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Fall 2014 Canadian Rockies Photo Tour Results — Ellen Kinsel

October 25, 2014

Today I have a set of 5 favourite images to share from Ellen Kinsel, one of our keen participants in this year’s Fall Photography Tour based at Aurum Lodge in David Thompson Country. Ellen also shares some of her thoughts about the event and the making of each photograph. I love looking at photographs for themselves, but I also find it’s interesting to get a bit of a view into the creative thinking behind and making of an image. I liked seeing how each participant was approaching the locations we visited; it’s interesting to reflect back and see the direction Ellen was taking in these cases.

Thanks for joining our group, Ellen! Also for being the first past the post in sharing your photographs, thoughts and kind words about the event. Not that it’s a race or anything. 🙂 (Note: guest blog posts are not scripted or given any parameters for contents. Each author shares what she wishes.)

 


Why Participate in an Organized Photo Tour or Workshop?

I photograph almost daily. Literally out my back door are mountains, lakes, rivers, wildlife, trees, and wildflowers in four distinct seasons. So why do I travel to participate in photography workshops and tours? To learn, to grow, to share.

Most recently I was one of 4 participants in the Fall Landscape Tour led by Royce and Dan Wheeler. In the past few years, I have spent a lot of time in the Canadian Rockies, but I had never been to David Thompson Country and had seen photographs of that area that compelled me to want to experience it for myself. I had been part of a masterclass with Royce the previous year, and came away from that inspired by his approach and knowing I wanted to learn more from him. His mantra has become mine: subject, light, composition, storytelling.

One of the benefits of an organized, multi-day tour is being led to amazing locations by someone who knows the area and has an emotional connection to it. Royce’s leadership style enables the group to be at the best places in the best light because of his familiarity with the region. After a few suggestions of the potential of each location, we would spread out, individually seeking compositions that drew our eyes with ample time to explore and experiment. Royce and Dan made sure we were satisfied with our results, offering much appreciated assistance along the way.

Once again my expectations were exceeded. I learned so much about so many different aspects of photography not only from Royce, but also from Dan, Kerry, John, Kim, and Alan who joined us for one day. I grew and improved my skills, gaining confidence, and pushing myself. Hopefully I shared my love of being out there and my eagerness to take advantage of every moment.

All photos shown here were taken with a Canon 5D Mark III, 24-105 f/4L IS USM.

~Ellen Kinsel

Flooded Plain. Copyright © Ellen Kinsel.

Flooded Plain. Copyright © Ellen Kinsel.

We walked down the road from the Cline River Bridge to lake level. Abraham Lake was at its highest depth, and the low lying areas close to shore were flooded. Earlier in the day, Royce had provided some very helpful personal instruction on composition… deciding what to include and exclude to create the desired image. I positioned the camera with a few things in mind: capturing the reflection of the clouds in the still water, including the grasses which to me signify the idea of “Kootenay Plains,” and using those grasses to create some curvature in the frame. I combined 4 exposures in Oloneo, then brought the HDR image back into Lightroom for some final adjustments.

Sunrise at Waterfowl Lake. Copyright © Ellen Kinsel.

Sunrise at Waterfowl Lake. Copyright © Ellen Kinsel.

This morning we departed while it was still dark in order to drive to Waterfowl Lake along the Icefields Parkway in time to get set up before sunrise. Not far from the lodge, we spotted a group of wolves. A large, black wolf crossed right in front of our car… that was a special treat to be remembered rather than recorded by any camera. We each found a place along the lake shore and waited for the sunrise light to fleetingly kiss the tops of the surrounding mountains. We were treated to some great cloud colors and reflections before heading toward Lake Louise. This is another HDR processed in Oloneo (3 exposures) then brought back into Lightroom. Again, a valuable lesson from Royce contributed to the success of this final image… pay attention to the histogram in post-processing. I always use it to assist with the initial capture, but here I made the decision to use only 3 of the 5 exposures in the sequence because the 2 brightest exposures would not have contributed much additional information to the final image.

Cloud Explosion. Copyright © Ellen Kinsel.

Cloud Explosion. Copyright © Ellen Kinsel.

A sunrise shoot on the shores of Abraham Lake a short walk from Aurum Lodge (our base of operations for the tour) provided some great cloud formations, some with color, some without. These dancing clouds changed shape quickly. I kept the silhouetted mountains to anchor the frame, but did not include any of the lake as it was very rough and dark. I did experiment with including the waves breaking on the shore, but not in this particular frame. In Lightroom, I increased clarity (+67) and vibrance (+21) and boosted the whites a bit (+26). I am not overly confident in the post-processing of images… I know I could probably be doing more or doing things differently, but that too will come with more practice.

Aspen Fire. Copyright © Ellen Kinsel.

Aspen Fire. Copyright © Ellen Kinsel.

This was taken on the Fire Trail in the Landslide Lake area. A controlled burn in 2009 left the trees scarred and bare. I chose a slow shutter speed and moved the camera vertically to capture the mood I felt as I wandered among the trees. They are tenuously standing, but can fall at any moment. The yellow leaves from new growth are reminders that, in a forest, out of death comes life. Post processing in Lightroom increased clarity (+62) and vibrance (+31), and a distracting branch was cropped from the right side of the frame.

Kootenay Plains Sunset. Copyright © Ellen Kinsel.

Kootenay Plains Sunset. Copyright © Ellen Kinsel.

I wanted a low angle to emphasize the texture in this fallen log. The moon was playing hide and seek through the clouds and branches, although it is not visible in this particular frame. Once again I used Oloneo to combine 4 exposures, then brought it into Lightroom for some minor cropping and the use of the spot removal tool to clone a branch intruding in the top right corner. Clarity and vibrance were increased (+71 and +31). I would have like the background trees and mountains to have been in better focus.

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