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Moraine Logging

If you've been to Banff and Lake Louise before, you'll probably be familiar with the drive to Lake Louise.  At one point during the drive, the road bifurcates - one of the two paths leads to Lake Louise, and the other Moraine Lake.  Sylvia was quite excited to head to Moraine Lake, and initially, I didn't share her enthusiasm.  I had never even heard of Moraine Lake until then, despite the fact it graced the back of our $20 bill until a recent redesign.  Suffice it to say, I was flabbergasted when I finally saw the view - it is, in my humble opinion, unquestionably the most beautiful place in Canada.

There's a very short climb one can do to get a better vantage point, but being a photographer, one always tries to get an even better view, so I happily ignored the "do not cross" sign at the top of the climb, and scampered down some rocks to set up shop.

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That's a quick pano I did of Moraine Lake, and I think the haze due to the forest fire is pretty evident here.  Clearly this shot does not do the most beautiful place in Canada any justice, and although I'll talk about Moraine Lake again in a future post, none of the pictures I took during my stay in Banff really do.  Looking back, I can attribute the lack of awesomeness to two points - 1) Haze, 2) My standards of what makes an epic photograph.  I'll leave the discussion of standards for another post, but I just want to quickly highlight that it's important that as you get better as a photographer, that you update your own requirements for what makes a great picture.

After I was done my pano, we decided to take some shots of us messing around.  

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I'm sure our complete and utter disregard for safety here will disappoint parents around the world, but hey, Nolan held back and didn't do a split eagle =P  Anyways, there are two photographic reasons I posted the pic above.  First, see the rocky extension at the bottom of the photo?  That's where I took my pano from, and why that "do no cross" sign exists in the first place.  Secondly, you'll notice in the pic on the left, Nolan is pretty dark, although everything else seems to be exposed properly, and that in the pic on the right, he's exposed properly, but the background is a bit washed out.  For landscapes, you already know that I use HDR to fix this, but it's impossible to use HDR on moving subjects.  Most sane people would be happy with the shot on the right, but alas, my standards came into play, so I cracked out my SB-900 (Nikon's flash unit), had Sylvia hold it in position, and tried to create a better pic.

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Big difference, eh?  Nolan's perfectly exposed, and by changing the camera settings to have the background slightly underexposed, he actually has some "pop" that helps him stand out.  People have always questioned why I waste space in my bag by carrying a couple of flashes, but sometimes you just need them to create the right mood for a photo.

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Talking about mood, one can see why one's fashion choice also helps shape a picture - I'm sure if I was dressed more appropriately, this picture would be a lot cooler.  Instead it's just a cool picture of some dude with no fashion sense =P  

Anyways, we eventually trekked back down to lake level (Nolan took a shortcut that entailed a much steeper descent), and as Sylvia and I walked towards our meet-up spot, we noticed Nolan was goofing off again, although the setting itself was pretty nifty.

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I'm not quite sure why those logs were there, but I immediately hopped over to join Nolan to try and capture a picture of Moraine Lake from that vantage point.  I should actually be extremely thankful Nolan was there, as he held on to me as I was taking the picture - my sense of balance is pretty shoddy, and he probably saved me, and my equipment, from having a nice bath.  This HDR was the final picture I took of Moraine Lake that day, although we did come back again in the future, and I'll talk about that in a later post =)

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