That one time when my feet were cold but the photos came out nice

Since I've been spending my time running around getting heavily sunburnt and wondering when the weather will be good enough for some serious exploring, I figured I would blog a little bit about one of my favorite shoots ever. 

Everyone knows about Moraine Lake. A jewel of the Rockies, the glacier-clad tarn sees hundreds of thousands of visitors every year, and even had it's place on some of our money. Millions of photos of it are taken every year, but I still wanted to bring my gear and try my hand at the famous Moraine Lake shot. 

The top results when you Google "Moraine Lake". The series of jagged peaks and the blue-green water are a staple of the place. While there obviously are a ton of ways you can shoot the lake, this particular angle captures the very essence of what makes the place unique. Hence why I wanted to give it a shot.

The top results when you Google "Moraine Lake". The series of jagged peaks and the blue-green water are a staple of the place. While there obviously are a ton of ways you can shoot the lake, this particular angle captures the very essence of what makes the place unique. Hence why I wanted to give it a shot.

I have 3 rules that guide my landscape photography:

  1. Find a different perspective. Either get closer to the ground, go way off the trail, or take to the airs, but simply standing up and snapping a photo from the trail never cuts it. A lot of people take their pro-level DSLR with them on trips only to return with a variety of bland, dull and unoriginal photos. Putting in the effort is half of a good photo.
  2. Get a nice sky. Landscape photography is unique in that it relies heavily on the weather. A cloudy, dramatic sky will drastically change the tone of your shot, even if the subject is still the same. It might require waiting around a lot longer than you were planning for, but the result is always worth it. 
  3. Get a nice foreground. That one has more to do with personal tastes. I find that a nice, sharp foreground makes for a much more interesting photo. Using a wide angle lens and tilting your camera down helps a ton, and contrasts nicely with all the background-focused shots out there.

I arrived at Moraine lake at around 7pm, when all the tour buses are long gone. Free from the hordes of tourists, I was able to pick any spot and start shooting. I obviously picked the freshest place to shoot from.

Rocks were jutting out of the water, which made for a perfect foreground. I dropped my tripods legs way lower and started shooting.

So fresh. That water was at -4 degrees Celsius. After about 5 minutes in it, you start feeling like Oscar Pistorius, except without all the murder.

So fresh. That water was at -4 degrees Celsius. After about 5 minutes in it, you start feeling like Oscar Pistorius, except without all the murder.

Sometimes trees also make for some good foreground. I highly recommend shooting later at night, when you start getting some interesting, sensor-driven patterns in the sky.

While this is very general advice and shouldn't be taken as gospel, I encourage everyone out there to try it! It's not because  spot has been shot to death that you can't make it your own. 

Those nice rocks made for some pretty good photos

For when the sky and the foreground don't cooperate: polarize it. Pebbles and a smooth surface can replace a complex foreground in a pinch.

For when the sky and the foreground don't cooperate: polarize it. Pebbles and a smooth surface can replace a complex foreground in a pinch.

Let me wrap up this post with a call to action: next time you use those basic principles of landscape, post it to Instagram and tag me! Let's talk tips and tricks to better landscape photos, and let's make our photos a little less boring.


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