Friday, June 24, 2011

Steve Kossack shares some stories behind these images of Glacier National Park

Now that he's relocated to Las Vegas, veteran outdoor photographer and workshop leader Steve Kossack expects to save a lot on gas money. "I feel like I am now right in the middle of all the best photo destinations in the American West. Packing up and moving my entire operation also brought me face-to-face with some of my favorite images as I carefully removed them from walls and storage cabinets. Each encounter reminded me that every worthwhile image should tell a story. But I also realized that many of my images also had a story that only I could tell. That would be the recollection of how the image happened to be made... the story of who-what-where-when and why it came to be. Here are a few examples.

"As I recall, the photo above of the amazing display of wildflowers near Logan Pass in Glacier National Park was taken in August. I don't know a quicker way to get to the high country in Glacier than following Hidden Lake trail. It's a relatively moderate hike with a steady incline that leads to magnificent views of the back country. Sometimes, however, if there are wildflowers like these waiting for us, we spend so much time shooting this vast area that we don't even make it up to the overlook! Many times we'll simply sit and admire a setting that is truly mind boggling. In most years the summer season is so short that wildflowers are still prevalent in August. We'll be taking a workshop back to that area again this coming August and we'll just have to wait and see. If you're planning to be here around the same time, bring your Singh-Ray LB ColorCombo and a 2-stop soft-step ND Grad.

"This view of a sunrise on Lake St. Mary was taken during a year when Glacier National Park experienced many fires. As I scouted the area in preparation for that year's workshop, the eastern sections of the park were closed due to fire activity, and the fear that we'd lose the chance to photograph in the park was only eliminated on the day our workshop began. Most everything we did that year was influenced by the fire. Here in this image the haze produced by the heavy smoke created a mood not experienced before or since. I used my Color Intensifer and a 3-stop soft-step ND Grad for this image.

"Sunrift Gorge is a truly surprising sight! Just off the park's main road, this scene is stunning and unexpected. In most cases the conversation while photographing this site will center around the mystery of how such a straight and narrow canyon was naturally created and how large and deep the crevasse is in reality. The more you look the more fascinating close-up images you see, yet no one frame will satisfy. The LB ColorCombo is the best match for all the visual opportunities to be found here.

"This is an image that I'm not sure I would be brave enough to make today. As I stood next to my camera and tripod in the still pre-dawn darkness, I could hear the sounds of movement in the brush down the steep incline. As I began making the first-light images of this magnificent lake setting, the sounds became more pronounced and closer. As the light increased, it became clear that a moose cow and calf were making their way uphill slowly and for some illogical reason I stayed behind my tripod and kept shooting! (I had a Color Intensifier and a 3-stop hard-step ND Grad on the lens) When they finally made their way into my frame no more than 20 yards in front of me, I was able to get off two frames, both 1-second exposures, before they ambled back down the incline. I don't know to this day how I gathered the nerve to hold my ground, let alone how they both held perfectly still for both exposures, but I am terribly grateful to have this image!

"I was almost blinded by the light! While I was driving the Going to the Sun Road, the park's main highway, in the early morning, the surrounding light was dim and very muted. Then there suddenly appeared this burst of bright white sunlight rising over the horizon. This immediately started a wild scramble from the vehicle as I ran around desperately trying to find an angle that would capture the beams of light jumping from the high cliffs above. As soon as the camera and tripod were in place -- with the Color Intensifier and a stack of three ND Grads in front of the lens -- I realized that it was almost impossible to calculate an exposure. What I remember most of this shoot is the panic to keep the shutter open during the few moments when this image was possible. With the exertion of the run and this heart-throbbing scene in front of me, it seemed that every exposure took forever. Now this image is forever.

"Grinnell Lake is one of the more breathtaking sights on the trail to the Grinnell Glacier. Most of the trails in Glacier National Park are frequently closed by bear traffic so you are always delighted when you can use them and constantly aware of the possible presence of bears. The third stage is the thrill of seeing the many spectacular vistas afforded from these trails. The turquoise glacier lakes, with the glaciers above, are visible for miles in every direction. The gain in elevation is severe but this is the reward!

"This view of Lake McDonald is one of those that I almost gave up on! After a morning that I was sure would not produce an image, I was ready to pack it in and move on. With no indication of a break in the constant muted light, the color became visible in the reflected lake at my feet and then broke across the sky slowly. The haze on the lake only became visible for a few seconds before the light and color disappeared as quickly as they appeared and the entire explosive scene became once again a muted, dull gray. It's one of those shoots you don't believe you witnessed until the you see the print! I hand held my 4-stop soft-step ND Grad to balance the horizon and sky with the foreground.

"Bowman Lake at sunset is how I see Glacier National Park! In the northwest corner of the park, almost on the Canadian border, this is a long way from the major tourist parts of the park. This majestic lake is unsurpassed in natural beauty. The quiet setting and serene sunsets capture what I think is the true beauty and spirit of the park. A visit into the small community of Polebridge, with its mercantile and bakery, is always a highlight. The long drive back has always been filled with the experience of the sights and sounds of this area. The fun of making images here is often as rewarding as the actual images themselves!"

Look for more news and information about his workshop schedule on Steve's website in the weeks to come, and as always, you'll find a vast collection of inspiring images to enjoy.

No comments: