Troll Falls is the name of a surprising waterfall at the end of a short trail just off Mt Allen Drive in Kananaskis. It's a lovely hike through aspen forest that rewards you with a number of photo opportunities along the way and upon reaching the falls.
Winter is my favourite time to visit when you'll see stunning ice formations and you'll be able to make your way up to, and behind the frozen falls (as long as you bring your ice spikes). There are a number of images to be had on approach and at the falls including the shot below which was made at the base of the falls between the ice and the rock wall.
Shot with a 14mm lens it allowed me to get more width to the frame which helps capture the site quite well. It's also a great family picnic site in both winter and spring when the flow is good. In summer it tends to dry up to a dribble and is far less appealing.
To get to the trailhead take highway 40 south from it's junction with the Transcanada Highway (Jcn 118) and follow the road for 22 km to the turning for Kananaskis Village (Mt Allen Drive). Follow Mt Allen Drive for 1 km and take the short dirt road that sweeps off to the right into the car park. From the north end of the car park follow the obvious trail a short distance to a trailhead sign.
If you can go on a weekday in the winter, then you may well have the site to yourself but the short hike is always worth taking when you have a couple of hours to spare in the area.
A Canadian winter is both stunningly beautiful and photographically challenging. Don't get me wrong, there's no shortage of snow and ice formations but the whole landscape is snow and ice, combined with the length of winter it means we're looking at whiteout for a number of months.
As winter wears on and we've shot the methane bubbles in the lakes, cracks in the ice, ice formations as foreground objects, then as background objects, sunrise over ice, sunset over ice; eventually the landscapes start to get a bit repetitive. It's now three months into winter and I'm beginning to see the repetition creeping in so I challenged myself to try a little harder.
I think sometimes it's all so beautiful we subconsciously stop making images and switch to taking images. I was on the northern corner of lower kananaskis lake doing just that when I spotted a beautiful snow drift just a little way out on the ice. I really liked the look of the drift and made my way out there being careful not to walk anywhere that I might want to include in the shot.
I chose my shooting position to take advantage of a nice leading line that swept up the drift from the lake. I didn't like the mountains being visible above the drift on the left side so I crouched lower and tilted the camera to create an in shot frame using the drifts on the left and right. The splash of colour in direct sunlight beyond the drift really makes this a winner for me.
This is one of my favourite shots of winter so far, seemingly so simple and yet it was actually one of the more challenging images I've made this winter. It may be my love of clean and simple shots that sways me to favor this image and you may find it ordinary, but isn't that part of the joy of photography. We put our work out there because we value it and we risk all as the keyboard warriors take great pains to tell you why the image you love is terrible in every way.
The key to success (and perhaps sanity) is to welcome all criticism but not to accept it blindly. Look at what is said and evaluate it honestly, take the valuable criticism on board and leave the rest where it belongs, in the gutter. Most of all enjoy what you do, shoot for yourself when you can, or for the client when you're being paid. Never shoot for the keyboard warriors, you'll never convince them of the value of your work because that's not why they're angrily slamming the keyboard in the first place.
Enjoy your shooting and remember to keep making, rather than taking, your images.
The last opportunity I had to see a lunar eclipse in Canada was back in 2015, but clouds filled the skies and I got just a couple of minutes to glimpse the phenomenon. So last night I was looking forward to a second chance, but again the clouds filled the skies.
I was incredibly frustrated and disappointed to say the least, but as the night wore on the cloud thinned to a more transparent layer. It was still present resulting in a haze across the shots but at least I got to see much more of it this year. The resulting image leaves a lot to be desired due to the cloud layer, but I'm happy that I got to experience another total lunar eclipse. Obviously as a photographer I had to try to capture it if only for the memory.
The rather long name 'Super Wolf Blood Moon' is derived from a combination of differing descriptions. Firstly it was a 'supermoon' because it was a full moon at perigee (the point in the moon orbit when it is closest to earth). Secondly it's a blood moon because of the eclipse (earth shadow passing over the moon). Finally a wolf moon is the name for the first full moon of the year.
Our next total lunar eclipse in Canada will be in May 2021, I can't help but wonder if I will still be here in in this wonderful country to see it.
Few lenses generate as much discussion as the wide angle lens. Many people love them, and just as many love to hate them. Discussions with a friend during a photo critique of his recent trip to Hawaii made me realise that understanding the lens as a tool is one step toward getting the most from it. To this end I decided to write a short basic page to help show how to get more from your wide angle lens. As usual you can take this direct link to the page or you can find it on the Tips and More section of this site.
