Turn around… there’s your photo
We usually have preconceived ideas about what or where we are photographing. It’s too easy to get in a rut about how we do or see things.
If you look long enough or hard enough you can sometimes find a photo that is better than the one you were originally planning.
If you’ve never been to Jasper National Park one of the most beautiful drives in the world is the two hundred or so kilometers from Banff to Jasper. The highway is a paved and for the most part well maintained (it does have it’s bumpy spots). The highway puts you smack dab in the middle of the mountains. There are photo opportunities everywhere. It is as simple as pulling onto the shoulder of the highway and snapping away. It is so darned easy I often wonder why people pay thousands of dollars to have someone drive them along these roads only to take photos that they could have just as easily taken and with the added bonus of discovering these places for themselves. It is the discovery that is the exciting part.
Almost exactly halfway between Jasper and Banff townsites are the Columbia Icefields or rather the edge of the icefields. The icefields actually cover over three hundred square kilometers but from the highway one only sees a small portion of the Athabsca Glacier. Nearby the glacier is a hotel/information center where one can eat, stay overnight or visit the glacier display in the basement.
It is only a short drive from the Icefields Chalet to the foot or nearly the foot of the Athabasca Glacier. There is a guided walk and even bus tours on the glacier. For those who don’t want to spend the money there is also a short self guided walk that takes you to the foot of the tongue of ice that meanders down the mountain. It is here that tens of thousands of tourists from all around the world stop and take pictures. The picture you see is one that seldom gets taken. Near the parking lot that takes you to the glacier walk is a small glacial lake that is usually very silty and brownish colored. It isn’t the most beautiful lake in the rockies when you compare it to turquoise gems like Peyto Lake and as a result people usually pass on it and photograph the Athabasca Glacier and Mount Athabasca.
When we visited this spot last week I had probably been to the glacier dozens of times before, usually at dawn or dusk to get the best light. This time it was mid afternoon, cloudy and what sun there was was directly over the icefields which meant shooting into the sun if I was going to shoot the glacier. Instead I simply turned around walked a few meters from the parking lot and made a five minute exposure of this little unnamed lake.
The result is better than if I would have tried to capture spectacular Mounts Athabasca and Kitchener cradling the Athabasca Glacier.
Sometimes your best photo is behind you but you might never know it.