Bad weather can lead to great sunsets. It was rainy day with a leaden gray sky when I picked up my coat, photo backpack and tripod to leave the “fireplace room” at the bed and breakfast in Banff. Some of the other guests asked if I really expected to get any good pictures in the bad weather. “I hope so!”
It didn’t look promising, and I was tempted to stay there by the fire and read, but Banff National Park was waiting. It takes great clouds to create a great sunset and I certainly had a lot of clouds, too many in fact. But I’ve watched the storm clouds begin to break up right at sunset a number of times in Rocky Mountain National Park. I remembered an article about a bunch of photographers who decided not to go out and shoot on a gray, rainy day. The one photographer who drove up into Glacier National Park got the photo of the week as the clouds parted just enough to provide beautiful light.
I arrived long before sunset at Vermilion Lakes and picked my location. As I sat in my car watching the clouds through the raindrops on my windshield, other photographers and tourists came and went. Eventually, everyone was gone except me and one other photographer. The rain turned to drizzle and finally stopped. According to The Photographer’s Ephemeris, one of my favorite iPhone apps, the sun had set.
Then the clouds started to beak up and wonderful light climbed the slope of Mount Rundle. As the light faded from Mount Rundle, wonderful things were happening in the clouds to the west. I turned my camera around, metered carefully, and started capturing images in the beautiful light. It didn’t last long.
I spent four evenings at Vermilion Lakes and this one was by far the best. An unlikely evening turned into a beautiful sunset. I ordered a 20×30 inch print of this photo and it arrived yesterday. I can’t wait to mat and frame it.
Exposure Data: Canon 5D Mark III. Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 lens set at 24mm. Aperture: f/11, shutter: 0.4 second, ISO 100.
Information on the exact location for this photo is in this post.
Banff National Park – The official site of Parks Canada.
Banff National Park by Darwin Wiggett – The best guide to photo locations in Banff National Park. It is a $10 (CAD) downloadable eBook. It was a better guide to locations than any other source I could find. Darwin also has guides to other National Parks in Canada.
The Photographer’s Ephemeris – the best computer software and iPhone app for determining where and when the sun will rise and set at the location of your choice on the dates of your choosing. You can save your favorite locations for instant reference. For the best maps on The Photographer’s Ephemeris (“TPE”), I recommend you DO NOT UPGRADE to iOS6. TPE uses whatever mapping program you have on your iPhone. The Apple Maps that comes with IOS6 are pathetic in comparison to Google Maps which came with prior versions of iOS. Apple Maps is so bad that Tim Cook issued an apology for Apple Maps.
Two Bed and Breakfasts I recommend if you stay in the Town of Banff:
At Wit’s End B&B – At Wit’s End is smaller, more like staying in a home, and more flexible in terms of time. The owner got up before 6 am to make sure I had a hot breakfast before I left early to chase sunrises. And she left a fresh fruit and yogurt parfait in the fridge. Cereal, fruit, and muffins are out all the time. Juice is always in the fridge. Tell April and Peter I sent you!
Banff Boutique B&B – Banff Boutique is bigger and fancier, more like a hotel, but breakfast was set at 8:00 – 9:30 am. If you head out early to take pictures, there are fix-in’s for cereal and bread on your own.
Hospitality was excellent at both places.