Posts tagged “Rocky Mountains

Elbow Falls in winter’s clothing

Winter sunrise at Elbow Falls - © Christopher Martin-4076

We have had a few stormy blasts throughout November and the snow seems to be intent on sticking around right now.  With the beauty of the winter landscape running through my head, I went up to Elbow Falls in Kananaskis early one morning to catch the sunrise.

WINTER DAWN AT ELBOW FALLS - © Christopher Martin-4088

It turned out to be a beautiful dawn matched only by the tranquility I was able to enjoy sharing the waterfall with the resident Dippers (small birds not swimmers!) and the rushing water.

WINTER DAWN AT ELBOW FALLS - © Christopher Martin-4106

Dusk in the Crowsnest Pass

Crowsnest Dusk - © Christopher Martin-3199

I had a wonderful getaway camping with my son in the Waterton National Park last weekend.  Along the way down there, I travelled through the Crowsnest Pass just as the sunlight was slipping off the peaks and giving way to the night.  I stopped for a few minutes to enjoy the transition and this photograph is the one I made from the many peaks stacked around the valley.  A mountain unknown to me but beautiful in its isolation.

August 16th update – my Uncle Bill, Auntie Ann and cousins Chad and Darren, who lived in the Crowsnest Pass area for many years, discussed this peak and confirmed that it is Mount Tecumseh.  Thank you family!

Dawn at the Columbia Icefields

Dawn at the Columbia Icefields - © Christopher Martin Photography-0431

After a chilly night photographing and then sleeping at the foot of the Athabasca Glacier, I shook off the cold with a cup of tea before getting out of my sleeping bag and taking a look around.  It was about 5:30 am when I was up and the blues and whites in the sky and on the mountains were lovely as they waited for the sun to light them up.

Dawn at the Columbia Icefields - © Christopher Martin Photography-0416-2

The image above was made at 5:47 am and less than 10 minutes later, the pink sunlight of dawn was splashing the upper reaches of the mountains on either side of the glacier.  It was beautiful and I took turns between watching the light move across the slopes and trying to remember to photograph.

Dawn at the Columbia Icefields - © Christopher Martin Photography-0688

Dawn at the Columbia Icefields - © Christopher Martin Photography-0698

Dawn at the Columbia Icefields - © Christopher Martin Photography-0712

I started where the light first reached along Parker Ridge and Hilda Peak on the western side of the Sunwapta Pass, then worked to the right watching as Mount Athabasca and Mount Andromeda were hit with shafts of light here and there.

Dawn on Mount Kitchener - © Christopher Martin Photography-0424-2

I panned across the Athabasca Glacier towards the Dome Glacier and saw the light show unfolding there a couple of minutes behind my location.  I ran to my car and drove to a viewpoint where I could see up the valley to the glacier and up to the peak of Mount Kitchener (the first image in this post).  It proved to be a good move and I was able to watch the sunlight as it transitioned from pink into gold.

Dawn at the Columbia Icefields - © Christopher Martin Photography-0693

Dawn at the Columbia Icefields - © Christopher Martin Photography-0695

Dawn at the Columbia Icefields - © Christopher Martin Photography-0723

Dawn at the Columbia Icefields - © Christopher Martin Photography-0736

When the golden hue started to drain out of the light, I packed up and headed north towards Jasper.  A couple of kilometres down the road, I noticed this peak still basking in beautiful light.  I stopped and made this last image of a fine morning in the Rocky Mountains.

Dawn at the Columbia Icefields - © Christopher Martin Photography -0437-2


Wedge Pond Mists

Wedge Pond Mists - © Christopher Martin-0024

With the early snows of the past week, I was eager to get into the mountains to see how things looked up there this weekend.  I went up to Wedge Pond which sits below Mount Kidd in Kananaskis.  This small, shallow pot lake is a great location in the fall as it is ringed by a variety of trees and catches the mountain’s reflection in its quiet waters.

Wedge Pond Mists - © Christopher Martin-9959

Wedge Pond Mists - © Christopher Martin-9974

It was overcast when I headed out but the sky was more promising in the mountains.  Before dawn, the mist started to rise off the water.  It was cold and seemed to be perfect conditions for the creation of low clouds and heavy mist.  That worked for me and I enjoyed photographing along the shoreline through sunrise.

Wedge Pond Mists - © Christopher Martin-0091

The leaves on the deciduous trees are just starting to change color so I will make sure to return in a couple of weeks to catch their golds and oranges.  The elk rut should start around the same time so I’m looking forward to hearing their bugling in the forest surrounding the pond then too.

