sign up for the Feb23-26 tour before it sells out!

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett - could you find this place on your own?

Special Summer Rockies Tour (Ice Walk, Nordegg Mines, Secret Spots)

Posted in TCBlog, Workshops and Seminars with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on July 7, 2011 by Darwin

Just a reminder about the special summer photographer’s tour based out of the Aurum Lodge in the heart of the Canadian Rockies. There are only a couple of spots left on this tour where we will have photographer’s access to the old Nordegg Mine, a full day on the Athabasca  Glacier in Jasper National Park and you will be guided to secret spots like the Cline River Canyon (see image below) that are just minutes from the Aurum Lodge. Dates are Friday August 19th through Monday August 22, 2011. Costs of $899 single, $749 double are all-inclusive (rooms, meals, guiding and entrance fees). You’ll be joined by photographers Royce Howland, Mark and Leslie Degner, Alan Ernst and Samantha and yours truly. Click on this link to see the detailed PDF. To reserve your spot just email Alan at the Aurum Lodge –

©Darwin Wiggett - click on the photo to see a larger version

©Darwin Wiggett - Old truck at the Nordegg mine

©Darwin Wiggett - Glacier photography at the Columbia Icefields

Fabulous Film Fridays – June 24

Posted in Fabulous Film Fridays, Image Processing and Software, VWBlog, Workshops and Seminars with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 24, 2011 by Darwin

The three images below were all taken with Gail, my Fuji GA645 point-n-shoot medium format camera using Fujicolor NPS 160 negative film. All photos were handheld and were taken on a recent tour of the Brazeau Collieries in Nordegg.

Speaking of Nordegg, I am happy to announce a brand new tour based out of Aurum Lodge on August 19-22, 2011 where we will have special photographer’s access to the old mine at Nordegg and we’ll be going on a photographer’s ice walk on the Athabasca Glacier in Jasper National Park. As well you’ll be accompanied by some really great photographers, Royce Howland, Mark and Leslie Degner, Alan Ernst and Samantha and me. To learn more about the unique photo tour in the Canadian Rockies see the PDF – click on this link.

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

The last image above was converted to a tones black-n-white using Nik Silver Efex 2 which I use for all of my B+W conversion. If you are interested in any NIK software be sure to save 15% with the coupon code DARWIN

February and March Tour Results – Alan Ernst

Posted in Art of Photography, Articles about Photography, Artistic Development, Inspirations, Instruction, Techniques, Workshops and Seminars with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 24, 2011 by Darwin

As always, Alan Ernst, owner of the Aurum Lodge and co-leader on the winter tours has shown his skill at seeing fine images in scenes most of us would pass by. This time Alan gave himself a themed assignment and that self-assignment led to great images. Check out his images and learn about the art of photography from his descriptions below each photo.

©Alan Ernst

Mt Outram and snag – Lumix GH1, 14-45mm lens, F8 at 1/125, – 1/3 EV, Polariser, HDR

When going on a photo outing or even for a week, month or year, try to set yourself a subject “goal”. Having accompanied many winter tours in the past few years, I have lots of images of ice, frozen waterfalls, winter landscapes, etc.. This year I decided to concentrate on Winter Wood i.e. anything tree. Needless to say, I will still point my camera at everything else that looks promising. However, shooting a theme is fun and hones your visual skills, as you will be looking for stuff much more focused. Themes can be specific subjects, patterns, texture, numbers, letters, colours, etc., etc.


©Alan Ernst

Big Bend dead tree – Lumix G1, 100-300mm lens, F8 at 1/1000, +1 1/3 EV

I had photographed this impressive snag on half a dozen occasions before, usually trying to isolate it completely from its surroundings, which tend to be cluttered with little trees sticking out of the snow all over the place. This year, with ample snow cover in the mountains, much of the clutter was blanketed in snow and I decided to go for a landscape extraction instead. Revisiting locations is important as conditions are always different and the more often you go, the more your eye will pick up all the amazing details.


