Marble Canyon in the Canadian Rockies in Kootenay National Park – Landscape Photography Location Profile

 

Marble Canyon in Kootenay National Park

Location Profile

 

Marble Canyon is an easy objective to photograph in both the Summer and in the Winter.  Visit this location on a heavy overcast or snowy or rainy day.  However, this little gem of a landscape photography location is often overlooked landscape photography even though it right next door to Banff National Park in the Canadian Rockies.  I can understand why it gets overlooked though.  Banff and Lake Louise are it’s World Famous next door neighbors.  If Marble Canyon wasn’t a 10 minute detour from the drive between Banff and lake Louise it would be an extremely popular destination.

The entire loop trail around Marble Canyon is only 1.1 km long.  The trail also crosses back and forth across the canyon on 7 study metal frame and wooden deck bridges.  It is from these bridges that a landscape photographer can photograph deep inside of the 35 meter deep and 3-6 meter wide, 120′ deep 10′-20′, wide canyon.  The best bridges from which to compose photographs are:

1/  The First Bridge

While standing on the first bridge above the water about 3 meters below a photographer can shoot up the canyon to create a nice composition.  The brilliantly turquoise blue water is flowing softly out of the canyon at this point.  This first bridge is only about 75 meters from the parking lot and the trail drops about 4 or 5 meters as you walk there from your car.

2/  The Third Bridge:

Looking up river from the third bridge is about the deepest part of the Canyon.  Shoot this location on a heavy overcast or rainy day as previously mentioned.  This shot doesn’t really work on a bright sunny day because of the strong highlights and shadows created in the deep canyon.  There is about 8-9 stops of variation in dynamic range at this location on a bright and sunny Summer day.

 

Marble canyon in Kootenay national Park, just 5 minutes over Vermillion Pass from Banff National Park. © www.brianmerry.ca

3/  The Fifth Bridge:

This is where the ice climbs form almost each Winter and the frozen waterfalls are the highlight of the canyon in the Winter.  The photograph below was taken on the fifth bridge looking upstream and angling the camera nearly straight down.  And, the photograph at the end of this post was taken at the bottom of the Canyon at the base of the frozen waterfalls when yours truly was leading an ice climb out of the canyon.  Yep I sure do love ice climbing!

From January to Mid-March there are ice climbers here most afternoons when the frozen waterfall forms.  At the time I wrote this post in March of 2018, the Ice climbs were not formed.  Me had an extremely dry Summer last year which probably the reason the frozen icefalls didn’t form this year.  And, they won’t form this late in the season either.  Let’s hope for a normal or wet summer in 2018 so the ice can form in the Winter of 2018-19!

 

A unknown ice climber climbing a frozen waterfall in Marble Canyon, Kootenay National Park. Unknown climber on Tokkum Pole, 35m, WI5+. © www.brianmerry.ca

 

Summary:

Marble Canyon is just a 40 minute drive from either Lake Louise or Banff.  It is a good destination to include during your photography vacation to Canadian Rockies.  But, if you are pressed for time it would be OK to consider cutting this location out.  Visiting here will take about 3-4 hours return from either Banff or from Lake Louise.  It’s worth the visit if you can fit it in.  Have fun in the Rockies!

 

Ice Climbing out of Marble Canyon in Winter. This ice climb that rarely forms is called Swine Dive, 35m, WI 5+.  The bottom of Tokkum Pole is also seen in the left foreground.  Ice climbing and rappelling skills are required to get down to this location, and to then get back out again.  Access to this location is not possible by walking.  Climber – Brian Merry : Belayer;  Megan Beaumont. 

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Use Emotional Communication and Photographic Excellence in Landscape Photography to Express Yourself Completely

What is Emotional Communication

and  Photographic Excellence

in Landscape Photography?

 

Emotional communication through a digital RGB to Infrared digital conversion

When I created this photograph 5 years ago I felt my way through the process to create an Infrared interpretation of an RGB image. I now see this technique is starting to pop up in different places around the World,  six years after I created this photograph. © www.brianmerry.ca

 

Photography workshops are great to help you to find new ways to photographically express yourself.  I try to tak one somewhere in the World every couple of years.  Usually I take a workshop from a leading photographer who I think has some teaching ability.  That last point is an important one.  Not all leading photographers with huge social media followings have a teaching background and can teach.  So, I do my research before committing to a workshop.

A great workshop close to my home in Banff!

A few years ago I saw that a local photographer in the Canadian Rockies was hosting a weekend workshop at his home. Kristian Bogner was teaching one of his “Photographic Rock Star” workshops.  He’s a Nikon ambassador so I attended even though I’m primarily a landscape photographer.  A venue in someone’s home is not usually something that I go for.  But, the registration wasn’t expensive at just under $1000 CDN for the 2 day, 14 hour event, so I took a chance and went.  I think it’s a good to develop completely as a photographer so I have lots of different skills to choose from when I set out to express myself.  I thought that I would be able to learn something from him.  And, I did.

One of the most important things that I got out of the workshop occured during an exercise on emotion exploration.  He asked the class a simply question.  Then he gave us a few minutes to think about our answer and write it down.  The question that he asked kind of caught me off guard.   The simply question that he asked was:

“What is Photographic Excellence?”

I tipped my head and looked down at my knees for a bit while doing my best to calm myself.  I opened up emotionally and practiced a bit of internal reflection.

My thoughts defaulted to the technical side of photography at first.  Way back in  1989 I started in landscape photography as a serious amateur, and haven’t really looked back since.  I remembered struggling through the years of trial and error experiments.  Learning the fundamentals of the exposure triangle, flash photography and refining my technical skill helped me to become a better photographer, technically.  I thought about the 3 core filters for landscape photography that I used then, the circular polarizer and a 2 and 3 stop graduated neutral density filter.  But, these didn’t give me an answer to his question either. 

I thought about the colour intensifying filters like the sign-ray golden’ blue polarizer and the cokin blue/yellow polarizer.  But the camera gear that I owned and used couldn’t provide me with a complete answer to his question.

Is editing the path to Photographic Excellence?

I thought about HDR and my raw workflow through Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop.  I thought about working my way up in lens quality to the professional core collection that I now carry standard in my backpack.  I’ve also added a few other key speciality lens, two full frame camera bodies and a pro cropped sensor body to round out my pro kit.

Briefly considering my editing workflow gave me a bit of insight into my answer to his inquisitive question.  I thought about the in camera editing that I do before I shoot with Canon’s custom picture styles.  Then I thought about my workflow to import the images and then how I edited them using a somewhat standard workflow.  I pay close attention to contrast control and colour theory as I work through my editing process in an effort to send a clear emotional message through my photographs to my viewers.

After a while I realized that becoming technically proficient in photography and owning good gear isn’t photographic excellence at all.  I think that being a skilled craftsman with top quality tools for the trade is a prerequisite for photographic excellence.  It is fundamentally necessary to become technically proficient with your gear so that you don’t think it about anymore.   I felt that this was part of the answer, but wasn’t a direct or complete answer.  We’ve all heard of the popular saying,

“It’s not the camera, it’s the photographer.”

