You already may know what I have just learned: The view of Wild Goose Island in St. Mary Lake with the craggy peaks of Glacier National Park in the background is perhaps the most photographed spot in the entire park.
I was doing a photo shoot of the park under the tutelage of John Reddy, a professional photographer I had hired out of Helena, Montana. John and I had met a couple of years before at a photography workshop in Yellowstone National Park and I was looking forward to learning all I could about landscape photography from John.
We arrived at the Wild Goose Island “official photography turnout” and viewpoint before dawn . . . and before coffee, but not before the first photographer to arrive. Heavy clouds lingered overhead but a glimmer of light in the eastern sky suggested we might be in luck for a decent sunrise. We weren’t disappointed.
We set up our tripods alongside the first arrival, mounted our cameras, chose our lenses and checked our camera settings all in preparation for the first light of the morning.
I clicked off my first exposure at 4:40 AM, a test shot and patiently waited for the show to begin.
Slowly and steadly other photographers began to arrive and before the first rays of sun painted the scene there were more than a dozen of us there from all parts of the country clicking away. And these were serious photographers with serious equipment.
By 5:59 AM, I had clicked off 53 shots using various focal lengths, lenses and exposures and felt satisfied I had accomplished what I was after. Most of the others also had gotten the shots they wanted and we all drifted away from the spot, boarded our cars and moved on to other locations or activities.
So how popular is the Wild Goose Island viewpoint? This morning I Googled the phrase and was surprised to see a number of links all leading to photos, one of which had been posted just yesterday and recounted the photographers encounter with a Grizzly. Almost at the same time I glanced over at my copy of Moon Handbooks Montana and there on the cover was a beautiful shot of this now very familiar scene.
Should you want to go, you’ll find the turnout and viewpoint alongside the Going-to-the-Sun Road just a few miles west of the town of St. Mary, Montana. Here are the GPS coordinates as recorded by my camera when taking the above image: N 48, 41.499; W 113, 31.8917. Related photos can be found at Shots and Spots, a Go Northwest! photo blog.