The ILPA Weekly is Published Featuring Photographing the August Eclipse and Astrophotography Events! Aug 18, 2017 Edition

The ILPA Landscape and Wildlife Photography Weekly is published

featuring the Eclipse and two upcoming, affordable

evening astrophotography workshops.

Click here to check out the August 18th edition of

The ILPA Landscape and Wildlife Photography Weekly!

What a busy week this week, again!

On Monday we’re going to be treated with a an eclipse right before and around noontime here in Banff National Park.  I know many outdoor photographers are going to want to get out there to shoot it too.  I know that I’ll be be one of them.  But, how can we do that safely for ourselves, and protect our gear?  And, how can you prepare yourself to be ready to capture a shot of a lifetime during the 2.5 minute window we’ll have at the peak of the eclipse?  There is a few good articles in the newsletter this week with advice specifically on shooting the eclipse.  Check ’em out!

As we approach the end of August, I’m sure that a lot of you are starting to think about where to go and shoot the Fall Colours.  I know I have my own plan in place for shooting right across Canada starting with a tour I’m hosting to photography the locally Famous Lake O’Hara Fall Colours.  A few days after I host that sold out tour, I’m hosting a Banff National Park Fall Colours day tour on September 17, 2017.  September is a busy month for me for photographing the Fall colours in the Canadian Rockies.

Across Canada Fall colours tour!

Every Canadian Landscape Photographer dreams about the trip I’m doing in September and October.  I’m leaving the Canadian Rockies after Lake O’Hara too drive across Canada photographing the Autumn colours in many other parts of our Great country.  I’ll be camping and driving across Canada to Nova Scotia this year instead of flying back to host my usual Cape Breton Island Fall Colour Tours in mid-October.  Some the highlights my plans for this cross Canada trip include hitting up Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario at the end of September followed by tour through Eastern Canada include Gaspé and Eastern New Brunswick.  Then I’m off to The Minas Basin in Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia and Peggy Cove.  Keep an eye open for my sunrise meetup that I’ll be hosting at Peggy’s Cove early in October.  There are countless other locations I’ll be photographing as I travel as well.  

It’s going to be AWESOME!

Finally, I’m arrive back on beautiful Cape Breton Island to visit my Family and to host back to back Cape Breton Fall Colours Landscape Photography Tours.  The first tour in this series will be on the Oct. 13-15th weekend followed by the already sold out tour on Oct. 20-22, 2017.  There are still 4 tickets left for the October 13-15th tour if you’re interested.  The second tour has been sold out since the end of July.

The newsletter has about 30 articles in it this week.  So, there are plenty of other cool things to read about in addition to the eclipse and the Cape Breton Fall Colours tours.  Some of the other highlights include 8 engaging videos.  I also have link to reviews of the two best landscape photographer’s apps out there, The Photographers’ Ephemeris and Photopills.  There a link in the ILPA Weekly to an article to on photopils tutorials as well.  Now you can shorten the learning curve for this fantastic app!  You can check out all of the 30+ great articles here.  I also have a link to a review of my newest Dslr, the 4th Dslr that I purchase just last week, the Canon 7D Mark II.  It’s the 4th Dslr in my hardware arsenal and it’s going to be my “go to” wildlife photography camera body.

Remember to be safe when photographing the eclipse on Monday!  

See you next week!



Night sky photograph, Geminid Meteor

A Geminid Meteor and star trials over Mount Fuji, Japan


Be sure to subscribe to it too if you like it.  If you’re heavy into landscape and wildlife photography then you’ll probably like it.

Posted in astrophotography, Fall, ILPA weekly newsletters, International Landscape Photographers, Night Sky, Technical side of photography Tagged with: , , , , ,

The ILPA Weekly is Published Featuring Shooting Stars and Yellowstone National Park! Aug 4, 2017 Edition

astrophotography Geminid Meteor photography


The ILPA Weekly headline this week has an article featuring 11 Amazing photographs and a timelapse video from Yellowstone National Park, and an introductory article to astrophotography as a primer primer for the Perseid Meteor Shower is published.  There are 30 more excellent articles fro a wide variety of photographers that we’ve found over the past week.  I also included a Macrophotography day workshop coming up next weekend on August 11th.  That workshop still has room and the minimum numbers have been met for it to be a confirmed go.  We’re going to photograph alpine wildflowers at treeline in Banff National Park next weekend.  I hope you can make it!


astrophotography Geminid Meteor photography

Astrophotography and a Geminid Meteor over Fuji San in Japan @


In total, there are 32 interesting articles in total that I came across this week that I decided to share with you.  It’s a full newsletter this time.  And, for good reason, we found a lot of really cool stuff to share with you this week.

Leading off in the headlines this week there is a story about 11 photographs and a timelapse video on the amazing Yellowstone National Park.  Yellowstone National Park is an iconic place that I haven’t had a chance to visit yet.  I’ve driven by it a few times on my way to Utah, Las Vegas and Death Valley in California.  But the only time I tried to enter the park from the South, the road was closed due to too much snow in the mountains.  Bummer.  I still need to get back to that beautiful place.  The lead story is just more eye candy to motivate me to do that soon.

Editing the newsletter takes a lot of time

Most of you know that I spend a lot of time on this newsletter each week to try to compose a beautifully cohesive volume that other landscape and wildlife will find interesting.  It’s a big job that I do for free, and I tackle it just one issue at a time hoping to find the right mix of stories.  I think I was successful producing a good newsletter again this week.  I was pretty excited to edit it too.  That’s always a good sign that The ILPA Weekly is going to be a good issue like this one is.