Breaking through to the next level:

After a while I could feel my emotional perception broadening.  I felt the muscles in my face relaxing.  I began to open up emotionally and dreamt about how I truly felt about his question.  Then it came to me like I’d known the answer for years but never before consciously realized it.  Emotional communication was the answer to obtaining photographic excellence.

Emotional Communication defined:

For me, photographic excellence means becoming fluent with the connection between the technical aspects of photography and our deep emotional reaction to all beautiful things so that pure, raw emotion can be captured in the camera, cared for in the editing process and communicated through the photograph later with ease to the viewer as a pure and uninterrupted extension of our personal expression through pure emotional communication.

 

For me, this is photographic excellence and this is what I set out to do every time I pick up the camera, teach a workshop or lead a tour.

 

Never. Stop. Learning.

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Pre Visualize the Perfect Landscape Photograph, then wait 22 years…

Rainbow over the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel

An example of the classic technique:  Pre Visualize the Perfect Landscape Photograph
and then relentlessly pursue it until you get it, Photographic Excellence achieved!

Rainbow over the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, © 2017 www.brianmerry.ca

Finding paradise

I moved to Banff a few weeks after completing my BScH with Honours in Biology from Acadia University. That was WAAAYY back in 1996 and I had only been photographing for about 5 years at that point. And, I was completely knew to the Canadian Rockies. The Rockies completely blew me away as I drove into them for the first time on April 18, 1996. I instantly knew that this new paradise I found was going to be an important part of my life forever!  And, I was eager to get out and explore, which I did in ernest taking a lot of photographs in the process!  

The Inspiration and the Legend

To keep my expenses low in the busy little tourist town where I lived was to get a part time job at my local camera store.  I was able to start buying film and developing it at a discount.  Working at the the local camera store also gave me the opportunity to connect with all of the leading local pro photographers in the industry.  One local pro landscape photographer that I looked up, and still do today, was Douglas Leighton. His book photographed and wrote the best selling book called “The Canadian Rockies” in the early 1990s. His book was the strongest selling landscape photography book in the Canadian Rockies. And, it still holds a commanding spot on the souvenir coffee table bookshelves in bookstores today.

The Research

I scouted out the side of Mount Norquay and determined exactly where Doug stood when he captured his iconic photograph.  I researched the correct angle of incidence of sunlight striking passing summer rain showers and used that information to determine approximately where I had to stand across the valley from the Town of Banff to capture the photography that I wanted.  I discovered that to reproduce Doug’s photograph I had to be on somewhere on the switchback road leading up to the Mount Norquay Viewpoint high above Banff.  With further research I discovered the exact gravel pull out that Doug had used when he photographed his classic composition.

Now, I just had to wait for a rainbow in the landscape and practice “f8 and be there…”

The waiting game…

I was still waiting for my pre visualized composition 20 years after I first worked out it out.  I knew how to get the right combination of sunlight, rain shower, and rainbow, all happening at around 5:00pm in a late July or Early August afternoon.   The years went by and they turned into decades.  And I continued waiting. 

Never. Give. Up!

Then, Summer 2017 Arrived, 22 years after I arrived pre visualized this photograph in Banff…

Last Summer I happened to be driving back from a 4 day trip into Berg Lake in Mount Robson Provincial Park when I started to encounter rain showers in Lake Louise. As I continued driving past Castle Mountain heading home to Banff I could see another rainstorm coming over the Continental Divide near Sunshine Village. I was seeing the conditions developing for the shot.  And, I started to get excited.

The Pursuit

I put the car on cruise control so I wouldn’t get too excited and get a speeding ticket. As I drove beside Vermillion Lakes close to Banff I knew the timing was going to be very tight.  It wasn’t a guarantee that I was going to make it before the rainbow disappeared, but I wasn’t going to speed. I wasn’t going to let a lapse in good judgement and a speeding ticket rob of the perfect shot!  I drove responsibly to ensure I would arrive in Banff as quickly and efficiently as possible. 

When I exited the highway and turned left towards Mount Norquay I could see that I wasn’t going to have enough time to drive up to the same location Doug had been when he captured his iconic photograph. I quickly determined that I had to keep the angle of incidence to the rainbow the same and I decided to stand on the embankment beside the Juniper Hotel.  That was less than a minutes drive from where I exited the highway.  I should get there on time, maybe. 

THE RAINBOW WAS HAPPENING RIGHT NOW!!!!

I drove up to the driveway to the Juniper Hotel and parked my car in the parking lot.  Without missing a beat I jumped out of the car with my camera bag it tow.  I sprinted over and behind the East side of the Juniper Hotel past the outdoor hot tub full of hotel guests. I heard some comments about why the rush, but I couldn’t stop to chat.  My shot of a lifetime was very close to slipping away.

I hastily put my camera backpack down on the ground and reached for my Canon 5D Mark IV.  I paused briefly when considering to put on my 16-35mm f/4L IS Canon lens, my 24-105mm f/4 Canon or my beautiful 24mm f/1.4L lens.  From previous scouting trips I knew that 30mm was about the focal length that I needed to frame the composition the I wanted it framed.  Humm, But I hadn’t worked out which lens I was going to use yet.

  Oooops…

Slapping the 24mm f/1.4L on my 30MP 5D Mark IV I stood up to face what was developing to be a significant point in my photographic life.  I decided in a snap that I was going to use the absolute best glass in my camera bag.  I would slightly crop the image coming out of my 30mp Dslr camera to get the composition that I needed. The super high quality of the 24 f/1.4L was going to give me the best quality image possible with the least amount of lens flare, and I knew it.  I needed that rainbow to be sharp!  I understand my equipment completely so I don’t have to think about it when I use it.  My camera becomes an extension of my own personal expression.  My camera isn’t a tool.  It’s an emotional sensory and communication organ.  

My camera is my sixth sense that I use to perceive and feel my environment without thinking. 

My Camera is a part of who I am.

As I raised my camera I was trembling a little from the excitment.  I paused to check my camera settings and opened up my aperture a little bit to increase the shutter speed while shooting in aperture priority.  I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to stand perfectly still so I had to compensate with a faster shutter speed. As I trembled from the excitement I fired off a shot.

I knew in that instance when the mirror slapped that I got it.  I knew that I had just captured one of the strongest photographs of my career.  In just 1/250th of a second, 22 years of relentless pursuit was over!

I got a “once in a lifetime” landscape photograph.

Nailed it!

I still admire Douglas Leighton’s photography.  He was locally the clear leader in landscape photography for over a decade.  The greatest contribution Doug gave to me was to me was to be open and willing to help others to become better photographers. This lesson has become a personal standard for myself.  Sharing has become an underlying principle in just about every part of my professional outdoor photography business.

I need to give back to the industry that has given me my exciting and long professional career in outdoor photography.  And, I feel like I’m just getting started.  I feel that I still have a lot to give back.  I’m looking forward to my next growth spurt as an artist.  My sharing is about to hit high gear!!!

