“What do you see?” shouted the guy who was getting out of his car. I had stopped traffic again, totally unintentionally but this happens all the time between Banff and Jasper. There were three cars pulled up behind my parked car and I could see another one lurching off the highway and rolling onto the gravel shoulder. I had a camera on a tripod and this attracts onlookers. Whenever I pulled to the side of the road and got out my gear it was not uncommon for five or six cars to eventually accumulate behind mine.
“I see this!” I gesticulated majestically while sweeping my arm in an arc indicating the vista in front of us. It was mid-September, morning light was hitting a copse of gold-splashed aspen in the foreground. Behind them a vast mountain scape was materializing as heavy clouds broke free from the lowlands and parted, transforming the background from blank opacity to a subtle arrangement of beatific whites. I was trembling a bit, as I do, when I feel imminent contact with my photographic muse and also getting a little annoyed, as I do, when I feel imminent contact with tourists milling around in a scene I’m trying to compose.
“Oh,” said the guy, unimpressed. “I thought you saw an elk.” He got in his car and left.
I strode into the area purposefully, setting up my tripod, adjusting the angle and dodging the mustering troop of tourists. The light and clouds were changing fast. I made several images including the one below.
There is a little road outside of Banff along Vermilion Lakes that we returned to several times. Snow fell at night and gave a light dusting to the mountains. Surprisingly there were only sporadic cars along this place. It was relaxing here. Joanne and I would park the car and just wander up and down the road, witnessing the changing light and clouds. Sometimes the lake was mirror-like and reflected an expansive sky. I actually made several good images at that spot including the one below.
Maybe you find what you’re looking for when you are out in the world traveling but maybe its best to be open to whatever you find. Expectations be damned. Maybe that guy will find an elk. Joanne and I did and we weren’t expecting to. We knew there were elk around Jasper but when we checked into our cabin at Pine Bungalows we were surprised to find out they have a resident wild elk herd there. Being September, they were in rut so really didn’t care about humans at all. The big bulls just went rampaging along the little roads that connected the cabins and if you got between them and a cow…well just don’t get between them and a cow.
Mile for mile highways 1A and the Icefields Parkway in Alberta have been the most beautiful and photographically rewarding roads I’ve seen. The photographic community apparently concurs because image-seekers sporting high end optics are abundant. Early mornings, a mantra you will hear me repeat ad nauseam, are the best. The light is the best, the coffee is the best and, if you’re photographing in a world hot-spot like Alberta, the photographers are the best. Folks who get up at 4am and hang out in the dark waiting for morning light in sub-freezing temps are a pretty interesting lot. They tend to respect your spot. That is if they see you lining up a shot, they stay out of the way. Mostly.
Two of my images from our September trip have been selected by Blank Wall Gallery in Athens, Greece. I really like this gallery and I like the photographs they display, even when they don’t pick any of mine. Snowy Mountains and Aspen is in their “Landscapes” show on now and Vermilion Lakes Reeds, will actually be shown in Crete at a show they are calling the “Chanai International Photography Festival or CIP. That show starts in late August until early September.