I’m always up for an adventure. I’ll drive anywhere, and if the weather is “bad,” that’s even better. I’m not talking about some 3 hour car ride from Chicago to somewhere else just as flat, I’m talking 14 hours in one shot. Stopping only for gas.
In 2016, I was working for a filmmaking workshop tour. This was an educational workshop where we’d take well-known industry pros all over the country to teach their craft to aspiring filmmakers and seasoned vets alike. It was intense, we’d travel to 30 cities in 60 nights. My job was fairly straightforward. I’d drive the van full of equipment from one city to the next and help set up the gear for that days seminar. Additionally, I’d take some BTS footage and imagery, and answer any of the technical information that attendees had regarding any of the sponsored equipment we had displayed.
After a month straight of being on tour, we had a week long break. And instead of flying out to Chicago from Bozeman, Montana, I said screw it, I’m driving to Olympic National Park and I’m getting there by sunset.
15 hours later and I was in heaven.
What I’m getting at is, I REALLY REALLY like to drive ridiculous distances for epic photo opportunities.
In fact, i did a stopover in Iceland last July, and in the 48 hours I was there I had driven 1756 miles. On a stick shift! And I’d never driven manual before so I watched YouTube videos and practiced in the rental car parking lot for 30 minutes or so. The first few hours was sketchy as hell.
Anyways, back to my sister moving to Toronto. I convinced her to let me pack the Honda Pilot full of her stuff and move it into her apartment. Everything was set to go, except the weather was calling for a LOT of snow. That might deter a much more sensible person, but for me, and for a lot of landscape photographers, unique weather creates the potential for unique photographs. So I decided to drive anyway, up out of Illinois, east through Michigan, and finally across the border to Toronto. I arrived at her apartment after a lake-effect-snow-cursed 13 hour drive and fell asleep. The next morning We moved all her stuff in and I visited with my sister and her boyfriend for a while. That’s a lie, really I just pretended to listen to them while I took pictures of their most beautiful cat.
Eventually I parted ways with the glorious cat, and I slowly drove to Niagara. I wanted to be there for sunset, but because of some serious traffic leaving Toronto, I didn’t reach until it was dark. Still I parked and walked up to a viewpoint. I don’t know what I was expecting to see having never been to Niagara before, but the immensity and power of the falls was incredible. I knew I could spend days photographing these falls especially with the fresh snow having just fallen. There was one issue however, at night the falls are lit up with a super bright palette of all the bright colors. I guess it makes the falls cooler to viewers at night? Not for me tho, it looked like garbage on the back of my camera. I knew I’d have to wait around and hope they’d turn the lights off late at night or early in the morning for me to get some moody shots of the falls.
My luck was good that day, and just as it started to snow hard around 11 pm, the lights went off. And that’s when it was go time. My challenge of capturing unique shots of one of the most photographed places on the planet was about to begin. To be continued.