I still practice previsualization in my landscape photography, and I still admire the Douglas Leighton’s book, “The Canadian Rockies.”  You can find and buy Doug’s book from Rocky Mountain books here.  And, I hope that you do.

Honour your mentors. 

Thank you Doug Leighton!

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It’s an Honour to Win the 5th Most Read Outdoor Photography Blog award in Canada

This Blog Won an Award for Placing Fifth Overall for the

Most Read Outdoor Photography Blog in Canada!

 

This week the blog on my website won an award for being “the 5th Most Read Outdoor Photography Blog in Canada.”  Click this link to see who else made the list!   I was ranked 35th overall amongst all genres of Canadian professional photographer websites and professional photography retailer websites listed on google.  Making the top 5 most read outdoor photography specific blogs in Canada is a nice achievement.  The criteria they used to rank, and award websites involved ranking a photographer’s social following on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in addition to their website page rank on google.  They used these factors to compile the list.

My blog was ranked the 5th most read outdoor photography blog in Canada, and 35th overall amongst all Canadian photography blogs.  Check out the complete list here.

I blog to help the average outdoor photographer:

Most of you who read my blog have noticed that I like to share my photography secrets, at least some of them.  My goal is to help you to become a better photographer overall while concurrently promoting my business.  I sincerely hope my self promotion doesn’t bother you.  I’m a full time landscape photographer and I do need to make a living at this so, I do have to promote myself at least a little bit.  I believe that I can help people for free, and have some of you help me in return to sustain my business by buying my products at the same time.  Everybody does win in the business model I’m following!

The importance of earning a Top 5 Award:

I’ve always had the goal to be one of the top 10 landscape photographers.  I never really had a desire to be #1 though honestly.  I’ve always believed that when someone is amongst the best, they are the best.  Picking a truly decisive winner in this genre of photography is a little too specific for anyone to do accurately in my opinion.  Defining a clear “winner” is variable at best and depending on the subjective metrics that are used to “measure” the best.  One photographer might be #1 by one measure, and he/she might be #10 by another measure.  The inherent variability in measuring “the best” implies that any list should be taken with a grain of salt.  It is truly a top honour to be named “Amongst the Best.”  And, this week I was named amongst the best!

The ILPA Landscape and Wildlife Weekly:

Some of the ways that I think that I’ve growth the following on my social media channels and website is by editing and publishing “The ILPA Landscape and Wildlife Weekly newsletter.”  I think that The ILPA Weekly has become an industry leading ‘inclusive’ outdoor photography newsletter.  In The ILPA Weekly I showcase other leading outdoor photographers.  I like to keep my immediate content in the newsletter between 10%-25% of the overall content.  

Read the latest edition of the ILPA Weekly by clicking here

I believe that it’s important to keep to keep the ILPA Weekly biased towards the broader and diverse outdoor photography community.  It’s important to prevent the newsletter from turning into purely a promotional vehicle for ILPA, or for my own outdoor photography business website.  All professional and Industry members of ILPA will have their relevant content showcased in the newsletter too.  The weighting of content will remain balanced to support Professional Members of ILPA and the non-ILPA members alongside the others in the broader outdoor photography community. 

Make no mistake, I believe that the newsletter has to remain a valuable resource to it’s subscribers and **it must not** evolve into a blatant advertising vehicle for ILPA or for myself.  I’ve see this happen in the majority of other newsletters that I subscribe to that are produced by other professional photographers.  And, that doesn’t reflect on those businesses. 

I believe that being altruistic when selecting content for The ILPA Weekly is a key to it’s success.  Plenty of other photographers are highlighted in The ILPA Weekly helping it to represent the broader industry.  And, honestly, I feel pretty good about myself when I help other photographers to succeed as I follow this principle.

I want to thank you

I want to thank you for reading my blog and sharing my posts on social media and on your websites too.  All of you have helped me to win this award.  And, I hope to continue producing top notch outdoor photography posts for you to continue reading in the future.  My secret to continue doing that is to be genuine.  I feel that it’s important to write about the things that I like, and to share the knowledge that has taken me years to compile.  After all, I’m a landscape photographer too.  And, I believe that my willingness to share is why my blog made the list.  I promise you that I’ll continue to try hard to produce engaging posts for you to read.

The ILPA Landscape and Wildlife Photography Community;

One of the best and most interactive

Worldwide network of outdoor photographers online today

The network of 34 regional ILPA Landscape and Wildlife Photography Facebook Worldwide groups  has become an important place for outdoor photographers Worldwide to socialize online with each other.  These groups are about outdoor photography and outdoor photographers. 

These groups have become very popular when measuring both the number of people in the groups, and the engagement in them.  They are one of ILPA’s biggest sharing success stories.  I recommend joining the World regional group representing the region in which you live.  Then, also join the other groups representing the different parts of the World that you’re interested in learning more about, or interested in traveling to in the future. 

This network of ILPA regional landscape and wildlife photography groups is emerging as a leading sharing and learning resource for outdoor photographers Worldwide.  I hope you agree and you choose top join some the ILPA regional groups.  I also hope to see you at one of the ILPA Landscape and Wildlife Photography Summits, in the future too.  The next conference called The 2018 ILPA Summit  is Nov. 30-Dec.2, 2018 in Banff, Alberta, Canada.  I hope to see you there!

I wish you all the best in your photography, and in all of life’s endeavors moving forward.

 

Sincerely yours,

Brian Merry,

ILPA President, and first and foremost, an outdoor photographer!

 

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How to Create an Abstract Vertical Pan Blur Landscape Photograph – Part 1 of 2

How to Create Amazing Vertical Pan Blur Abstract Photographs – Part 1

 

What is a Vertical Pan Blur Landscape Photograph?

We’ve all been seeing cool vertical pan blur photography all over the internet recently.  They’re the latest and the greatest new cool thing.  But they’re not really that new, and they’re surprisingly easy to create.  They’ve just gotten really popular lately as more and more photographers are starting to take photographs using this surprisingly rather simple technique.  I’ve been creating vertical pan blur photographs since 2012.  Stumbling onto this technique after a self imposing creativity isolation was what I look back now as one of my creative growth spurts.

More than 5 years ago I felt that I was butting my creative head up against and plateau.  I was a good photographer producing good professional quality work.  But, I felt that I was stagnating a bit.  I felt like I was getting in a pattern of producing the same old, same old work.  My creative was stalled.

Don’t get me wrong.  I felt that I was producing good, professional quality landscape photography.  But, back in 2012 I felt that my artistic and emotional growth had fallen into a creative rut.  I recognized that and knew that I needed to do something to feel artistically fulfilled.

 

A vertical pan blur of a burnt forested hillside in the Canadian Rockies in Winter. © www.brianmerry.ca

I felt like I had more to give the Photographic World,

but I didn’t know what it was yet.  I struggled…

The Creative Pilgrimage

I basically shut myself in my office/studio for about a week and forced myself to explore the boundaries of my artistic skills searching for something.  I was on a self imposed quest to create something new that I hadn’t seen anyone create anywhere before.  But, when I started my creative isolation in search of personal growth I had no idea what I was going to discover.  Heck, I didn’t know if I’d learned anything at all.  The photographic skills that I had accumulated up to this point in my then 15 year long professional career in 2012 were honed and well tuned, like a razor sharp knife that cuts through a piece of paper floating in the air slicing through it like a hot knife through butter.  I felt like I was on top of my game, near the top of the industry, and I was.

