When discussing my photography with people and displaying my images, I often find there is a bit of a misconception about the effort that is required to pull off a successful image. The first great misconception is that the camera that I am using somehow grants me the ability to capture dynamic images. While I take pride in the fact that I am able to use state of the art technology and optics to help render my vision, I can only hope that is my vision that is being represented through my images, not the technology that I am using to record it.
The second misconception is that photographers just show up at beautiful locations, slap the camera on a tripod, click away and viola!. Here you have a beautiful fine art image ready to be printed, displayed and sold. Photographers understand that this is certainly not the case. We often have to make multiple trips to locations under various conditions before we come away with images that we are happy with. In fact, many of us may visit locations numerous times and never come away with an image whatsoever. Furthermore, there is much more that goes into capturing a unique image of a locations than just arriving on site. We often have to put in lots of back end work studying maps, seasons and lighting of a given locations before we can begin to attempt to do justice to a scene photographically speaking. That’s not to say that serendipity does not sometimes work in the photographers favor. I myself have been lucky enough to show up on a location for the first time and capture and image worthy of being added to my gallery.
The Loch in Rocky Mountain National Park is one of these locations I have visited dozens of times over the last decade attempting to capture a successful photograph. I have been lucky on a few of those occasions, twice in fact, to walk away with an image that I think represents the feel and spirit of Loch Vale. Dozens of times, I have arrived at the Loch to find conditions that are less than optimal for photography. Of all the times I have visited the Loch, I have never found the main body of the large lake to be glass like at sunrise. This is a windy locations, and oftentimes the main body of water has white caps from the wind sweeping through and down Glacier Gorge. The few times I have found the entire lake to be smooth, the lighting has been poor or less than optimal.
I nearly had perfect conditions this week when I started the 2.9 mile hike to the Loch at 4:20 AM. The wind appeared calm as I departed the Glacier Gorge trailhead. I’ve been fooled a few times with what appear to be calm winds, only to get into the Gorge and find the winds howling. There were also some clouds floating above the peaks, remnants of thunderstorms from the night before. I arrived at the Loch about 15 minutes prior to sunrise. I could got not believe my eyes when I got to the shoreline. The entire lake was smooth as glass. The clouds I was hoping for had dissipated, but I would finally be able to get a shot of the entire body of water in total stillness. I setup my camera and tripod and with fingers crossed that the wind would not pick up at sunrise as is often the case. I watched the Cathedral wall light up with the first rays of sun. The Loch remained smooth as glass and I quickly went to work attempting to capture a scene I have spent the last 12 years attempting to capture. While I’m pleased with the images I captured this morning, I’ll need to keep trying to capture this scene with an even more dramatic sky. And so it goes for the photographer!.