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Sunrise at Vermillion Lakes in Sepemtber 2019. © www.BrianMerry.ca

Good Morning Everyone!

This is a post to give everyone the inside scoop on a free Sunrise landscape photography tour I’m offering on November 24th.  Join the meetup group and my mailing list to be the first to hear about it as soon as it goes public.  You’ll also automatically hear about future free events too 

This is the order in which I announce each new free Sunrise/Sunset meetup event:

  1. Photographers signed up to receive my “Event Insider’s List” emails will hear about this free tour first shortly after I create it on meetup.com.  Being on the “Event Insider’s List” will give you first access to all my events, and to exclusive discounts on the other events that ILPA Professional Photographers offer.  Join the mailing list if you haven’t already.  It’s worth it!  There are about 2500 photographers on this list.  Here’s the link to join the “Event Insider’s email List”:

**Be sure to add the ILPA email address as a ‘safe sender’ in your email app.  This will help you to hear about these free tours by preventing them from landing in your Spam folder.** 

  • ~10 minutes after I create the meetup event I’ll post it in my “BmerryPhoto Landscapes” Facebook group.  This group is for past photography tour or workshop guests.  Past tour and workshop participants are sometimes eligible for exclusive discounts through this group on my upcoming events.  Here’s the link to that facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/210251719104863/ 
  • ~20 minutes after I create the Sunrise/Sunset meetup event I’ll send an email announcing the event to the 500+ members of the Sunrise/Sunset meetup group.  The meetups usually fill up shortly after I announce them in the group.  That’s right, first I create the meetup and then about 20 minutes later I announce to the members of the meetup group by emailing members of the group who’ve opted into receive group emails.  Here is the link to that group if you want to join it:  https://www.meetup.com/Free-Banff-Sunrise-Landscape-Photography-Meetup/
  • ~30 minutes after I create the Sunrise/Sunset meetup event I’ll notify members by posting a link to the event in the “Banff/Jasper & the Canadian Rockies Landscape/Wildlife Photography by ILPA” and the “Alberta Landscape/Wildlife Photography by ILPA” facebook groups.  There are about 11000 members in these two groups.  These two groups are a great way to connect with and learn from like minded outdoor photographers.  Here are the links to these two groups if you’re interested in joining them:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/BanffJasperPhotoGroup/
https://www.facebook.com/groups/1742232065996836/
  • ~1 hour after I announcement the meetup I’ll announce it in other facebook groups.  The exact groups and posting frequency will vary depending on the group guidelines and rules set out by the group administrators.  Some Admins allow free events to be announced in their groups, and some do not.

I hope that you guys enjoy the free Sunrise/Sunset meetup group.  It’s just one of the many ways that I strive to give back to the community that has graciously given me my long outdoor photography career.  Thank you for supporting me and I hope you continue to love what I do!

Sincerely yours,

Brian Merry

PS:  If you’re a professional Outdoor photographer and you’d like me to help you to sell out your ethical landscape, wildlife and travel photography events, then please contact me to learn more.  I can help other ILPA Pro members to plug into the “International Landscape Photographers’ Association” network.

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Here’s a flash, the verb, not the noun, outdoor photography contest for you. This very informal contest will have 5 winners. All you have to do is follow the simple steps outline on my Facebook page. Click through below to get to the page and to enter the contest!

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The Rundle Diamond photographed on Dec. 26, 2018, © www.brianmerry.ca

How, Where and When to Photograph

The Rundle Diamond

One of the Most Famous Winter Landscape Photography Compositions

in the Canadian Rockies

 

The Rundle Diamond occurs around the Winter solstice at Vermillion Lakes. © 2012 www.brianmerry.ca

 

Since I first captured “The Rundle Diamond” back in 2012 this photograph and become a well sought after, and elusive composition.  The Rundle Diamond is a popular landscape photograph that is on many serious landscape photographers’ hit list.  It is an incredible composition.  But, how do you capture this famous photograph?

For a couple of decades I’ve been working as a professional landscape photographer based in the beautiful mountain town of Banff in Banff National Park.  I love outdoor photography.  And, I love sharing my incredible home with visiting photographers here on this blog page, through the 34 Worldwide regional landscape and wildlife photography groups I administer, and through the group and private landscape photography tours that I host in the Canadian Rockies.  I truly love sharing my passion with others and I’m grateful that I’m able to make my FT living from sharing my beautiful one with other liked minded photographers

What is “The Rundle Diamond” anyway?