But, I knew I had more to give.  I just didn’t know what it was yet.

During my self imposed creative exile I thought about the best photographers today and what they were creating.  I objectively assess if my skill level was up to their level and replicated their technique in my own photographs.  Practice, practice, practice.  I knew I had to be a master craftsman using the skill set that I already had before could develop something entirely new, and hopefully progressing the industry forward, pushing the boundaries of the norm.  There was something inside of me telling me that I had something different to give back to the industry, something brand new.

The Mentors;  The Masters:

I thought about my idols, the photographers of the past that I looked up to for inspiration and knowledge as I toiled exploring the weaknesses in my present creative ceiling.  I thought about one of my early inspirations, Buddy Peete, my then sister-law’s father.  He took me gave me my first and early inspiration towards photography, some 3 years before I even owned a SLR camera.  I thought about Ansel Adams, Edward Weston and the other members of the f/64 group.  I thought about Courtney Mile, Freedman Paterson, Andres Gallant and Galen Rowell.  These are the masters that I admired and studied.  The lessons I learned from them helped me to find my genera, and provided me guidance towards my future development as a professional photographer.

I thought about how Freeman created beautiful compositions by dragging his shutter during compositions in a field of wildflowers on a windy day.  Also, Ansel Adams was one of the first landscape photographers to truly master the fine art of photographic printing with such a high level of skill that his photographs spoke loudly about the emotional story that they screamed to tell the World.  I thought about the first Great artist who taught me about how gentle gradations of tones could grip a viewer with such force that the power of his photographs of simple things SCREAMED FINE ART at the highest level.  I thought about how these true legendary artists in photography didn’t read about the craft of photography in a book, they felt it and then wrote the pages in the tombs that later defined an industry.

These masters felt their way towards pushing the new limits of the industry.  They set the standards and then proceeded to break through them, time and time again.  Creatives don’t follow, they create.  They blaze new trails in which the industry sometimes follows.  I felt I had something to give, something that would help to stir photographers towards their next level.  A new way of seeing through the lens.

This is the period of time when I discovered creative pan blurring.  But, was I the first to purposefully create photographs like this?  I didn’t know.

Fact checking and sharing with the World

I searched the internet and the popular photography art periodicals to see if anyone else was using this technique.  After about a year of searching and quietly creating I came across a photographer in the Southern United States creating compositions like I was.  This was the first time I had heard of this photographer, and I don’t think he had heard of me.  We probably both came up with this technique around the same time, although, I think I probably developed it first.  

I was almost certainly one of the first professional landscape photographers to start teaching this technique publically back in 2012 in my outdoor photography workshops.  I started teaching my workshops students this technique in my Banff National Park landscape photography workshop series.  Around 2012 I decide to use facebook to notify as many people as I possibly could reach about the vertical pan blur technique.  But, I still only taught it in workshops until recently.  Now. I’m going to explain this technique completely to everybody in this blog.

Selecting the Right Subject to Create your Composition:

Carefully choosing the right subject is the first step in creating a successful vertical pan blur photography.  A good subject includes picture elements that have a repeating vertical pattern.  A mature stand of absolutely straight vertical trees is perhaps the easiest outdoor subject to learn this technique.  I’ve found that a burnt mature forest near where I live in Banff that has a stand of bold vertical straight tree trunks to be excellent subject matter for this technique.

The Burn, Banff National Park.  The forested stand is perfect for creating compelling phoographs using the vertical pan blur technique.  This is the stand of trees I used to create the photograph below, but in Summer.

 

Beautiful pine beetle trees burned in the forest in Banff National Park.  This is the same stand of burnt trees as in the photograph above, but taken in summer when the shrubby vegetation on the ground was green.

 

The Camera Settings:

The settings are really quite simple.  I like to use a medium telephoto zoom lens combined with a slow shutter speed.  The setting I tend to use when photographing a vertical pan blur are:

Focal length:  100mm – 120mm

Shutter speed: 1/20th of a second.  This is not a typo.  Uses this slow of a shutter speed.

Aperture: set your aperture to produce a good average exposure for the scene you’re pre-visualizing your composition in.

ISO:  This doesn’t matter too much, but I do try to avoid sensor noise so I tend to keep the ISO around ISO 1600 or lower my Canon 5D Mark IV, which has virtually no noise at this ISO setting

The key component in the camera settings is to have the shutter speed to be about 1/5 of 1/focal length.  I’ve had the best luck shooting at about 100mm-120mm and 1/20s.

 

The Technique:

If you’re a sports shooter, or a duck hunter, then you know the concept called “Following through with your shot.”  This is the technique that you need to use when shooting a vertical pan blur abstract photograph.  Simply put, you start moving your camera along the plane in which the linear picture elements in your composition are orientated.  In the case of standing trees that is straight up and down in line with the trucks of the trees.  You start moving in the sky and/or above the treetops and continue moving straight down.  After you start moving you press your shutter as you point the camera towards the standing dead trees.  The photo clicks as you’re still moving.  After the shutter closes you are still moving along the plane of the tree trunks.  You stop moving intentionally after the shutter has definitely closed.

This is where the art and the craftsmanship comes into play.  You time the shutter release so the shutter opens and closes perfectly to create a pleasing effect.  Through trial and error, you FEEL THE RIGHT MOMENT to press the shutter.  And, honestly, this takes a few times for me to get right each time I attempt to produce one of these photographs.  I may create 20-40 exposures and only get a a couple that I’m happy with during a session.  It takes practice to get good using this technique and the failure rate is high.

In Part 2, the last part in this series, I’ll talk about how I edit my vertical pan blur photography.  Part 2 will be published in Mar., 2018.

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The Canadian Rockies Top Five Winter Landscape Photography Locations; Part 1 – Banff

The Canadian Rockies Top Five

Winter Landscape Photography Locations

Part 1 – Banff National Park

 

     I can hear all the dyed in the wool veteran landscape photographers out there saying, “Who made you the authority on landscape photography in the Canadian Rockies!!!”  LOL, well, nobody really.

     But, this blog article goes a long way towards helping visiting photographers to not waste their time in the Canadian Rockies.  How do I know this, and WHAT DOES qualify me to boldly suggest such a list?  I think that after more than twenty years living and working as a professional landscape photographer in the Canadian Rockies I’ve learned a few things.  The lessons that I’ve learned that I’m sharing here will probably help visiting photographers to make the most of their time visiting the area.

     I literally know of many dozens of top notch locations throughout the Rockies, both beside the road and a few days travel into the backcountry away from the roads.  The Canadian Rockies are my home and they’ve become part of who I am.  And, now I want to share just a few of want I think are some of the best roadside winter landscape photography locations in Banff National Park.

