There’s a Photo in Here, Somewhere: Red Rock Falls, Glacier National Park

There is nothing like middle of the day shooting with a bright sun and no clouds. This is always a challenging situation, but especially if you are trying to photograph water. The contrast and glare can be overwhelming. While we were in Glacier National Park last year, we had a free afternoon and made the 4 mile round trip hike to see Red Rock Falls. Here’s how we made lemonade out of this situation.

Because we were in Glacier in the Fall and not the spring, the waterfalls were running pretty low. Here’s what we saw as we approached the Red Rock Falls. What a mess. Per usual, we walked around the waterfall as best we could to try and find a composition that was passable. We also did not bring our big tripods, as it was a bit of a hike and we did not think mid-day shooting would require one.

Here’s Mary trying to figure out what to do. We did bring along our trusty JOBY Gorilla Pod with us.

Here are a few stabs at a passable photograph.

As you can see, we tried to get high, get low, and also cut out the bottom of the falls, because of the glare. When shooting mid-day or in bright and contrasty light, think monochrome – black and white. We also carry infrared cameras just for this situation. Here are a few monochrome photos.

I think these are passable given the conditions. A couple of compositional hints. I have many waterfall photos that I have cropped into squares (1:1) to focus the eyes on the actual falls. Another crop I uses is going from the native 3:2 to 4:5 which can eliminate unwanted elements on the edges of your image. Finally, in mid-day shooting I always ask myself if I really want the sky in the photo or not. Does it add to the image? Is the sky a nice blue color of just white?

Glacier National Park is huge, is difficult to get to and has limited lodging. With the Going to the Sun road as the main artery through the park it can feel very crowded. It also has very limited parking and a new reservation system just to get into the park. The season opens late May and unusually ends in mid-late September. Go as soon as you can as the glaciers are disappearing fast.

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