July 24

I left Kalispell at approximately 10 a.m and headed into the park. Being a Friday, the park was already quite busy. I took my time on the Going to the Sun road making a few stops. There were some clouds but it was still pretty bright.

I stopped at St. Mary’s Lake and took this shot even though the conditions were not perfect, I could not resist!

St. Mary's Lake

I left the park and headed north on U.S. 89 and once I crossed the border, I continued on Alberta 2. While I was driving I noticed these intense fields of yellow plants that I think may be mustard but I am not sure. I had to stop and get a shot of one of these fields.

Field of Yellow

I arrived into Lethbridge at about 3:30 p.m and officially ended my 2 weeks of wonderful photography!

I am up brutally early tomorrow morning to catch my flight to Calgary and then back to Toronto.

I hope you enjoyed reading this blog of my adventures in Glacier National Park!

Please check back once in a while to see what I have been up to in the the world of photography!!

July 23

Well today is my last full day in Glacier National Park. And yes it was another cloudless, hot and sunny day, so no photography during the day.

When I headed into the park around 5 p.m, some clouds had moved into the area so I was hoping for a good sunset. I stopped at a trail just the other side of Lake McDonald called the Johns Lake Trail. It was only 1/2 mile long so I decided to hike it to see if it would be worth coming back for sunset. The lake was pretty, but there was really no easy way to the opposite side and trees pretty much blocked any hope of a foreground with mountain peaks in the background.

I headed further up Going to the Sun road and stopped just before the Loop on the side of the road. There was a nice view there facing east although I did not have any kind of foreground to work with. So I waited for sunset and while I was waiting saw a shot that I thought I would try. Birds were sitting in a burnt tree (this area had been consumed by a wild fire years ago).

Birds in Silhouette

I liked this shot as it portrayed a sense of rebuilding to me. I could hear all kinds of little animals scurrying about amongst the dead trees further up the road when I went for a walk. These forest fires are so necessary for the ecosystem of our planet. They essentially get rid of the old and bring in the new. It is amazing that within hours of a fire ending new growth can already be seen.

So the sunset arrived and lit up the peaks in front of me. The clouds in the sky added a nice touch.

Peaks at Sunset

Tomorrow I will be packing and head through the park one last time on my way back to Lethbridge. I fly out on Saturday morning.

This has been an amazing 2 weeks of photography and learning. I have enjoyed every minute of it and I look forward to my next adventure!

July 22

Well the weather is still not being very cooperative. I am sure the folks back home would love this weather! 32 degrees, sunny & bright and not humid at all! But for us photographers it makes shooting during most of the day pretty much impossible.

I worked on images today and updated my blog.

In the evening I drove into the park and went to the Lake McDonald Lodge for dinner. Afterwards I drove around the north corner of the lake on this little dirt road which ends at a hiking trail to see about doing sunset shots from this side of the lake looking east. However there is no easy way down to the lake along this road and most of it is just a drop off.

I drove back out to the Going to the Sun Road and stopped at a waterfall on the river which parallels the road for quite a distance. There is a bridge that crosses the river at this point just downstream from the waterfall. I crossed over and found a way to get down to the rocks below the waterfall where I scouted about for the best location. I set up and waited for the light to change on the mountain peaks in the distance.

McDonald Falls at Sunset

Since it was a cloudless day yet again I had no clouds to add to the sky but the peaks looked wonderful!

Once sunset was finished I drove back to the hotel. Tomorrow, my last full day in the park is looking to be yet another bright, sunny, cloudless day.

July 21

This morning was another clear and bright morning, so once again I did not bother with sunrise.

I worked on images all day and continued to learn Lightroom.

I was searching for somewhere different to go for sunset shooting. Early in the afternoon I walked over to Starbucks to get a coffee and I picked up a copy of the local newspaper. Near the back they had a small section devoted to places and they had an article on Bowman Lake. The picture they had with the article looked very nice so I looked up Bowman Lake on my map and discovered it to be on the north west side of the park about 35 km’s from the Canadian border.

I headed out about 4:30 pm and drove up the dirt roads to Polebridge, which is a tiny little  hamlet consisting of one store and a few cabins. On the road in I noticed a rather amusing sign.

Sign Outisde Polebridge

I had to stop and take a picture of it!

I continued on and entered Glacier National Park. The Park Ranger told me it was a pretty rough road up to Bowman Lake. She wasn’t kidding! I don’t think the rental car company is going to be too happy wit h me when they have to clean this truck! It is a good thing I did have an SUV though. That road was not much more than a cow path! But the drive was well worth it! The lake is very pretty and is framed in at the east end by mountains.