But, to justify taking a day or more out of my week each week to produce the newsletter I also advertise a couple of my workshops and/or tours each week in it.  I think you’ll think my events are pretty cool too if you subscribed to it already in the top right of this page.  If did subscribe that means you like what I like, all kinds of outdoor photography.  And, after 20+ years in the industry professionally, I’ve gotten pretty comfortable with photography.  I also frequently combine my passion for the art and craft with my love for teaching too.

Did you know that I’m an accredited college instructor and taught part time at Lakeland College for five years.  Albeit, in an unrelated field to photography.  However, the principles of teaching and learning are universal.  I can hear all the teachers out there saying, “Yep. ‘Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs’ and Dale’s ‘Cone of Experience.'”  I refer to those two pillars of learning all the time when I lead a tour, workshop, or host the International Landscape Photographers’ Landscape and Wildlife Photography Summit.  Honestly, I had forgotten about Dale’s Cone of Experience until one of the other members of ILPA’s Board of Advisors, David Allwright, dean of Bow Valley College’s Business School of Chi, reminded me of Dale’s progressive educational model.  I use these principles all the time when designing various tours, workshops and the ILPA landscape and wildlife photography conferences.

This is a good segway into a few of the shared webpages in the newsletter.   If you’re interested in macro and mountain landscape then this is an amazing workshop to attend.  You can read about, and sign up for the macro photography workshop here.  I also shared another edition of the ever popular Banff Landscape Photography day tour, which is happening on September 17th next month!

Posted in Uncategorized

The ILPA Weekly is Published Featuring Essential Landscape Composition Rules! July 28, 2017 Edition

ILPA Weekly Featuring Landscape Photography

Composition, July 28, 2017 Edition, is Published!

Read The ILPA Weekly now

The headline in the ILPA Weekly this week discusses using natural landscape features as the dominant picture elements in your composition.  This thoughtful article goes over the the key point to consider while building your composition.  Furthermore, the headline is also a perfect segway towards the one day Banff Macro Photography workshop being offered on August 12, 2017 in Banff National Park.  In that workshop we’ll be hiking in serene alpine meadows at treeline to photograph the colourful tapestry of wildflowers on display in Banff National Park.

Most people have already heard about the rumoured Nikon D850.  We have.  And we’re keeping an eye on the newswire for any new information on this camera.  It might be some stiff competition for the Canon 5DSR.  We’ll keep you updated in future newsletters on any announcements on this camera from the beleaguered Nikon Corporation.  It’s likely a camera worth keeping an eye on.  Nikon does produce some amazing cameras and lens.

Venting my Frustrations on Colour Saturation

Most landscape photographers tend to boost the vibrance and colour saturation in their photographs during the  editing process at least a bit.  I do.  However, you’ve all seen bad photographs on your Facebook timeline.  You know the photographs I’m talking about.   I’m talking about the photographs where the photographer has gone too far and turned their landscape photograph into a psychedelic interpretation of what the colour actually was in real life.

Lightroom is the editing tool,that most Nature photographers use. I do about 90% of my editing in Lightroom.

I keep telling myself that overly color saturated photographs are likely produced with a computer screen that hasn’t recently properly calibrated for colour and contrast, if ever at all.  And, I’m sure that is often the case.  But it isn’t always.  In this article I politely vent in my Canadian way about how this has gone too far.  I encourage landscape photographers to consider the realistic and believable boosting of vibrance and saturation in landscape photography.  This article is worth the time to read it, and I hope you do too.

Regional Landscape and Wildlife Photography Social Groups

In this newsletter I included a link to the regional landscape and wildlife photography facebook groups around the World administered for free by the International Landscape Photographers’ association, ILPA.  The regional groups connect local photographers with other local photographers to share their photography.  This is especially relevant to travel photographers looking to connect with the local landscape photographers before they start their trip.  These groups were also created to help traveling photographers to learn about the beautiful places they want to visit around the World FROM the locals.   And, that goal is being meet!


In conclusion, the last paragraph is the reason I started this weekly newsletter for ILPA.  The goal was to produce a truly interesting read for landscape photographers.  As a result of 20+ year professionally in the photography industry I thought I had a pretty good idea what outdoor photographers wanted to see in a newsletter.  It seems that many landscape and wildlife photographers agree and have subscribed to it in the header found in the top right of this page.  I’m glad for this result.  I hope to continue to edit the newsletter for many years to come.  And, I hope that you continue to enjoy it.  That is the ultimate goal of this periodical.

Happy Shooting!

Posted in Uncategorized Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,

The ILPA Weekly Featuring Persistence in Landscape Photography Paying off Big! July 21, 2017 Edition

This Week’s edition of The ILPA Weekly featuring a dramatic landscape photograph pre-visualized two decades ago is published!

The short title for this week’s edition is …

“Persistence Pays Off BIG!”

Zip directly over to the newsletter to read it now by clicking here

In this edition of the International Landscape Photographers’ Association weekly newsletter, The ILPA Weekly, our lead article is about pre visualizing the photograph one of the most common and important skills in dramatic landscape photography.  You read right in the opening statement too.  This photograph was over 20 years in the making.  Landscape photographers can be a patience bunch sometimes! 😉

Other headlines in The ILPA Weekly include a guide to getting started in Macro Photography, an interview with a working pro landscape photographer, Blake Verdoorn, and an open call for photo submissions to a book featuring the headwaters of Bighorn County, also known as the  segment of the foothills of the Canadian Rockies feeding into David Thompson Country lands.   That last one is a great way to get published (for free) and to support a good cause at the same time.

