Saturday, January 26, 2013

Swiftcurrent Lake Sunrise

Swiftcurrent Lake is one of the classic views of Glacier National Park.  The view of Grinnell Point rising out of the lake is an awe inspiring location.  The northern Rockies have this very distinctive glacier carved look to them and with the lake in front it is just a view you cannot help but say wow!

Especially when there are great clouds.

As luck would have it there were great clouds and I drove up to the lake in the dark with hopes for a big sunrise.

The full moon hung in the west and the the clouds billowed past.  A few stars were visible in the gaps of the clouds.

I sat by the waters edge and made images in the dark with stars and moonlight.  Exposures were long and the moon lit the scene.  

Then in the twilight with cool blue images of mountains and streaming clouds.  Exposures were still long and the mountain began to catch the slight light from the dawn forming in the east.  I knew there was potential here and perhaps I need to look at taking these to black and white.

Finally with the golden light of sunrise on the mountains and in the clouds.  It was the moment I had hoped and waited for.

WOW indeed.

I call it a perfect morning with the progression of night to day.

Even better was that I had it all to myself.  The Many Glacier Lodge sits on the shore of the lake and takes in this view every day but the lodge had already closed for the season and I was the only one to take in this sunrise.  See the second image to appreciate this amazing place to stay,

I walked the shoreline seeking out stones in the lake to make a foreground and watching the intense light of morning move across the trees on the far shore.

It was one of those mornings that you always hope for.  Great views, great clouds, and great light!

One night in Glacier and I had hit the jackpot with a great sunset and an incredible sunrise.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Logan Pass

I recently had the opportunity to spend one night in Glacier National Park.  Not one to pass up that chance, I made a reservation at the St. Mary Lodge on its last night for the season.    In the days leading up to getting there I thought about what I might photograph.  My first thought was finding Triple Falls.  I had seen some images from it and thought it would be a great location to photograph.  Despite not having been there before, I thought I had a pretty good idea where it was.

I knew I would get to the park in mid afternoon and first I was planning on heading to the Park Cafe for some pie, then I was going to go photograph.  Not much would make me want to delay getting into the park, but a fantastic piece of pie sure did.

I arrived at the outpost that is St. Mary about 330 in the afternoon and then to my horror, that the Park Cafe was already closed for the season.  No pie.......

Undeterred, I checked for other eating options.  The one and only one was the lodge and supper was not until 5pm.  Hmmmnnn, cannot wait that long.  So I ran to the gas station and grabbed a bag of almonds because I was ready to get up the mountain.

I made the drive up toward Logan Pass resisting the lure of images from the road and got to the parking area by the pass.  I shouldered the backpack, grabbed the tripod and started walking.  The terrain here is mostly open with a few small trees and bushes.

I had a spot picked out that I thought would lead me to the falls.  I was nearing that spot when suddenly a grizzly bear pops up about 30 yards ahead of me.

Gulp.  Stand still.  Be alert.

Camera is in backpack.

Dang!  No picture.

Luckily the bear is more interested in berries and wanders off down the exactly the direction I think the falls are.

I wait and watch him go.  Then I decide that discretion is the better part of valor and the bear can have the falls, no need to be down there after dark with a grizzly.

So, I change plans and hike up to Logan Pass and the view in toward Hidden Lake.  I arrive in a strong cold wind.

I start making a few images and then layer up the lightweight down parka I have under my Gore-Tex jacket.  That cuts the wind and keeps me warm as the sun slowly sinks into the fast moving clouds.

I photograph on the pass for an hour or so and catch a nice sunset.  I may have missed the falls but I have a great afternoon on the pass.

Then in the gathering gloom I start my walk back down the trail, wary of bears.  I talk loudly and do not use my headlamp figuring  I will have better vision for movement.

The full moon rises in the east and peaks in and out of the clouds.  I stop to take one last image.

Then I shoulder the pack and finish the hike and it is DARK.  No bears seen on the way down.

As I make my way slowly down the pass, I eat the last few almonds from supper and think that for only one night here, I have already done pretty good (despite missing the world famous pie) with seeing a bear and a great sunset on the pass.

Monday, January 14, 2013

White Christmas in Texas

We were treated to a wonderful snowfall on Christmas Day in north Texas.  What started out as some much needed rain turned into big wet flakes of snow that made a winter wonderland.  Late in the day I grabbed my camera and headed to a wooded park to photograph the ephemeral beauty of the snow in the waning light of the day.

The parks were empty and I wandered the woods by myself, listening to the quiet of the snowfall, and taking in the world of white.  

It was nice way to end the holiday.

Then I was out early the next morning.  The snow and clouds had passed to the east and a cold and crisp morning was to be had.

Now I crunched through snow and leaves and looked for the right light in the trees to find another image of the fleeting beauty we had.

Snow is rare in Texas although we have had 4 or 5 nice snow events in the last four winters.  It is even rarer for it to last more than a day, so I knew I had to make the most of the morning as the afternoon sun would melt most of it away.  

Luckily I was able to find a few small intimate landscapes and capture a few images to bring home.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Golden Sunrise

Here is a golden sunrise I caught one morning back in December on the hill overlooking the West Fork.  The bright morning light lit the broomweed and grasses with a golden glow.  I liked the quality of the light as it matched the crispness in the air and made for a great little scene.

In fact, I liked the scene so much I made two more trips to capture the view and see if I could make a better image.  Each trip I got a little closer and the third time was the charm!

This is one of those images that makes me think of something Van Gogh might have worked with.  The yellows and blues just seem tailor made for an impressionistic painting.  Not being a painter I had to fall back to Photoshop and produced my own impressionistic version of the scene.

I hope Vincent would approve.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Last of Our Fall Color

As December passed and Christmas approached the last of our fall color passed through north Texas.  Every week saw the wind take more and more leaves.  The bradford pears turned red and a few red oaks held on to some color as the rest of the trees lost their leaves and entered our short winter.

I actually like this part of the season as much as the peak colors.  There is something of magic to see that last bit of the colors next to the starker bare branches of the early turning trees.  Once the trees are all bare and we get to winter the palate of nature is practically monochrome.  However with that last color to add a splash of interest to the scene.

I returned to the West Fork of the Trinity River for the best of that late season color.  The trees that had been in peak color two weeks earlier were either bare or the leaves had faded to brown.  The last few holdouts and stragglers stood in the forest of bare branches.

The late changers are usually not near as vivid of color as the peak but seem to stand out more since the rest of the trees are so empty of leaves.  One red tree for ten trees with bare branches is certainly a contrast and that red pops all the more.

The reds, oranges, and yellows mixed with the patterns from empty gray and brown branches put on the last hurrah of the fall season. Winter Solstice arrived and took with it the last of our color and the start of our brief winter.