I scouted around for spots to set up. I found an area about 500 meters along the lake. There is a trail that goes quite a ways along the lake, however it is partially closed further down due to eagle nesting.

I set up and waited for sunset. While I was waiting  heard noises coming from the underbrush behind me. They were too loud to be a deer or rabbit. I made some noise myself and after a few moments the noises stopped.

Sunset arrived and although there were no clouds in the sky the light on the mountains was very nice!

Bowman Lake at Sunset

As sunset was continuing I picked up my gear and walked back down the trail towards the boat launching area that I had noticed earlier. There was another photographer there and I chatted with him. He told me a black bear had walked right past him about a 1/2 hour earlier. He had the wrong lens on to get a shot of him but he headed in my direction. That was obviously the noises I had heard in the forest! While we were standing there chatting a fisherman walked by and walked out into the lake to do some fly fishing. He made for a nice image.

Fisherman at Bowman Lake

I packed it up shortly after that and made my way back along the winding roads before it got really dark. I did see a dear cross in front of me on the way back but no other wildlife.

July 20

I did not bother with sunrise this morning as it was a very clear sky and sunrise was not spectacular.

I arrived at the park about 7:30 am and I stopped at Trail of the Cedars opposite Lake McDonald. This is a short 1 kilometer hike along a boardwalk with signage telling you about the forest and the trees. As well Avalanche Creek passes through a gorge and is very pretty. I did not like the light on the gorge so I will photograph this another time. Partway along the trail there is a side trail that leads to Avalanche Lake. I completed the Trail of the Cedars and then walked back along to the Avalanche Lake trail. This is a 2 mile (3.2 kilometer) one way hike. It is a pretty rough hike in some areas and made a bit tougher when you are lugging 50 pounds of camera gear! But I must say the hike was more than worth it!

Avalanche Lake

However the light was really getting harsh by this point. I would love to come back here for sunset as the mountains are facing the west and the light must be beautiful! The lake is very calm. But a 1 hour trek after sunset by myself down pretty rough terrain and through bear country will require some thought. I highly doubt anyone else will be up at the lake come sunset.

From there I headed through the park to St. Mary’s Lodge where I had lunch and browsed the shops.

Afterwards once the light started getting better I headed back into the park and stopped at a small waterfall alongside the Going to the Sun Road that I had noticed a few times but had never stopped at.

Flowing Water

From there I headed up to Logan’s Pass to check out spots for sunset. While I was there several mountain goats, including a couple of babies came along. Of course this drew a huge crowd of people. Fortunately these animals are used to being around people. The baby was so adorable, but was separated from Mom and began to cry. Both Mom and Dad came along shortly afterwards to rescue him!

Baby Mountain Goat

I could not locate a good spot for sunset that had a decent foreground so I went back to a spot I had used previously in front of Mount Oberlin with the Bear Grass hoping the sunset would be amazing. Sadly it was not so while I liked the light on the mountains, the sunset was really not worthy.

I headed back to the hotel and will spend tomorrow morning working on images and catching up on my blog.

July 19

Well today was a day of rest and relaxation!

I caught up on my blog and worked on post processing and organization of images. Lightroom makes this so easy!

I did go out in the evening however to shoot sunset. I drove the back way into Glacier National Park through FlatHead National Forest. A good part of this road is gravel and speeding is not a wise move. I am sure the rental car company is going to love me when they have to wash this truck!

Just after I entered the park, on the right side of the road I noticed a dark shape. I slowed down and sure enough it was a black bear walking along in the tall grass. Like the good photographer I am I had my camera beside me with the long lens and set up for wildlife shooting. However the bear was not much into cooperating. He was happily walking along in the deep grass munching on flowers. I went ahead of him and waited for him to catch up, but the tall grass and weeds were causing me havoc as the camera was trying to focus on them instead of him.

Black Bear on Side of Road

Of course me stopping drew a crowd of vehicles, and some even got out of their vehicles. I really believe some people need to be watered twice a week! They simply don’t have a brain in their head.

I continued on and went down to Fish Creek which is a campground and picnic area on Lake McDonald. I walked along the beach until I saw a tree root sticking out of the ground and I patiently waited for sunset.

Lake McDonald at Sunset

The lake was constantly rippling so the longer shutter speeds due to the small aperture caused the water to look dreamy.

I headed back to the hotel once sunset was complete.

