I was asked recently if I had to pick my favourite moment of my time in Canada, which would it be? It took some serious consideration, and if I’m honest I had to narrow it down to my five favourite moments because it’s CANADA, which is one of the most incredible places on earth! The moment that really stood out was sunrise over Moraine Lake.
Now, as a landscape and travel photographer, few things are as satisfying to me as a sunrise. Sunsets are great, but there’s something about the stillness and calm just before sunrise that’s magical. That 4am alarm always sucks though. It’s not early morning, it’s the middle of the night. It’s dark and often cold, and the temptation to do violent things to that alarm clock is overwhelming, but I don’t think I’ve ever once regretted getting out of bed and going out with my camera to watch the sun come up and the day begin. Even on the days that the photography gods sleep in and don’t give me something amazing, it’s still worth it to be up to enjoy the beginning of the day.
This particular day was one of those 4am alarm days. The plan was to drive from my campsite at the unfortunately-named Mosquito Creek Campground in Banff National Park, Alberta to Moraine Lake for sunrise. Moraine Lake is one of the most popular sites in the Canadian Rockies, and probably all of Canada, so I wanted to get there early to beat the crowds, and I’m glad I did! Arriving just before 5am gave me plenty of time to scope out my shot and then wait for the magic to begin. There were already a couple other photographers there as expected, and more started to roll in as I waited for sunrise.
Getting there early definitely paid off, as I was in the prime location with the composition I wanted. I watched as other photographers walked around trying to find a good composition that didn’t include other people in it and didn’t get in anyone else’s shot (a concept lost on a few poor souls who sat on the rocks right in front of everyone and got swiftly and tactlessly told to move). The sunrise started as a beautiful warm glow on the famous ten peaks framing the lake, then as the sun came over the horizon behind me it lit up the very tops of the peaks. It was one of the most beautiful and magical sunrises I’ve ever seen in my life. Camera or no camera, it was worth every long hour of driving and the lack of sleep.
After I was done shooting from the view point on the rocks I walked down to these canoes I could see on the lake and took a few shots of them with Moraine Lake and the ten peaks in the background. It was still so quiet and calm, and the light was still stunning. I considered renting one of the canoes and taking them out on the lake for a paddle, but there was still much to do that day, including visiting Lake Louise, hiking the Plain of Six Glaciers, and seeing my first grizzly bear!
You can download the free desktop wallpaper from Moraine Lake below. This image is also available to purchase as a print.