1/  Vermillion Lakes

AKA:  The Rundle Diamond

     Vermillion Lakes has become World famous over the past decade for the quality of it’s landscape photography compositions.  And for good reason too.  This place is A-MAZING!  I must admit that I feel very fortunate to live about a 5 minute drive from this incredible location.  It’s one of my go-to locations when I’m looking for a beautiful Sunrise to photograph.  I keep going back here not only because it’s incredibly beautiful, but I keep going back because I feel that I still haven’t quite captured the absolutely perfect landscape photograph that I have pre visualized in my mind.

The Rundle diamond occurs around the Winter solstice at Vermillion Lakes. It’s become a famous composition since I first popularized it with this multiple award winning photograph in 2012. © www.brianmerry.ca

 

When and Where to Capture the Rundle Diamond

     Around the Winter Solstice the Sun rises from the valley between Mount Rundle, left of the Sun, and Sulphur Mountain, right of the Sun while standing at Second Vermillion Lake.  You can see this position position in the photograph pictured above.  This composition is something I started calling “The Rundle Diamond” back in 2012.  I believe that this is a composition that I happened to popularized with this image that I captured that very cold boxing day morning in 2012.  This photograph has won multiple awards from the Professional Photographers of Canada at both the Alberta Provincial and Canadian National levels.

     You should probably add Vermillion Lakes to your personal hit list for landscape photography locations to visit while you’re in the Canadian Rockies.  The are many great locations to shoot along the lakeshore of the 3 vermillion lakes right beside the road.  There’s also a good chance that you’ll see me drive up to Second Vermillion Lake Sunrise too, if you happen to be there one morning in the future.  I love shooting here.  Walk over to say hi if you see me pull up in my blue Toyota Prius with my website written on my back bumper.  I’ll be the photographer standing there with a coffee mug in hand!

 

2/  Lake Minnewanka

     Lake Minnewanka has become famous in the last ten years or so due to its proximity to Banff and it’s convenient location to looking NE towards a Dark Sky.  This is a perfect location to view the Aurora.  It’s probably one of the best, and is definitely the most popular night sky photography location in the Canadian Rockies.

Banff Aurora Night Photography

The Aurora in Banff National Park at Lake Minnewanka. © www.brianmerry.ca

     Keep an eye on the aurora forecast and sign up to receive Aurora email alerts on your phone to help you to judge when the aurora might be out.  If the aurora is out, and the skies are clear, you won’t be disappointed with this location.  It’s also a pretty good spot during the day too, especially when storm clouds are clearing off of the middle ground mountains.  It is simply beautiful here.

Lake Minnewanka during freeze up in December 2016. © www.brianmerry.ca

 

 

3/  Moose Meadows, Bow Valley Parkway in Banff National Park

     Moose Meadows has many faces to reveal to the frequent Winter visitor.  The seemingly infinite combination of snow density on the ground and bushes, along with the endless weather combinations, never seem to disappoint the open minded landscape photographer.  This is one of my “bad weather” backup locations that always seems to deliver the goods.

     Sometimes, when snow squalls sweep across the meadows a beautiful ghostly variable depth of field can develop.  Trees positioned at various distances away from the car pullout seem to fade off and disappear behind the falling or blowing snow.  Crystal clear days also create good landscape photography conditions here as the layered mountain landscape adds dramatic visual depth to images that will be hard not to capture in your photographs.

Moose Meadows looking towards the Northwest, © www.brianmerry.ca

     This seemly unimpressive location was overlooked for decades when I first arrived in Banff in 1996.  But, I always kept this location in my “back pocket” as a safe location to shoot in bad weather.  Moose Meadows never seems to disappoint the open minded landscape photographer as this photograph suggests.  Moose Meadows is simply beautiful.  Check it out!

4/  Lake Louise, Banff National Park

     Yeah, I had to include this place too.  It is Famous around the World for is simply perfect composition.  I should give you one valuable piece of advice for you to remember when composing this scene though.  Don’t include too much of Fairview Mountain in your frame when shooting here.  Fairview is the mountain in the foreground, on your left when standing on the lakeshore close to the parking lot.  The big dark triangle that it forms is a dominating and distracting picture element that completes against the beautiful distant background scenery formed by the spectacularly glaciated Mount Victoria.

Mount Victoria is a beautiful and justifiably World famous mountain that is arguably the postcard icon of the Rockies. © www.brianmerry.ca

 

5/  Tunnel Mountain

     This last one is often overlooked because it involves an easy 2 hour return hike from your car.  Because of the time commitment involved to hike to the summit of Tunnel Mountain many people simply don’t go here.  This is one location in the Canadian Rockies that is usually better to shoot in the middle of the day rather than at Sunrise or Sunset.  Check it out if you ever have a few hours to kill when you’re in the town of Banff.  You can get directions on where the trailhead is at the National Park Visitor Centre on Banff Avenue in the middle of town.  They can give you a free map and a good description of the hike.

     And, don’t worry about being alone on this trail.  It is a popular trail and a bit of a local’s favourite. You’ll meet many dozens of people on the trail while you’re hiking it.  Locals also like to go hike it too for a bit of exercise or to kill a bit of time.

A couple admiring the view to the West from the Summit of Tunnel Mountain. © www.brianmerry.ca

In Summary

     The collection of landscape photography locations I outlined above are among the best Winter roadside locations to shoot in Banff National Park between Banff and Lake Louise.  I hope that you get to see and photograph them in good light someday soon.  Stay tuned to my blog and sign up for my newsletter too because I’m going to publish an article highlighting the best Summer Landscape Photography Locations in the Canadian Rockies in the near future.  These two articles together should give you a good start planning your perfect trip to the Canadian Rockies. 

     And, if you would like to visit what most local photographs consider the “Jewel of the Canadian Rockies,” Lake O’Hara, then check out my annual overnight backcountry there.  This all inclusive trip, the Fall colors group tour to Lake O’Hara happens during the usual peak of the Fall yellow larch trees in the alpine around September 15-25th each year.  This is one of the best, if not the best landscape photography tour in Canada.  Lake O’Hara’s reputation as simply THE BEST place to hike and photograph in the Canadian Rockies in the Fall is well deserved! 

     One last thing.  Check it out and feel free to contact me for a private outdoor photography tour in the Canadian Rockies too while you’re here too.  Consider hiring me early in your multi-day trip to the Rockies.  I’ll give you lots of good advice during our tour that’ll likely help you to improve the quality of your photography for the duration of your stay.  I do love sharing my passion and my intimate local knowledge of the area.

 

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Using Facebook Pages to Organize Communications from Different Business Initiatives

Using Facebook Pages to

Organize your Professional Communications

     Facebook Business Pages can often be a source of non-professional social engagement.  They can also provide a platform to feed one’s personal vanity too.  But, FB Pages can also be used by a business to organize followers with similar interests into segments of their overall professional community of followers.  A business can use these different pages representing these segments of followers to communicate very different and relevant messages to them. 

