Behind the Scene Winner • Scott Aspinall
Emerald Lake, Banff NP, Canada

It is a rarity in landscape photography when things go according to plan. That makes those times all that more special.

I had my 4-day Canadian Rockies winter trip all planned out. I knew what I would be doing when and what locations I wanted to visit. I didn’t knock on wood I guess because the weather had other plans for me. With a snow storm moving in the next day and promise of heavy cloud in Banff National Park, I decided to try for a sunrise photo shoot a bit closer to my place.

There have been millions of photos of Emerald Lake taken during blue hour after sunset, so I wasn’t keen to add my voice to the millions – after all, I certainly couldn’t get a better picture.

I decided to do a Google Image search on 'Emerald Lake Sunrise' and see how the light hit the peaks behind the restaurant. I could only find a handful of images captured during sunrise, but it confirmed in my mind how the light ‘should’ hit. Next, I took a closer look at the cloud forecast. It looked like there was going to be low cloud to the East in Banff National Park with an opening between 8-9 am, near Emerald Lake.

It looked like it might be promising. No crowds and the possibility of good light in an epic location? When I awoke the next morning things looked grim. I drove through a snow storm all the way to Emerald Lake. Upon arrival there was almost zero visibility of the lodge, let alone the peaks behind. I decided to trust my gut, the research on the direction of the light, the cloud forecast and wait it out. I stood in this spot by myself waiting for the light to arrive for 2 ½ hours. The clouds began to thin out and there was no other soul near me when the light broke through. This is an experience I will never forget.

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Lee Filters