FALL COLOUR PHOTOGRAPHY
Today is September 1st... where has the time gone? Summer is pretty much over, and for all of us I'm sure it was a very different spring and summer! I hope everyone managed, and continues to manage as we navigate our way through this pandemic.
We all no doubt have much on our minds, and with fall fast approaching, we thought something to take our minds off of the covid news and confusion that is inundating us would be a good thing; even if only for a day.
So, get your camera gear out, dusted off, batteries charged and ready to go! We may have had to postpone the Fall Colors Nova Scotia tour, but here in Alberta the fall colors are almost upon us, and Barry has detailed a couple tours you can do right here in our own back yard. The first makes a great day trip out of Calgary, the second is in Jasper National Park, a gorgeous area for photography any time of year.
Get out there, get some fresh air, make some great photos! And above all, stay safe.
Autumn Colours Calgary Drive
For those that were able to do my Advanced Landscape Photography class at SAIT, this was one of my routes that I used for field trips to bring my students on. (See link below for the Google map) There are some good areas to capture autumn colours and it is a nice drive. I know that there were a few that grumbled about the 4:30am start to the field trip but one has to get up early to catch the sun rising, even in the autumn!
You don’t have to start at that time, but on the right day watching the astronomical twilight is a great experience. As the earth turns the light gets brighter and the shadow of the earth can be seen moving lower on the western horizon, and then the colour starts to show. As the light moves down the sky it lights up the highest parts of the sky and gradually moves down to earth and illuminates the Big Rock (Okotoks Erratic; https://www.alberta.ca/okotoks-erratic-big-rock.aspx). The Big Rock is the largest glacial erratic in North America. This is a magical time of the day, but it doesn't last very long so one has to work fast and have a plan for shooting. I like seeing the first light on the rock so I start on the east side and work my way around the rock, counter clockwise. There is a bathroom at The Rock if you need it.
From here we go one road to the east and then turn south. Then at the tee turn right (West) and travel until you get to Range Road 20. At the bottom of the hill there is a small pond and the road up the hill is very photogenic. This is a private road at the top of the hill so it is best to park the car at the bottom of the hill and take a short walk up the road. The road down to the pond has also got some good areas with the farmers’ fields in the foreground and the fall trees and mountains in the background. We have had moose visit us on a few field trips here so keep an eye out.
Then return to Township Road 200 and head West across Highway 22 to Decalta Rd SE. Here we turn Right (North). The road crosses the Sheep River and there can be some good vistas looking west. Continue into Turner Valley, turning right at the tee coming out of the valley then left at Highway 546. If you need something to stop your stomach from complaining, the Chuckwagon Cafe is a great place to have a late breakfast or early lunch or even a snack.
Continuing along Highway 546 turn Right (North) at Range road 314. This is a pretty little road that winds its way down through a valley that is lined with Aspens. The property is all posted so you will have to shoot from the road but I have seen some incredible shots from this spot over the years.
From here head back to Highway 546 and continue heading west into the mountains. There are lots of spots that will make great pictures along this road and traveling in one car you will be able to stop, in a safe spot, along the road. (On our field trips, with 20 to 30 cars, this was not a safe option).
Along this road you will pass the Sheep River Park Headquarters. You are now in the Provincial Park so you will be able to wander off the road and explore the forest. You will pass Sandy McNabb campground then on to Sheep River overlook. There is a parking lot here and a short trail down to the overlook. If you walk along the edge of the canyon to the north, the scene opens up for a view along the river and into the mountains. Be careful, there are lots of cows, so watch your step, if you get my drift ;-)))
From here it is a short drive to Bighorn Lookout (Bathroom) and another short walk down towards the river valley, with some great vistas. Watch for Big Horn sheep in this area as there is a resident herd here. The final stop is Sheep River Falls (Bathroom). A warning; on weekends this is a very popular spot and can be very crowded. Be careful walking along the river as a lot of the high ground is under cut and can be dangerous and slippery.
Please remember that a photograph is not worth risking life and limb. Park well off the road, Stay Off of Private Property, Look Both ways for Traffic, Do Not Approach Wild Animals or Feed them and above all Have Fun!!!
Good Photography spots in and around Jasper
Mount Edith Cavell
Even at the base of the mountain there are some good spots, but the trail up to the meadows is worth the time and effort. Chances are good that the Alpine Larch will have some colour.
Tonquin Valley Trailhead
52°42'08.5"N 118°03'35.5"W. Short walk into the lake at the start of the trail.
Some short trails around the falls. Hard to get good lighting as the best place to be is on the South side of the falls. Early morning is the time I like best as there are not that many people there yet.
South of Jasper, 52°41'48.6"N 117°54'09.9"W. Great Spot for reflections. Some times of the year before sunset gives some good light.
Marmot Basin Road.
Good spot for animals in the morning and evening
Old Fort Point
52.871234, -118.062545. Nice for a Morning/Evening walk. Also a good spot to photograph Pyramid mountain. Use the river, water or not, to lead the eye into the scene.
Patricia Lake and Pyramid Lake
Good reflections and a very peaceful place to stroll.
Celestine Lake Road
53°04'38.4"N 118°05'32.0"W “If it is open” is a good place for valley fall colour pictures with the mountains in the background.
Maligne Canyon is always a good hike for the mid day.
The road between Medicine Lake and Maligne Lake has some good areas to photograph the river and work on some slow shutter speed shots.
Maligne Lake has some nice trails on both sides of the lake at the parking lot and if you want, and it is running, there is the boat tour to the South end of the lake.
Ice Fields Parkway
The area along the Ice Fields parkway around 52.595570, -117.805270 is a good area for Mountain Goat. Check the cliffs by the river as the Goats use this is a mineral lick. I talked with one gentleman that got pictures of a cougar killing a young goat in this area. Sorry can’t guarantee this. ;-)))
Miette Hot Springs
The Road into Miette Hot Springs is a good place for animals in the early morning and evening. The springs are a good soak if they are open.
(Closed right now) is an Elk Rutting area. The males can be VERY aggressive at this time of the year and I saw one attack a Grey Hound bus, as well as charging a number of people. Not an animal that you want to take lightly.
Jasper Park Lodge
The roads and trail in the Jasper Park lodge are nice and the Annette Lake trail is a good trail with some good vistas.
Remember that most of the Fall Colours will be in the valley bottoms; Aspen’s, and in the High Country; Alpine Larches. The willow bushes will also give a good amount of colour.