Grandeur of Castle Mountain
0.6 sec, f/10, ISO 100
Jagged peaks towering above an evergreen forest, contoured by high altitude snow and lit by the midday sun peaking through mixed clouds. Beneath, a flowing stream banked by a rocky beach. A classic winter scene in the Canadian Rockies.
I first saw Castle Mountain on a travel magazine cover in the summer and was intrigued by it's unique shape and textures. Ever since, I was determined to see it and capture it in the right light. For a while it eluded me, perhaps due to its location slightly off the obvious route or my luck with the local weather, with clouds often obscuring its majestic peaks. Finally, on this winter day in the Rocky Mountains, we found just the right spot on the Bow River. The shoreline was mostly covered in snow, with some rocks exposed closer to the water and tall evergreen trees on the far side, powdered white by an earlier snow fall. As we walked along the riverside, breathing in the fresh winter air and admiring the surrounding nature, I stumbled upon a pool of water in the shoreline rocks. As I crouched down, it revealed a stunning mirror-like reflection of Castle Mountain.
This was it. I set up my composition, hoping for the clouds to clear and the light to hit the mountain peaks just right. The moment came soon enough and I pressed down the shutter.
Towering Winter Peaks
1/1000 sec, f/5, ISO 250
Cloudy weather is a recipe for moody imagery. These twin peaks towering above a thick evergreen forest looked captivating, even mystical, with one partially obscured by the midday fog. I captured this image from the Bow Valley Parkway, on the drive north towards Lake Louise. As I pulled over on the side of the road, I was promptly approached by a Parks Canada ranger, telling me to be quick about it as I was partially blocking traffic on this narrow stretch of road. I quickly grabbed my backup camera with a telephoto lens already mounted onto it, and faced the majestic snowy peaks. As the thick fog dissipated a little, I pressed down the shutter. I thanked the ranger for letting me stick around for a few minutes longer than he would have liked and we were on our way.
The next morning, we arrived early at Two Jack Lake. As I walked down to the shore of a now familiar place, I was blown away by the complete contrast to the summer scenery I was used to here. The lake was entirely frozen over and covered by a thick blanket of snow. I made it down to the beach, where the deep snow made the shore seamlessly transition into the water, with the boundary unclear. I unknowingly walked onto the frozen lake, turning back once I realized I had crossed the shoreline. As sunrise approached, the fast moving layer of clouds above Mount Rundle was lit up, turning a fiery mix of pink and orange. With my tripod set up at the end of the frozen lake, I took a few exposures as I watched the peaks light up in awe. With the weather so unpredictable in the mountains, it can be difficult to come by just the right conditions at the right time. I felt really lucky on this morning.
Fiery Sky over a Frozen Lake
1/13 sec, f/8, ISO 100
The last stop of the day was Vermillion Lakes. Another favourite and well known spot, with incredible views and countless compositions of Mount Rundle. On this winter evening in mid January, the marsh lake was covered with a sheet of ice which appeared relatively thin, at least near the shoreline. Just the other morning we met a photographer who had fallen through and got a little wet here (possibly at this exact location). After gauging the water depth, confirming I would at worst be in down to my knees, I carefully approached the edge. I walked over without my camera gear first to test the ice (a change of clothes seemed preferable to having to buy a new camera). Convinced it was safe (enough), I doubled back, grabbed my camera and set the tripod low enough to capture Mount Rundle's reflection is the open pool ahead of me. With the sky still overcast, the evening colours were modest but magnificent. I was more than content with this last view of the day, and happy I made it off the ice without any misadventure.
Evening Colour Palette
4 sec, f/8, ISO 100