Our time in the prairies was filled with lots of great memories and the realization that we have been gone too long. Being home has this funny way of lulling you into such a state of comfortableness that you could easily be home for a month and not even realize it. Sadly, we only had a week this time and we had to get moving.
The next stop was Whistler, BC. This place has a lot of history for me. It was a place where I had lived while I was a broke student and where I first explored photography with my Father’s Pentax Spotmatic F. The last time I was there was with my late friend Dave Harvey. So it it has a special place in my heart for many reasons. I could easily retire there… if I had a few million dollars to throw around.
Heading up to Whistler, I had a lot of expectations for what I wanted to shoot. I had done my research and made a shot list of what I wanted. I had great expectations about early mornings with epic sunrises over mountain lakes. However, the wildfires had left a haze over the skies for most of the time that we were there. This left me wondering what I could do.
Not to mention that not having a vehicle also made things a little difficult to get around. Most of the scenic places like Joffre Lakes are not exactly in Whistler. Thus, I had to sort out what exactly I wanted to shoot. I think managing your expectations is a big thing when shooting places that hold a particular significance to you. In the back of your mind you are expecting to get those shots like you see on 500px, you forget how much time and dedication it takes to achieve them. Only having 4 days to shoot an area like Whistler and doing so without being able to hike out into the backcountry or drive around made things very challenging.
With all of that being said, I made the best out of it. I visited a number of the lakes in the area as well as got tickets to Vallea Luminea. The crown jewel of this trip was taking the gondola up to the top of Whistler Mountain. Do be advised that this is an expensive trip and tickets for the sightseeing package cost around $60. However, this does include the peak to peak and the new suspension bridge.
The best advice that I can give is to get to the village early as the lifts open around 8:30 am. Use the morning light to your advantage as once the day goes on, more and more tourists will arrive on the mountain. We made the best of our time on the top and I was please with the images that I got. The biggest obstacle was the constantly changing weather conditions. One minute it was sunny and the next minute you could not see your hand in front of your face. This made the suspension bridge experience a little more interesting but also frustrating as I never fully got a clear shot from up there.
The main thing that I tried to do was to create shots for what was in front of me. Sure, I had my lists but with the hazy skies and changing weather conditions, it made the shot list obsolete. Thus, when presented with a suspension bridge stuck in a cloud, you must be creative. This also allows you to create images that are a little more interesting than your average Whistler postcard.
The bottomline is that you must always balance your expectations and use your creativity to make the best of challenging environments. It is not always going to be sunshine and rainbows, no matter how much you plan. The last two times I was home (2015 and 2018) I was confronted with the exact same situation, the BC wildfires. As much as I had planned to re-shoot the shots that I missed the last time, I had to simply get creative and do my best.
Overall, this was one of the best trips home that I have ever done. It was relaxing and even to an extent, rewarding from a photography stand point too. I even came home with a new camera! No… not the Canon EOS R but a Rolleiflex SL35 from my neighbour. This was amazing as he had kept it in amazing condition in a cool leather case. Make a note, things like this will confuse Chinese customs officials when they go through your stuff. I must warn you about that, if you are flying through Beijing on a connection, they are super sticky about batteries and whatnot. So keep that in mind when flying through Asia.