Storm Light, Saint Mary Lake, Glacier National Park, Montana

While on my recent trip to photograph and scout for a future workshop in Glacier National Park, I made it a goal to come away with at least one dramatic image from Saint Mary's Lake, arguably the most photographed location in the park. The last time I was in Glacier was about 12 years ago and I made the typical shot from the Wild Goose Island overlook. I was green back then and often times went for the low hanging fruit. However, I was determined to come away with something unique this time around and completely ignored the scenic overlook and the hordes of photographers lined up like soldiers on the front line. Walking by them I heard a few scuffs at me to get out of their images as I quickly made my way down the steep hill and into the woods looking for a path to the shore of the lake. It was a game path I spotted that led me through the woods for a few minutes before opening at the shore line of the lake. The fractured rocks along the shore was magnificent and I knew right away that this would be the spot to shoot from.

On that first morning the sun came up in its usual fashion with predawn light painting the skies pink over the mountains and finally about 20 minutes later painting the peaks in full light. It would have been a perfect chance to get the "shot", but unfortunately there were no clouds and the resulting images were not very dramatic. With my new location in mind, I made my way back to the same spot on four more occasions over my time in the park. All were a bust, except for my last visit at sunset on the last full day of the trip. Late that afternoon a storm had begun to develop in the mountains and I thought this might just be my best chance to capture an image with drama and power from the lake. I made my way down with plenty of time to spare and found my composition, set up and waited. All the while hoping that there was a gap on the western horizon and a chance for dramatic light. There was and I ended the trip on a high note. More to come, so stay tuned!

Tech details: Nikon D700, 14-24mm @ F14. Three exposure hand blend in PS5.

Storm Light, Sainty Mary Lake, Glacier National Park


    I love this shot. It makes you want to go to Glacier National Park. Joseph Rossbach all ways finds a new and better angle to shoot something. I guess that what makes him a great professional nature and landscape photographer.

    You’re lucky… the last time I jogged down that trail to get out of the other photographers’ shots, I spooked a very large grizzly bear feeding in the berry bushes that the game trail goes straight through! He ran crashing through the brush at least 50 yards to the left, but I waited until I knew exactly where he might go next. I called up to the other photographers to let them know about the bear, and to let the bear know it was a person on the trail, hoping he’d want to keep walking away. No such luck. He silently made his way back to the bush in front of me, and popped up his head, letting out a nasty roar, with a lot of teeth-gnashing and several rakes of his claws into the bush, as if to say “That’s what I’m going to do to you!” He got so worked up, he started making a huffing noise, which I later read was one of the last things people who had been attacked heard before the bear charged. I knew what to do… averted my eyes, started backing away, ready to make a stand if he charged (and to drop clothing and gear on the path to distract him if he followed, tuck into a ball if any charge didn’t stop a few feet away). I didn’t have bear spray or wear bells… I’ll never make those mistakes in Glacier again!

    Love the shot-love the location-I am a wildlife/nature photographer from the west side of the park.Bear spray for sure but remember that there is only 2 shots worth.Great job!!

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