©Alan Ernst

Cold Burn – Lumix GH1, 7-14mm lens, f10 at 1/200, +1 EV

The remnants of a prescribed burn two years ago make for great images along the North Saskatchewan River valley, from charred bark to the relics of an entire forest. The group was photographing from the road as the snow was deep and cumbersome to get through. There were great repetitive patterns there but somehow, it felt like looking from the outside in, rather than being part of it – I decided to romp through the snow bank and immerse myself in the trees, which paid off as I got some pleasing shots in there. When shooting a location, always wander around and look for angles, viewpoints, subject detail other than what caught your eye initially.


©Alan Ernst

Lychen Lord – Lumix GH1, 14-45mm lens, f10 at 1/100, + 1 2/3 EV

Returning from a short walk to a frozen waterfall, I was waiting for one of our participants to catch up. Whereas some people get bored once they’re “done” and stop looking as they’re keen to move on, I always use “down time” to scan my surroundings, looking for details, patterns, flora, wildlife, etc.. Very often it is in these situations, that I find interesting subjects, which most of us including myself would simply walk past or over in their quest of capturing a particular thing or place. This broken spruce twig had fallen on the snow covered creek upside down and reminded me immediately of the living trees in Lord of the Rings.


©Alan Ernst

Shadow Blue – Lumix GH1, 7-14mm lens, f8 at 1/500, +1 EV

Shadows in general and tree shadows in particular make for great subjects, with or without the object that creates them. In this location, where most participants were working on the grand landscape, I was immediately drawn to the interesting patterns, lines and contrast of the tree shadows along the river shore, the trees in themselves being nothing special at all. The location and angle of the sun were tough though and it was impossible to use the shadow as a leading line towards some interesting feature. Thus, I focused on trying to balance the one big tree shadow with the multiple shadows of smaller trees and sandwich them between the shoreline and Mt. William Booth in the back.

©Alan Ernst

Power of the sun – Lumix GH1, 14-45mm lens, f22 at 1/250, + 2/3 EV, ND grad

The Columbia Icefields / Athabasca Glacier area never disappoints, very much so because of the atmospheric conditions which are often different from surrounding areas.

The light during our mid day stop was fairly harsh and I decided to work with the sun, rather than against it… The smallest aperture on your lens will generally give you the nice starbursts, when shooting directly into a pointed light source. More or less flare will always ensue, so make sure your lens is squeaky clean as every fleck of dust will increase that flare. Then, try to work flare so it becomes part of the composition. You cannot avoid it, but moving the camera a little bit, can often make the difference between a nasty flare, an interesting flare or minimal flare.


©Alan Ernst

Stump Morning – Lumix GH1, 14-45mm lens, f13 at 1/20, + 1 2/3 EV, Polariser and ND grad

Continuing the winter woods theme from the previous week, I decided to work this field of dead tree stumps along the shore, while the others were frolicking on the ice. The strong side lighting made for an extremely busy foreground with lots of rocks and snow drifts with amazing texture. They made for great abstracts and detail shots, but I could not find a good leading line towards the background that I was looking for. I thus decided to break all the rules and place the big stump smack in the center, so as to provide an anchor of sorts for the many components included in the image.


©Alan Ernst

Millitreed – Lumix G1, 100-300mm lens, f8 at 1/250, + 2/3 EV

The group stopped along the Icefields Parkway to capture the Spires of Mt Wilson drifting in and out of the clouds. I decided to look for landscape extractions on the slope of the mountain since the light wasn’t that good and I was drawn to the contrast between dark treed ledges everywhere along the mountain side. Most are horizontal bands of trees, but I liked this one best as it made for an interesting diagonal, flanked by two additional lines, which all seem to radiate from one corner.

One of the things I like about the Lumix cameras are the variable aspect ratios, which can be changed on the fly. The 16:9 format is my favourite, but I tend to switch all the time, depending on subject and composition. A lot of photographers seem to stick to the 3:2 or 4:3 formats provided by their camera sensors without putting too much thought into cropping at the point of capture. It is important though to think ahead and decide on the spot, if the image will look better cropped. Very often, this means you will have to change the angle a bit or include / exclude features that might interfere when cropping later. I find that I can often get two or three images of the same subject, which are very different, simply by changing the aspect ratio right then and there.


