Moraine Lake – The Way It Used to Be

A couple of days ago, when plans to attempt a climb of Mount Columbia fell through due to a poor weather forecast, I decided to ski the 14 km up to famous Moraine Lake to spend a night there before the forecasted low-pressure system moved in. I met two porcupines on the way up and arrived at the deserted lake around sunset. What a thrill to experience Moraine Lake without the crowds, lights or noises. As I set up the tent (as a photo prop rather than a shelter since I did not end up sleeping). I noticed the clouds were moving in quickly, dashing my hopes of a clear, starry night out. I spent a considerable amount of time looking around the Rockpile for a suitable place to set up the time-lapse hardware and just as I was about to retreat to the tent for some reading, the clouds suddenly ripped open to reveal stars against a dark blue sky. The remaining shreds of clouds lingered for some time, leading to a very dramatic scene. I had just enough time before the moon disappeared below the west skyline to get a few shots of the “classic lit up tent” variety. Once I felt good about what I had I used up the remaining moonlight to do some basic light painting. As I stood alone under the stars and in the shadow of the Ten Peaks, the first thing that came to my mind was how much I love this country and being able to live in close proximity to wild spaces. I left the lake as soon as my headlamp was no longer necessary and skied back down to Lake Louise in the morning twilight.

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15 Responses to “Moraine Lake – The Way It Used to Be”

  1. heybrowatchthis

    Nice photos mate. How long exposure for the star streaks? low ISO? I’ll rephrase, what settings did you use for that picture? I’m hoping to do some more Astro stuff next week.

  2. Paul Zizka

    Thanks for your comments everyone. @heybrowatchthis Had to go with a high ISO for the star trail shot since the moon had set by then. 30 minutes’ worth of exposure at ISO 2500, f/4.0.

    • heybrowatchthis

      Thanks for the reply… ok, so I’ve been told you layer shots on top of one another to get the streak effect… is that how you do it or is it just one 30 min exposure? I’d expect it to be so blown out at 30 min with high ISO, so i’m guessing multiple shots layered in photoshop??

        • Paul Zizka

          The standard way to do star trails now (especially at such a high ISO) is to layer a large number of shorter exposures. That is what I did here, so that the noise could be kept to a minimum. That method also has the advantage that if something unexpected happens (battery failure, stray light, sudden change in weather, lens icing up, etc.) you at least have something to work with.

  3. Chandresh Patel

    Moraine lake is my favourite place in rockies….but never seen under such beautiful starry night and without the crowds…

    • Paul Zizka

      It is truly a different experience. You can also bike in just before or after the road opens if you want to check it out without everyone else around. 🙂

    • Paul Zizka

      Thank you so much for your ongoing support Frank.

    • Paul Zizka

      Thanks Nick. A lot of luck involved. I hope you can make it back out this way occasionally!


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