I took this black-and-white on a shooting marathon at Mount Assiniboine a few years ago. I only had two nights in the area and the conditions were so good I went without sleep to make the most of the opportunity. I went everything over those 48 hours: in thunderstorms, fresh snow, aurora borealis, inversions, fogbows, you name it. And it was late September, that time of year when the larches are glowing gold – arguably the best time of year for photography in Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park.
After a night shooting the northern lights and running around to try to find breaks in the cloud cover, I finally decided to return to the Naiset Huts to catch a nap since I could no longer escape the clouds. Just as I was about the enter the cabin (which was already nearly full of fast-asleep people), I spotted a few stars glowing above the mountains. No rest for the wicked! I realized the clouds were an inversion and that a sunrise at the Nub (a nearby spot which is the most photographed backcountry location in the Canadian Rockies) could offer great potential.
As I made my way past Assiniboine Lodge, I did a double-take when I caught a glimpse of the pyramid of Mount Assiniboine floating in the dawn sky, all lit up in alpenglow. It was an absolutely incredible sight. I was pretty determined to get up to the Nub, but felt the scene that was immediately available guaranteed an image more unique than anything I could hope for at the popular vantage point higher up.
I set up the tripod, pulled out the long lens, and took a few frames of this scene, as the clouds were constantly swirling. This was my favourite one. The fog below kept the base of the mountain quite dark, while the alpenglow lit up its higher sections. The dark blue sky above bookended the composition, and made it look like the “Matterhorn of the Rockies” was doing a levitation act.
Shot with the Canon 5D Mark III and the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 IS lens, at ISO 400, 30 seconds, f/11. I often use this image in workshops as an example of the power of compressions and isolation of the long lens in landscape photography. I hope you like the image and the story!