It’s a frosty dawn on a run dubbed Sunset Terrace, just off the Top of the World chair at Lake Louise Ski Resort. The Rocky Mountains lie folded in dim, serene darkness. Banff-based photographer Paul Zizka snaps on his headlamp, sets up his tripod and explains how, when the sun sneaks over Lipalian Mountain and Mount Redoubt, the iconic panorama for which Lake Louise is so famous will be revealed. “Shooting from Sunset Terrace captures the enormous scope of the area,” Zizka says. “You can see the Wapta Icefield, Chateau Lake Louise, dozens and dozens of glaciers and, on a clear day, Mount Assiniboine, over 100 kilometres away. You won’t find a condo, billboard or any sign of development up here. This [spot] feels like a cheat—it gives you a backcountry moment with very little effort.”
Here are more tips from Zizka on how best to capture Louise:
- Shooting a sunrise on snow is tricky. When the light hits the peaks, the contrast is huge, so it’s best to use a graduated filter to hold back some of the light in the sky.
- If you’re shooting skiers, avoid forest-green jackets and anything with a pattern—they’re either competing with the background or are too distracting. My favourite colour of jacket to shoot is red—that way, there’s no competition from Mother Nature.
- Three things to remember:
- don’t centre your subject; have them face the middle of the photo,
- scan the frame for distracting elements such as a branch or a bit of a fence,
- the best shots have trees or boulders in the foreground and the skiers mid-ground.
- Cliches to avoid:
- Photos of people taking photos,
- people pointing at something,
- the ski-magazine cover shot with the star effect glinting off ski tips.