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Every Man Should Paddle His Own Canoe


Morning light and autumnal reflections on Pyramid Lake, Jasper National Park - Alberta, Canada

Morning light and autumnal reflections on Pyramid Lake, Jasper National Park – Alberta, Canada

This photo is one of my favorite landscape shots that I’ve done to date. Technically speaking, this shot was difficult for me to pull off. I went to Patricia Lake for a sunrise shoot. After two hours of flat light and choppy water, I decided to move to Pyramid Lake where I found calm water just as the morning light began to light up the aspens on other side of the lake.

I setup my tripod inside this canoe, thinking that I’d get plenty of opportunities to experiment with different compositions; but every single movement I made caused ripples in the calm lake water, ruining the reflections. Then the wind started to pick up, sending ripples across the lake. So I sat inside this canoe and waited patiently for my shots as the morning light dappled in and out of the clouds. To get a good exposure was also a challenge. I stacked a two stops soft edge and a two stops hard edge Lee GND filter to keep the highlights in checked and to prevent the mountain details from getting lost in the shadows.

I love this shot not because of the technical challenges, but because how I felt so connected to this scene as I sat inside this canoe with my tripod and remote shuttle release cable. The wind was a blessing in disguise as it allowed me to contemplate about what I wanted my image to convey. Since I was in Canada, it’s fitting to quote Wayne Gretzky, “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.” In this shot, I aimed the canoe not at the light directly, but where I anticipated the light would be when I reached the other side of the lake. I’ve been paddling my own canoe since I was sixteen. Although my canoe might be old and leaky, it always takes me to where I want to go. Of course, I am speaking metaphorically. This canoe didn’t move at all during the time I sat in it, but it took me on a journey, a self-discovering journey that I will always remember.


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