July 18

July 18

I was up at 4 am and headed out at 4:20 am. I think I should have my head examined! I had decided that as much as I am not really into photographing the iconic spots that I would make an exception in this case and do sunrise at Wild Goose Island. I arrived at the lookout at 5:30 am. There were other photographers there already and we were chatting about different spots in the park. The sunrise was wonderful and the peaks of Red Eagle Mountain really lit up! I was very happy I stopped.

Wild Goose Island at Sunrise

I left there and headed up to Logan’s Pass where I did a short hike. II took some shots of a mountain goat, but I did not see any other wildlife.

I know this weekend is going to be very busy in the park as it is a “fee free” weekend. So I decided to make my way through the park and to the west side to check out photographic spots on the west side. I stopped in the little village of Apgar for breakfast and much needed coffee. It was already very busy. Tourists!

I followed a back road for a while which turned into a dirt road. There may be some spots to shoot along this road. All in all there are not as many spots on this side as the other side.

I headed into Kalispell and since it is too early to check into my hotel, I am currently sitting in Starbucks drinking overpriced coffee and writing my blogs!

I finally checked into my hotel at 2:30 p.m. This is where being a frequent traveler has its perks! Even though I am using points to stay at the almost brand new Holiday Inn Express in Kalispell, they upgraded my room to a King suite with a jacuzzi! I am looking very forward to using that!

I spent most of the afternoon working on images and uploading my blogs now that I have an Internet connection.

I headed off into the park at approximately 7 p.m in order to catch sunset. It is a little over 1 hour to get part way along the Going to the Sun road now that I am staying in Kalispell.

I stopped at an area about 3 miles before Logan Pass. From this view point you can see Bird Woman Falls. It is quite a ways in the distance. I am not sure of the name of the mountain peak in the image below, and my normally detailed map is not giving me a name either.

Mountain at Sunset

Sunset was pretty nice and the light on the mountains was very nice. I did not have any foreground to work with at this location since the road dropped right off straight down into the valley. But I do like the images I captured!

Tomorrow is an R & R day. The last week has been pretty hectic with some very long days so I think I will use tomorrow to do laundry and relax. I will probably head into the park for sunset again however.

July 17

July 17

This morning we got up around 7:30 am and made out way to St. Mary’s Lake. We stopped at a meadow across from the lake and photographed some wildflowers. There was a coyote in the area as well, but he was too far away to get any decent shots.

Wild Flowers at St. Mary's Lake

We then proceeded to Piegan Pass trail and went for a hike. There was a waterfall way up, but after I hiked for over a mile, I found out from others that I met on the trail that it forked way ahead of me and it was still another 1 1/2 miles to the waterfall and then all the way back. I knew I did not have the time to do that hike so I turned back. There were a few small trickles along the way and I stopped at one at photographed one of them.

From here we headed back to East Glacier and the motel. The plan is to rest or whatever for about an hour and then go to the lodge for about 3 hours. Jeff is going to spend about an hour going over the printing set up through LightRoom and also the slideshow part. Then we have 2 hours to work on our images and create a slideshow with our 10 best or favorite images. Then we are going to have dinner, and everyone is going to show their images. Afterwards we are going to do some evening shots.

Once Jeff finished his tutorial on the printing and slideshow, we all separated and went to work. I went through all my images and made a list of the 10 I wanted to use. I then worked on them one by one in LR. My biggest problem is the dirt and dust on the sensor. I spend a lot of time cleaning each image up since it is so visible. The newer digital SLR cameras have vibration sensor cleaning which does help with this problem. LR is so easy to use! Once I got through the first 2 or 3 images, it started getting easier and easier to do the tasks. Once everyone was done, we went to the restaurant in the lodge and sat around a table and ordered dinner. While we waited for dinner, everyone did their presentations. The images from everyone were great! Jeff and I had some unusual ones simply because we went where the others would not venture too.

Once dinner was complete we headed out of East Glacier to U.S 89 where we had noticed this lovely field of yellow wildflowers with Aspen’s in the background. It was right alongside the road. We did a lot of shots here and I even played with zooming, which I had not done in a lot of years. This is an artistic technique which is basically setting a longer shutter speed and then “zooming” the lens in whatever direction you want. My only problem is trying to get a long enough shutter speed when there is still lots of light. Jeff solves this with the use of a Variable Neutral Density filter. I am going to purchase one of these as they are very useful.