In all, there are 22 articles, 5 videos and 7 beautiful landscape photographs in this edition of The ILPA Weekly.

Rainbow over the Banff Springs Hotel, © – 20 years ago I was inspired to photograph this exact photograph.  I know, crazy idea but dream big, right? 20 years of living ready for the conditions paid off big for me in 2017!


The Story of Previsualization and Persistence:

The lead article is the back story about one photograph only, the photograph featured above.  It’s titled “Pre-visualize the Perfect Landscape Photograph then wait 20 years… Persistence Pays Off Big!”  The special thing about this photograph is that it was pre-visualized 20 years ago after being inspired by another very successful Landscape Photographer in the Canadian Rockies, Douglas Leighton.  Doug produced a leading Canadian Rockies landscape photography book that is still very popular in the shops around the Canadian Rockies today, and beyond.  You can buy Douglas’ book at Amazon here, and I hope you do.  Doug gave me some amazing advice as I was starting out in my photography career in Banff way back in 1996.  He’s a genuinely kind person and a photographer worth supporting.  His book is a beautiful hard cover bound book with 112 pages.  It’ll a good addition to your photobook library and is honestly a steal at just $22.00 on  Buy Doug’s book if you want to support one of the local masters.

I’ve also included a link to the next edition of the Banff National Park Landscape Photography Day Tour  Tour September 17, 2017.  This is during the usual peak of the beautiful Fall colours of the Alpine Larch trees which grow at treeline.  This tour is a great way to see the Alpine larches with me if you can afford the time off of work, or the cost of my flagship Fall Colours Tour, Lake O’Hara Fall Colours.  That tour happens on September 21 and 22 this year but it is already sold out about a month ago.  I announce this tour yesterday and it may sell out as well.  If you want to come on this day tour featuring the Fall colours then please don’t wait too long to buy your ticket to it.  The link is in the first sentence in this paragraph.

The Banff National Park Landscape Photography Day Tour is a lot of fun.  This extremely popular tour has been running quarterly since 2007.  That longevity is evidence that this is a pretty amazing tour.  This is a great opportunity to join a tour with a long term, established and local pro photographer, me, as I show you my home, one of the most beautiful places in the World, Banff National Park.  Click on the link for the Banff Photo tour in the last paragraph to learn more about it, and to register for it!

I hope you enjoy this week’s edition of The ILPA Weekly as much as I enjoy reading all of the articles as I put the newsletter together for you each week.


Posted in Business, Editing, Fall, Hidden gem locations, ILPA weekly newsletters, International Landscape Photographers, Landscape, Photography, Technical side of photography, The Business of Art, Travel Photography, Winter

Previsualize the Perfect Landscape Photograph then wait 20 years… Persistence Pays Off Big!

Previsualize the Perfect Landscape Photograph

then wait 20 years…

Persistence Pays Off Big!


Rainbow over the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, © – 20 years ago I was inspired to photograph this exact photograph. I know, crazy idea but dream big, right? 20 years of living ready for the moment paid off big for me this year!


I saw a similar photograph as the one featured in this post shortly after I move to Banff in Banff National Park about twenty years ago.  Doug Leighton captured a photograph called “Rainbow Over the Town of Banff” and it completely blew me away.  That photograph is featured on page 13 in his book, “The Canadian Rockies”.  It’s striking natural beauty set against the man made beauty of the Banff Springs Hotel and the Town of Banff is incredible.  I instantly knew I had to capture my own version of his masterpiece.  My goal was to previsualize the perfect landscape photograph with a rainbow over the Banff Springs Hotel.  Then, I’d relentlessly pursue it until I captured it.  Fast forward 20+ years in time, and I did it.

Previsualize the Perfect Photograph

I thought about what I wanted in the perfect photograph of a rainbow over the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel.  I wanted sunshine in the foreground on the Hotel set against a dark ominous dark sky in the background.  The mood I was after was to create a sense of peace, joy and comfort in amongst the setting of the rugged Canadian Rockies.

In the perfect photograph I previsualized I also wanted a few white puffy clouds evenly spaced out in the sky to add balance.  The small clouds would introduce an additional interesting picture element into the composition.  AND, the sun had to be low enough on the horizon to create some soft lighting mixed in amongst the shadows of the side lit trees.  This dramatic, three dimensional side lighting would produce a bold, yet warm and inviting ambiance in the landscape photograph.  I felt happy and comfortable as I previsualized my absolutely perfect landscape photograph of a rainbow over the iconic Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel.

… and then, NEVER give up on it!

I filed that perfect scene in the back of my mind, like so many other perfect landscape photography projects that I’ve imagined before.  That was 21 years ago.  Since then I’ve frequently saw the conditions developing for that over the years since then.  However, every time I went out to try to capture the perfect photograph I pre-visualized, I would just miss the perfect light, or the rainbow wouldn’t quite develop like I had envisioned it would.  But, I kept on relentlessly pursuing my “fool’s gold” of a seemingly unobtainable photograph at the end of the rainbow.  I would not, no, I could not give up on my dream!  Even if it was starting to look unobtainable.

