We didn’t really plan to go to Canada. But after spending almost 2 weeks at Glacier National Park, we simply couldn’t resist the temptation to see its adjacent Waterton Lake. Plus, it was only 4 hours away by car.
From Columbia Falls, where we stayed for 8 nights, we first drove to East Glacier Park and made a small stop at Two Medicine Lake (another spectacular place). Did I say I ran out of words to describe Glacier’s stunning beauty?
By the time we arrived at Waterton Lake National Park, it was almost 4pm – a bit early to watch sunset and a bit late to start a hike. Nevertheless, we were captivated by the most photographed Prince of Wales Hotel, and spent a good hour enjoying a nice late lunch in the restaurant, and the lake view in front of the hotel.
Our accommodation this time was a ranch house, 25 minutes from Pincher Creek. We rented it in the last minute, but to our surprise, it was part of a 1000-acre private ranch with beautiful mountain range in the background. I couldn’t stop taking pictures of our little friend Dylan, the fearless cow chaser Frank (a little black Nolfork Terrier), and the curious cows who lined up perfectly for a group portrait – probably the best group shot I’ve ever taken! :-)
Tip of the Day
How to take group portrait?
I certainly have a lot to say when it comes to photograph people, no matter individually or in group. I had to admit the cow group portrait was purely by luck. I bet it’s the first time these cows saw a large black box with a long pipe pointing at them. They simply did not know what to do. Of course I did benefit from my little friends Dylan and Frank who spent the earlier 30 minutes chasing cows, wearing them out.
OK, back to serious portrait tips.
- aperture priority: set f stop at the smallest number (eg. if you have a 4.5 – 5.6 f lens, set it at 4.5). Note some wide angel lens would not allow you to dial to the smallest f-stop when you zoom in. I’d avoid wide angel lens for portrait.
- best lenses: 24-70mm, 2.8f; 50mm, 1.2f (50mm, 1.4f and 1.8f could achieve great results as well and are much cheaper); 85mm, 1.2f (85mm, 1.4f is much more affordable and does a good job as well)
- Always maximize even lighting for your image. Put the subject in the same lighting condition as the background. Meaning, if the background is in the shadow, put the subject in the shadow. If the background is in the sun, put the subject in the sun. This will avoid over or under exposing the background. What about you can’t move the subject sometimes – like in this case – it’s easy, move yourself. Have you ever heard what Ansel Adams said: “A good photograph is knowing where to stand.”
- Last but not least, when it comes to photograph people in groups, try to ask them to wear clothes in similar color tones (eg. all light colored or all dark colored). Avoid white and black clothes. This will also help avoid unnecessary exposure problems. I was lucky the cows were wearing similar clothes in this case :-)
In case you are curious. My camera setting for the cow group picture is as follows.
- Camera: Canon 5D Mark III
- Lens: Canon 70-200mm, 2.8L
- Aperture priority: 200mm, f/4.5, 1/160 sec
- ISO: 400 (good for cloudy days)