I’ve just got back from a week long trip to Alberta, Canada. The trip was tiresome as it involved more driving that I wished for due to road closures.
My main destination was Abraham Lake. I was coming from Banff and was going to take Icefields Parkway to get to Abraham Lake. Unfortunately, when I got to Icefields Parkway I discovered that it was closed till at least noon of the next day due to unsafe driving conditions. The only way left to get to Abraham Lake was all the way around thru Calgary and thru the north route. That meant extra 5 hours of driving. It also meant I would unlikely make it there by sunset of that same day.
I had little choice but to drive that long way around. I got to a small ghost town called Nordegg where I had a hotel reservation just before sunset. I had a choice before me: to stay and relax for the night or to go to Abraham Lake (another half an hour driving). The sky was overcast with no breaks in the clouds.
I went to the lake anyway. I thought I at least check out ice conditions for the sunrise the next day.
I got to the Abraham Lake just after sunset. The sunset was purely theoretical as the sun was not visible thru the clouds. The wind was strong albeit warm. As I open a door a gust of wind almost knocked me over. The ice was covered with melted water. Everything seemed to tell me to get back to the hotel and be done for the day.
Nevertheless I put on spikes on my shoes, took my backpack with photo gear and tripod and went down to the ice. I always take photo gear with me, it has become part of me. Even if there was nothing happening I could take a few test shots to figure out what’s best lens, settings, filters to use and get sketches for ideas I might implement later.
I’m quite cautious person when it comes to water. I almost drowned when I was a teenager. The memory of that still makes me afraid of water. So, I carefully stepped on ice and was staying by the shore to gain some confidence. But then the last rays of the Sun broke thru somewhere beyond horizon and lit up the clouds from below. That was the kind of things I dream about as a photographer. The light was surreal violet. I forgot about my fears of water and ran in a search of bubbles frozen in ice to complete the image of surreal landscape.
This photo is just for fun. If you let your imagination run wild it can help you see interesting shapes around you. Like I saw a shape of a humanoid caught in a frozen waterfall.
I’m a perfectionist in everything I do. And I’m twice perfectionist in photography. In the field I keep taking photo over and over changing my position, perfecting composition, and changing settings perfecting my exposure. In post I can spend endless hours on a single photo perfecting every pixel of it to tell a clear story with my photo.
This was the case with this photo. It looked like illuminati sign for me. The problem was that pink spot in the sky was too weak. I wanted to make it clearly visible. Except I could not get it too stand out more without color shift and without impact on surrounding clouds. I’ve spend many many hours on it, printed proof after proof all of them going to garbage.
Finally, I think I got it. One thing is that it is unlikely you’ll be able to appreciate it since it pushes the limits of what uncalibrated regular monitor can show. That’s the problem with subtle color variations. Even on my laptop where I type this post I cannot see pink in the sky. I can see it on wide gamut calibrated monitor that I use for photo editing and on prints that I produce.
What can be simpler than a single curve in snow. It is like an artist calligrapher drew a hieroglyph with a single movement of hand.
What’s interesting is that I found the same curve in a track of foot steps that a fellow photographer left behind.
The main attraction of the lake by the small town of Nordegg is bubbles caught in the ice. As the lake freezes bubbles of air float up from the bottom of the lake to the surface where they are captured and then enveloped by ice. Those frozen bubbles form amazing surreal three-dimensional structures.
I think these two quite different photos capture the same feeling of the tough climate of Canadian Rockies in winter. Deep freeze ice with temperatures well below zero kept clean by sweeping winds so strong at times that it is hard to stay in one place on the ice.
Just how many photos of the same subject can be made? Apparently a lot.
One of the key locations we photographed on the last trip to Canada was an artificial lake by a tiny town of Nordegg. The winter is bitterly cold their and the lake freezes deep enough to walk on ice. The constant wind blowing over the lake keeps the ice clean from snow. What’s most interesting is air bubbles that rise from the bottom of the lake just to be captured in ice building fantastic three-dimensional structures.
One of such structures was in a form of an arrow. I was so drawn to it that I spent hours photographing it over two days. Coming up with new and new ways to do it. Here is how it looked:
Now how about using flashlight to highlight part of an arrow? That circle at the head of the arrow seems very attractive:
How about showing the arrow in the context of the area surrounding it? Let it be the lead to othe bubbles:
Let’s step further away. How about hiding the arrow in a landscape for a curious eye to find:
I’ve done much more different photos of the same subject on that trip; they are just not as good.
I guess my point is that I don’t come-see-take a photo. I work with the subject, explore it visually and find many photos of it which eventually dwindles to a few ones I keep.