We were only going to be in Glacier National Park for four days and after three early mornings of cold overcast conditions, we were hoping for a break. Driving along one of the country’s most scenic roads with no more than a few cars length of visibility was frustrating to say the least. No verdant meadows, no streaming waterfalls, no dramatic peaks. These conditions made the pre-planned list of locations almost useless. But that’s half the fun, right?
The last day of our trip was forecasted for more of the same, only worse; completely overcast with fog and snow. I still wanted to give this one location a shot, but it meant climbing up a steep hillside, off trail, in the dark, in cold and wet conditions. Needless to say, my fellow photographers bailed out, choosing to forgo what seemed like a pointless venture for some extra sleep. So, I made the trip myself.
After thirty minutes or so I reached an area that called out to me, and set out along the ridge with tripod and camera in hand. My watch said 06:15, which meant it was just a few minutes before sunrise. You couldn’t tell though; besides a faint bluish glow, it felt more like armageddon than the dawning of a new day.
A shower cap kept the lens covered until right before the moment of capture, but it was only a couple of seconds before the exposed lens was covered in rain and snow. I clicked off a few different frames, refining the composition to focus more on the two gnarled trees. The light never did break through and I (and my gear) was soaked and chilled by the time I made my way back to the road.
In these adverse conditions I was able to make an image that challenged me mentally and physically as well as creatively. As landscape photographers we must be flexible and adaptable, as it is in these moments of challenge that we can truly flex our creative muscles.