That is, it was unobtainable until July 9th, 2017, late in the afternoon.

The Gift

About two weeks ago I was driving back from a 4 day backcountry trip into Berg Lake on the North side of Mount Robson in Mount Robson Provincial Park.  As I approached Banff about 10 kilometres away I could see that the clouds and the rain where developing in such a way that the angle of the Sun on the raindrops might produce the photograph like I had pre visualized decades earlier.  I saw the conditions developing for the perfect photograph.  Traffic was heavy on the Trans Canada highway heading East towards Banff from Lake louise.  I patiently drove with the flow of traffic perched on the edge of my seat watching the light evolve in front of me.  Would I get there in time for the light show of a lifetime?

I learned many lessons from the dozens of attempts I’ve made in the past to capture this photograph.  I knew exactly where I had to stand to capture the perfect photograph I had pre-visualized in my mind.  As I approached the exit to Banff off of the highway I scanned the slopes of Mount Norquay on my left.  I was scanning to see if there were any obstructions around the vantage point where I previously discovered I had to stand to capture the photograph I wanted.  Every thing seemed clear as I exited the highway.  All systems go!

The Capture

As I pulled off of the highway I drove efficiently and safely to the place I knew had to be to capture the light I have been pursuing for decades.  I’m not kidding.  I was feeling the stress big time.  Was I going to get there in time.  Would I have enough time after arriving to set up for the shot.  Would I blow this once in a lifetime opportunity.  I defaulted back to the fundamentals of good landscape photograph.  Keep it simple stupid, right?

I thought about what focal length I needed.  My polarizing filter was screwed on.  Where do I want the rainbow in relation to the hotel?  The rule of thirds.  Tripod?  Nope, no time to set it up a tripod.

Literally, the Sprint to the Finish!

I drove into the parking lot and rolled out of the driver’s seat as the car shut down.  I grabbed my favourite camera body mounted with the focal length I thought I needed.  I started towards the location where I knew I had to be, but I quickly turned around a few meters after leaving the car.  What if I needed something in my camera bag.  I didn’t want to make the mistake of mounting the wrong lens on the camera?  What if…  The doubts briefly closed in on me.

I spun around in an instant and reached in grabbing my camera gear backpack after taking a moment to check to see if it was carefully zipped up securing my $20 000+ worth of camera equipment inside.  The last thing I wanted to do to spoil this gift was to dump my expensive gear all over the parking lot as I sprinted towards capturing one of my “search for the holy grail” type of landscape photographs.

I ran to the earthen bank edge above the highway below me and raised my camera to compose my photograph.  I quickly noticed that the main subjects, the rainbow and the highlights on the Banff Springs Hotel were the brightest picture elements in my frame.  Decades of field experience told me that the camera was going to slightly overexposure them.  I would lose detail in the highlights and I’d lose colour saturation in the rainbow.  The main subject would be muted and slightly blown out too, overexposed.  I knew I had to compensate for the 18% grey exposure that my camera was going to meter the scene towards.  I took a quick second or two to quickly adjust my exposure compensation to -0.7 of a stop down from the camera meter reading.

The moment of Truth

I honestly raised the camera almost shaking.  I paused and boosted the ISO up a bit knowing that my camera was set to aperture priority.  With the Camera in aperture priority I knew the camera would bump up the shutter speed to a faster speed with a higher ISO.  This faster shutter speed would offset the slight shaking I was introducing into the capture.  I was almost trembling as I raised my viewfinder up to my eyes.  I knew that I was about to capture a photograph that I’d been pursuing for decades.  It was a photograph that I had pre-visualize decades earlier, yet believed that I would likely never capture in my lifetime.

I clicked the shutter.  

My emotions began building up inside.  I quickly adjusted the camera settings in the menus to capture an HDR sequence.  I have the HDR menu item preset to save all of the images captured in an HDR sequence, as well as producing the HDR JPEG from that sequence.  My thinking around saving all of the images captured is that sometimes a single image will be the right file to edit instead of the High Dynamic Range jpeg produced from the bracketed sequence.  With my camera menus previously set to these settings I knew that I would capture a good photograph to edit from the scene either way.

I clicked the shutter a few more times.  Then, I lowered my camera to check the LCD and the histogram on the back.  I wanted to make sure I didn’t blow out the highlights.  I got it!

A few tears of joy welled up in my eyes as I looked at the LCD, as they are again as I write this passage for you.  I’m reliving that joyful life moment all over again as I write this for you.

I got it!

I began to relax and completely enjoy the beautiful gift that Nature was giving the World in this very moment.  A few tears of joy rolled down my cheek, exactly like right now as I write these words.

I got it!  …will you?

Never.  Give.  Up!


Posted in Banff, Fine Art Photography, landscape photography, Path of the Artist, philosophy, Travel Photography

The ILPA Weekly Featuring a Tribute to the Legend George Brybycin, 1934-2017, June 30, 2017 Edition

The ILPA Weekly, June 30, 2017 edition is published!

Click here to read it!

The International Landscape Photographers’ association’s weekly newsletter is published.  And, this past week has been a busy one.  