That’s a good question, and I’ll fill you in here.  The Rundle Diamond was a photograph that I captured on Boxing Day, Dec. 26, 2012.  I briefly considered calling it Boxing Day, but quickly decided that “The Rundle Diamond” was a more colorfully descriptive name.  Since mid-2013 that is what I started calling this composition.  And, it’s caught on wildly throughout the landscape photography community.

It’s also gained Worldwide appeal.  How can I say this confidence?

Each year when I’m not travelling somewhere in the World leading one of my travel photography tours that I host either on a solo photography trip, or leading one of my travel photography tours around the World I’ll try to capture a better version of The Rundle Diamond.  Most of the time when I’m out there I bump into a half a dozen or more photographs there to capture the Rundle Diamond.  The number of photographers travelling from all over the World that I see at Vermillion Lakes each year trying to capture this photograph has been steadily increasing over the years.  This is why I think that this composition is gaining World wide appeal.

 

The Rundle Diamond photographed on Dec. 26, 2018, © www.brianmerry.ca

 

These are the conditions that you need to capture The Rundle Diamond:

1/  You need open water that reflects Mount Rundle and Sulphur Mountain.

2/  The Sun needs to be rising in the bottom of the V shaped valley formed between Mount Rundle and Sulphur Mountain.

3/  It needs to be pretty cold, which is not usually a problem when the first two conditions are met in late December each year.

4/  It needs to be a mostly clear day with low atmospheric haze.  This is usually not a proble at the end of December when the cold overnight temperatures usually freezes low level water vapour out of the atmosphere.

 

Where is the best place to photograph The Rundle Diamond?

There are a number of luke warm water sulphur springs along the lake shore of each of the three Vermillion lakes that collectively make up “The Vermillion Lakes.”  They are located pretty close to the town of Banff too, about 1 km to the first lake, and about 4 km to the end of the third lake.  The Lakes are accessed via the aptly named “Vermillion Lakes Road” which is located about 500m from the town of Banff.  Vermillion Lakes road is accessed via a West turn off of the Mount Norquay Road.  This turn is very close, about 50m, from the West exit to Banff off of the Trans Canada Highway.

Once on the Vermillion Lakes Road, continue down it driving past the first lake.  Soon after passing the first lake you will come to Second Vermillion Lake.  There is no street sign beside the lake identifying it as Second Vermillion Lake.  So, just make a mental note that you have to stop at the second lake.

I wish you the very best in capturing your own version of this Famous Photograph.  And if you would like me to help you photograph it, and then help you to photograph many more of the Famous landscape Photographs that Banff and Lake Louise are Famous for, please  consider hiring me for a private landscape photography tour I’ve been leading private tours here in the Canadian Rockies for more that 20 years.  I will be able to help you to capture your own World Class landscape photographs of the Canadian Rockies.

 

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A grizzly bear walking straight towards me in Jasper National Park. © www.brianmerry.ca

A Close Call with a Pair of Grizzly Bears

in Banff National Park

     I had an interesting grizzly bear encounter on Thursday, June 27, 2018. My wife, Kazue, and I were backcountry camping at Norman Lake near Sunset Pass in Banff National Park.  Norman Lake is a little South of the Columbia Icefields and a few KMs East of the Icefields Parkway.  It was a nice day in late June in 2018.  Suddenly, as we were finishing up dinner not one, but two grizzly bears appeared in the mountain meadow in front of us about 150m away and began walking straight towards our campsite.  And, the distance between us was closing uncomfortable fast.

Visit this page on the Parks Canada website

for some excellent advice on

what to do when you encounter a bear

 

A grizzly bear walking straight towards me in Jasper National Park. © 2013 www.brianmerry.ca

So, what do you do when two grizzly bears

are walking towards you and they haven’t seen you yet?

 

You yell at the Grizzly Bears, of course!

 

     We kinda didn’t have much of a chance to avoid an encounter with this pair of grizzly bears.  They were heading directly towards the point of trees we were camped in on the edge of the meadow.  So, I decided to confront them because they hadn’t seen us yet and there was still about 150m (500 feet) of distance between us and them.  If we had done nothing they would have been in our camp, or walked right beside it in less than a minute. I really didn’t want to be that close to two grizzlies in the backcountry either…

     I walked out from the edge of the trees where our campsite was so the pair of approaching grizzly bears could clearly see me and I started yelling at them. The big one stood up to investigate.

