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post #1 of (permalink) Old 08-04-2017, 06:09 PM Thread Starter
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Default Smoky Needle Peak Trail Photography

While most people see atmospheric haze due to smoke as a disadvantage when photographing landscapes, I see it as an opportunity. Due to the drifting smoke from wildfires, the haze has created challenges and unique circumstances in which to photograph. I was tiring of bright sunny days to hike and photograph because of the excessive contrast and I prefer some drama to my photos or soft lighting.
I headed up the Needle Peak trail for the third time this year because I also wanted to photograph a favorite area of mine and had to wait until the snow had melted somewhat. In addition, it's a good place to chill out on a hot day. I had an early 5:30 am start up the trail and the smoke was thick in the air. I knew that the sun would rise as an orange fiery ball which the camera sensor failed to capture properly but the haze had created a nice sunrise. The smoke also created nice patterns in the sky which simulated clouds and also provided nice diffuse lighting which retained detail in the snow and granite boulders.
Later on in the morning, there was a nice breeze to thin the smoke out enough for blue sky to show in places but by that time, the sun was high in the sky and conditions not too favorable to photograph.
There are signs of glaciation; scoured bedrock, terminal and lateral moraine. That, plus the rockfall, has produced an area favorable for marmots, ptarmigans and black bear. Delicate flowers grow in patches amongst the fallen boulders. This is a sensitive area of grass, moss, heather and partridge-foot flowers so I don't visit often and has, so far, escaped the effects of erosion, litter and fire-pits that is prevalent along the main trail and Flatiron.
Because the area is north facing it gets a lot of shade so any snow melts slowly and into nice shapes and huge chunks. There is danger however as these gigantic chunks of snow can slide down the bedrock. I've seen this happen in the past as a huge chunk, twice the size of a Mini Cooper slide and crash into another.
Don't forgo a hike when atmospheric conditions are less ideal unless you have a respiratory illness such as asthma or COPD which can be exacerbated by smoke. Otherwise, it's nice to take photographs which doesn't involve nice sunny days all the time.
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martin, danielj, J.Seidl and 1 others like this.
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post #2 of (permalink) Old 08-04-2017, 10:33 PM
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Spectacular photos; couple with snow blocks look surreal!

While I see your point, I tend to digress a bit with "I was tiring of bright sunny days to hike and photograph because of the excessive contrast and I prefer some drama to my photos or soft lighting."

Most of the time I still prefer crisp days with lots of contrast. I.e yesterday on Wapta trip I know I'd have come with some spectacular shots -- deep blue sky against the white of glaciers and emerald green of glacial lakes; but all I got was very dirty haze. Maybe it is question of editing to bring out certain things, but I just don't have patience because I know I can't get what I want from the scene.
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post #3 of (permalink) Old 08-04-2017, 11:02 PM
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Great shots! The snow does look quite dramatic. What focal length lens are you using? Looks wide in some shots. I've recently acquired a camera and still only have an 18-55mm kit lens on a cannon aps-c sensor.

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post #4 of (permalink) Old 08-04-2017, 11:38 PM Thread Starter
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zeljkok; I would agree that glaciers would look more dramatic against a blue sky because of the contrast.

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Originally Posted by J.Seidl View Post
What focal length lens are you using? Looks wide in some shots. I've recently acquired a camera and still only have an 18-55mm kit lens on a cannon aps-c sensor.
I used a 15 mm fish-eye on a full-frame FX camera; there is some distortion which I corrected. Don't discount a 18-55mm lens as it's a good lens to start out with. What I also learned about landscape photography is that longer focal length isolates subjects and can produce some dramatic shots.
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post #5 of (permalink) Old 08-05-2017, 02:37 PM
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"smoky Pictures" (for lack of better term) is interesting discussion. Here's one from my Wapta trip I actually like:


[Illegal "Tent City" above ACC Bow Hut. Smoke + sun reflections off the rocky landscape]
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post #6 of (permalink) Old 08-05-2017, 02:58 PM
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1 more to illustrate "smoky photo" point:

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Rocky Mountaineer train on Railway Crossing in Canmore. Now picture is poor on pixel level (1/15 sec with point and shoot pocket camera on a moving target!), but I thought the sky / train smoke looks pretty neat & wished I was prepared. Unfortunately You never know when these trains are going to pass through
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post #7 of (permalink) Old 08-05-2017, 03:18 PM Thread Starter
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Those are great photos zeljkok.
As I mentioned, I always prefer some 'drama' to my photos due to environmental causes whether storms or atmospheric conditions that's why I find sunny days boring.
Thunderstorm; Strathcona Park.
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post #8 of (permalink) Old 08-08-2017, 07:34 PM
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The conditions were so bad yesterday, that my camera never came out, and I just took a couple shots with my phone to prove I was there. Your snow chunk pictures and meadow of Partridge foot are keepers for sure. Have you moved back to the mainland, or just like the Needle trail that much?
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post #9 of (permalink) Old 08-08-2017, 10:05 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Elkaholic View Post
Have you moved back to the mainland, or just like the Needle trail that much?
I have moved back to the lower mainland....traffic here kills me.... I prefer smaller towns but have friends here. However, I find there are more hiking opportunities here. A few weeks back I tried to find the entry point to the Baldwin Lakes trail at the marsh that you created but without any luck. Just wondering if you have been up that way or if the trail has gone into disrepair.
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post #10 of (permalink) Old 08-09-2017, 09:15 PM
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One of the only thing that keeps me sane are my hiking trips. We are lucky enough to live in Popkum, which is a small town, but the rest of the area is getting over-run. I'll send you a PM with the details about the trail.
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post #11 of (permalink) Old 08-09-2017, 10:30 PM
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Stunning photos. Well worth the time and effort, I'd say!
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