     This relevant communication will help a professional to increase follower retention and engagement over time.  This can translate into a positive outcome for both your business, and for your followers too.  But, what happens when they are many, conflicting and sometimes incompatible messages to communicate to different segments of your followers.

Facebook Business Page Follow

Grow an engaged  facebook business page community with relevant communications

     My business often to communicates to different geographic segments of the industry.  For instance, I tend to offer events that usually have a regional appeal.  Sometimes, I need send different and specific messages to only a part of my following, usually segmented by differing geographic regions.  I’ve been running my outdoor photography business for 22+ years, and I find that using Facebook pages helps me to organize and communicate my messages clearly throughout the different segments of the outdoor photography community I operate in, which is the landscape and wildlife photography communities.

     After 22+ years I’m still as completely charged up to go to work everyday as I was when I started.  I love getting out to photograph the beautiful outdoor World we live in.  Staying organized in business helps me to find the time to get back to the roots of my inspiration, photography outside, in the field.

My complicated business

     I am truly a “dyed in the wool” outdoor photographer that has a limited amount of time each day, like everybody else I suppose.  I organize and host numerous tours and workshops every year around the World through my outdoor photography business.  But, I’m also the president of the International Landscape Photographers’ Association, ILPA, organizing and hosting their annual landscape and wildlife photography conferences since 2015, The ILPA Summits.  AND, I curate and publish The ILPA Landscape and Wildlife Photography Weekly newsletter.  

     And, there’s one more, or, there’s 34 more things.  I administer 34 regional landscape and wildlife photography facebook groups around the globe.  Sometimes when I step back to take a 30,000 foot aerial view of what I get dizzy trying to make sense of it all.  The key to accomplishing so much efficiently is having a good advisory team to help guide me, and a stringent sense of time management that provides enough clarity for me to say no to new projects with confidence if I simply cannot fit it in my schedule.

And, there’s more on my professional plate…

     To round out my professional obligations, I tirelessly work alongside the ILPA Board of Advisors creating a place to unite outdoor photographers into one collective voice via the International Landscape Photographers’ Association.  This is a difficult task.  Our artistic pursuit, outdoor photography, is often looked upon by practitioners as a peaceful source of zen like solitude that we use to “get away from it all”.  Many outdoor photographers became outdoor photographers to escape “obligations and organizations”. 

     But, the ILPA Board of Advisors believes that sometimes we need to have a collective voice.  We need to let our opinions be known as needed.  The proverbial “shot from the dark” could significantly affect the World that we as outdoor photographers play in.  We need to have an organized voice ready to be voiced in opposition to these unknown obstacles.

     Managing all of these tasks is a balancing act.  But with more than 22 years of professional experience in the industry, along with the guidance from the ILPA Board of Advisors, I believe that we do a good job finding the balance.  I believe that we’ve created an important organization ready to represent outdoor photographers, as needed.   

Hummm, overall that’s a lot of different hats to wear. 

     But, that’s my job.  And, Facebook Pages, and Facebook Groups, helps the ILPA Board and I to organize our professional priorities into a manageable cohesive unit.  In the framework that we’ve built each arm of “Brian Merry Photography” business operations, along with the ILPA professional obligations, can be managed effectively.  Let me explain.

The majority of facebook pages can be lumped into two broad categories:

     1/  Personal or part time business pages

     2/  Full time professional small business and organizational pages

How I use Facebook Pages to manage my Professional obligations, ie:  My secret to success:

     I’ve found that all of the professional initiatives that I participate in require me to have three different FB pages.  Each page also has one or more groups associated with it.  These groups help organize, represent and to communicate effectively with the different page followers:

     1/  My photography business page, Brian Merry Photography, is for my personal business activities.  I use it to engage with photographers like you to provide inspiration.  I also use this page to promote my workshops, tours and other community building initiatives. 

     2/  A page for the International landscape Photographer’ Association for the overall operations and communications from ILPA.  Professional Photographer members of ILPA and ILPA Industry Partners may sometimes have their events promoted on this page as well.  

     3/  A Conference page to represent the conference that ILPA produces, The ILPA Summit.  This page, along with the website, is the principle source of information about upcoming ILPA Summits.

But, what does this all mean for you?

     The summary above is the way that I use facebook pages to organize different aspects of my professional life.  I know that the organizational processes that I outline here are specific to my professional obligations.  They include my responsibilities to my outdoor photography business and the obligations I have administering the International landscape Photographers’ Association.  However, I do believe that by using the framework of Facebook Pages and Facebook groups that I’ve built I can effectively manage all of my professional obligations.  I hope that the organizational structure I use through facebook provides some insight into how you can use Facebook to organize your own personal and/or professional obligations too.

 

 

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The Canadian Rockies Big Five Wildlife Photography

The Canadian Rockies

Big Five Wildlife Photography Photos

The Canadian Rockies are known for spectacular wildlife photography.  Few photographers would probably disagree with that.  But, what is the trophy list of species that visiting photographers should seek out?  With my long term professional photography experience here in Canadian Rockies, more than two decades worth, I’m going to go on a limb and put forward “The Canadian Rockies Big Five Wildlife” list for the region.  I think that I have a pretty good idea of what the big five could be.  Collecting this list would make for a great trip to the Rockies too.  I hope that you have fun getting out to photograph the Canadian Rockies Big Five Wildlife!

Grizzly Bear:

Banff Grizzly Bear

A grizzly bear near Lake Louise in Banff National Park. © www.brianmerry.ca

 

Rather than include a wildlife photograph of a big, badass grizzly bear, which I do have, I thought I’d post this cute little guy instead.  Grizzly bears can grow to be very big and are never to be messed with whether they’re big, or smallish.  These guys can mess you up.

Bear safety:

Luckily, I’ve found that grizzly bears don’t want to have nasty encounters with people.  They just want to make a living eating their nature foods which doesn’t include people, unlike polar bears.  However, if you were to surprise a grizzly bear on a trail, or find yourself in close quarters with a sow and her cub(s), they could likely charge and potentially attack you.  Be prepared to mange a bear encounter.

Fortunately, grizzly bear attacks are very rare considering the shear number of people hiking and camping out in the back country in their natural habitat.  It is a good idea to make a lot of noise while hiking, especially in densely vegetated areas.  This will help to prevent running into a grizzly bear as you walk around a corner since he will likely hear you coming long before he sees you.  Grizzly bears have good hearing and will tend to move off of the trail to avoid you when they hear you coming.

Also, carry bear spray and have keep it readily available to grab quickly.  Keep it on your belt or on your chest pack strap.  It’s no good to you if it’s buried inside of your pack, or even tied outside on the back of your pack.  You need to be able to grab it quickly when you need it.  I tend to pass it through my chest strap on my pack so it is in the middle of my chest.  This way I can use both hands and look at it as I quickly get it out of the carrying harness harness to use it quickly.  Be sure you know how to use it too.  It could save you from a nasty bear encounter.

Having said that, I’ve encountered many dozens of bears on the trail, in the backcountry of the Canadian Rockies without being attacked.  I have been charged a few times, but have always been able to manage the situation and convince the bear to leave without using my bear spray.  Bear spray only works within a few meters anyways.  It is a necessary piece of equipment, but it is a tool to be used when everything else fails.  Be “bear aware” when traveling in the backcountry.