Once we were finished here we headed back to the motel where we said our goodbyes. The teacher is staying one more day at the motel but not doing any photography. She is simply exhausted and has 2 days of driving ahead of her. Jeff is going to take the others to Kalispell in the morning so they can get to the airport. I am heading out at 4:30 am for sunrise. Everyone really enjoyed the workshop and I plan to do another workshop with Jeff in the future.

July 16

July 16

Yawn! Today is an early morning as we were up at 4 am and headed off to Chief Mountain for sunrise. It takes almost 1 1/2 hours to reach the area. We set up across a road with the mountain in the distance. There will fields in the foreground which I used for some shots, and I also zoomed in on the mountain to crop it close. The sunrise was not amazing, but the mountain did light up somewhat.

From there we headed to Many Glacier. This is a beautiful lodge on Swiftcurrent Lake at the bottom of the Many Glacier. Since we were late getting there there was no point in photographing the mountain behind the lake as it was already too contrasted. The lake was also ripply since the wind was up a bit.

We started with the river which runs from the lake and starts off as a waterfall and steps down in 3 more waterfalls before reaching level ground. The waterfalls are very powerful since there has been a lot of rain lately. We followed a trail alongside and way above the waterfalls. People split up and did their own thing. I found a pathway leading down to the river below the second waterfall. It was a bit tricky at the start as you are standing on the edge of rock about 40 feet above a roaring waterfall. But once past that point it was just a matter of watching your step on the slippery rocks and then finding spots to shoot. Jeff joined me and we found a great spot to set up. There was a large rock and rocks below it that formed somewhat of a channel. Water would pour over this large rock creating a mini waterfall. You just had to be patient and wait for the water to come over the top. I created several wonderful images!

Water & Rock

Once we were done there we headed back to East Glacier as everyone was tired and needed a break. We will regroup later and head out for sunset.

We headed up the Going to the Sun road for sunset and stopped at Logan Pass where we saw a Big Horn Sheep. I got some pretty good shots of him. From there we headed to the area near the Weeping Wall for sunset. We have Mount Gould and Bishops Cap in one direction and Mount Oberlin in the other. Jeff and I set up way down in a field with Bear Grass as a foreground no matter which way you turned. Everyone else stayed up on the road in the parking area.

The sunset was spectacular! The big rock wall of Bishops Cap in front of us had beautiful light on it for a while and the mountains behind us had simply gorgeous side lighting. It was a “wow” sunset and no matter what way we turned we had great shots!

Mount Oberlin

When we got back up the parking lot, the others told us a funny story. Apparently a car zoomed up into the parking lot and 4 people jumped out all with P & S cameras, and all were exclaiming about the 2 bears down in the grass and shrubs. Those 2 bears were Jeff and I! Since we were crouching down most of the time and we were both wearing dark tops, I guess from a distance we looked like a couple of black bears! Once the people in our group stopped laughing, they told these 4 that we were not bears. I guess they were quite embarrassed!

On the way out we made a stop alongside the road as there was still some nice light in the sky and with the clouds there was some very nice layering going on.

We headed back to East Glacier. Tomorrow we are not going to do sunrise as everyone is simply exhausted.

July 15

July 15

It is  about 4:30p.m in the  afternoon as I sit here and write this. We are on a break until 5:30p.m. I am reflecting back on this day as being a day of “oh my god, what an amazing day of photography!” The only way this day could be improved is if we go out shooting this evening and have an incredible sunset!

The day started very early, 4a.m to be exact. When my alarm went off it felt as if I had  just gone to bed. The thunderstorm we had as around 11p.m last  night did not help with trying to fall asleep.It seemed nature was upset at something and was showing its displeasure.

The  plan this morning was to drive approximately 1 1/2 hours to Chief Mountain to hopefully photograph the sunrise on this interesting mountain. However as we were driving out along U.S 41 towards St. Mary’s, it was evident with the incredible amount of fog that we were simply not going to get a sunrise this morning. So Jeff changed the plan around. Our first stop was the burned out forest. With the area blanketed by fog, and the burned out trees standing there as reminders of nature’s deadly fury, we created images that will without a doubt, make it to a print for my wall.

Sentinels in the Fog

From there we entered the park and stopped at Wild Goose Island. While you could not see the mountain in the distance, there was a nice reflection on the lake from the island. Jeff gave us a tip the other day which certainly is very true. He told us that in nature odd numbers were always more pleasing than even numbers. Wild Goose Island has 3 large trees on it.

