Story by Stephanie Hounsell/Photography by Callum Snape
From Careful Planning to Spontaneity at its Peak
Outdoor photographer Callum Snape demonstrates the importance of both
Ice bubbles trapped in a frozen lake, fiery clouds crowning a lone tree, a solitary figure in a poppy-red hammock… These images are three of outdoor photographer Callum Snape’s favourites. But while they have that in common, how they came about — whether spontaneous or years in the making — couldn’t be more different.
Ever since Snape arrived in Alberta from England six years ago, he wanted to capture these ice bubbles, which form when methane from decaying plant matter rises as bubbles and then gets trapped and frozen under a layer of ice.
But this would require planning and patience, since conditions have to be just so for the bubbles to clearly appear. When they do, it’s for just a short time, usually one to two weeks, Snape says.
This photo was taken last year at Abraham Lake near Nordegg, AB. A handful of warmer winters meant Snape hadn’t been able to capture the ice bubbles in previous years. When he realized all the factors were co-operating, he knew he needed to proceed quickly; the cold weather is short lived, and when it warms up it’s not safe to go on the ice.
Not only did he get the photo, he got it 60 days before re-locating to Vancouver, BC — something that was on his “before-I-move” bucket list.
Another image that required careful planning is Snape’s photo of a person relaxing on a red hammock at the Athabasca Glacier in Jasper National Park.
The photo is taken near the mouth of the cave and required knowledge of how to safely set up the scene (with ice screws), which he had from previous training as a snowboard instructor. The weather co-operated, bringing stormy, overcast skies.
He walked out to the location with the friend who appears in the shot.
Setting up was challenging, especially making sure the snow remained undisturbed. He had to get there before other people, and he had to carefully watch his own footprints. A few were unavoidable. Snape could have Photoshopped them out, but left them in favour of a more realistic, not-too-perfect look, he says.
While careful planning is a big part of Snape’s photography — especially as a freelance travel photographer — he always leaves room for surprises.
The photo of flaming clouds coming out of a single tree was “complete luck,” Snape says. “I had to pinch myself.”
He was scouting possible sunrise shots without success. But as he continued, he saw some impressive colour light up the sky in the distance. In a mad rush, he ran 10 minutes and came upon this scene at Lake Minnewanka, Banff National Park. “It basically just lit up for two of my photos and then it was gone,” he says.
The photo went viral and taught him a lesson about not giving up. “It put into perspective… that I should go for the sunrises that I think I’m going to miss.”
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