 

Elk:

Elk, a common ungulate in the Canadian Rockies. © www.brianmerry.ca

Elk are somewhat plentiful in Banff National Park, if you know where to look for them.  And, they are also beautiful and magestic making for a somewhat reliable “Big Five” wildlife photography photography session.

Elk are not as plentiful as they were 20 years ago when they where commonly found in many places in the town of Banff.  A big animal like this can be dangerous, especially the females during the Spring calving season and the males during the Fall rut.  Male elk start growing their antlers in the Spring, rub the velvet off in late summer before the rut, and then drop them around February to early April at the latest.  The photo above was taken in mid March in Banff National Park.

 

Bighorn Sheep:

A big old Big Horn Sheep Ram. © www.brianmerry.ca

Bighorn sheep with huge curled horns are a much sought after wildlife photography prize.  These can be photographed at anytime of the year.  They are a somewhat reliable photographic subject when I go out to photograph wildlife close to my home in the town of Banff.  I know the local bighorn sheep flocks very well and can usually find some of these guys when I want to photograph them.

 

Two male Bighorn Sheep Rams butting heads © www.brianmerry.ca

Bighorn sheep in the Canadian Rockies are somewhat unafraid of people as well.  If you were to approach them they would probably stop what they are doing and leave though.  It is important not to change their behaviour when photographing them.  If you notice that they stop eating or start to wlk away from you, then you’ve probably gone too far in your prusuit for your photograph.  Be respectful of their space.  With many millions of visitors to the Canadian Rockies every year we need to respect their space so they can make a living here too.

 

Wolf:

This guy needs no introduction.  The Wolf is a probably the most famous member of this elite list of trophy wildlife photography subjects.  It also has the most troubled and delicate relationship with us humans.  The wolf was hunted and trapped to very low numbers about a hundred years ago.  This resilient and highly intelligent species has bounced back over the last half century while still facing significant pressure from continued habitat loss and human presence.

A Grey Wolf stopping to size me up in Banff National Park. © www.brianmerry.ca

Wolves have a storied relationship with humans mired in conflict for wide open spaces.  This is one species where it is possible to literally love it to death.

As the Bow Valley wolf pack shared the relatively small Bow River Valley in Banff National Park they had to learn to live in Canada’s busiest transportation corridor linking the West Coast of Canada with the East.  Millions of people passed right through their former home range each year on the Trans Canada Highway, a scenic roadway between banff and lake Louise, and on one of the bustiest rail lines in the country.

Eventually, the Bow Valley Pack moved out of the Valley after their prey became scarcer and human/wildlife conflict issues became to great for the pack to bear.  Unfortunately this happened after two members of the pack had to be killed but a packs Canada Human/Wildlife Conflict specialist had to choice but to shot after the pack demonstrated aggressive behavior towards the Parks Employee.  I for one feel story for this event, and for the Parks Canada employee for the difficult decision they had to make when dispatched these two wolves.

Incidentally, one of the well documented human/wildlife conflicts issues involving the pack was the illegal feeding of the Wolves with left over holiday turkey.  It is suspected that an unknown wildlife photographer had baited the wolves for their own wildlife photography benifit.  Many photographers had photographed the wolves leading up to the discovery of the bait piles and the offending wildlife photographer(s) where never caught.

This is a harsh lesson that feeding wildlife can eventually lead to the death of the wildlife being fed.  PLEASE, do not feed wildlife!  Feeding wildlife in Banff National park carries a maximum fine of $25000.  I suspect if the photographer responsible for this feeding the Bow Valley Wolf Pack is ever caught they would receive the maximum penalty.

 

Pika:

To round out our Big Five Canadian Rockies wildlife photography big five trophy photographs I’d like to introduce the smallest member of the Lagamorpha Order, Family Ochotonidae, commonly known as the cute little Pika.  This little “rock rabbit” is only found in the high mountain alpine habitats.

The Pika, the smallest member of the Lagomorpha Order.  © www.brianmerry.ca

Pikas are small in size.  They about the size of a grown man’s fist.  But they are easily detected in the Canadian Rockies when you look for them in the right habitat.  You may find Pikas living in boulder fields under which they make their homes.  The perfect boulder field for a Pika is also interspersed with patches of soft leafy vegetation and and alpine flowers.  This vegetation is needed close to their home because they need to collect enough of it to fill their food caches to last them all winter.  These little guys don’t hibernate at all while spending the long winter under the snow.

This little guys are usually heard before they are seen as you hike through their small ~20 m home ranges.  Their alarm call is a very distinctive high pitched “EEEEEE.”  Once you hear this sound simply look in the direction of the noise and wait for him to sound the alarm again to spot him in amongst the boulders.  This is how I easily find them when I’m in their specialized habitat.

Few people see them as well because of where they live.  This perceived rarity makes them a highly prized subject for many wildlife photographers.  Mountain hiking trails usually do not pass through boulder fields at, or near the tree line.  And pikas are not found far from these alpine habitats either.  But when you do venture up into the alpine boulder fields you’ll probably find these cute and noisy little critters.

 

A Pika pausing to look at me while collecting grass and flowers for it’s winter food cache. © www.brianmerry.ca

 

A Future Contender for the Canadian Rockies Big Five:

The Bison, aka Buffalo:

Bison have have been reintroduced into Banff National Park via an ambitious project with the goal to restore the historical biological diversity in Banff National Park by added the bison back into the ecosystem.  Maybe someday in the future we’ll be able to photograph bison safely from inside of our cars along the roadways in Banff.  The wild bison in the photograph below was photographed in Northern British Columbia near Liard Hot Springs Provincial Park.

I photographed this bison in Northern BC. Bison are being reintroduced into Banff National Park. © www.brianmerry.ca

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Location profile, Takakkaw Falls, Yoho National Park

Takakkaw Falls in  Yoho National Park Location Profile

 

Takakkaw Falls in Yoho National Park in the Canadian Rockies showing the correct use of a circular polarizing filter in landscape photography.  © www.brianmerry.ca

 

Takakkaw Falls is one of the tallest waterfalls in Canada and it is a perfect destination to include in a landscape photography tour of the Canadian Rockies.  But, this location has a few access restrictions that you need to know about to avoid disappointment.

First of all, Takakkaw Falls is located in British Columbia, about a 40 minute drive from Lake Louise, Alberta.  It is a half day trip from lake Louise and is best included with a trip to visit Emerald Lake and the Natural Bridge in the same day.  If you are on a tight schedule you may not be able to fit this location into a fast paced landscape photography tour of the Canadian Rockies.  Yoho National Park has a lot of beautiful locations to photograph though.  One of the best is Lake O’Hara, which is probably the best little mountains Valley for hiking photographers in the Canadian Rockies, especially during the pak of yellow larch trees around the third to fourth week of September.  Opabin Plateau is the best place to shoot in Lake O’Hara too.

