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.
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.
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!
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.
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.