Lake Louise Reflection Shot, With Feeling

Shooting a Lake Louise reflection in mid-spring

Nikon D810, Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 lens, polarizer, and 3-stop ND filter.

This is pretty much your typical Lake Louise shot in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada, that everyone and their dog gets when they come here. But even though it’s nothing unique, it’s a special shot for me. Years ago, when I got back into still photography, I remember seeing shots of Lake Louise and being in awe of how amazingly beautiful it looked. I looked it up on the map and saw that it was an easy spot to get to with a giant hotel on the shore—just park and walk over and plop down your tripod. I hoped that maybe one day I’d get to shoot here, and I finally made it, even though it’s not what I normally look for these days. I’m more interested in something off the beaten path or at least without the crowds, and that’s not what you get at Lake Louise. The giant hotel and resort is right behind me, and tourists with cell phones and a few other photographers dot the shore near me at sunrise, although this time of year I’m sure it’s far fewer people than you’d get in the summer.

I arrived before sunrise, but the promising clouds didn’t end up lighting up with any color, so I waited around for about an hour until the sunlight hit the mountains. Luckily the wind was low, so I was able to get a nice reflection. Initially, I was going to look for a spot with some interesting rocks for a foreground, but the lake is still surrounded by snow and ice, so the only good foreground I could find was to get low on the snow and get a reflection shot.

Nikon D810 and Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 lens @ 31mm, f/11, ISO 31 (low boost mode), for 1.3 seconds. I used a polarizer to cut the glare on the mountains but not on the water; I wanted the water to show the reflection and not the rocks on the bottom. I also used a 3-stop ND filter to slow the shutter speed to smooth out the slightly ripply water from the wind to get a good reflection.

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Adam Woodworth is a landscape photographer, award-winning filmmaker and software engineer. He has had a love of photography for most of his life and one of his main focuses is landscape astrophotography. His earliest memory of gazing up in awe at the night sky was as a child in a canoe on a lake in Maine, fishing at night. The intensity of the star-filled sky in such a peaceful spot was a powerful experience, and now he enjoys sharing that experience through his photography. Follow him on Instagram as @awoodworthphoto.