Glacier Park Photographer

Glacier Park Photographer
Chief Mountain, Fall Colors - © tonybynum.com

Monday, April 5, 2010

Spring Arrives In Glacier National Park, Two Med Open to the Falls . . .

Spring is no doubt in the air! One minute snow, the next rain and all of it sideways! It is astonishing though that the snow in my yard is all gone by April 4th; I think that’s a record! So what does it all mean, and why am I telling you this? It means get outside and enjoy it before someone notices and turns on the snow machine for a week! Just a couple days ago the clouds built up over the plains out near Cut Bank, and a thunder storm developed. The rapid changes in the weather though make for some dramatic and interesting photography opportunities.

On Friday night April 2, as it was snowing on the top of Summit Mountain and falling on East Glacier, I planned to shoot the sunrise on Saint Mary’s Lake the following morning, a favorite location for photographers and one of the most recognizable images of any national park. It’s an “iconic” image made famous by – I don’t know who - but everyone who comes here wants the shot and who would blame them?

An average (typical) Iconic Shot of Wild Goose Island, Glacier National Park, MT


It’s early o’clock on Saturday morning and I woke about ½ hour before my alarm went off. I don’t sleep very well the night before a fun shoot is planned. I’m to anxious and just always want the sun to come up. I loaded up the rig and left at 5am. The drive from East Glacier to Saint Mary’s takes usually about 50 minutes but not on this day. . .

It was snowing lightly when I left town, but that soon it changed to a complete white-out blizzard starting along the Milk River and lasting clear across the pass at Divide Mountain. On top, the road narrowed to less than a lane I and had to stop a few times, the road was getting lost to snow drifts  – it’s not very well marked up there so it’s hard to see the edges when the wind is blowing the snow at 50 MPH.

Took this shot before I encountered the Blizzard on Divide. This is near Cutbank Creek on Hwy 89.

Anyhow, I finally arrived at my destination and spent the next 5 hours waiting for the weather to break; it never did, so I returned home around noon.

That reminds me, one spring I made 23 trips in a row from Browning to shoot Wild Goose Island; I kept going till I finally got the shot I wanted. . . So, just like I did that year, I returned the next day, after getting skunked on Saturday. The difference between then and this year is it’s much earlier in the season this year, so the Sun Road is still closed; I walked from Rising Sun to a suitable shooting location along the lake – which means you have to add some time to the trip . . . it’s more rewarding in my view to put down some boot rubber before you shoot . . .

So Easter arrived and it was blustery and lightly snowing in East Glacier but on that morning I could see stars and the moon – that was good enough for me . . . I arrived about an hour before shooting light, got all my gear together and headed into the huge winds and blowing snow for my Easter encounter with Saint Mary’s Lake and Wild Goose Island . . .

Shooting Data: 14mm, 1/6th@f22, iso 100, 14 bit, raw, polarizer, Kaiser Ballhead, Gitzo g-loc tripod and a 30 lb pack hanging from the center post for stability.


Persistence pays off. Stay at it, work hard and keep shooting. Oh yea, don’t forget the bear spray, the grizzly bears are active. . . and the Two Medicine Road is open to Running Eagle Falls. Have fun till next time . . .

Tony
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