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Castle Mountain towers over the Trans-Canada Highway in the Canadian Rockies, drawing the attention of landscape photographers, including myself. I first photographed it in 2019 and got some of the best sunrise light I’ve ever witnessed in Banff National Park on this mountain in 2020. However, I’ve never been a fan of the compositional opportunities from the typical roadside location. Foreground opportunities are limited, and every photo has the same line of imposing trees blocking part of the mountain. These trees and the river both run horizontally, resulting in tension in the visual flow of photos of this mountain.
I explored Google Earth to try and find something different than I had seen of this mountain before and found sections of Bow River that led to Castle Mountain, one in particular where the tree line appeared to open up to the mountain. In 2021 I first snowshoed into this area to scout with Bryce Mironuk, shooting sunset there. However, we didn’t get the light we wanted. In 2022, Eric Theissen, Andrew Morse, and I snowshoed in one morning and missed on great light.
This winter (January 2023), I really wanted to finally get an image that did this place justice. So, Andrew and I snowshoed in three separate times, getting skunked on our first two trips. On our last morning in Banff, the forecast looked as questionable as it had been all week. We decided to give this location one last try anyways. We set up our compositions from the day before, and as we waited, the clouds above the mountain began to get brushed with red pre-dawn light. But it ultimately receded as the sun rose blocked by clouds. It appeared as if we would miss on good morning light here again. As I stood waist-deep in a freezing river, having already dropped my polarizer into the frigid water, I felt pretty discouraged. But then, the sky became warm in the west, the light broke through, and after three years of trying, I finally came home with an image from this area that I feel does it justice.
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