Day 5/21

Time to Think

I start a long drive from Jasper in the direction of Wells Gray Provincial Park.

Waterfalls are best photographed under a thick cloud layer, because the light is then distributed evenly. Today, there is a clear blue sky and I will also arrive at these waterfalls in the worst possible moment of the day, around noon. Under a bright sky, light emitted from the falling water is many times brighter than that of its surroundings, making good photography far more difficult. Additionaly, the slow shutterspeeds, required for the smoke effect are impossible to reach without special equipment.

While driving, my minds comes up with a total new approach to waterfall photography under a clear blue sky and I have strong intentions to put that into practice. First I photograph the background of the waterfall in HDR mode (multiple lightings) using very short shutter speeds. This in order to make sure that as little water as possible flows over the image. After that, I darken the lens 64 times with a neutral density filter to be able to use a slow shutterspeed for the water. This time I only focus on the water and do not care for the surroundings at all. The best parts of both images will be combined in the digital darkroom later. I am very curious how this will work out.

Wells Gray Waterfalls

Wells Gray Provincial Park is loaded with bears. There are so many of them, that they walk through the city streets. According to the park ranger it is too warm today for the bears to show themselves. I drive into the park for 45 kilometers and visit three waterfalls. The park has a stunning 250 different waterfalls, but most of them require a firm bush walk to reach. The three I have seen, are very easy to visit and require only a short walk from the parking lot.

Dawson Falls, also known as Little Niagara Falls, is the first one encountered. This waterfall is photographed with the new approach and I am quite happy with the result. The new technique pays really of as such a photograph is impossible to shoot with a single shot.

HDR impression of Dawson Falls during midday in spring, Wells Gray Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada.

A more intimate perspective reveals the soft patterns in the water.

HDR impression of Dawson Falls during midday in spring, Wells Gray Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada.

The next waterfall is Helmcken Falls, with a large cave surrounding the water.

HDR impression of Helmcken Falls during midday in spring, Wells Gray Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada.

From farther away, it’s surroundings come into view.

HDR impression of Helmcken Falls during midday in spring, Wells Gray Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada.

The last one to visit is Spahat Falls, which is very difficult to photograph due to the huge contrast differences.

HDR impression of Spahat Falls during midday in spring, Wells Gray Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada.

How to choose between Palouse, Yellowstone and Yoho

Now I have a serious choice to make. Palouse near Spokane, Washington is high on the wish list but requires another 800 kilometers of driving. Yellowstone National Park is even worse and requires 1600 kilometers of driving from here. Palouse is possible but I have already been driving for 5 hours today and do not want to add substantially to that. Suddenly a third alternative comes to mind. Driving back to the north-east in the direction of Mount Revelstoke National Park and Glacier National Park.

Mount Revelstoke National Park will most probably, still be covered with snow right now. You really have to visit during mid-summer here to see the world famous wild flowers. This is definitely on my list for a future visit. If I drive to Mount Revelstoke National Park I will be very close to Yoho National Park and there are most definitely some things to see. Furthermore, I will be very close again to Lake Louise, Banff and even the Icefields Parkway.

I think about letting go of Palouse, because it is a bit too far away from everything. Even from Yellowstone National Park it is a drive of 800 kilometers and back. I even play with the thought of skipping Yellowstone National Park, but I am still not so sure about that. I really would like to go there, because there are so many photogenic subjects out there. It would be very nice to see all that again. No, when I think about it again, I am sure, I just have to go there.

Mount Revelstoke National Park

Finally, ending up in Mount Revelstoke National Park, I realise that I have driven close to 800 kilometers today. This was not completely my intention, but it just happened. Despite the fact that you know, that distances are much farther then they seem, you keep getting surprised every time.

New Destinations Arising

This morning I bought a little book in a bookstore in Jasper: How To Photograph The Canadian Rockies.

It has been written by a photographer who has obviously a lot of experience in this area. The book explores many places I did not even know about. I might decide to stay a couple of days longer in Canada after all. Something that might be interesting as well is the Drumheller area. Lots of dino skeletons have been excavated here and there are two musea where these are exhibited. This requires also a couple of hundred kilometers of driving twice, but it really attracts me. There are so many choices to be made. At the moment I do not know what direction all this is going, but the plan will enfold itself, as it always does…

Maps, Charts & Downloads

GPS Map with color coded altitude information

Color coded distance/altitude chart

Color coded distance/altitude chart, Canada Spring 2010, Day 5

Download the original gpx file here.