Wildlife, flowers, tranquil lakes, towering peaks, snowfields, glaciers, waterfalls, mountain streams, sunrises, moonrises, a Native American Pow Wow, a rodeo and horse races—there was something to shoot for everyone. Also, there were the attentive guides, Michelle, Vanessa and Donnie, conscientious mentors, Bob, Tom and Reed, and, best of all an enthusiastic group of participants—and perfect weather.
Day One was dominated by shooting wildlife. The staff of the game farm put Bruno the grizzly through both cardio and weight training; running, standing, sitting, splashing, tossing around 15-foot logs. Then there were the wolves loping, running, running through the pond, peeking out from behind a tree—all before breakfast! A late afternoon drive on the Going-to-the Sun road included photographing the sunset and the moonrise, the bighorn sheep and the mountain goats.
Day Two included boat rides on mountain lakes and hikes either to a scenic spot overlooking Lake Mt. Gould or to the lake itself, as well as a sojourn in West Glacier where we could shoot the Glacier Lodge and its beautifully manicured gardens or the picturesque town itself. In the gardens some of us got instruction shooting sun stars through stands of flowers. After a much-need break, we had a tasty group dinner at the Bison Ranch. There we took a group photo. That day we had our first review session—all three proved to be sensitive to our fragile photographic egos, gently pointing the flaws in our images, praising the strengths and suggesting ways to improve.
Saturday, Day Three, was the highlight of our trip, shooting on the Rez in Browning all day. There was a parade, the Blackfeet Nations Annual Pow Wow, a rodeo and horse races—including Indian Relays, a scene of organized chaos that was a real challenge to shoot. There were so many wonderful scenes, the parade itself, the spectators, the Grand Entrance of the tribes and dignitaries, the dancing contests, bronco riding, calf roping, steer wrestling, bull riding, horse racing and the above mentioned relays.
As a bookend to the moonrise on Day Two, we shot at sunrise on Day Four at Two Medicine Lake. There were had the kind assistance of some models to get some wonderful shops of human activity with the sun painting the mountains in the background. It was a magical time for magical shots. We then went on a hike to shoot both falling and running water—trying to produce lovely soft images of flowing water without blowing out or underexposing the highlights or underexposing the details of the surroundings. In the late afternoon and evening we had our final review sessions and slide show, where we exhibited our work to our appreciative fellow participants.
I hope they all experienced the sense of satisfaction that I did at having produced images of which I could be proud I’m reminded of what one of the mentors said with each bullet point in his introductory: “this is the most important point you need to remember.” Every day was the highlight of the trip. I guess that’s a testament to the quality of the experience.