Bubbles

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.

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Tough Climate

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.

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One Arrow, Many Photos

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:

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Now how about using flashlight to highlight part of an arrow? That circle at the head of the arrow seems very attractive:

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How about showing the arrow in the context of the area surrounding it? Let it be the lead to othe bubbles:

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Let’s step further away. How about hiding the arrow in a landscape for a curious eye to find:

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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.

Up on a Hill

Sometimes you need to get up on a hill to see a view. Just like I did when we drove thru Canada.

We drove thru places of snow and ice that were picturesque enough. But then I saw a hill with a parking lot next to it. I stopped and climbed the hill. The view that opened up to me was breathtaking.

The vast flats of frozen river covered with snow, the soft spots of sun light breaking thru clouds, the blue hazy mountains in the distance and a cloudy sky above it all. The view was worth photographing, the awe was worth sharing. I called up the other guys and we spent some time photographing.

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Let the Flashlight Be

Another example of playing with light. This time it is not at night but at twilight. There was already enough of ambient light and I had to use two flashlights to highlight an interesting bubble structure in the ice.

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Lights in the Night

I’ve probably mentioned before that I love photographing at night. Ok, if I have not then I’ll say it now. I love photographing at night.

There are several reasons for that. First, I like element of surprise in night photography. Human eye cannot see that well at night (though you’ll be surprised to how well it can see once you give it time to adjust to low light). Thus I don’t quite see how photo will look like. After setting up first exposure just having a general idea, I take it and I get a surprise as I can see things that a human eye cannot see: details and shapes that are too dark to see, movement of clouds and stars at long exposure.

The second reason why I like night photography is because it gives me an opportunity to play with light: flashes, flashlights, gels. That’s where creativity really kicks in. Rather than capturing what’s presented to me in the best way possible, I create something out of my mind.

On this trip (just as on many others) I’ve dragged the whole gang out of cozy rooms into bitter cold two hours before sunrise to get some time for night photography. This time I played with flashes. I’d work on the ice and after certain number of steps would put a flash against the ice and fire it.

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New eyes

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.
Marcel Proust

Have I been to Mount Rainier National Park many times? Sure, I have. It is the closest national park to my home. Have I got a lot of photos from Mount Rainier National Park that I’m proud of? Nope. After all the trips I still did not have emotional connection with that place. The photos, while technically ok, were lacking emotions, strong graphics, or something interesting happening to me. As a result I thought Mount Rainier landscape was just not for me and have not visited it for a long time. Until recently.

Recently a group of three local photographers – Andrey Cherepakhin, John Song and Protik Hossain – lured me to go to Rainier again. They had specific places in mind which I have not visited before. I went along. And I’m glad I did.

Was the trick in having new eyes or was it in visiting places off a beaten path? I don’t know. One of those or both did the trick. Finally, I got photos that are beyond high quality snapshots and capture some emotional scenes of Mount Rainier.

PS At first I stopped typing here and just added photos below. Then I thought it would be worthwhile sharing what I liked about each of them.

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Summer Light and Pattern in a Chaos. I like summer feel of this photo. It was taken “into the sun”, bringing out a lot of green in the grass and lighting up the flowers. I like the contrast between light in the meadow and darkness in the trees. I like V-shape of two slopes. I like how seemingly random while flowers see to be in inverted V shape that draws you into the picture, gives it depth and perspective.

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Light and Shapes. Obviously the reflection is nice in absolutely still water. But what I really like in this photo is the light of the sun right before sunset caught in a sheet of ice floating in the water. The other thing that I like is that the shape of the highlighted piece of ice repeats the shape of Rainier in background.

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Light, Cloud and Frame. The cloud sitting on the top of Rainier, lit up by sunrise is an obvious thing that I like about this photo. The other two are how the mountain is framed by the tree on the left and the tree on the right and how flowers lead to the mountain.

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Shape and Curve. Rock formation on the right and the mountain make up one large curve.

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Leading line. The trail is strongly visible in the right bottom corner of the image continues later closer the center of the image, leading to Tatoosh Range in the distance.

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Layers. There are many layers in this photo on different levels. First, foreground – rock and flowers, middle ground – rocks, stream and snow, mountain and sky in background. Second, half in shadow, half in light. Third, interleaving layers of light snow and dark rocks.

And of cause the cloud lit up from inside is great!

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Mood. Reflection and Clouds. I like reflection of the mountain among the rocks. The cloud around the mountain grew in size to fill up the sky while still keeping the circles around the mountain.

And I like the tough mood of the high elevation landscape. The unrest in the sky. The anticipation of cold fall ahead. A reminder that the summer was almost over.

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Mood. This photo reminds me the kind of photos I see from Iceland. Dramatic heavy skies and flat light. Tough climate creates tough landscape be it Iceland or this small oasis at Mt Rainier.

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Emotions and Light. I like this photo for the same dramatic skies combined with a tenderness of flowers and a island of light breaking thru the clouds.

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