This image is the latest result from a series of nighttime climbing photographs I have taken here in the Canadian Rockies. With its extensive ice curtains, ghostly trees and rock overhangs, the Haffner Creek canyon in Kootenay National Park is a truly magical place. It is a location that quickly came to mind when winter settled in and I started looking for potential night ice climbing images. A few weeks before this shot was taken, climber John Price and I went to Haffner to scout the location and, even though the sky was heavily overcast, I was overwhelmed by the possibilities. If the stars were out, the results could be fantastic. Eventually we got phenomenal conditions and went back to spend the evening experimenting. We shot for a couple of hours in rather frigid temperatures, but the frozen fingers were well worth it.
I used a variety of lenses and locations within the canyon. This is the image that ended up working out the best for me. It was shot with a Sigma 15mm F2.8 EX Fisheye lens on a Canon 5D Mark III body. I liked how the fisheye provided a sense of place – of being in the depths of the canyon. The moon had just disappeared beyond the rim but still shone an eerie glow, and the inclusion of two galaxies (Milky Way above the climber, and Andromeda in the centre of the frame) added to the surreal feel of the scene. It is a blend of two exposures, which allowed the ice surrounding the climber to show up as blue (as opposed to blown out). The entire image, except for the ice surrounding John, was shot at 8 seconds, f/2.8, ISO 2500. The shot that captured detail in the ice spanned half a second (again, f/2.8 and ISO 2500). – Paul Zizka
This image is available as a print by contacting Zizka. For more in the series, check out a post Zizka wrote about photographing nighttime climbs in the Canadian Rockies here and see his first published book of photography, “Summits & Starlight: The Canadian Rockies”, here. Follow Zizka on Facebook, 500px, Twitter and Google+. You can find more of his work at his website, www.zizka.ca.
Equipment and settings: Canon EOS 5D Mark III, Sigma 15mm F2.8 diagonal fisheye lens, Petzl and Black Diamond headlamps, Gitzo GT 1541 Mountaineer tripod with Gitzo Series 1 Mag Centre GH1780 quick release ball head – Long exposure of 8 seconds, f/2.8 – ISO 2500 – Composite with background of stars – 1/2 second exposure at f/2.8 – ISO 2500