That was a BIG Grizzly Bear!

     He was BIG! Probably 7 to 9+ feet high. He was a really big boy! The other grizzly was a little smaller, but it was a big bear too.  The smaller grizzly bear was probably a female since Spring is breeding season for grizzlies in the Canadian Rockies.  After seeing the larger bear stand up, the slightly smaller bear took off sprinting to exit the meadow to the left.  She didn’t want to have anything to do with us.

     When the big grizzly saw her leave he decided that he had better follow her too and he took off after her at full speed. Man, grizzly bears can run really fast when they want too.  I estimate they were running at least 3-4 times faster than I can run.

Did I Manage to get a Wildlife Photograph of the Advancing Pair of Grizzly Bears?

     Nope!  I didn’t get a photograph of these bears during this encounter.  I was honestly more concerned about managing the situation well enough so I would see tomorrow’s Sunrise than I was about getting a photograph.  Lol!  Just kidding.  Well, sort of… 

     Luckily the bears were good grizzly bears.  They didn’t really want to have anything to do with us either, and took off once they noticed that we were already in the clump of trees that they were heading directly towards.

 

Banff Grizzly Bear

A cute little grizzly bear near Lake Louise in Banff National Park in 2013. © www.brianmerry.ca

 

     That’s another crisis averted in the backcountry.  I apologize for not having a photo of the big grizzly standing up on his hind legs to take a good look at us.  That was a very impressive sight to see.  But, I was completely focused on managing the situation and didn’t even think about taking a photograph.  The photographs of the bears I’ve included in this post are different bears that I photographed in previous years.

     The lead photograph in this post features another big bear that I encountered in Jasper about five years ago.  The bear I saw last Thursday was larger than the bear in the photograph. 

Living in Banff makes me feel so alive!

     After the encounter I simply went back to drinking my apres supper coffee and chilled out by our campfire.  The tense situation was over as quickly as it had developed.  The bears now knew where we were and I was fairly confident that they weren’t going to come over to investigate our campsite any farther.

Author’s safety note:

     I revealed myself to these two bears because I really didn’t have a safer escape route or an avoidance alternative.  I’m definitely not recommending that people should go out looking for bears to challenge.  That would be, well, stupid.  And, that practice will probably end badly eventually. 

     I’ll say again that I confronted these two bears because I didn’t have another viable escape or avoidance option.  Letting these two grizzly bears know that I was in their path was my best option to avoid a more dangerous encounter.  And, it worked.  I’m convinced that bears don’t want to hurt people, for the most part! 

Enjoy the Canadian Rockies.  They are beautiful.

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Peyto Lake is one of the iconic scenes in the Canadian Rockies. © www.brianmerry.ca

Summer is my Slow Season for Outdoor Photography Tours…

But why?

 

Peyto Lake is one of the iconic scenes in the Canadian Rockies. © www.brianmerry.ca

 

Most people think that Summer in the heart of the Canadian Rockies, where I base my landscape photography tour business, would be absolutely hopping busy in the Summer.  And, it is.

But, for a small landscape photography tour operator, like me, it’s actually a little slow.  I think that the reason is that small group and independent travelling outdoor photographers tend not to visit during the Summer months.  But, why is that?

Banff and Jasper are World renown for their amazing landscape photography

Well, just about everybody around the World knows that Banff and Jasper National Parks are THE place to visit when you want to experience and photograph spectacular scenic landscapes highlighted by glaciated mountains with relatively easy drive up access.  But, so do the big tour companies and they buy up all of the hotel rooms early…

The World has discovered that the Canadian Rockies are worth visiting

And therein lies the problem.  Outdoor photographers and millions of other travellers from around the World want to come to the Rockies to feel, and photograph, the spiritually inspiring landscapes.  And by default, the big tour companies end up buying up most of the accommodations.

What ends up happening here in Banff and Jasper is that the big tour companies book most of the available accommodations 6-9 months in advance, or more.  This leaves few hotel rooms for the small Family and independent travellers to book.  But, all is not lost.

How to guarantee your accommodations in the Mountains

Two words… Plan early!

Plan Early, and book a year in advance to beat the big tour companies annual planning meetings and subsequent room blocks.

This does involve a little bit of a commitment on your part  You need to plan this year for next year’s vacation.  There’s no spontaneity in that!  But, if you decide that you’d like to visit the Canadian Rockies, and you should because it’s one of the most Naturally beautiful places in the World, you should plan right now for next year.  That is, plan your 2019 summer vacation in Summer 2018.

