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An intimate landscape photograph of Takakkaw Falls in British Columbia

Fluid – 2021

During the summer of 2021, we took a family camping trip to the Canadian Rockies. For the first time in years, I went without many landscape photography expectations. It was a good thing; smoke from the nearby wildfires in BC enveloped much of the mountain ranges around Banff National Park, all but eliminating the grand landscape.

Before the trip, I had enjoyed a few photos of different waterfalls captured with a fast shutter speed that freezes the motion of water. I had planned to try some of this intimate landscape photography with a fast shutter at a few different waterfalls during the trip. After a few unsuccessful practice rounds at various waterfalls in the Rockies, I succeeded with this photo at the always-powerful Takakkaw Falls in Yoho National Park.

Takakkaw Falls is the second-highest waterfall in Canada with an astonishing total height of 373 meters. So much water comes over the falls in the summer that it creates its own atmosphere. You’ll hear it before you see it, the spray will hit you nearly a kilometre from its base, temperatures drop 15-20 degrees Celcius at its base; it’s one of Canada’s most awe-inspiring natural wonders.

This summer in particular, waterflow seemed higher than usual. A hotter than normal temperature trend had led to faster melting of the glacier at the top of the falls, bringing enormous volumes of water down the rock face. This presented a challenge for this photograph. In many attempts before and after this one, the cliff face disappeared behind a wall of water. The photo above was the only exposure out of several hundred where the texture, flow, and light were just right.

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