Another day, another sunset. Autumn really does provide some great sunrise and sunset opportunities. It's not that these things don't happen in the summertime but the timing is far less convenient. After all who really wants to crawl out of bed at 3am to get into the mountains and set up for sunrise, or stay in the mountains until 11pm for sunset?
The image below comes from one of the most photographed locations in Banff National Park, at a far more acceptable hour. Mt Rundle seen from the east side of Vermillion Lake as the sun sets is a beautiful sight. The golden light strikes the tips of this stunning monolith and, if we're lucky, the lake water calms and an almost perfect arrowhead is created.
It's a sight every tour company is familiar with so if you want a good spot here for your tripod, you should arrive early and get set up. The tourists can be relentless in their pursuit of the perfect selfie and will often pester you to take shots for them with their phone or camera. Please try to remember that they are visiting for a short time only and really want to get this shot, so patience is a virtue.
Along with your patience, a pocket wizard or similar type of remote trigger will allow you to continue making images whilst helping out our visitors. A graduated ND filter is also a must have and will help you make the most of the light available by balancing the contrasting light.
The distance to the mountain across the lake is quite significant so make sure you have more than your 16mm lens with you. For this location I tend to have the 16-35mm, 24-70mm and the 70-200mm, which gives me all the coverage I could need here.
Additionally, you will very often find liquid water in Vermillion Lake when all else are fully frozen so you can still find some reflections, even in the depths of winter.
After a successful sunrise shoot last week the good weather stayed with us though the weekend and provided an equally successful sunset shoot this week. I set out yesterday for one of my favourite spots on lower kananaskis lake and was not disappointed with the outcome.
It takes about 90 minutes to drive to the location from my home in Cochrane, but it is worth every second of the three hour round trip. There is something magical about sunset in kananaskis, even more so when the wind falls away and the huge lake flattens out to create a perfect mirror. Across the lake the mountain summits of the opal range puncture the sky in unison catching the very last light of the day.
An ND graduated filter makes balancing the light much easier, and combined with an aperture of f/11 helps lengthen the shutter speed to 1/6 sec, further softening the glass like surface of the lake.
As regular visitors to the site will already have noticed, I also shot a nice new header for the home page and the blog to keep things fresh. To that end I changed the picture icons I use on the front page too and added a couple more shots to the portfolio page.
It was nice to 'bookend' the weekend with successful sunrise and sunset shoots, so often these things promise much and deliver little, but not this week.
It was only a month ago when I made the trip out to Wedge Pond in Kananaskis to catch the sunrise. On that trip the smoke from forest fires resulted in a deep red light. After sharing the images I was quickly under pressure to make arrangements for another trip, and after some false starts, conditions this morning looked perfect.
It can be a little daunting for people taking a filter system out into the field for the first time and that was the case for my client this morning. We arrived at the lake at 07:15 with sunrise at 08:09 giving us plenty of time to deal with the new filter system. As it transpires we were ready to shoot in minutes as the Lee filter system really is very simple to use and it is the one I use, so what little instruction was needed came easily.
If ever there was a time and location that was made for an ND graduated filter, sunrise at the wedge pond is it. Very dark water sunk into the shadow of the mountains and surrounded by forest is contrasted against bright sunlit skies and mountain peaks.
I know a lot of people will say 'oh you can balance that in photoshop now' and you can, but why replicate something when a filter will give you the shot in the field and leave you with less office time, no contest for me. The image below was shot just 8 minutes after sunrise and really demonstrates the value of a graduated filter as it balances the light across the image.
I still haven't hit the image I've envisaged for this location but I have made numerous shots that I'm very happy with in the pursuit of that one. Every time I rise at 4am and load up my gear I am as excited at the prospect of my next trip to Wedge Pond as if it were my first.
A good location will almost always deliver an image, so it's worth returning again and again until you understand it fully and have seen it in various conditions. When you spend a lot of time with a location you will know what the best conditions are in which to make the very best shot you can at that location, the only real issue you have then is actually making it.
It's another snow day for me today, so I thought I would go through some old images. While doing so I came across a folder titled Vancouver Island and suddenly found myself immersed in this beautiful place once more. I am fortunate to be able to visit so many beautiful places, but often time pressures or another visit to another place occur almost immediately after the trip and it's joys are pushed into the long term memory.
There is so much to Vancouver Island that a week is a very short stay. I have travelled extensively on the island, I've seen the tourist traps and the true wilderness of this incredible wildlife haven and the place I would return to in a heartbeat is Ucluelet. Just 30 minutes south of Tofino (the tourists favourite) it is a beautiful quiet escape.
My wife and I have spent many hours sitting at Amphitrite Point (see image below) where the little lighthouse will keep you company as you watch whales, sea otters and seals just a few feet from your toes. The rock here stops abruptly and the drop off hidden beneath the pacific waves is huge. The depth so close to shore means whales can almost scrape the rocks here, and they often do.
At Amphitrite Point you will also find the entrance to the 'Wild Pacific Trail' which is a lovely hike along the coast toward Tofino. It takes you though tall oceanside forest and beside craggy rock pools all the way delivering stunning views from its numerous viewpoints.
There are so many photographic opportunities on the island that a month long visit for photography would see you hurrying to and fro trying to get it all in before the trip comes to an end (believe me I know). The island has literally everything, snow capped mountains, coastline, incredible diversity of wildlife, huge cedar forests, waterfalls, rivers, ocean, ornate gardens, idyllic harbours, small towns and bustling cities.
If Vancouver Island isn't on your photographic radar, put it on there and make it a bucket list item.
A sudden heavy snowfall over the past 24 hours has me sitting around the house twiddling my thumbs, so I thought I would revisit some old images and edit them differently. Sometimes we edit in a hurry, particularly if we have a lot of images to get through so it's always worth revisiting your old stuff when time allows. I really liked this shot of the Chicago skyline reflected in lake michigan so decided to try a little split toning on it and see how it looked.
Split toning is the process of adding different colours to the shadows and highlights of an image. Making these changes can dramatically alter the emotion of an image, it is very popular on social media and is worth understanding and trying out for yourself.
I think cityscapes often suit this method of editing, it changes the mood entirely and what better city than the tall skyscrapers of Chicago reflected softly in lake michigan. There are some lovely blue and purple highlights in the city skyline at night and these compliment each other nicely once the sodium yellow light from the streetlamps is removed and artificial lighting in the buildings returned to white. I really like this image, it's very simple and clean and the colours seem to sit well with the overall aesthetic.
The original shot is a mash of colour with sodium lighting and reflected 'glow' scattered across the frame, I actually like the shot but the split toned image is much 'cleaner' and will suit many other peoples tastes. When it comes to commercial use the cleaner, seemingly less cluttered shot is almost always the winner.
So, if you're having a slow day and looking to pass the time, get those old images up on the screen and see what you can do to rejuvenate them.
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