Or… Call up a day or two before you want to arrive.

Often guests will cancel room reservations a few days before they are due to arrive.  Tour companies also release a few rooms as well because their numbers have decreased on short notice.  If you’re persistent in checking for vacancies then you’ll usually find a room for a few nights.  Be relentless!

Employing this strategy will pretty well guarantee that you’ll find hotel accommodations in Banff, Canmore and in Jasper.  Sometime you can find accommodations 4-6 months in advance, but, the selection for hotels will be decreased.  Plan your trip early for the best selection at reasonable prices!

Why am I writing this helpful post?

Well, I’m writing this post for you, the small independent travelling photographer, because you are my customer.  You’ve helped me to earn a living over the years and to eventually to buy my own own home here in the Town of Banff.  And, I want to help you to see and photograph one of the beautiful places in the World, my home, the Canadian Rockies!

In short you are the reason why my outdoor photography business has become successful.  I’m able to make a living when many of you book my private landscape photography tours or one of my other travel photography tours Worldwide.  And, to return the favour, I want to help you to be successful in planning your own landscape photography trip to the Canadian Rockies.

Where are the best Photo locations in the Rockies?

Yeah, I know you want to know this!  And I tell you in my blog.

If you’re researching the potential for wildlife and landscape photography in the Canadian Rockies then please google my name along with the places that you want to photograph.  I have a ton of “location profile” blog posts describing the iconic landscape photography locations in the Canadian Rockies.  And, I tell you how and when to shoot them too.

A few times of the year I write detailed landscape photography location profile explaining how and when to photograph the Famous locations Banff and the Canadian Rockies are known for.  You should check ’em out.  I truly want to help you to have an amazing outdoor photography trip to my home in the incredible Canadian Rockies.

Book a Private tour if you don’t have the time to find the classics on your own

Are you pressed for time when you’re here?  Do you want to, or do you need to maximize your landscape photography in the Rockies?  If you do, then consider hiring me for a private landscape photography tour.  I’ll show you all of the best locations given the weather that we’ll have on your tour.  And, I’ll give you lots of tips during on our tour to help you during the rest of your trip.  Bring a map.  I’ll circle some hotspots on it that you should photograph throughout the Rockies.

So what are you waiting for?

Explore my blog and trip advisor to start researching your trip to the Canadian Rockies today.  I want to help you to succeed!

I hope to see you here in the near Future!

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An example of a camouflaged photographer.

 Does wearing camouflage help

wildlife photographers to “get the shot,”

and, do I use blinds?

This is a great question From Kevan that I received via the contact form on my website. 

And, it’s a good question to discuss here.

 

An example of a camouflaged photographer. Photo: © www.PixaBay.com

 

What is the “Ask Brian…” blog series anyways?

     In an effort to make myself more accessible to photographers who follow my photography I started a blog category titled “Ask Brian…”  In this blog series I’m going to be answering as many of your questions about landscape and wildlife photography as I can. 

     I should warn you ahead of time that I’m probably not going to have enough time to answer all of the questions I receive.  However, I am going to do my best to answer as many as possible.  If I miss somebody’s question I want to apologize to you in advance.

     I am pleased to report to you that within a few hours of announcing that I was going to start taking individual questions I received this great question:

Ask Brian… – Question #1

Kevan wanted to know:

     “…how important [do] you find [wearing] camouflage [is] when photographing wildlife. Do you often use blinds and photograph from a distance, or do you try to close the gap on foot to get better angles and such? Thanks for taking the time to answer questions from the community!”

     Nice one Kevan!  And, you’re welcome.  This is  great question too.  And the answer is a pretty easy one for me.  I don’t use blinds or camouflage in wildlife photography.

BUT,…

     I think that wearing camouflage and using blinds in wildlife photography is a excellent thing to consider if you want to get really serious about that genera of outdoor photography.  And, it is practically the only way to get really close to some animals in the Wild.  Let me explain why I very rarely use camouflage.

My background in using camouflage to approach wildlife

     When I was about 16-26 years old, I used to frequently hunt recreationally in the Canadian province where I grew up, Nova Scotia.  Early on in my youth I naturally gravitated towards outdoor sports including camping, hiking, climbing, and seasonally hunting and trapping.  Fast forward to the present and I don’t hunt or trap anymore with a gun, but I do with my camera.

