Glacier National Park
I took my first trip to Glacier in July 2020 in order to capture it’s essence in the middle of nowhere, and what better place than to a park I’ve never been to but have been told to visit for years.
I live in Spokane, Washington so the drive isn’t terrible at around 6 hours and with some beautiful scenery in-between here and there (I’m looking at you, Idaho Panhandle) so the drive wasn’t boring by any means. At the time, COVID still had many places shut down around the country so the park was still a bit off it’s game, with many campsites closed and the eastern entrance closed.
I didn’t mind, though, as I’m more of an ‘off the beaten trail’ kind of guy anyway when it comes to campsites. Even with that said, I couldn’t find anything and so I just slept in the bed of my pick up truck. It’s ok, I had my camper shell on, so it wasn’t as wild as it seems. While I missed going to sleep looking at the stars I was still in love with going to sleep inside of this national treasure.
I didn’t visit much since the eastern entrance was closed and it would have burned a bunch of time driving to one end just to turn around and come back while I still had a makeshift itinerary to keep. I knew I wanted sunrises, sunsets, and star shots from a few specific places and going somewhere just to get turned around would have severely diminished my chances because people in the park will literally stop in the middle of the road so they can hang their camera out of the window and take a picture.
I get it, but I don’t. I would never hinder someone else’s experience for my own, but I know some things are once in a lifetime. It is what it is. Add to that, though, the road is barely wide enough for 2 cars and on each side of the road are rough obstacles: a sheer mountain side with jagged rocks sticking out and on the other side is a straight drop off about 200 feet with not much in the way to stop it from happening.
I was able to catch a glimpse of the Aurora Borealis, or the Northern Lights, while I was there also. I couldn’t see those with my own eyes, but when I was doing a few test shots setting up for the comet I could see them in my rendered images in preview and I got very excited! I’ve only “seen” them one other time while I’ve chased them nearly a dozen times with nothing to show for it. I didn’t exactly get the images I’d want for them, but I am happy I got to document them either way.
I had a fantastic trip, so much so that I took my wife and kids there for our honeymoon just 3 months later. They loved it, and our air bnb in Kalispell!
Photography Equipment Used
On this trip I used my Sony A7III camera combined with a Sony 24-70 2.8 GMaster lens. Although it didn’t get me as tight (zoomed in) as I’d want, ideally I should have taken a Sony 70-200 2.8 at minimum, but on photo excursions I am often on a ‘schedule’ and rushing around (sunsets don’t wait and the Milky Way refuses to stand still) so the 24-70 is my go-to lens that I carry around.
The tripod that I use is the 3 Legged Thing Punks Corey Tripod. It’s lightweight but also versatile and offers a unique look against the setting of most other tripods that people carry around. The plate that attaches to the camera doesn’t stay locked when it has bigger lenses on it and you turn the camera sideways for a vertical position rather than a horizontal position and your camera tends to slowly droop down – making long exposures a headache at times.
For the long exposures, I used the K&F Concept ND2-ND32 Filters so I can drag that shutter open a little longer to capture the movement of water. There isn’t much for waterfalls in Glacier, not like Yellowstone anyway, so it’s not a must have for this particular park but I did use it also at Lake McDonald to capture the smooth movement of the clouds above the beautiful mountains sitting behind the lake.
Please leave a comment or send me a message if you have any questions or concerns!
Which one of these images is your favorite!?
Have you ever been to the park before!?