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Fall 2010 Canadian Rockies Photo Tour — Bright Angel

November 8, 2010
Bright Angel, Jasper National Park

Bright Angel, Jasper National Park

Here is another photograph from the Fall 2010 Photo Tour. Though it made logistics a little tight, we did a road trip up to Jasper during the middle 2 days of the tour. This afforded the group the opportunity to spend time at a range of locations along the Icefields Parkway on both legs of the round trip drive, plus work some locations around Jasper before and after the night’s stay there.

Conditions on our morning in Jasper were relatively warm for the time of year, with a cloudless blue sky. The morning location with great appeal in those conditions was Mt. Edith Cavell. We started first at Cavell Lake, then worked our way up along the Path of the Glacier trail. About halfway along the trail, we could see the “wings” of Angel Glacier spread out in graceful arcs. With the morning light hitting the ice, a couple of us stopped for a few minutes to work some compositions before continuing up to the trail to Cavell Pond. It’s sobering to think that, with the glaciers retreating as fast as they are, at some point in the not too distant future visitors will no longer be able to enjoy this sight.

This photo is an example of something that hopefully looks good in a seemingly straight forward way, but which has some “digital darkroom” work in the background to make the photo possible. First, I used High Dynamic Range (HDR) technique to blend several identical photos taken with different shutter speeds. This permits me to master the strong range of contrast between blazing white ice and deep shadows, which otherwise would be very difficult to handle in a single exposure of the scene. Next, I cropped the image to a 16 x 9 aspect ratio, a wider framing of the glacier to emphasize its horizontal expanse. Finally, I prepared the image as a black-and-white treatment with a bit of subtle blue tinting in the ice, as a way to draw out the stark details and structural nature of the lines.

These kinds of things are part of my development-oriented style of photography. I often do a lot of work to create the final image, but part of my goal is to avoid making it look like I did a lot of work. Some viewers are interested in this kind of background information. Others don’t particularly care about it, and just like looking at interesting photographs. Feel free, either way… 🙂

P.S. For photographers interested in learning more about seeing, capturing and developing images with creative expression, I am co-leading a workshop on this with Samantha Chrysanthou and Darwin Wiggett, in November, 2011. We plan to cover a small number of key topics including seeing tonality in the scene and developing it with HDR technique. Check out the Light Matters Masterclass event for more information.

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