Kananaskis Country with Luke Austin (Sunrise at Spillway Lake)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The weekend of September 25-26, I met up with fellow photographer Luke Austin to shoot somewhere in the Alberta Rockies. It was his last week in Canada and I was itching to shoot fall colors in the mountains so we decided to meet up in the Banff area. I tried leaving Edmonton early enough on the Friday so I could get to the Rockies by the time sunset was going to happen. After a few difficulties along the way,  I finally approached Canmore and realized there wasn’t going to be much of a sunset. Even if there was one, I would have been late. We didn’t really have a plan on where we were going to be shooting, but somehow we decided on Kananaskis Country. I think it was a combination of I had never been there, and I was right close to that area already. I had also researched a few “hot spots” along Highway 40 on my drive that seemed rather interesting. So we met up at the casino at the intersection of Highway 40 and the Trans Canada and proceeded to drive to Wedge Pond. That is where we set up camp for the night in our cars. Luke had the luxury of a van with the backseats taken out so his sleep was probably a lot more comfortable than mine. My “bed” consisted of folding my smaller backseat down (so I wouldn’t roll around too much) and setting my sleeping pad down with my sleeping bag. It wasn’t to bad. Roxy was along again and she seemed to like crawling into the trunk and sleeping by my feet, almost locking me in place. Surprisingly, I slept really well.

We woke up at 6:15am or so, about 3/4 of an hour before the sun was to come up, and the clouds in the east were already lighting up. There were no clouds out to the west in the direction we wanted to shoot so we decided to switch up our location so we could shoot towards the sunrise and colored clouds. A 20 minute drive took us to Spillway Lake. As soon as we got there the process of finding a suitable composition started. I was testing out gear borrowed from Klyment Tan and I had found a composition set up for the Nikon D3 and 24-70 lens. Turns out the plate that was attached on the D3 didn’t fit the tripod I was using and it had an allen key screw holding it to the camera. I did not have an allen key with me. That meant I had to use my D300s and setting up your camera while the light is going crazy around you is not fun. So I didn’t quite have the composition I wanted but I captured this photo.

Moral of the story is, make sure all your gear is ready to go and you double check everything before shooting! A little double check before would have saved me a lot of running around and missed shots. It’s funny how I’ve been taking photos for 3 years now and I still forget certain things.

This photo was taken where Luke had spent most of his time shooting, and I’m sure he didn’t have the problems I did. It will be interesting to see the difference between our photos.

“Spillway Lake Inlet Stream” Kananaskis Country, Alberta

Buy the print here.


  1. Luke Austin says:

    Mate both killer images, I particularly love the second image. You really managed to bring out all the colour that was there.
    The sunrises over those couple of days were out of control!

  2. Mike Isaak says:

    Thanks dude!
    And ya they sure were. I don’t think I have anything worthy of posting from that sunrise at Wedge Pond though. Interested to see what you came away with though.

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