     The valuable lessons I learned, and the skills I developed around wildlife behaviour while I was an active hunter and trapper have proven to be valuable in wildlife photography.  The stalking and concealment skills I learned when I used to hunt have transferred over well into my outdoor photography seamlessly.  I believe I’m a better wildlife photographer today because I grew up hunting and trapping.

My advice on wearing camouflage

     What I learned from stalking animals in the past is that when animals can see you and keep an eye an you, they tend to gradually accept you and relax a little more.  This is relative to stalking them and jumping up to snap a few photographs.  After they relax their true Natural behaviour starts to shine through.  This is when you can get some excellent behavioural photographs that tell a great story.

     But, when I wore camouflage while duck hunting I was a little shocked at just how close I could creep up on the animals that I hunted. 

     Now, fast forward ten years from when I was a duck hunter and I was now working for Ducks Unlimited.  Part of my job with Ducks Unlimited as a waterfowl biologist was to get a “visual” on female Mallard ducks with their clutch of ducklings before they fledged.  This was sometimes hard to do because some of the female Mallards where very wary. 

     When my bosses found a duck that was really hard to get a visual on they always sent me in with a telemetry kit and my camouflage.  And, I always came back successful.  I could creep up very very close to the wary ducks to get an accurate visual and clutch count using my camouflage.  This definitely applies to wildlife photographers as well.

 

Camouflage works amazingly well to help you to

close the distance between you and your subjects! 

 

     If you want to give camouflage a try then buy some and give it a go.  You can find a wide variety of camouflage gear for sale at Bass Pro Shops or at Canadian Tire Corporation.  Better yet, visit your local small outdoorsman supply shop and ask for advice.  The small local guys will be eager to help you.  And, the local experts might give you the best tips on where to find the best wildlife viewing spots too.

Do I use Blinds?:

Generally, I don’t use blinds in wildlife photography.  I live in the Canadian Rockies where the wildlife in the National Mountain Parks here are habituated towards people.  People can simply drive up to the wildlife and photograph them from safely inside of their car.  I don’t use blinds anymore because the locations where I photograph wildlife.

     However, outside of parks wildlife is often wary and difficult to get close too.  In situation like this I have used blinds in combination with camouflage in the past and I’ll consider using it to photograph wary wildlife in the future too.  The problem with using blinds is that you have to construct them or find a suitable nature blind.  Then you have to sit in it motionless for long periods of time.  

     My wildlife shooting style tends to centre around covering a lot of ground in my car and finding the wildlife, rather than waiting in a blind in a good spot and waiting.  

     So Kevan, I hope that this answers your question adequately.  Thanks for submitting this excellent question.  I hope our paths cross again in the future!

Good luck and happy shooting!

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Do you have a Question about outdoor photography?  If you do, then

Ask Brian…

In an effort to make myself more accessible to photographers who follow my photography I’ve started a fun new way for you to communicate with me.  I’m going to start answering questions submitted by other outdoor photographers, like you!  This new blog series simply called  “Ask Brian…”

 

Ask me a question! Submit your questions to me answer about once a month!

 

Click here to submit your question

Ask me a Question?

In this “Ask Brian…” blog series I’m going to be answering your questions about landscape and wildlife photography.  I’m not going to be picking what question to ask, you are!  Oh boy.  I think I’m in for one heck of a ride!

I’ve been a professional outdoor photographer since 1997 traveling around the World for photography.  I’m also the President of the International Landscape Photographers association hosting an annual conference on Landscape photography each year called The ILPA Summit.  I feel that I’ve learned a few things worth sharing.

In the decades that I’ve been in the industry I’ve seen a lot of changes.  I’ve been fortunate enough to have the foresight to frequently see change coming. I’ve learned a lot during my career.  And I still have a lot to learn too!

But, now I want to share what I know with the amazing outdoor photography community that has given me my 2+ decade career, and counting…  I want to give back to the community.

How to ask me a question:

Please submit your questions to me via the contact form on this website.  I’ll take the time to answer the questions that I think will help the most people.  I should warn you ahead of time though that I’m probably not going to have enough time to answer everybody’s questions.  But, I am going to do my best to answer as many as possible.  If I miss anybody I want to apologize to you in advance.

So go ahead and, “Ask Brian…!”

 

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Peyto Lake is one of the iconic scenes in the Canadian Rockies. © www.brianmerry.ca

The Banff National Park

Group Landscape Photography Tour

on June 3, 2018

 

     Yep.  It’s probably going to sell out again.  The Banff National Park Day Tour only has a few spots left on it as of 12 days before the departure.  If you’ve been thinking about coming on this edition of the tour series then I would join the tour sooner rather than later in case it sells out.  You can buy your ticket here if you’d like to come on the tour.

