The Perfect Light

Photographing Crowsnest Mountain & the Seven Sisters

Robert Appleby photographing Crowsnest Mountain & the Seven Sisters,
with his buddy, Tucker, at his side

Last weekend I had the opportunity to get out with a friend, and local photographer, Robert Appleby. We’ve known each other for quite a few years, but it was the first time we’ve been out shooting photos together.

Early Sunday morning we headed up McGillivray Ridge, near Coleman, to photograph Crowsnest Mountain and its spiny neighbor, Seven Sisters Mountain. We were hoping to experience one of those glorious sunrises that can sometimes happen around here this time of year, where mountain tops become lit up with pink or rose-colored light, called alpenglow. The spectacle only lasts a few minutes, so you have to be in the right place with your camera, at the right time. As soon as we reached the ridgetop, we received our first glimpse of what might occur.

It was a beautiful morning. The temperature was around -5 °C., and there was very little wind. Across the valley, the dark outlines of Crowsnest Mountain, Seven Sisters, and other nearby mountains could be seen. The sky above was filled with patches of clouds, drifting slowly from west to east. Stars twinkled up high and the moon was shining down on us. With each passing minute, the snow-covered mountain peaks, and the forests below, were becoming more discernible. It was 8:00 am and sunrise was close at hand. Robert and I kept turning to look behind us, in the direction where the sun would first appear. Would we, or would we not, receive the perfect light for our photos?

What we saw were continuous bands of dense clouds in the sky, stretching all the way to the eastern horizon. While we wanted some clouds over the mountains, it was simply too overcast in the eastern sky. We knew that chances were slim for the kind of light we were hoping for, but it was still going to be a great sunrise. As it turned out, the clouds did not dissipate in the east until after the sun had fully risen. It didn’t matter – we stayed and photographed, and had a good time, regardless.

Anytime you are able to visit a place like this at daybreak, whether or not you get the perfect light for pictures, it’s worth the effort. Even if it means getting out of bed at 5:00 am!

Crowsnest Mountain & The Seven Sisters

Crowsnest Mountain & The Seven Sisters

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