George Brybycin, 1934-2017

Sadly, we lost one of the Great photographers of the Canadian Rockies, George Brybycin.  CTV News produced a video news story honouring George’s life and Robert Berdan, fellow professional photographer and friend, writes a beautiful tribute to George Brybycin and his life.  Another headline included CBC Radio tackling the touchy subject of human/wildlife conflict.  Parks Canada takes note of this human/wildlife conflict and warns photographers and tourists  about, get this, approaching bears to get their “Killer” photographs.  Yeah, I’m not kidding about that last point.  Just take a look at the photo I captured below of an unfortunately all too common scene in the Banff and Jasper National Parks in the Summer.

People approaching bear that had two cubs a few meters away on June 7, 2017 ©  Note:  I photographed this crazy scene from inside of my parked car on the side of the road.


On a lighter note I have a post about what I carry in my pack country landscape photography backpack.  A lot of photographers I give talks, host tours and workshops ask me about this.  So, I thought I’d write a post about what’s in my camera bag for those landscape photographers interested.  This post emphasizes what I carry regularly in my backcountry camera backpack, not everything I own.  Some wildlife and landscape photographers might get a few ideas for their own backpacks from this article.

Take a Landscape Photography Trip!

I’ve included a couple of links to two of my favourite landscape photography tours in this week’s newsletter as well, the Cape Breton Fall Colours Landscape Photography Tour and Whale Cruise and the All Inclusive Lake O’Hara Landscape Photography Tour.  These two tours are two of my favourite in my tour lineup.  There is one spot left for the Cape Breton Tour and the early bird pricing is still on too.  You will want to grab that spot soon if you’re interested in photographing the beautiful Fall colours of Cape Breton Island in October.  This is the 3rd year in a row for this comprehensive landscape photography tour.

I also include a link to a story by CBC about people getting too close to bears to photograph them, again.  This time I was able to get a photograph of the action, from safely inside of my parked car.  The female black bear that I photographed also had two cubs with her very close to the “photographers” standing by talking photographs.  When will people learn to not get out of their cars when they see a bear?  This action only habituates them farther around people.  And, this habituation often leads to the cause of their death.  Please stay in your car when photographing bears.

You’ll lots of great articles in this week’s edition.  There’s a few stories about lens reviews, interviews with leading landscape photographers, and a review of Canon’s new EOS 6D Mark II.  And, I especially wanted to honour George Brybycin in this issue of The ILPA Weekly too.  I hope you like The ILPA Weekly and choose to subscribe to it in the top right of this page.

Let the sharing, learning and inspiration continue!


Sincerely yours,


Brian Merry

President, International Landscape Photographers

Full time Pro Landscaper Photographer


Posted in Fall, ILPA weekly newsletters, International Landscape Photographers, Landscape, Photography, Travel, Travel Photography, Wildlife Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Essential Camera Bodies and Lens that I Carry in my Outdoor Photography Camera Bag

What’s in my Outdoor Photography Camera Bag?

I often get asked the question, “What do you carry in your camera bag?”  It’s a good question too.  I’m also curious that other pros and advanced amateurs carry in their camera bag.  I might pick up a few cool tricks from them in the process, and they might learn from me too.  I’m also a bit of a gearhead.  Aren’t all photographers?

My Camera bag in 2017.  A Canon 5D Mark III is not in this photo but is usually also in this bag but was in for servicing with Canon Canada at the time of this photograph ©

All photographers tend to carry a few similar core items like few camera bodies, an ultra wide zoom, a mid-range zoom and a short telephoto zoom lens like a 70-200mm, 35mm equivalent.  I’m no exception to that.  But everybody is different too.  These differences is what sparks our interest in this question.  We want to know if we’re missing something cool, or we want to feel reassured that we’re making the right choices when we packed our camera bags.  I’m no exception to this tendency either.  I occasionally lust over nice equipment that other photographers have that I wish I had.

Keep an eye on the weight you’re carrying

I spend a lot of time hiking in the backcountry as well.  When I go on extended backcountry landscape photography trips, like during my annual Lake O’Hara Tour, I usually need to lighten my load up a bit.  Incidentally, you can see the details and register for the 2017 Lake O’Hara landscape photography tour here. 

When I’m hiking in the backcountry I need to be careful that I don’t carry too much weight during these trips.  If I have too much weight in my pack, the weight will hinder my hiking and climbing performance.  I need to stay relaxed and rested enough to pay attention to my guests as well so I can stay attentive and take care of them.  For this reason I need to keep a close eye on the weight that I’m carrying.  I think I’ve found the perfect balance after decades of experience hiking in the mountains.

Getting into the details

In this post I thought I’d detail everything that I carry in my camera bag below.  I hope that you find it interesting and you get a few ideas for adding an item or two to your camera bag.  Or, maybe you’ll take a few things out.  You’ll see in this list that I’m a little heavy on the number of camera bodies that I carry.  I sometimes have four bodies in my bag.  There are only three bodies in the photograph of my backpack above because my Canon 5D markIII was in the shop at Canon Professional Services for repairs and cleaning at the time of my writing this post.

I also plan to add the Canon M6 mirrorless body to the backpack when it becomes available.  In the meantime I have the Canon M5 mirrorless body in the top right of the photo up for sale at a smokin’ great price ($900).  Let me know if you’d like to buy it!  It is a good way to get into mirrorless to see if you like the 2x crop format without breaking your bank account balance.

