Last Thursday a friend and I drove out to the Lake Louise area to shoot some stars and get in some amazing views of the world-famous ten peaks of Moraine Lake. After making it to Castle Mt. Wilderness Hostel in just about 4 hours from Edmonton, we quickly got some dinner and headed out to the Moraine Lake Parking Lot, where we met another photographer from Calgary. It is the craziest Parking Lot in the Canadian Rockies I guess, not a lot of space and cars flanking the side of the road even 1km before the actual parking area. When we started our hike up into Larch Valley it was 7.15pm and the sun was about to set at 9.27pm that evening. The trail was uphill all the time, but not too steep, being fit and enthusiastic to see what we were up to, we made it in 1h to Minnestimma Lake, where we set up to shoot the sunset.
A Hoary Marmot was greating us with some nice screams and let us know all night, that we were in HIS backyard. Sadly clouds had already disappeared and a lonely bird was swimming in the water, crashing the perfect reflection, but the ND filters helped to flatten things. Well once we set up, the light began to transition quickly from gold, to orange ad eventually to an intense red on some of the ten peaks and we got away with some amzing shots. Especially at the back end of the lake some rock formations are ideal to incorporate into the foreground. With no clouds it was all about mountains and reflections. But the clear skies were a good omen for what was about to be our main objective: the Milky Way. But in the time between sunset and true darkness we decided to head up to Sentinel Pass and have a look over Paradise Valley and the “Sentinel” a monolith towering over the valley. The Valley is quite impressive and my friend Tobi was trying some poses to but the shear size of the rocks and the surrounding mountains into perspective. On our way back the first stars were appearing and we needed our head lamps to stay on the trail. I set up my camera at one of the switchbacks, realizing that it would be cool to see my to friends’ light trails heading down the mountain. I shot 6 long exposures, capturing their light and waited another 5 minutes to get the shot I would use as a base exposure. Back home I put it all together in PS and you see the result here. Not too bad I guess.
Back at the lake the Milky Way became more and more visible and we got some cool reflection shots in. At about midnight I pointed the camera to the north to see whether the aurora was out, and no kidding, a tiny green band was playing over Sentinel Pass. At around 12.30am we packed our stuff and headed back, well only to stop after 10 minutes, as we found a big rock, which we decided was a perfect podest to get a hero-shot. This took us another 20 minutes and by the way we were done it was 1.05am. The way back was some kind of creepy, every single rumble in the bushes let us freak out about a possible bear encounter, but we made it back safely! Happy and exhausted, we said good bye to Mike and headed back to our hostel, stopped briefly at Castle Mt. and then slept for 2h. Well sunrises are early this time of the year ;-)
Read about the stories behind the pictures.