Sofie’s dad manages to catch the sky on fire at Moraine Lake in Banff National Park, Canada. This is his story.
Very early in my research for our trip to Canada, I came across images of Moraine Lake in Banff National Park. It went straight to the top of my wish list as a place to visit but, more importantly, to photograph.
The stunning turquoise lake is located in a spectacular valley, surrounded by the Wenkchemna Peaks. All of them are over 3000 meters high. Close by Lake Louise, but not nearly as crowded, the area is only accessible by car about 4 months a year.
As dawn is often the best time for landscape photography, I wanted to find accommodation nearby. Google came up with Moraine Lake Lodge; not cheap, but it was too good to let it go.
Moraine Lake, Canada
We arrived after spending a few days near Banff. We were by then really “warmed up” for the Canadian Rockies!
The area around Moraine Lake turned out to be everything we expected and more. Plenty of hiking opportunities, although a number of trails were closed or limited to parties of four or more because of the berry season. Bears especially like the Buffalo berries hence the reason for minimum groups to hike.
Very soon I found the spot I wanted to make my image from. Admittedly, it was not very original at all as the view once upon a time adorned the Canadian 20$ bills. But every picture is different and I wanted to make an image at dawn of this iconic view. Location selected, I was planning to get up in plenty of time to get up the next morning. But first I had to take a picture of Sonia!
The next morning, I did not need to look outside: I heard the rain loud and clear. it was pouring down… Luckily we were staying for a few nights so I switched off the alarm and I took another snooze…
Next night, however, same thing. So what to do? I decided to pick up my gear and go. After just a few minutes outside the rain stopped. The clouds were moving fast in the sky and hope was rising. I climbed up the rock pile and started to get my gear in place. A few predawn test shots really got me in the mood. There were still a lot of fairly fast moving clouds and I was hoping for those to be lit from below when the sun would rise over the mountains.
I made a lot of images, and the light was getting better and better. The sky was less closed. And then my wish was fulfilled: the sun came up behind me and starting touching the tops of the Wenkchemna peaks.
Then, for a few minutes, the sky was on fire.
I worked quickly. Landscape photography is often perceived as a slow process, but when the moment is there, you have to work quick and concentrated, as the best moments can pass in a blink of an eye.
I made a whole series of shots with light creeping over the hills behind me and slowly but surely putting more and more of the 10 peaks in flames. Then, after just minutes, the magic was gone. But I didn’t want to go yet.
I put my “big stopper” neutral density filter on the lens and tried exposures from between 2 up to 4 minutes. Suddenly a guy came running towards me with a backpack and a tripod… “S***, it’s over isn’t it?” he exclaimed. By that time, it was indeed over for that morning. Back to Mrs C and then heading for a good breakfast!
Banff National Park
What can I say? There is so much to see and especially for a landscape photographer like myself this is a dream. I already mentioned that we prefer not to do the fast travel changing beds every night, but even a few days in Banff was by far not enough to soak up all the beauty the Banff National Park has to offer.
Besides that: one would also need to come back in different seasons to enjoy the beauty year-round. I can only start to imagine the splendor of the landscape here covered with fresh snow….
I’ll let my photographs tell the story….
Beautiful scenery is abundant in Banff National Park. Probably that is why some people find it sufficient to stay by their cars and get some quick pictures from the parking lot. A shame really as there is so much more to discover when you venture a bit further.
Johnston Canyon is one of the many places to explore a bit better. The way the trail has been built really inside the canyon must make it one of the most expensive trails ever to construct and maintain. If you like rapids and waterfalls definitely this is the place to be!
Obviously, there is a lot more to see in Banff, but I think this starts to give you a feel of the splendid nature there.
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