Spirit Island - Maligne Lake, Jasper National Park, Alberta

My favorite place in Jasper National Park is, no doubt, Maligne Lake and the boat ride to Spirit Island. Although it is only technically an island two weeks out of the year when the water floods the thin patch of land leading to it, it is still world renowned. The island is located on the southern shore of Maligne Lake and is one of the most iconic and most photographed subjects in the Canadian Rockies. I am sure many of you have seen photos of it but didn't know where it was. How did this tiny island get so famous? We can thank Eastman Kodak. As part of a marketing effort, Kodak sent out one of their photographers, Peter Gales, to find remote locations that would help promote the sale of their film. He stumbled upon the island, which was only reachable by boat. His image became part of Kodak's Colorama display (larger than life photos in Grand Central Station). Over the more than 40 years that it hung there, millions upon millions of people viewed the photo.

To photograph it today, you have three choices. First, you can rent a kayak and paddle most of the day just to reach the island. You can either paddle back that night or camp out (with a permit). This is the best way to photograph it during great light. Second, you can take a boat tour that goes for 1.5 hours, but you only get 15 minutes at the island to photograph it before heading back to the boat. Lastly, they offer a photographer's tour that lasts for 2.5 hours, giving you plenty of time to shoot the island. You know which one I was up for. Of course, when I went to book the photographer's tour, I found out that it wasn't offered in June so I had to get as many shots as I could in my allotted 15 minutes.