Wedge Pond Mists - © Christopher Martin-0124


Moonrise over Mount Rundle


Moonrise over Rundle - © Christopher Martin-9579

My son and I were in Banff for the weekend and went out for a drive along the Vermilion Lakes just before sunset on Saturday night.  We stopped at the first lake to watch the colors deepen on the face of Mount Rundle as the sun was going down.  Another photographer, Grace Chen visiting from Calgary, asked me where the moon would be rising.  I had to admit that I didn’t know – I hadn’t done any planning as Kian and I were water sliding all afternoon and the drive was a last-minute decision.  I was quite surprised when I next looked in the viewfinder and saw a sliver of white rising behind the mountain!  It was fun to point at the peak as a response to her question.

Mount Rundle Moonrise - © Christopher Martin-9546
I had been a bit disappointed that there were no clouds but that proved to be very fortunate.  I loved the clean elements of the blue sky, white moon and reddish rocks.

Mount Rundle Moonrise - © Christopher Martin-9590


The moon climbed quickly, becoming steadily brighter and I finished shooting less than half an hour after first seeing it.  The sunlight on the mountain moved from deep yellow to a beautiful red while the sky steadily darkened.  It was not quite a full moon, being at 98%, but was still bright and wonderful.

Mount Rundle Moonrise - © Christopher Martin-9588

Mount Rundle Moonrise Reflected - © Christopher Martin-4640

Moonrise over Rundle - © Christopher Martin-4643

Mount Rundle Moonrise - © Christopher Martin-4647

The setting of a supermoon


Supermoon setting - 2014 © Christopher Martin

Moonset of the latest supermoon coincided with dawn last weekend.  I was photographing the prairie landscape and climbed up to a spot where I had a bit of elevation in order to look over the fields and be somewhat on level with the Rockies.  The mist laying low over the fields was a lucky bit of happenstance.

A new portfolio of landscape images

Fire in the clouds - Mount Rundle, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

This is a collection of a my favourite landscape photographs from the past couple of years.  Locations include North America’s Rocky Mountains, the Prairies, and the island of Kaua’i.  If you are interested in having a look, please click on this link or on the image above.

Among the clouds at Wedge Pond

Moutn Kidd cloaked - 2013 © Christopher Martin

I was up in Kananaskis a few days ago to explore the recently opened stretch of Highway 40 up to the Highwood Pass.  Leaving home in the dark, I arrived at Wedge Pond just as light was creeping into the eastern edge of the sky.

Peeking at the peaks of Mount Kidd - 2013 © Christopher Martin

We had several days of rain preceding this visit so I was unsure what the weather would be like in the mountains.  The reports called for partly sunny with showers.  From experience, that can mean anything from empty blue skies to heavy, wet gray clouds.  I don’t mind either so I was happy to head up and find out.  That morning the mist was swirling above the pond and rising up to meet the low hanging clouds that were stuffed into the valley.  I trotted down to the water’s edge and moved along keeping an eye on Mount Kidd.  The mountain catches the early pre-dawn Alpen glow and can be spectacular right through sunrise.  The view over Wedge and up to Kidd whispered of something good that might come and I was happy to move around, watching and waiting.

Sunrise at Wedge Pond - 2013 © Christopher Martin

Dawn along the shore - 2013 © Christopher Martin

Seven minutes later, pink light was hitting a few of the higher clouds.  The lower clouds were breaking up and it seemed like a clear view of the mountain was coming forward.

Dawn sneaks a look down at Wedge Pond - 2013 © Christopher Martin

It didn’t – the clean view was swallowed up by the clouds as the rich colours on Mount Kidd came in.  I didn’t mind at all as a few fleeting openings afforded beautiful views of one or two of the peaks for the next couple of minutes.

Morning in the mountains - 2013 © Christopher Martin

I have not had such a dynamic encounter with the weather up at Wedge Pond and I had a great time.  It was fun to play around with the moodiness under the clouds balanced (and thrown out of balance) with the sunrise opening above.  I’m enjoying the late resurgence of summer we are enjoying but I found myself looking forward to the fall colours that always look so wonderful in this special place.  I will be there and would be very happy if these clouds returned then too.

The elusive red light of dawn on the Ten Peaks

Red dawn above Moraine Lake - 2013 © Christopher Martin

Canon 5DIII camera with a Canon 17-40mm lens: 2 seconds at f/22 on ISO 100

I enjoy photographing the landscapes around Moraine Lake and realized it had been almost a year since I went up and waited for sunrise there.  I clambered up the moraine, the geological rock pile at the eastern edge of the lake, near the end of August and shared a beautiful dawn with a few other people spread out along the pathways.

