The Beauty & Majesty of Banff Shot in Really Crappy Light
(Above: This is what greeted us at Moraine Lake in Banff National Park. Too windy/choppy/raining for canoe rentals. It really inhibited our possibility of recreating Matt’s famous shot).
Hi Gang: Greetings from Vancouver (it’s really late here—our flight was delayed more than 3 hours), and at some point I should probably go to bed seeing as I have a seminar in the morning for 500+ photographers, but I can’t hit the sack without sharing some of the photos and stories from my first trip to Banff.
(Above: 5:15 am at Lake Louise–the only time the water was still there, and it was only still for about 30 minutes. Of course, there was really no sunrise with all the clouds. It was just kinda dark, then after a while it was kinda bright. Then we went for some breakfast. Click on the photo for a MUCH larger view).
First, Banff is a truly amazing place—even in the socked-in, rainy, gray, kinda crappy weather we had, it was still just breathtaking. Brad and I only had one day in Banff (we stayed right near Lake Louise), and we did a sunrise shoot (5:15 am), and I took the advice on where to shoot from some folks on my blog, and a lot of great help from Neil Silverman, who has led many photo workshops there.
(Above: This was a two minute exposure taken in daylight using a 10-stop ND filter. That’s why the clouds and water are so silky. This was taken late in the day when tiny spots of blue sky were fighting to break through. They almost did for a moment).
Invisible Sunrise and Sunset
We came in the night before, but it was so cloudy there wasn’t really a sunset to shoot at all. It just eventually got dark, so we did some scouting for the next morning. It was at that point, that we learned the weather forecast would be more of what it had been for the past three days: rainy and gray. But worse that than…
I forgot my tripod
That’s right! I unpacked from my Maine trip on Monday, then repacked Tuesday morning, and I took my tripod and ballhead and set them right on my office desk at home. They’re still sitting there, so our first stop was a Future Shop (like BestBuy) to pick up a $29.95 tripod and ball head. It made me long for a my real tripod, but at least I had one.
(Above: Matt told me when we got to Moraine Lake we would need to hike up to the top of his nearby hill to get to the shooting position you see here. Brad absolutely loved hiking up there lugging my Think Tank bag with all our gear. He’s still talking about it).
Dealing with Yucky Skies
The skies were so socked in with clouds (see above) that it was really a struggle, especially since all the classic shots of Banff are shot with a clear blue sky, so I could only do two things:
(1) Compose to avoid as much of the sky as possible
(2) When I did have to include the sky, I increased the Recovery Slider in Lightroom (or Camera Raw) all the way to 100, which actually brings back detail in the clouds, and in many cases, like in the photo above), I then went to Photoshop’s Shadows/Highlights and set the Shadows to zero, but increased the Highlights and Highlight Radius to bring back even more detail.
There was a couple of times where the clouds actually looked kinda cool, but then the light was so incredibly flat, there was nothing to shoot. This happened to us at Castle Junction. We drove 45 minutes to get there, but the light was so flat, we didn’t even take out our camera gear.
The Still Water was gone
After lunch we headed back to Lake Louise to see if the sky looked any better, and it actually did (as seen above), but then the water was all choppy, so it was definitely a tradeoff. The sky didn’t look quite as good in person as it does here, but I have the program called Photoshop….
(Above: Here’s another from Lake Louise at dawn. In this case, I didn’t correct the blueish morning light. I like the way half of that canoe is resting in the water, and two are already in the water just sitting there, behind the dock).
(Above: The hills are alive….with the sound of shutters….). Photo by Brad Braddy Moore
Late in the day, we followed one of Neill’s tips and headed up Mt. Norquway, and that’s where Brad took the shot above. In this shot, the weather doesn’t look too bad, but that’s only because Brad put a cone of clear weather around me (he can only do this once or twice a day, and then he’s wiped).
(Above: I mostly shot my 14-24mm lens throughout this trip, but in this case, I switched to my trusty 28-300mm and zoomed in tight on the Fairmont hotel in downtown Banff).
Matt told us to go to the Vermillion Lakes, and late in the day we went there and I got the shot you see above. There was only one little pond in the very back that didn’t have all choppy water, but this pond was fairly still and you could actually see a reflection of the mountains and clouds in it. It is entirely possible, however, that the sky wasn’t quite as blue as what you see here.
(Above: That’s Brad trying to move the canoes into position on Moraine Lake so we could totally rip off Matt’s wonderful shot (link), but the conditions were so bad we gave up. Plus Brad was threatened by a large bear who was a fan of Matt’s).
(Above: I took this iPhone image a few minutes before we kicked-off my seminar in Calgary yesterday. We had over 400 photographers there—a record for us in Calgary).
Teaching in Calgary
I love Canada. Love it! The people here so darn friendly (nothing like Dave Cross [wink]), and I really had a ball at the seminar today (well, yesterday by the time you read it). My thanks to everyone who came out—-it was so great to have so much support from the local community. Thanks you guys!
You Know I Had to Shoot At Least One HDR Shot, Right?
And I did (it’s shown above). I know it’s over-the-top, but I still kinda like it (don’t hate me). I wasn’t going to post it at all, but Brad and my friend Ryan who are sitting with me in the lobby of the hotel at 1:40 am made me include it. I blame them. ;-)
OK, now I should to go bed
I’m hitting the sack. I hope if you’re at my Vancouver seminar today, you’ll come up and say hi. Thanks for letting me share a few shots and stories from my first and only day in Banff. One thing I learned from this trip: I definitely want to go back (and we’re going to take a family trip out there this coming year). Have a great Weekend everybody.
Wait…wait…One more thing
Don’t forget—-Tomorrow (Saturday) I’m doing that free Light It/Retouch It Live at the Photoshop Store in Downtown San Francisco for Adobe. They have the registration process set-up, so if you want to catch either of my free sessions, you can sign up free right here. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, click here.
I’m really looking forward to it—hope I get to shake your hand there on Saturday in San Francisco.