Stanley Lake Sawtooth Mountains Idaho
Last month when I was photographing in the Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho one of my main goals was to come back with some exceptional images of Stanley Lake. This lake, situated on the northern end of the Sawtooth Mountains with McGown Peak in the background, is one of the more classic scenes in an area packed with photo great opportunities. On this trip I was lucky enough to get not one but two instances of exceptional light.
My first night in the area was dedicated to photographing a couple of meadows filled with wildflowers about a mile up the trail from the lake. While at these meadows an evening storm cleared just in time to fill the sky with fabulous tones of yellow orange red and finally purples and pinks. I felt lucky to have been in the right place at the right time to photograph the wildflowers and McGown Peak, but at the same time I knew that the view from the lake must have been awesome too. Unfortunately the lake was too far away to run to it and include photographing it in the same evening session.
While back at my camp that evening I was a bit disappointed to see the night filled with stars, meaning that the morning would most likely be an empty blue sky, not the conditions I had hoped for. I awoke before daybreak to check out the lake anyway and as I expected there was not a cloud in the sky, but the lake was mirror still and a full moon was drifting down from the sky to the right of McGown Peak. As I was setting up my camera as if by magic fog banks began to form over the lake, thinking rats now I wouldn’t even get this basic photo. But the fog started to spread into wisps and concentrate in areas that would enhance the composition.
After the sun began to wash out most of the color in the mountains the fog rolled back in and completely obliterated the seven for the next hour or so. The first photo below is the result. I ended up with about a half dozen variations, with of course a few verticals included for possible cover placements. A very satisfying mornings works.
A few days later after having more good light and photo sessions in other nearby areas I was satisfied and ready to move on to Redfish Lake, another great location. The sky was hazy all day with threats of approaching showers and it didn’t look like there would be anything worthwhile to photograph in the evening. At the last minute I had a hunch to head back to Stanley Lake since it was so close. The showers never appeared and the haze began to thin out into streamers of high clouds, the kind that would catch colorful rays of light even after the sun had set.
All I had to do was set up in the same spot as before and hope and wait for the sky to start glowing. I wasn’t disappointed and had plenty of time to make me great images, even after the sunset. The second photo in this post is from that evening. As with the evening in the meadows several days earlier I noticed in the opposite direction some incredible cloud formations glowing in orange and reds, taunting me to pack up my camera gear and drive like mad to chase the light happening just down the road. I knew that would be a futile effort, the light was fading and there wouldn’t be enough time to get to a suitable location.
I just stood there and enjoyed the sounds of the Loons and remaining light.
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