Springtime Mountain Light

Mar 29, 2024 | Landscapes | 0 comments

Commonwealth Creek and Commonwealth Peak (right), Mt Murray (left)
62mm | 30s | f/8 | ISO 64

It’s been a bit since I’ve ventured out to the mountains. Sadly, I don’t get out that way as often as I used to due to the rising cost of fuel and inflation. I can see the mountains from my hometown, but to travel to them is a 4-5 hour round trip. With the mountains calling my name, I started pondering a location to go and photograph this early spring. This led me to look back though my photo catalog for locations that I would like to revisit. I then stumbled upon a group of photos from the end of May 2021 that I had never processed.

As any other day trip to the mountains, it begins with a 2-hour drive to Canmore, Alberta. The primary purpose of this trip was to head to the north end of Spray Lakes to photograph the tree stumps in the cracked earth that are only visible in the spring due to the low water levels in the reservoir.

14mm | 1/100s | f/14 | ISO 64

24mm | 1/40s | f/8 | ISO 64

14mm | 1/50s | f/14 | ISO 64

130mm | 102.4s | f/11 | ISO 64

With the evening still young after exploring and photographing the dried-up reservoir, I continued south from Canmore along the gravel Spray Lake Road. There are many great spots along this lake shore road for exploring and photography, but I continued past some of my previous spots in search of some new locations.

I went to Buller Mountain Day Use area, which I had never stopped at in the past and had a look around. The small lake or pond was quite calm, and a peaceful evening was unfolding. The following are my favourite photos from here.

Buller Pond, with a line up of beautiful snow capped peaks
(left to right) Mt Burstall, Commonwealth Peak, Mt Birdwood, The Fist
70mm | 1/80s | f/11 | ISO 64

Buller Pond and creek from the edge of the main road.  Looking west.
(Left) Mt Shark, (Center) Mt Morison & Mt Turner, (center right in the distance) Mt Assiniboine, (right) Cone Mountain.
24mm | 10s | f/11 | ISO 64

The famous Mount Assiniboine with its peak hidden in the clouds.
300mm | 1/1000s | f/5.6 | ISO 100

Mount Assiniboine is 3618 meters and is is the highest peak in the Southern Continental Ranges of the Canadian Rockies. It has been unofficially named the “Matterhorn” of North America due to it’s similar pyramidal shape.

Buller Pond looking towards the setting sun to the west.
(Left) Mt Morison & Mt Turner, (right in the distance) Mt Assiniboine
62mm | 10s | f/11 | ISO 100

A little further down the road I stopped along the edge of Commonwealth creek and took some long exposure (30 seconds) images of the creak and snowcapped mountains (see first image for this posting). This gave the creak a nice smooth texture.

Driving further south along the road I stopped at Mud Lake, which is a great spot for snowshoeing in the winter. Today I really wished I had my snowshoes along as the area still had a good amount of snow in spots, which made hiking to the edge of the lake a challenge. By the time I found a spot with a view, the sun was well below the horizon and casting some beautiful colours.

Mud Lake and Mt Turbulent
150mm | 630s | f/8 | ISO 64

The image of Mud Lake is a composite of 24 photos stacked together. Each photo’s exposure was 30 seconds. When stacked in post processing, it gives a combine exposure length of 10 minutes. The reason to do a long exposure at sunset is to capture the shifting colours over the longer time frame. As the clouds move and colours shift across the sky, the longer exposure captures the colours and displays them all at once.

After leaving Mud Lake, I came across a moose, but failed to get a good photo.

As I came to the north end of Lower Kananaskis Lake, there is a lovely lake just off the side of the road here. I’ve often stopped here for photos in the past. Arriving here during the blue hour after sunset, I found some beautiful reflections and purple colours kissing the mountain peaks.

Reflections in Spillway Lake with (left) Elpoca Mountain, (center) Gap Mountain, (right) Mt Roberta & Mt Pocaterra
50mm | 6s | f/8 | ISO 250

Now that the light was pretty much gone, it was time to drive the 2 hours back home. The drive home gave me time to reflect on the wonderful evening out in nature and enjoy some landscape photography. Years later in putting this blog post together, the images transport me back in time to this wonderful springtime outing. Hope you enjoyed the photos and stories.

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