Here’s the list of the gear in my Backpack:

Camera Bodies (4)

Full Frame –

Canon 5D Mark III

Canon 5D Mark IV

Mirrorless –

Canon EOS M5 Mirrorless M

– Mirrorless mount EF→M adaptor (This allows me to use my full frame lenses on my mirrorless body)

Infrared converted body –

Canon EOS Rebel T3i (permanently converted to shoot Infrared only)


Lenses (7)


Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM

Canon 24mm f/1.4L IS USM


Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM

Tamron SP 90mm f/2.8 Di MACRO 1:1 VC USD SP

Short telephoto:

Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM

Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM

and a Canon Extender EF 1.4X III

Flash (2)

2x Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT


Camera Accessories


Gitzo GT2531 carbon fiber tripod

Acratech INC. ballhead


Circular Polarizing Filters: 1x 67mm, 2x 77mm

10x Neutral Density 77mm


67mm – 77mm step up ring

2″ padded “Canon” camera straps

extra caps:  1 Canon body cap, 1x 77mm lens caps, 1x EF mount lens back cap, and an M mount body cap

extra:  many 32GB and 64GB SD and CF memory cards

8x AA rechargeable batteries for flash

3x canon LP-E6 battery packs and charger

2x Canon LP-E6n battery pack and charger

Canon Timer remote Controller TC-80N3 (intervalometer)

Photoflex 12″ light disc soft flat white/silver reflector (for macro photography)

lens cloth

And I own a lot more too, a LOT more:

I do own quite a bit more camera equipment in addition what I’ve listed above.  I haven’t included everything I own because I simply can’t fit it all into my camera bag.  There is an entire 2 meter high cabinet is filled with all kinds of connectors, adaptors, on camera strobes and studio strobes, stands, backdrops, scrims and reflectors in my office.  I have a nice studio collecting dust in my storage locker too.  That studio in storage includes a comprehensive collection of strobes from Multi Biltz and Strobo Frame, 3×10 foot wide roller backdrop frames with black, white and 18% grey 10 foot wide paper rolls on them.  A wide variety of studio props for commercial product photography and portraits, AND, I have a complete wet black and white darkroom including a Beseler motorized 4×5 enlarger.

And the Large Format Film Cameras…

Oh, and did I mention the Linhof Technika III 4×5 and Calumet 8×10 large format film view cameras?  I have a Nikon F80, 35mm film camera too.  Yeah, I have a LOT of stuff that I don’t use anymore.  But, I don’t want to part with anything either because all of this equipment brings back a ton of great memories of when I had a 1000 square foot studio and darkroom in Banff back in the early 2000s.  Can you say “Hoarder!?”  I occasionally threaten my wife that I’m going to set up my darkroom and studio again….  It’ll happen one day too because I play the lottery most weeks!  

I hope you found my list of equipment interesting.  And, I hope that it’s given you some ideas for your own camera bag too.  How does this list compare to yours?  Please leave your comments in one the regional landscape and wildlife photography Facebook groups that I administer for the International Landscape Photographers.  I’ll be interested in what you have to say.


Until next time, 

Brian Merry 

Posted in Business, Landscape, landscape photography, Path of the Artist, Photography, Technical side of photography, The Business of Art, Travel, Wildlife, Wildlife Photography Tagged with: , , , ,

The Case Against Adding Vibrance and Saturation During Editing

The Case Against Adding Vibrance and Saturation During the Editing Process;

Too Much of a Good Thing can be a Bad Thing


Lightroom is the editing tool that most Nature photographers use. I do about 90% of my editing in Lightroom.

Don’t lie to yourself.  We’ve all juiced up the colour a bit when editing photographs, at least occasionally.

The Basis for my Editing Judgement

When I started editing my photographs in photoshop almost two decades ago I quickly learned about the cool emotional impact I could create by increasing the saturation in an image.  I could use saturation during editing to subtly, or to not so subtly add to the emotional message I was trying to send to my viewers.  As a result I routinely added a bit of a punch to my photographs by boosting the saturation slightly.  Most photographers will agree that good control over saturation and contrast helps to produce beautiful photographs.  This was something that I learned early on in my photographic journey.

Photoshop is widely accepted as the image editing standard.  But, I developed workflow before Photoshop was widely accepted in the industry.  I spent hours upon hours printing in my own B&W darkroom, and occasionally at the colour darkroom in The Banff Centre for the Arts.  I was fortunate to have Don Lee from the Banff Centre to give me some feedback on my prints.  He gave me some much appreciated comments on my colour and contrast decisions.  I appreciate his patience he demonstrated while commenting on my early photographs.

I quickly learned that adding too much saturation and contrast in a landscape photograph can easily take away from the quality of the photograph overall.  A photograph can quickly be “killed” by overdoing it.

Objective and Critical Evaluation

I want to encourage photographers to take a neutral and artistic second second look at their images when judging how much saturation and vibrance to add, or not to add in their images.  Sometimes taking a bit of time away from editing your photos for a few hours, or days to “recalibrate their colour perception” does help.

Erroring a little on the conservative side and not adding enough saturation and vibrance is often better than moving these sliders too far to the right and adding too much. This is a good example of too much of a good thing is actually a bad thing.

HDR, a Powerful Editing Tool or a Recipe for Disaster,.. Yes, it is!

HDR is another technique that is often overused by landscape photographers.  Honestly some of the images I see out there on Facebook make me wonder what some photographers are thinking.  I try you be sympathetic and believe that maybe their monitors haven’t been calibrated.  This is often the case and can lead to poorly images.  The take home message that I think photographers should keep in mind when using HDR is to keep it real.  Stepping away from the image for a while to return to it later with a fresh perspective will help you become a better editor.