 

Peyto Lake is one of the iconic scenes in the Canadian Rockies. © www.brianmerry.ca

 

I’ve been hosting these tours for well over a decade now about 4 times a year.  Once in each season.  And their continued popularity is a testament to the quality of the Banff Day Tour.

There where only 3 tickets left on May 21st, and there are still twelve days before the tour.  If you want to find out exactly how many tickets are left right now then go to the Ticket page on Eventbrite and check it out.  I think this tour will sell out once again.  Maybe before next weekend.  I honestly wouldn’t wait to get a ticket if you want to come.  If you wait, you might end up missing this edition of the tour.

Where do we go on the tour?…

That’s a good question and I get it often.  What is the tour itinerary?  And, to be truthful, I don’t follow an itinerary.

We start the tour in the town of Banff, have our Included Lunch in Lake Louise, and then finish shooting close to Banff again.  However, I don’t have a set itinerary.  What I have is an intimate knowledge of the Mountain Parks and all of the best places to photograph the landscapes around Banff, Lake Louise and all points in between.  I hope that you’re interested and you choose to sign up using the link near the top of this page! 

Have a great Summer everybody!

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I was a little lucky to get this beautiful photograph while leading polar bear photography tours up in Churchill Manitoba in 2017

Polar Bear Photography at Sunset

in Churchill, Manitoba

 

Polar Bear

I’m grateful to get this photograph while leading polar bear photo tours in Churchill in 2017.  © www.brianmerry.ca

 

Last Fall I was graciously given the opportunity to help lead the Polar Bear Photography Specialty tours in Churchill, Manitoba for Frontiers North Adventures.  It was a great a experience.  I’m grateful for the opportunity to photograph about 60 beautiful polar bears in about 130 different encounters.  They are so beautiful and curious.  I dare say that they are even cute.  But that cuteness is only my own anthropomorphic impression.  Polar bears would happily have me for lunch if they were given the opportunity.

My First time Photographing Polar Bears in Churchill

I photographed this particular individual early in early November 2017.  He was quite a beautiful bear and I remember this particular session very well.  I had been up in Churchill for a few weeks already and I had already photographed dozens of bears.  I started to think about what I could do to fill up my “hit list” of Polar Bear Wildlife Photography images.  One of the iconic photos that I decided that I wanted to capture was two polar bears sparing, aka “the dance of the polar bears.”  Polar bears sometimes spar, or box each other to establish and reenforce their dominance.  I wanted capture “the dance of the polar bears” at Sunset.  Sunset at this high latitude lights up the landscape and is composed of a yellowish orange light.  That would help to create a beautiful photograph.

But, time was running out.  I had a limited amount of time to photograph polar bears last Fall.  I was feeling that time was running out for me to get “the shot.”  After all, I was flying back to my home in Banff in a week after being on the road hosting and leading photography tours across the country for nearly two months.  Fall is a busy time for me.  But, luck was moving in my direction.

And, the capture!

As this beautiful bear walked across the frozen tundra pond above I knew that I was witnessing a beautiful scene.  I had my shutter speed set high to avoid camera shake and my “image stabilization” turned off to maximize my chances for a sharp image.  In this photograph I wanted to communicate the feeling of the cool isolation and the hungry patience of these bears.  I wanted to communicate the lonely isolation in the beautiful landscape in this photograph.  This is why I choose to crop it 16:9 to accentuate the lonely journey of this bear.

However, just out of the frame in this photograph is another bear.  After a while they met and stood up to spar for a moment.  And, I got some shots as they sparred with each other for a few seconds.  But, the Sunset light had past and I got them sparing in cool blue hour light instead.  I didn’t get the exact photograph that I was looking for so, I guess I’ll just have to go back!

 

Rim light on a Polar Bear at Sunset near Churchill, Manitoba, 2017 © www.brianmerry.ca

 

If you’d like to learn more about the plight of Polar bears  and what populations are doing well, and what ones are threatened, then explore the Polar Bears International, PBI, website.   PBI is the public outreach group researching polar bears and the challenges that the species faces moving forward .  Learn from the scientists!

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A ice climber climbing a frozen waterfall in Marble Canyon, Kootenay National Park. © www.brianmerry.ca

 

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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