From there we continued on the Going to the Sun road. We made a couple of more stops along the way to photograph the mountains coming in and out of the fog. We arrived at Logan’s Pass at about 6:30am. We parked at the Visitor Center and headed out along the trail to Hidden Lake, which Jeff assured us was more than worth the 1.5 mile hike each way. At this time of the morning we were pretty much completely alone on the trail. The only other people we had been seeing were other photographers. Since Jeff and I were the ones that always set the pace and he others cannot even come close to keeping up, Jeff told everyone to make their way at whatever pace they wished. It was a wooden walkway for a good part of the trail. It climbed upwards but at a gradual ascent. There were also long sections of the trail covered in snow. This made the climb tougher. Jeff made a couple of stops along the way as did I to photograph. The others fell quite a ways behind, although the teacher was doing pretty good. Jeff made another stop while I continued to follow the trail. At one point a couple of people I caught up to pointed up to a ridge where there was a young Big Horn Sheep. I pulled out the big lens and took a few shots of him. I finally arrived at a wooden lookout and all i could say was “wow!” Hidden Lake is this long, narrow lake at the base of a huge mountain. On one side you can see through 2 mountains into a valley. While the view from the lookout was amazing, I figure further along the trail the views would be even better. The trail continues for another 1 1/2 miles to the lake itself. Jeff had told me we were not going to hike it as the others would simply not be able to do it.

Hidden Lake

I went down the trail about 500 feet and found a large, flat rock on which to set up. I could hear rustling noises all around me and noticed ground squirrels and a marmot. One of the squirrels decided he was going to be adventurous and come closer. I snapped away at him and even laid claim to “Squirrel Yoga!” The Marmot was also an interesting and not at all shy fellow. He would pose on a rock only a few feet from me. He even came within a couple of feet of me at one point possibly hoping I would have some food.

I turned my attention to the lake and the magical fog and clouds. These images are going to be keepers for sure! As I was snapping away at that, a family of 3 mountain goats came by to see what I was doing. I took lots of shots of them. The baby was so adorable!

Mountain Goat

The teacher had made it up by this point as I moved on to a location where Jeff was set up to see what he was doing. I always make a point to look through his viewfinder as he makes some amazing compositions. The mountain goats continued to wander around and a few more appeared. As the morning wore on, the number of people began to increase. I will never understand people who find it necessary to chase after these animals or allow their kids to do so. The animals will stay around if you just leave them be.

The teacher had headed back. I never did see the other 3 people but found out later they did make it to the viewing platform and just before heavy fog blanketed the whole area. I knew the fog would not last too long.

Jeff and I headed back and we passed the teacher. We also caught up to the other 3. The trail by this time was packed with people. I did get one laugh as we were about 200 feet from the visitor center, there was a guy set up on the boardwalk with a tripod. He had a Canon digital camera on it with what looked to be a 800mm lens. This lens is worth over $13,000! But the real topper was the huge flash he had mounted above the camera. He had the camera pointed up at the mountains. I may be very wrong here, but I think this guy was someone who has way too much money and knows absolutely nothing about nature or landscape photography.

By the time everyone got back to the parking lot we were all beat.J eff decided that it would be best to head back to the motel, grab some food and a rest.

In the evening we headed out to Running Eagle Falls. We had visited this falls before on July 13 and since then it had rained and now we had not only the water coming from below but also the water over the top! This was awesome to see!

I went and did a few shots close to the falls. I also found a few other spots to photograph. I then went looking for Jeff and I noticed he had crossed the river and found a small pool of water. When I looked over I noticed that Running Eagle Falls was in a reflection in this pool. I called over to Jeff and asked him if I could join him, which he said yes too. I walked back to my vehicle and put on my “wet” hiking boots and proceeded to cross a quickly moving river which was about 20 feet wide and 1 to 2 feet deep. I used my tripod to give me balance on the slippery rocks. Once I was across Jeff showed me his composition. It was awesome! With this particular shot you have to be very patient as you are standing in the pool of water and and movement will cause a ripple on the water and distort the reflection. Once Jeff was finished I set up my own shot. Since a good chunk of the sky will be in the reflection I knew it would be necessary to use a graduated filter otherwise the sky would be way over exposed. However since the sky was only in the reflection, I had to turn the filter upside down. I did several exposures and when I checked them later on they were great! I made it back across the river without getting completely soaked! No one else would make the attempt to cross the river. These people miss out on so many great shots simply because they don’t want to get wet.

Running Eagle Falls

We then proceeded to Two Medicine Lake where we did sunset images. I did not set up in the same spot as before. The sunset was okay, but not spectacular. I think the images from the shoot are good though.

Tomorrow is Thursday and not sure where we are headed for sunrise.