However you get there, if you have a wide angle lens then I would recommend reading the short write up and combining it with the information available in my basic composition tutorial to help you get more from all of your lenses.
The wide angle really is one of my favourite lenses, without which it would be difficult to make shots like the one below of Mt Indefatigable and the wind blown ice on the shore of lower kananaskis lake.
This weekend the prospects for a sunset at my favourite location caused me to make a fairly unusual weekend foray into kananaskis. I tend to avoid weekend visits to kananaskis because of the crowds that fill this beautiful place at such times. Don't get me wrong, I'm not entirely antisocial but I have the option to go when most others are back at work in the city . So why bother trying to dodge crowds and wait patiently for people to move out of shot (or photoshop them out later) when I can just go at less busy times.
But saturday evening looked promising and recent temperatures meant there would likely be liquid water at the inlet to the lower lake. Wintertime rarely provides opportunity for reflections in kananaskis so I was tempted into making the journey.
I arrived in good time and went to the upper lake first where I found some nice shots of the methane bubbles and sculpted snow along the pristine shoreline. I almost got carried away before realising it was time to head to the lower lake for sunset. A somewhat hurried dash back across the frozen upper lake and a short hop in the truck saw me arriving at the lower lake by 4pm for the 4:55 pm sunset.
I gathered up my gear and made a short hike north beyond the hydro plant on the western shore of the lake. It was fantastic to see some liquid water leading from the inlet and some shape to the frozen shoreline. Now it was a simple matter of choosing the spot, setting up the tripod and waiting. I used the wide angle at 16mm to take in the beautiful long reach of the mountains opposite and a nice foreground curve along the edge of the ice. The clouds added another dimension as they mirrored the path of the mountains in the darkening skies above.
I had hoped to stay for the milky way as I often do when I'm down here for sunset, but the clouds combined with a waxing gibbous moon to kill off any chance of that this evening. It didn't matter, just being here to watch the sunset and soak in the incredible beauty of this place is reward enough, and the images aren't too bad either.
Grotto Creek sits within a small canyon to the east of Grotto Mountain close to the town of Exshaw Alberta. It's a short hop from the tourist towns of Canmore and Banff and really comes into its own in the wintertime. The whole creek freezes solid making the trail a very comfortable hike with microspikes, or an uncomfortable one without.
The creek is a lovely hike that twists through rugged terrain in a narrowing canyon. Along the way native pictographs can be found on the canyon walls and just beyond them the area opens out exposing several stunning ice falls. Even during a dry winter (which this has been so far) the falls produce enough ice to entice the locals into a little ice climbing. There are three main falls each having its own challenges.
Fortunately for me there is also plenty of room for us wanderers to pass by taking in the scene. Beyond the falls a short tight canyon with immense steep walls leads you to more open space and a very large hoodoo containing a small cavern. All in all Grotto Creek is a nice couple of hours out in the mountains with plenty of opportunity to make a few images.
I was going to start the new year with a pun about reflection, but all the ones I contemplated were too cheesy by far so I opted for a more descriptive title instead.
The Fairholme Range dominates the sky to the east of the Bow River outside the town of Banff. A number of lakes surround the eight main peaks of this stunning range with Lake Minnewanka being the largest by far. But todays shot is of a much smaller body of water 'Johnson Lake' in the forest to the west of the range.
The Johnson Lake area will often be snow free early and late in the season making it a great spot for hiking, it's also a great spot to find liquid water in wintertime. The lake does freeze solid for skating and ice hockey which the locals relish, but down on the western corner of the lake where the water pours over a small outlet you will often find a half circle of calm, still water. There are rocks by the shore and the water is very shallow here so little bravery is required to get down low and make the reflection.
If you look closely at the image below you'll see that in the centre and centre left foreground, what appears at first glance to be cloud, is in fact rocks on the bottom of the lake. You really do need to get your camera down low to make the most of this location but it is worth what little effort it takes to do so.
At this time of year I'll take any reflection I can get to help make an image more interesting and this one is an easy win. A short walk from the car park and a little effort will get you this image, and at the other side of the outlet a stream full of ice covered rocks will provide a few bonus images too.
So next time you are in the area taking in all the wonders of Banff National Park, don't forget the smaller wonders tucked away in the nearby forests, after all who wouldn't want to make this shot with little effort.
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