Getting the Shot

Two Medicine Lake, Glacier National Park, Montana


This photo was taken along the shoreline of Two Medicine Lake in Glacier National Park. I hiked a trail along the lake and then bushwhacked for a while, trying to find a more unusual setting for the beautiful mountain across the lake. Along the way I encountered several clearings with ample presence of grizzly bear, so I was focused on making myself known by whistling familiar tunes as I sought a better location from which to photograph the lake. After a few miles of hiking, I stumbled by complete chance upon the glacier-fed stream, winding rapidly toward Two Medicine Lake. This was the spot.


It was slightly after noon when I took the photo. There was a snow squall off to the right and the winds were quite strong. The sky was clear with clouds. The grasses on the left across the stream were bending in the wind, creating an effect of movement in the subject.


Since there was significant contrast between the bright afternoon sky and darker stream, I elected to take three shot bracket, with two f-stops between shots. Even though there was quite a bit of movement in the scene, I was able to balance the scene’s light with a bracketed set, using a variable neutral density filter. Over time, I have become more adept at bracketing my landscape work during any time of day, even with movement present, but I also shoot in the daytime without bracketing with a compliment of neutral density filters in order to balance contrast. The shutter releases were at 1.6 seconds, .4 seconds and 6.0 seconds, if memory serves.


For this particular shot, I used my Nikon D-810 camera with a Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G lens. I used a Tiffen variable neutral density filter. My tripod was an aluminum MeFoto with Manfrotto mount.


Anyone who has shared the fortune to visit this national treasure, knows the profound beauty of Glacier National Park and will be inspired beyond words to photograph its many iconic scenes. I try to visit Glacier National Park every few years. It is certainly inspiring enough to warrant a trip to Glacier NP every few years.

In my Camera Bag

For equipment, I use a Nikon D810 and D850 platform, with assorted Nikon and Sigma lenses. I also use a number of filters. I recently upgraded my tripod to carbon fiber Manfrotto quick release model with Sirui K-30 ball head. A lighter tripod is helpful when you’re carrying thirty pounds of equipment into the back country.


As with all of my work, I use Adobe Lightroom to make minor edits to render the scenes as I recall them in my memory. Post processing affords me some artistic license to tell the story of a subject in a more compelling and experiential way for the viewer.

Suggestions for Aspiring Photographers

If I were to impart any advice to fellow photographers on creating a similar type of photo, it would be to practice with your equipment until you can feel your way through the camera settings, in order to create that great capture without having to think or analyze too much. I shoot exclusively in manual mode, as it affords the greatest amount of flexibility and creativity. It is also imortant to to make ISO, aperture and shutter speed instinctive for that moment you come upon a scene worthy of capture. Secondly, in your plan to visit one our national parks, be mindful of the flora and fauna, and prepare accordingly. We are visitors to these pristine environments and should tread with great care and respect, and leave the locations better than we find them. And finally, always try to stretch your technical and artistic abilities by studying how other photographers create their photography. There are also many online resources for aspiring photographer to learn and improve.