Banff National Park in Canada is one of my all-time favorite travel destinations. I was only 15 years old the first time I visited and its relative proximity was one of the main reasons that I moved to Seattle over 20 years ago. I try to return as often as I can, but it had been several years until my recent visit in September. My buddy and I started off our week-long trip by getting snowed on at Bow Summit and hiking in Bugaboo Glacier Provincial Park. On our return to Calgary, we photographed this incredible sunrise over Mount Rundle from the Vermillion Lakes near the town of Banff. We’d both been here many times before, so we knew where to place our tripods, but we literally jumped out of the car and started shooting just as this spectacular light show unfolded. While cars and trucks whizzed by on the Trans-Canada above and behind me, a solitary bull elk was bugling just to my right. It was a beautiful morning to be out in nature.
Here is another photo that I created during my recent Banff National Park photo tour. I am surprised by how much I like this image, since I remember walking away from this shoot in a dour mood after being denied an epic sunset. While scouting the river, I discovered this clearing which framed the mountains and allowed flowing water for my foreground. The spot-light illuminating the mountain happened so briefly that I could not have created this image had I not had my camera set up in advance. Using my Singh-Ray LB Warming Polarizer in the shade of the river bank required an exposure of a 1/2 second or longer. This exposure rendered the water silky smooth. I also used my 3-stop Hard graduated neutral density filter to balance the exposure. I placed the filter above the trees at a slight angle down and to the right. Another interesting technical note is that I used my Canon 17-40mm f4 lens for the first time in a while in order to shoot this super-wide image. I love my Carl Zeiss lenses, but they are expensive so I do not own one that is wider than 28mm. It was a beautiful fall day to be out in the woods. I can still hear the gentle rush of the river, and there is nothing quite as affirming as a few “Hey, bears!” when walking back to the car through grizzly country in the dark.
I created this dramatic image of Castle Mountain on the first night of my recent Banff National Park Photography Tour. Unlike many of the famous viewpoints in the US National Parks, we had this beautiful vista all to ourselves. This location is right next to the road, making this view from along the banks of the Bow River one of Banff’s most iconic landscape photos. Many landscape photographers seem to be over-infatuated with the orange-red light at sunset. I don’t blame them, but I often find my most successful images earlier during the golden hour before sunset or after sunrise. This image is a perfect example of this early sunlight still at a high enough angle above the horizon to illuminate the entire scene. Any later and the trees are all just dark silhouettes (which they were and I have pictures of). The ominous clouds above the mountain add drama and help focus the viewer’s attention onto the mountain in the middle of the scene. I created this image with my Canon 5DmkII, Carl Zeiss 28mm f2 ZE lens, Singh-Ray LB Warming polarizer, and 4-stop Soft Graduated Neutral Density filter. On a tripod, of course.