However, the photograph above is truly spectacular and you only have to walk a few hundred meters on a paved “hiking” trail from when you park your car to stand in the same spot where I stood to take the same photograph included in this post above.  The following is the lowdown on how to get this shot!

Where to go:

The Takakkaw Falls access road is 23kms west of lake Louise on highway #1, the Trans Canada Highway.  You’ll get there in about 15 minutes if there is no traffic delays.  A word of caution though.  There are highway crews working on widening and rerouting the road down kicking horse pass in 2017.  Road work is likely to continue on this project for 3-5 years so factor in some time delays for that.  drive west from lake Louise and about a one minute drive East from Field, British Columbia.  Once you turn onto the access road simply drive 25kms to the parking lot at the end of the road.  You’ll start to see the Falls about halfway down the road when you’re still about 10kms from the parking lot.  They are that high!!

When to be there, and what weather is best:

The best time to shoot the waterfall is between 11:00 am and 2:00pm daily.  At this time the Sun is side lighting the cliff creating an interesting textured relief.  If you visit Takakkaw falls before 11:00am the cliff and the waterfall will be in dark shadow with a bright sky above and behind the cliff, on a sunny day.  If you visit the waterfall after 2pm you’ll still have front lighting on the cliff and the waterfall, but you’ll be sacrificing the dramatic texture in the cliffs created when they are sidelite from the Sun.

On a cloudy and rainy day I would probably give this location a miss too.  Most of the time the rain and clouds shroud the cliff and waterfall because they are so high, about 400m from the valley bottom to the top of the Falls.  Also, the density of the falling raindrops usually renders the cliff and waterfall in a diffuse white haze compared to it’s usual splendor when it’s sunny out.

So, in summary, the best time to be here is mid-day on a bright and sunny day.  This is one of the few landscape photography locations that is best to photograph in the middle of the day in bright sunlight!

Where is the best vantage point/view and what gear should you use?

About 200m after after the parking lot on the paved “hiking” trail you’ll come to a steel pedestrian bridge crossing the fast flowing Kicking Horse River.  Don’t cross the bridge.

The best location to photograph the Falls is about 50 meters farther along the trail and up a small hill.  The trail will end a viewpoint within sight of the bridge.  This viewpoint is the best place to photograph the whole waterfall and the surrounding environment.   A tripod is useful at this location too.  I would recommend using a polarizing filter on a mid range zoom lens for the camera format you’re using.  This will frame the waterfall vertically like I did in the photograph above.

 

Then snap away and capture your own photograph of this very cool place!

Do you like this tip?  I have a lot more local knowledge I can share with you…

 

 

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Guiding Polar Bear Wildlife Photography Tours. Another piece in the annual photography tour cycle filled!

Guiding Polar Bear Wildlife Photography Tours

Another piece of the annual photo tour cycle filled!

 

It’s official, I’ll be guiding several polar bear wildlife photography speciality tours up in Churchill, Manitoba late this Fall for Frontiers North Adventures.  Yep, there goes another tick off of the outdoor photography bucket list.  I may do this every year for the foreseeable future.

 

Snowdome Sunset on the Columbia Icefields near the base of Mount Columbia.  © www.brianmerry.ca

The photo above isn’t in Churchill, it’s near my home in the Canadian Rockies.

But, it helped to provide the inspiration needed to fulfill one of my professional photographic dreams.

 

You asked and now I can deliver!

Some of  you have asked me if I would consider hosting a polar bear wildlife photography tour in Churchill Manitoba.  I already have an extensive list of diverse landscape photography tours spanning the globe with more international photography tours in development.  Watch for more on those tours to World famous destinations coming down the pipe too!  A Churchill, Manitoba polar bear tour was one of those tours in development.  I’ve been listening to your event suggestions seriously over the years.  A wildlife tour to Churchill is one of your suggestions that I’ve been getting from many of you too.  I’ve been researching the possibility of building and offering my own polar bear wildlife photography tour.  I’ve discovered that I’d need to use the established infrastructure in Churchill to make a wildlife photography tour there viable.

Building tours that offer you the best value is a core paradigm in all the photography tours I design

I discovered that Frontiers North Adventures already offers an amazing and diverse lineup of quality wildlife photography specific tours at Cape Churchill.   They already offer tours to photographers at reasonable prices given the high production costs of hosting a quality tour in Churchill, Manitoba.  In good conscious, I felt that I couldn’t add enough additional value over what Frontiers North’s Wildlife Photography specific tours were already offering for the price that I would have to charge.  After all, I’m going to have to mark up the tour costs to pay for my expenses and make a profit too.   I concluded that Frontiers North already has the best valued polar bear wildlife photography tour available.  

The best polar bear tour available is to stay out on Churchill Point at the Tundra Buggy Lodge, owned and operated by Frontiers North Adventures.  Additionally, you sould stay at the lodge in the town of Churchill and do day tours out to Churchill Point. 

The people who run the Tundra Buggy Lodge are the good people who I’m going to be contracting with leading some their polar bears wildlife photography tours out on the legendary Cape Churchill for three weeks during the usual peak of the early winter polar bear viewing season.  This is the period of time right before the polar bears head out onto the ice for the winter.  Imagine polar bears lazing around and playing in fresh snow on the shores of Cape Churchill on Hudson’s Bay.  They’re waiting for the pack ice to get thick enough for them to head out onto it for the winter.  This makes them very approachable for wildlife photography.  This is the life I’m going to be living and sharing with my guests at the Tundra Buggy Lodge on Cape Churchill in Wapusk National Park.

Why is staying at the Tundra Buggy Lodge the best option to maximize your polar bear viewing time?

Commercial access on Churchill Point is strictly controlled by the national park managers, and Frontiers North Adventures is the only tour operator allowed to operate polar bear photography tours based out of the lodge right on Churchill Point.  Frontiers North is the company that owns and operates the famous Tundra Buggy Lodge.  I’ll be leading tours out of the Tundra Buggy Lodge during during my tenure with them.  Parks Canada has an excellent management plan in place for wildlife viewing.  In this plan they manage access to the highly vulnerable habitat found at Churchill Point.  Frontiers North Adventures is only tour operator permitted to operate a seasonal lodge right on Churchill Point.  This is right in the middle of the polar bear action.  This is where you want to be to see polar bears!

Why reinvent the wheel?

So, I parked my “go it alone” ego and decided to join who I think operates the best polar bear tours up there.  Thankfully, Frontiers North thought I would be a good fit in their professionally lead wildlife photography theme tours too.  If you’d like to join me to photography the famous polar bears then come on up!  I’ll be one of their professional photographers on staff for three weeks during the usual peak of polar bear photography.  The bears will be milling about in the fresh snow waiting for the ice to get thick enough to venture out onto for the winter.  I’ll be there Oct. 28th – Nov. 19th.  When you call to reserve your tour, let them know that I sent you.  I may be your wildlife photography guide in Churchill this Fall. 

Let’s capture one the trophy wildlife photographs that many wildlife photographers have on their list.  Come on up and join me if polar bears are on your wildlife photography bucket list too!

 

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