In summary I want to say that the saturation and vibrance tools, along with HDR, are essential and powerful editing tools.  And, I hope photographers will use them in a realistic way to help them to communicate emotionally through their art.

Posted in Editing, Emotional Communication, Ethics, Path of the Artist, Technical side of photography

The ILPA Weekly featuring Landscape Risk Taking to Spur Creativity!

The ILPA Landscape and Wildlife Weekly newsletter

Featuring Lake O’Hara and Risk Taking to Spur your Creativity

Click here to skip this summary and go directly to the newsletter

We have another beautiful lineup of wildlife and landscape photography articles in this week’s edition of the International landscape and Wildlife Photographers’ Weekly newsletter.

The ILPA Landscape and Wildlife Photography Weekly is out!

The Headline:

Kicking off this week in the headlines is an article about “Creativity Risk Taking in your Outdoor Photography to Spur your Creativity.”  This article is written from the perspective of a photographer working through a creative block.  I talk about how I’ve dealt with creative blocks in the past and emerged from them into another creative growth spurt.   The article suggests different ways to help you to break through the creative plateau that you might be bumping up against.  Any artist who has experienced the creative doldrums will identify with the strategies I employ when I am searching for inspiration to get me creating.

The Wildlife:

We also included a photo of a Pale Red-Shouldered Hawk from our ILPA Vice President in Seattle, WA, Rich Leighton.  Rich is a certified naturalist in the United States and has been a nature photographer for almost three decades.  He’s worth putting on your watch list if you haven’t already done so.

Moose Meadows in Banff National Park on sunny late Spring afternoon. ©

The Discovery experience and Risk Taking:

I have a treat for those of you finding yourselves thinking about visiting Banff National Park next weekend too.  I’ve been leading a popular quarterly Banff National Park Landscape Photography Tour now for about a decade.  June 4th is the date for the next day tour is this series.  You can register on eventbrite if you’re interested.  Or, you can read up on what the Banff National Park Landscape Photography Day Tour is all about on my website and then sign up if you’re still interested.  The longevity of this tour series is a testament of it’s value.  It was risk taking to start these tours out on my own.  But from ten years it’s been worth it!  And now I’ve lower the price of the tour to only $195 and including transportation and lunch!  This is a good deal!

I’ve included a link to a location profile for Opabin Plateau in Lake O’Hara as well this week.  Opabin plateau is the best landscape photography destination in Lake O’Hara.  So, I thought it would be nice to write about it this week.

Beautiful Opabin Plateau in Lake O’Hara

I bet most people reading this have heard of Lake O’Hara in Yoho National Park.  Access to the most beautiful little Valley in the Rockies is tightly controlled.  A human quota for Lake O’Hara has been in place for over a decade now to minimize human impact in this small, sensitive, and very beautiful alpine environment.  If you’ve been there I’m sure that you’ll agree with me. on that point.

The Landscape Photography Trip of a Lifetime:

I’ve managed to secure space for a landscape photography tour based in Alpine Club of Canada hut in Lake O’Hara, Elizabeth Parker Hut, once again this year!  That’s seven years in a row.  And, I’ve managed to do it for the usual peak of the spectacular Fall Colour season once again.  I can’t believe how lucky I’ve been to win space in the hut in the lottery draw once again this year.  Tickets are on sale now for the all inclusive tour to likely the most beautiful little valley in the Rockies.  Come and enjoy the hiking, photography and beautiful freshly cooked meals on September 21-22, 2017.

And,… The ILPA Weekly Newsletter:

So this is meant as a brief introduction to this week’s edition of the ILPA Weekly.  There are a total of 28 interesting articles and blogs posts in this week’s edition.  I’ve also included 14 beautiful landscape and wildlife photographs with 5 great videos in the ILPA Weekly.  Feel free to sign up to the newsletter in the top right of this page.  Better yet, sign up with the subscription box in the newsletter itself.  I hope you like this week’s edition of the International landscape Photographers’ Landscape and Wildlife Photography Weekly newsletter!  And, after you get inspired by reading the newsletter, get yourself outside and get shooting!!



Posted in Business, ILPA weekly newsletters, International Landscape Photographers, Landscape Photo Locations, Social Media, Wildlife, Wildlife Photography Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Creative Risks in Photography is the Doorway to New Artistic Growth

Taking Risks in Photography is the Doorway to Your New Creative Growth Spurt

Have you ever felt like you’ve been creatively stagnating as you butt your head up against the barriers of yet another creative plateau.  Have these barriers prevented you from realizing the full potential of your next artistic growth spurt?

Well, I’ve felt this way…

I’ve felt this way a few times in my 20 year plus professional landscape photography career.  Yeah, I started shooting professionally in my 20s.  I was kinda young.  

Overall, I’ve been through a few “creative blocks” during my career as a photographer.  But, what I’ve noticed each time I felt that I was in a creative rut may surprise you.  Furthermore, what I learned in 2012 as I bumped up against yet another creative plateau was that I need to get a little excited about my artistic future.  My excitement as I realized that I was in a creative bloc in 2012 may seem strange to most people.  But. it isn’t.  Let me explain.

Over the years I’ve learned that when I feel that I’m in a creative block I correspondingly realize that it is time for me to redefine what “being creative” means to me.  Let me illustrate my point using the somewhat deep creative block that I found myself in about 5 years ago as an example.


