It’s the Boy Scout motto (maybe Cub Scouts?) that says “Always be Prepared” or something like that but I wasn’t while driving down the Icefields Parkway between Banff National Park and Jasper last weekend. I still had my wide angle lens on the camera as I turned a bend in the road and saw a big bear walking along the side of the road. I stopped and pulled over to allow others to pass and hurriedly switched my lens. However, by the time I put my zoom lens on the camera this bear was already drawing a rather large crowd of other drivers. I was able to snap off three shots before he scurried down the embankment and ran back into the woods – this was the only shot that wasn’t overly blurry.
The Icefields Parkway is the road leading from Banff National Park to Jasper National Park and is one of the most scenic drives in the world. Consistently rated as one of the top drives by travel magazines it is an amazing 180 mile long stretch of pristine mountain scenery.
Roadside Waterfall on the Icefield Parkway (Banff National Park)
I was up there on Sunday before my client meeting on Monday and drove to about the halfway point (one day I’ll get up to Jasper but this trip was too quick) and along the way I got out and took a fair amount of pictures. It was a rainy day so I knew that getting pictures of mountains with dramatic clouds was going to be a challenge so I was looking primarily for scenes where I could focus on water instead of the clouds – such as waterfalls and rivers – where the (relatively) long exposures allowed mid-day would allow me to still get decent images. About twenty miles into the drive (starting from the southern end – Lake Louise/Banff) I came across a mossy waterfall on the eastern side of the road. Since it was so cloudy the light was even throughout and I was able to keep the shutter open a half of second without using any filters. The water was flowing quickly enough that it became nice, dramatic and fairy tale like. It’s no secret that taking pictures of water is one of my favorite things.
Featured in Dan Brown’s best selling novel, The Da Vinci Code, Saint Sulpice Church saw it’s popularity rise as the book gained a cult following. However, Ron Howard (director of the movie version of The Da Vinci Code) was denied permission to film inside so when visited during the movie it isn’t the actual church.
The popularity was such that they had to add the following near the entry way so that tourists wouldn’t search for the ‘Rose Line’
(…) Contrary to fanciful allegations in a recent best-selling novel, this [the line in the floor] is not a vestige of a pagan temple. No such temple ever existed in this place. It was never called a «Rose-Line». It does not coincide with the meridian traced through the middle of the Paris Observatory which serves as a reference for maps where longitudes are measured in degrees East or West of Paris. (…) Please also note that the letters «P» and «S» in the small round windows at both ends of the transept refer to Peter and Sulpice, the patron saints of the church, and not an imaginary «Priory of Sion».
Saint Sulpice Church (Paris, France)
In Joshua Tree National Park there is a spectacular rock formation known as the Skull Rock. It is right off of the road but there is also a trail that runs through and around the area in the Mojave Desert. It’s a pretty easy trail but since you are in the middle of the dessert and its usually quite hot it is probably wise to stay relatively close to your car – or at least have plenty of water with you.
Skull rock (Joshua Tree National Park)
I visited Joshua Tree back in October 2012. It was a really interesting place and the trees that make it famous were pretty amazing. It is a place I want to go back to now that I’ve got a few more years of practice with the camera. I think I could make some more interesting compositions of the trees – especially some silhouettes and milky way shots – now that I have a more advanced knowledge of my camera.
I’m off to Banff on Sunday for a very quick trip through the Canadian Rockies. I’ll only be there for about twelve hours since I have a meeting on Monday afternoon but I just couldn’t imagine going to Calgary without making the drive up to the mountains. It’s only a ninety minute drive from downtown and believe me the scenery is so worth it.
A good place for sunrise pictures is Two Jack Lake as the sun hits the mountain perfectly in the morning. On this morning there was a decent sunrise but about ten minutes later fog started to roll in and I took this and a couple of other shots. Ultimately, the fog got so thick the mountain disappeared from view.
Foggy Morning over Two Jack Lake (Banff National Park)
The weather actually looks pretty good on Sunday afternoon – highs in the 80s and sunny throughout most of the day. If everything travel wise goes well I’ll get to spend a few hours taking pictures since sunset this time of year is around 10:15 PM. The bad news (or good since my meeting is at 10:30 AM Monday) is that sunrise comes early also at around 5:30 AM so I won’t get much sleep but I’ll sleep on the flight home.
After taking in sunrise at Dream Lake I stopped at Sprague Lake to take some pictures of the Continental Divide and my favorite peak in the park – Hallett Peak. Last year I climbed to the top of this – 12,713 feet the highest I’ve ever been – and the view from the top is spectacular.
Hallett Peak over Sprague Lake (Rocky Mountain National Park)
Seeing that it was the middle of the day I converted the image to black and white since the light wasn’t too impressive. I liked the imposing size of the mountain against the wispy cloud streaking across the sky.
Three years ago we spent a week hiking and photographing in the Grand Canyon. During that time we were treated to some pretty nasty weather – flash storms and abnormal amounts of rain for the middle of the dessert. However, that meant that we were also treated to some pretty sweet skies at sunset – this night in particular a storm was approaching over the canyon and the setting sun lit up the rain and made a nice purple streak as it swept across the canyon.
Purple Rain in the Grand Canyon (Grand Canyon National Park)
I’d love to go back one day but maybe next time check out Horsehoe Bend on the North Rim.