For the lower 48, Glacier National Park is in a league of grandeur that could only be matched by Yosemite. The park poses a unique dilemma for photographers. Outdoor photography can be a lonely business while being done creeping around in the waning hours of light. Both of these characteristics make for a dangerous mix in grizzly bear country. For this fact it makes accessibility for photographers much more difficult. I would never head off at dark thirty, as I have at Yosemite and other parks, group or not. Some bold photographers back country camp at Glacier but not me. I do stay at the group sites. If you really want to photograph glacier, and not from the usual car pull offs, you may want to go with a group of other serious photographers that are in good physical shape, as long as you can run faster then them. I think Glacier has been largely under photographed.I know that may sound strange for a national park but the place is largely unseen. Glacier should be on any photographers bucket list.
This picture is simplistic in composition and somewhat dangerous in execution. I carry a hybrid point and shoot on long hikes. Not only are they lighter then a DSLR they can be quicker on the draw. In general, on extensive hikes, I barely have time to eat let alone time to pull my DSLR gear out. A hybrid can be a good alternative. This is a picture of the upper waters of the Swiftcurrent River in Glacier National Park. I was with a friend on a 18 to 20 mile hike in Glacier and had just come over the mountain thats in the background of this picture. We planned to be above the tree line most of the day. As we were making our way down the switchbacks, to our dismay, we realized we would be surrounded by thick brush and trees for the last 4 or 5 miles of our hike. Above the tree line you have a better line of sight and can see grizzly bears from a reasonable distance. It's unwise to travel in groups of less then three in the northern Rockies. As we descended below the tree line we lost sight of a large grizzly. The bear was making its way down the slope in the same general direction we were going. Last seen it was on the other side of the woods in this picture. If a bear popped up on the trail in front of us we would have two choices. We could wait and hike down the trail when it was darker and hope the bear left or, better yet, in the dark, hike back up the mountain we just came over. The sun was getting ready to set behind the mountains in an hour or so. A mother and daughter were killed by a bear on the same section of trail the year before at around the same time of day. Again, the dilemma created was of our own making. We should have hiked in a group of 3 OR MORE. As we were going down the trail I was able to get some glimpses of the Swiftcurrent River through the thick brush. The salmon color of the rocks were catching my eyes. The light was giving the seen an even exposure. Given their limited dynamic range, even exposures are important for the smaller sensors on the point and shoots. Much to my friends protest I "had to" take a picture. I vaguely heard him say something about "time, bears, not safe, bla, bla, bla.....". I took the next side trail through the brush that brought me to the site I got this picture. As I was taking this picture I noticed there were foot prints where I was standing, mine and bears. I grabbed the best composition I could get, one that would reflect the days hike, and got out of there. I went back up the same bear trail I came down to where my friend was waiting. I heard about "time, bears, not safe, bla, bla, bla,...." for the rest of the hike. As friends will do, I informed him that all the noise he was making was "doing a great job keeping the bears away.