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Why did I include this car with the mountains?

One of the best things about driving in the mountains is when you are approaching them for the first time. The first sighting of these mountains really brings into perspective how large they are—or how small you are.

Nikon D800, 1/400 sec., f/6.3, ISO 100, 70mm

Nikon D800, 1/400 sec., f/6.3, ISO 100, 70mm

While I did most of the driving on my trip, there was a time where I decided to be the passenger for once. Driving from Calgary to Banff, it was  great to see the mountains coming towards me, and all around me. When I took this picture I wanted to capture the mountain range in front of me, to show how much space they occupied. I also wanted to include the vehicle in front of me for size comparison and added interest. I did wish the car to be a little closer to us so that it could be a more substantial element in the photo, but I knew this mountain-scape wouldn’t last very long as there was a curve coming ahead of us.

The vehicle also serves one other purpose. It gives us an overall sense of loneliness because we see a single car on the road. I took this photo from a car, but instinctively we don’t think about that. We only think about what we see within a photo. So, this car makes us think that they are the only ones there in a vast landscape surrounded by these monstrous mountains.

Does this car in the photo work for you? Feel free to let me know what you think!

A walk in the mountains

This walk in the mountains in Banff National Park, just outside of Moraine Lake was through a beautiful trail that was only possible via a group larger than four people because of recent bear activity within the area. At the start of the trail, it was raining fairly hard and we weren’t sure if our guide was going to go through with this three-hour (round-trip) hike in the mountains.

Nikon D800, 1/400 sec., f/10, ISO 100, 70mm

Nikon D800, 1/400 sec., f/10, ISO 100, 70mm

Despite the rain and damp weather, our guide was adamant on going on, and I’m very glad that she did because no sooner than 30 minutes into our hike did the rain stop and the clouds started to open up somewhat. This photo was taken at the turning point in our hike, nearby a lake that we didn’t quite get to because we opted not to cross over the rocks.

I love the low-laying clouds that are starting to dissipate just above the tree line. The stream below is somewhat calm and the blue sky is just starting to peek out of the clouds. It was a feel-good moment standing there in the openness of nature, breathing in that fresh mountain-crisp air.

This was just another reminder that the weather in the mountains can change in an instant. Don’t let a little downpour of rain stop you from going on a planned hike. The weather will no doubt change (hopefully for the better), bearing great rewards throughout your journey!

I loved driving along these winding roads

Nikon D800, 1/800 sec., f/7.1, ISO 100, 200mm

Nikon D800, 1/800 sec., f/7.1, ISO 100, 200mm

While in Alberta there was a certain freedom that I felt driving through the tree-lined winding roads. It was as if the road never ended as turn after turn after turn, there were more trees all along the road. It was a great feeling that I will not forget and one that I hope to have again in the future.

It feels great doing it, and it also makes for great photos from afar. I took this photo from atop a mountain lookout point high above these trees. With my 200mm telephoto lens, I was able to focus on the single winding road peaking through the trees all around. I waited (and waited and waited) until a car passed by the road so that I can add another element of interest to the photo. I feel the single vehicle driving along also shows the emptiness of the area amongst the vast land.

This would also make for a good example of scale. We all know how large a vehicle may be. If you compare the size of this car to the rest of the photo, you’ll soon realize the trees make up for a lot of the space in the picture!

No Tripod? Then make your own!

When you’re out and about photographing, you may not necessarily have all of your equipment with you. If you’re outside and realize you don’t have something to make the picture that you want, improvise and work with what you have in front of you.

Nikon D800, 1.0 sec., f/16, ISO 100, 14mm

Nikon D800, 1.0 sec., f/16, ISO 100, 14mm

Take this photo for example. I really wanted to capture the people taking their pictures with the statue in the centre. I envisioned them sharp in my photo because they’re sitting still, while everybody else around them are blurred because of their movement. To do this most effectively, I would have liked a tripod to keep my camera stationary.

Since I didn’t have one with me, I found a ledge on the top floor that was angled slightly downward. This, coupled with my wide angle lens, gave a great angle for my camera to capture the entire ground floor with the vision I had in mind. It worked out well in my opinion, as the couple stayed there long enough for me to get my one second exposure.

All this all because I looked around for the best place to take my photo, given the equipment that I had with me.

A Scarborough Bluffs Surprise

Over the weekend I had another chance to go visit the beautiful Scarborough Bluffs Park. The day started off overcast, but fortunately by the time I got there, the clouds opened up and it turned out to be another gorgeous day to be there.

I alluded to this in an earlier post, but the best part of the day came when the jet skiers came out of nowhere to give us a private show as they swirled and made noises down below. Since this was such a unique moment, it was important that I was able to capture this uniqueness while showing the surroundings.

Capture the Uniqueness

Everybody and anybody has taken photos from this vantage point. In fact, I was here not too long ago taking pictures from this very spot. So that’s why whenever you encounter a unique moment, it’s important to be able to capture the uniqueness of the moment while showing the viewers where it occurred.

Nikon D800, 1/640 sec., f/7.1, ISO 100, 24mm

Nikon D800, 1/640 sec., f/7.1, ISO 100, 24mm

For this particular photo above, it was the fact that there were jet skiers all around the area next to the famous circular pods of the park. I had my 14-24mm wide angle lens on, so I managed to capture the beach on the left, the circular pods on top, and the jet skiers on the right, all within the beautiful turquoise waters. This uniqueness is what people want to see, and that’s what I wanted to capture that day.

Nikon D800, 1/2000, f/2.8, ISO 100, 200mm

Nikon D800, 1/2000, f/2.8, ISO 100, 200mm

The jet skier knew we were up there so he even posed for me as I had my 70-200mm lens attached, pointing at them from above. Thanks for the pose!

Nikon D800, 1/2500, f/2.8, ISO 100, 200mm

Nikon D800, 1/2500, f/2.8, ISO 100, 200mm

The Scarborough Bluffs Park is perched high above the lake, so I wanted to capture part of the cliff in this frame, to show the viewers that the jet skiers were in fact right by the cliffside, and not in the middle of the lake. By adding the cliff on the right hand side, I added another element to the frame, offering the viewers more information on where this was taken.

All around

Nikon D800, 1/3200, f/2.8, ISO 100, 70mm

The flurry of jet skiers in the water as they twirled and made patterns in the water is what I tried to capture here in this frame. It was a little difficult holding my 70-200mm lens while filming on Periscope at the same time, but I think this turned out well.

Nikon D800, 1/3200, f/2.8, ISO 100, 70mm

Nikon D800, 1/3200, f/2.8, ISO 100, 70mm

The contrasting patterns made in the water here is what interested me: the circle on the left and the linear line from the right.

Nikon D800, 1/500 sec., f/5.6, ISO 100, 200mm

Nikon D800, 1/500 sec., f/5.6, ISO 100, 200mm

And finally, we have a big group shot of all the jet skiers. I intentionally included the foreground green to add an extra element within the frame to make it more interesting. This makes it feel as if I were peering through shrubs.

It was a great day to be up here with the colours as vibrant as ever. My hope was to be able to depict the beauty of the bluffs with the uniqueness of the jet skiers.

If you’ve taken photos from the Scarborough Bluffs, please feel free to let me know in the comments below!