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Fall 2010 Canadian Rockies Photo Tour — Fall Windstorm

October 25, 2010
Fall Windstorm, David Thompson Country

Fall Windstorm, David Thompson Country

As our intrepid group prepared to start the Fall 2010 photo tour, we had to endure some pretty strong wind the first day. I had been scouting already for a few days leading up to the tour, and the winds were relentless. The fall foliage that had seemed so ideally primed for our group to work with began to appear in danger of getting stripped away before we were up and running!

Fortunately, there were a number of pockets of fall color along Highway 11 in David Thompson Country, and then further north along the Icefields Parkway towards Jasper. We were able to work with 3 or 4 stands of trees that fairly blazed in the sunshine during the warm days we experienced.

Here, I put on a medium telephoto lens and dialed in tight on just a few trees that were being whipped around by the wind on the first morning. Using a circular polarizer, choice of ISO setting and aperture, I intentionally slowed down my shutter speed to 1 second to allow the leaves to blur, however the wind took them. I carry a Singh-Ray Vari-ND neutral density filter, but didn’t need it here. The morning light — some ways past the coveted “golden hour” of sunrise — was strong; I enjoy the bold, contrasty look that results… almost monochromatic underneath the yellow.

During the days of the tour, we spent some time talking about 3 important keys to successful photography — subject, composition and light. There are many useful things to master, but these 3 are bedrock.

Windy? Make the wind part of the subject! Strong front light? Use it! All light is photographable light… it’s just a matter of finding a subject and composition that work with it. Some photographers will shoot the golden hours around sunrise and sunset, then write off the rest of the day, use it for scouting, or hit the laptop. In the Rockies, there is something to work with virtually non-stop… and that’s pretty much just what we did. 🙂

When the light, weather or other conditions are going a certain way, the enterprising photographer may bend with the breeze instead of trying to fight it. Or, as some might say in the high technology field, “it’s not a bug, it’s a feature!”

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