About five years ago I was on the cusp of leaving a solid career with a good income in another field to become a full time struggling photographer, again.  I had started my professional photography career in 1997.  Since then I have been an off and on again full time career photographer for a number of years enjoying a roughly 75% full time/25% part time split over the years since 1997.  However, in 2012 I decided to go full time again and have basically been a fulltime photographer ever since, interjected with a few brief forays into a few short contracts working for Banff National Park.

Photography is part of who I am

I can’t imagine “not” being a photographer

But, I’m digressing.  Let’s get back onto the topic of how I periodically wrestle with, and overcome, my own creative plateaus.

Breaking through barriers

In 2012 the crux of the problem that I was dealing with was that I felt I was just photographing the same old, same old, over, and over again.  I was producing nice landscape photography.  But, I didn’t feel like I was contributing to the advancement of the landscape photography industry, or even to my own personal creative growth.  It was time to for me shake things up a bit.

I remember very clearly sitting down in front of my computer struggling with the editing of another “nice” photograph.  I knew that the photograph I was editing had a lot of potential.  Also, I knew that I more to give emotionally to others through the final print, my art print.   I knew that I was going to be able to use it to effectively emotionally communicate to others.  This ability for artists to emotionally communication to others through their medium of choice is the common thread that all successful artists possess, outdoor landscape photographers included.

The Road to Happiness, colour version.  I felt that this was a nice photograph, but I also felt that it had more to say…  © 2012


Looking to my mentors for guidance

I turned my emotional search for the meaning of this photograph inwards reflecting on the feelings I wanted to communicate to the viewers.  I looked back towards the beginning of my self directed learning in photography.  Early on in my artistic development I studied who I think are some of the Greats in the industry.  I studied the photography of Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, Galen Rowell and Courtney Milne.  And, one of the influential emotional communicators I have ever studied is Freeman Patterson.  The influence of my mentors collectively shaped the type of photographer I’ve become.

Back to the Basics

I thought about the beginnings of photography.  I thought about platinum printing.  My mind wandered back to the beautiful black and white darkroom that I had in Banff about 15 years ago.  I Thought about how the sweet smell of the chemicals stimulated my creative juices as I dodged, burned and with short aggressive flicks of my wrist.  Recalling how I used to agitated my traditional photographic prints to life in the developer bath makes my forearms tingle.  I lovingly remember the gentle rocking motion I used as I rocked the exposed but yet undeveloped print back and forth in the developer tray.

It’s enjoyable to think about some of my favourite negatives that I took with my Linhof Technica III 4×5 and my Calumet 8×10 view cameras.  As I learned to previsualize the final print I became a better photographer

In the darkroom I can see, and feel the traditional black and white prints that I produced in my darkroom.  As I write this now I can vividly remember the sweet smell of the fixer solution in my wet darkroom.  I used the fixer to wash the excess developer from the print improving it’s stability.  Ahhhh…  My senses are awash with loving memories from my “wet” darkroom days as I write this.

I can FEEL my creative juices flowing as I write these words…

And then,… it struck me.

It struck me that I could similarly use the computer to simulate the traditionally abstract and artistic photographic processes that I had previously used in my wet darkroom.  This connection seems kind of obvious to me now as I write this.  But, five years ago it took a bit of a different way of thinking for me to make that connection.  In essence, I feel free now as I realize that my creative growth seems boundless, albeit punctuated.

Using my 15 years of photoshop experience I adapted a selection of my darkroom skills to the digital world.  I creatively thought about how I could apply abstract digital editing techniques to produce a simulated Infrared photograph.  Furthermore, I drew upon my photoshop experience and let my feelings guide me through the artistic editing decisions.  Generally speaking, I used my feelings as my editing guide.

The Art

Instead of moving the cursor around the screen following a preconceived set of editing steps, I let go of control.  My emotions guided me to the next menu item in photoshop.  With intention I moved away from applying the cookbook recipe set of steps that I had grown accustom to using regularly when editing my photographs.  I cleared my mind of the preconceptions that I had of what the photo editing process should be.

I began to FEEL the photograph…

As I looked down at my keyboard and I swept my hands across the keys.  Secondly, I arched my mouse across my desk in broad sweeping strokes like a painter sweeps their brush across their canvass.  While looking at the colour version of the nice photograph, I dreamt about the possibilities.  I “thought sideways,” as Freeman Patterson would challenge his students to do in his teachings.  Then, I let go of control allowing myself to correspondingly feel my way through the editing process.  In summary, I cautiously kept the pure emotional message I held close to my heart intact, as I worked towards the final print.

The Creation

During this creative process I created the first digital infrared interpretation of an RGB colour image that I had ever seen.

I separated out the preconceived emotions that I had for the colour version of this scene.  After that, I was able to package a deeper emotional message into my creation.  My heart spoke about mystery, fear and peace, beauty, caring and love.  My new creation strives to create enough separation between the viewer and reality help them to open up emotionally too.  Altogether, this separation prepares the viewer to receive the emotionally message that I am intentionally sending in this new version of “The Road to Happiness.”

Do you feel what I felt when I captured this image?

The Road to Happiness. An RBG file converted to simulate a traditional Infrared photograph.  © 2012

I feel that this photograph is now complete.

 Never stop learning, seeing, feeling, and communicating.

Never. Stop. Growing.

Posted in Business, Emotional Communication, Path of the Artist, philosophy, Photography, Technical side of photography, The Business of Art Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,