Shooting for Success: Take a Hike!

Although sometimes it happens right out of the blue, it’s very rare to be driving along and come across the perfect photo op. I have found that the shots I am most enamored with are ones I had to do a little trekking to get. I don’t mean climbing Kilimanjaro or hiking through jungle up to Machu Picchu — though I would be glad to do those — I mean simply stepping off the beaten path and doing what most of the tourists (or residents!) won’t do.

To highlight what I mean, we’ll take a look at three particular images.

Orange Starfish
Low Tide for the Starfish

The first one is a starfish above a tidal pool. This shot was taken on Long Beach on the western shore of Vancouver Island. Most of the tourists who go there will wander up and down the beach and maybe stick their toe into the water to see if it’s as warm as the Pacific is down by San Diego (it’s not!).

What we did was walk out on the rocks and hike around, looking at the tidepools and trying to find the cool aquatic life we didn’t get back in Alberta or Ontario. This was shot hand-held, balanced between two boulders with 28-80 mm lens on about 50mm. Easy peasy.

Admittedly, not everyone is capable of scrambling over wet, barnacle-covered shoreline (ie small children or people with mobility challenges), but there are always ways to go beyond the beaten path and still be within our capabilities.

CPR Tracks Westbound
Heading out of Banff on the Rails. Copyright Tim Reynolds.

The second shot is my favourite perspective shot, taken where a hiking path not far from the Trans Canada Highway near Banff, Alberta, crosses the CPR tracks. These rails are historic in that it was the railway through the mountains which unified Canada and kept Vancouver from becoming part of the USA. Of course many Vancouveronians regret that move to this day, but they have the Olympics in a couple weeks so they can just shut up.

This rail shot was done on a tripod with a 28-80 mm zoom wide open at 28. The tripod was kept as low to the ground as possible and the aperature was at f32 for maximum depth of field. Believe it or not, I didn’t use a star filter for this shot. The effect you see with the sun is what happens to points of light when you get into the high aperatures.

By picking the angle I did I was able to get some of the sun reflecting off the rails and adding highlights to the image. It’s not a perfect shot (there’s some interference from a less-than-spotless filter) but that’s what Photoshop is for, I suppose.

Near Ross Lake, Banff/Yoho National Parks
Minnawakun Falls... down the path from where I lived. Copyright Tim Reynolds.

The last shot you might recognize from the blog back on January 11th about capturing motion in a still photograph. This waterfall was a half-hour hike along a relatively flat path which started at the back door of the staff residence I lived in in Lake Louise. The trail was so wide and flat that a parent could easily push a large-tired stroller along it until you reached the point where the trail crossed the creek and it became necessary to use the man-made stepping stones. The good news is that the path-blocking creek is where this waterfall is.

I lived there for eight years and only went down that trail twice! That’s unforgiveable, but it’s still better than the tens-of-thousands of people each year who go to Lake Louise and never discover this beauty within walking distance of a parking lot and a 500-room hotel.

They say that of the 4 million visitors who go to Banff National Park each year, 90% of them will go no further than 100 yards from the highway. How true that statistic is I have no idea, but having lived there for so long and seen how many people hop off a bus, snap a pic and hop back on a bus, it doesn’t surprise me at all. Be one of the 10%. Take a hike. Even a short one, and see what’s just around the corner, waiting for you and your camera.

That’s it for this week.

Ciao for now,




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