Painting the peaks - 2013 © Christopher Martin

Canon 5DIII camera with a Canon 17-40mm lens: 4 tenths of a second at f/11 on ISO 100

Under a full moon at Moraine - 2013 © Christopher Martin

Canon 5DIII camera with a Canon 17-40mm lens: 2.5 seconds at f/20 on ISO 50

On this visit to the Valley of the Ten Peaks, a cloudless sky to the east allowed the early sunlight open passage to the mountains above the lake.  They did their part and caught the red ribbons wonderfully.

Light and dark among the Ten Peaks - 2013 © Christopher Martin

Canon 5DIII camera with a Canon 24-105mm lens: 1/13th of a second at f/11 on ISO 100

Even after the light had cooled there were still interesting images to be found around the valley.

Nighttime at the boathouse on Emerald Lake

The boathouse on Emerald Lake - © Christopher Martin-4131

Bobbi and I got away to Emerald Lake last weekend for a little retreat.  The valley is in the Yoho National Park in British Columbia, about two and a half hours from Calgary.  We had a great time enjoying time on the land and enjoying the fine amenities offered by the Emerald Lake Lodge.  We have to thank both sets of grandparents for taking care of Kezia and Kian.  I spent most of the night out photographing around the water.  The image above is looking down the stairs to the boathouse where you can rent canoes and row boats to take out on the lake.  There was a wedding in the lodge where Cilantro’s restaurant is located across the bridge.  The lights from the party and the bridge illuminated the little cabin and the stacked boats.  Emerald Lake is a wonderful place to visit – we are already plotting our next return visit.

Moonlight at Elbow Falls

As the moon waxed towards full this weekend, I spent an evening at Elbow Falls to photograph the landscape at night.  The clear air allowed stars to shine even with a relatively short exposure and small aperture (10 seconds and f/8.0, respectively).  Always a bit lonely sitting out there for a couple of hours but the stars are really good company.

Elbow Falls under moonlight - 2013 © Christopher Martin

The 6400 ISO and the bright moonlight allowed for some of the great details at this magical place in Kananaskis Country to show in the image.  I am impressed with the improvements in the dSLR’s low-light capabilities over the last couple of years.  A couple of years ago I spent another evening up at these falls. At that time I was using a Canon 1D Mark III and when compared with the image above and others where I used a 5D Mark III, the detail, structure of the noise and the color are all vastly improved.  The technology is less and less of an obstacle to realizing the images I want to make.  I like that a lot.

Lake Louise – ice castles and early mornings

The ice castle at Lake Louise - 2013 © Christopher Martin

Lake Louise is a favourite place for my wife and I to visit in the Banff National Park.  This weekend, with my parents taking care of the kids for a night, we went up and stayed on the lake’s eastern shore at the Chateau.  The view across the ice up to the Victoria Glacier and the surrounding peaks was hidden by nightfall by the time we arrived so I was anxious for the morning to come.  As it turned out, I may have slept right through sunrise, if Bobbi hadn’t looked outside just after 7 and woken me up.  The black of night had given way to the dark shades of blue ahead of the dawn.  I looked outside and then raced out of the door a few minutes later.

A window to dawn - 2013 © Christopher Martin

Winter at Lake Louise is magical.  The Fairmont had an ice carving competition earlier this year and the sculptures fanned out between the hotel and the lake.  At night, they are lit up as is the patriotic castle that is in the middle of the skating rink cleared out on the lake ice.

A view through the maple leaf archway - 2013 © Christopher Martin

Ice climbing with the sun - 2013 © Christopher Martin

An ice castle is made every winter by the Chateau’s chefs from large blocks of ice. Nearby is a hockey rink and the trailhead for ski trails along the northern shoreline. Through the evening and again during the day, as it turned out, these drew many visitors who walked, skated and skied around.  However at the time I went down to the lake, in the early but quickly brightening morning, there were only a few other people around.

Early morning shinny at Lake Louise - 2013 © Christopher Martin

Two people were playing around with hockey sticks and a puck while a couple of other photographers were roaming across the ice.  And there was one gentleman out skating laps around the castle – I was glad he wore a red coat.

Alpen skate - 2013 © Christopher Martin

Once the sunlight hit the peaks, the dark sky disappeared and the cold, clear dawn of a beautiful morning took hold.  It was wonderful to be out on the lake and I had a lot of fun working with the details in the castle and the spectacular landscape surrounding it.

A window to first light on Victoria Glacier - 2013 © Christopher Martin

When the sun was rising out of the forest east of the lake, the warm light on the ice blocks provided another opportunity to play a bit longer before I headed in for breakfast with my dear, and patient, wife.

Framing the sun - 2013 © Christopher Martin

Lake Louise landscape - 2013 © Christopher Martin


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