©Alan Ernst

One of Three – Lumix G1, 100-300mm lens, f9 at 1/800, + 1 1/3 EV

Returning from Jasper along the Icefields Parkway, a stand of trees along the side of the road caught my eye because of the straight tree trunks and the angled shadows, which created a repetitive pattern. Check rear view mirror, stop, reverse and see what we can make of it. There were lots of young trees in front of the embankment as well as little trees and shrubs within the trees so it was hard to “extract” what I wanted. Pacing back and forth and zooming in with a long lens eventually got me a few images free of distractions with minimal subject matter but a pleasing effect. Working a subject, it is important to decide on what is important / makes it interesting and then either putting that into context with its surroundings OR extracting it for a strong graphic effect. You will need minimal gear for this: two eyes, two legs, a tele zoom and a brain, which can co-ordinate it all….


©Alan Ernst

Hang in there – Lumix G1, 100-300mm lens, f 9 at 1/800, +1 EV

Waiting by the car for the rest of the group to tackle the snow humps at Medicine Lake I was scanning the slopes of the Colin Range, which usually makes a great backdrop at sunset. In this case however, it was mid day and relatively flat front lighting, so the big picture was out. Small groups of trees clinging to life at tree line were interesting as they provided a strong contrast to an otherwise medium toned puzzle of rock slabs and snow.

For images like this, it is critical to use your tripod even when you have more than enough shutter speed to work without. Concentrating on your key subject (small stand of trees) and then zooming in and out, panning up and down, left and right, until you find a pleasing composition takes time and, especially when working with a long lens, you will never get the composition where you want it to be. Live view is a great help as what you see is what you get. In this case, there were distracting dark areas or lines, more trees, rock formations which would have been very distracting if included. It probably took all of ten minutes to get a composition which excluded it all and which I liked. The rule of thirds was dumped along the way.


©Alan Ernst

Dead Pine – Lumix G1, 100-300mm lens, f 11 at 1/250, + 1 1/3 EV

And more dead trees… A single dead tree surrounded by living specimens will always stick out and once it attracts attention, there is likely something to photograph. This one caught my eye as I was looking for the sun to see if we would get some clouds for another scene I had in mind. The cloud wasn’t forthcoming but the strong graphic component, extreme contrast and almost monochrome aspect of the scene, made me go for the long tele lens again and pace back and forth until I had it lined up with the mountain behind it. I then played with the aperture to find a setting, which provided enough detail in the background to make it identifiable, but not so much where it would compete with the silhouette in front.


©Alan Ernst

Shadow Dancers – Lumix G1, 100-300mm lens, f9 at 1/1000, + 1 EV

Half the group was waiting for the other half at an outhouse stop near the Crossing. When they did not show up, we decided to backtrack to the N. Saskatchewan River Bridge, where I had noticed potential for a high contrast river scene with a hazy mountain backdrop. The big scene worked, but as I scanned the riverbank for detail, the picture perfect S-curve of a snowdrift caught my attention. Back to the vehicle for the long lens and then try to find an arrangement that worked. Normally, this would call for a vertical orientation, but alas there were too many distractions of trees, rocks, and dirty snow both above and below the scene. I took the scene with 4:3, 3:2 and 16:9 aspect ratio and interestingly, the least likely format (i.e. the furthest from the vertical), worked the best.


January Winter Tour Results – Alan Ernst

Posted in Art of Photography, Inspirations, Workshops and Seminars with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 19, 2011 by Darwin

Below are six favorites from Alan Ernst, co-leader of the winter tours based out of the Aurum Lodge. I am always impressed by Alan’s ability to see great stuff that most people would pass by.

©Alan Ernst

Cline River – Panasonic G1, 1.3 seconds at f11, Lumix 45-200mm lens

©Alan Ernst

Pine Grosbeak – Panasonic G1, 1/160s at f5.6, Lumix 100-300mm lens

©Alan Ernst

Abraham Lake – Panasonic G1 – 1/40s at f11, Olympus 11-22mm lens

©Alan Ernst

Abraham Lake – Panasonic G1, 1/4s at f13, Olympus 11-22mm lens

©Alan Ernst

Mistaya Canyon –  Panasonic GH1, 1/125s at f8, Lumix 14-45mm lens

©Alan Ernst

Blue Eyes – Panasonic G1, 1/60s at f9, Lumix 45-200mm lens



Fire and Ice Photo Tour – Alan Ernst

Posted in Techniques, Workshops and Seminars with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 23, 2010 by Darwin

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.