The ILPA Landscape and Wildlife Photography Weekly is out! Click this photo to read the latest edition.

The ILPA Landscape and Wildlife

Photography Weekly featuring Mexican Fireflies

and 25 more amazing landscape and wildlife photography articles

Aug. 25, 2017 edition is published!


What an amazing week for landscape photography, both personally and for the Continental community.  We started off the week with a beautiful eclipse that may possibly the most photographed eclipse in history.  And, the lead article this week highlight what is the best eclipse photograph that I’ve seen browsing the web since it happened.

Banff Aurora Night Photography

The Aurora in Banff National Park © www.brianmerry.ca

The cool crispness and sunburst diamond emulating from the feet of the rock climber perched on the ridge attracted me for two main reasons;  Firstly, I admire the technical excellence that went into this photograph.  I’ve seen a lot of photographs out there this week that tried to combine climbing with the eclipse, and this photograph beats them all.  Amazing job by photographers Andrew Studer and Ted Hesser along with climbers Tommy Smith and Martina Tibell.  You can see the photograph in the photos section of the newsletter.  It’s pretty cool and worth checking out.

Other headlines include the power of the Golden Ratio in landscape photography composition and a story by National Geographic about the amazing Mexican Fireflies in the Santa Carla Forest Sanctuary near the tiny little Mexican town of Nanacamilpa.  The little town has recognized the power of the firefly population with regards to it’s ability to boost eco-tourism in the town.  The town has gone through great lengths to protect this insect population and has learned how to profit from their efforts via the tourism dollars in the process.  Talk about a win/win/win arrangement between the town/the tourists/and the fireflies too!

The Nikon D850 video reviews:  Learn about Nikon’s amazing new camera

As usual we also have a great lineup of relevant videos this week too.  There are two about the exciting new Nikon D850 camera that proves that Nikon is still in the game of producing leading Dslr cameras, and five other videos about interesting aspects of landscape photography from North America, Iceland, Europe and an interview with Dominic Bryne.

Photograph Maple Tree Fall Colours and Mountains

I also included a link to the small instructor to participant ratio (5:1) Cape Breton Landscape Landscape Photography Photography Tour during the usual peak of the Fall colours on Cape Breton Island.  The first Cape Breton tour tour that I announced to photograph  the spectacle this Fall sold out quickly 2 months ago.  Since then I was able to recently add a second tour for this year during the weekend of Oct. 13-15, 2017.  Cape Breton is amazing and I believe that we’ve been offering the best tour of the region now for the past three years including the grand landscapes pf the mountainous side of Cape Breton along with the plentiful bird and ocean wildlife photography during an included whale cruise during the weekend.  This is a great all tour at a great price.  Check it out.

We have a lot in this week’s edition of the newsletter.  There are 12 spectacular photographs, 7 videos and about 30 cool landscape and wildlife photography stories included this week.  Don’t miss this issue and sign up to receive the newsletter each week in your email inbox.  I enjoy putting it together for you, and me, and I think it’s one of the best non-egocentric newsletter out there on landscape and wildlife photography.  Hum, the fact that I said that it’s not ego-centric suggests that it may be just that.  Humm……  When I’m confused about the direction I should take with regards to my photography, I remember the ILPA mission statement.


The International Landscape Photographers Mission Statement:

“Bringing landscape photographers together to Learn more, See more, Feel more and Communicate more through our Art”

These are words to live by!


I hope that you enjoy this week’s edition of the International Landscape Photographers’ Weekly newsletter!


Sincerely yours,


Brian Merry,

Landscape photographer and ILPA President


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Wild bull bison in Northern BC. Bison are being reintroduced back Banff National Park.

Follow the link to read this week’s edition of the ILPA weekly .  Some of the highlights include articles about the reintroduction of bison into the wild in Banff National Park, a new 48MP sensor developed by Panasonic that allows recording of 8K video at 30 fps and an offer for a free license of DxO Optics Pro 9 until the end of February.  Don’t miss out on a free version of this amazing software.  We’ve even included links to the DxO Optics tutorials to help you to hit the ground running editing your own pictures for free with a very capably editing software suite.  AND, I’ve collected another 68 landscape and wildlife photography articles to include in this edition of The ILPA Weekly,… for you.

Wild bison in Northern BC. Bison are being reintroduced back Banff National Park.

On behalf of ILPA I’m happy to bring you this issue of the ILPA Landscape and Wildlife Photography Weekly newsletter.  If you haven’t heard about the newsletter yet then I hope you’ll enjoy it.  I also hope that you choose to sign up to receive it in your email inbox every Friday too.  You can sign up for the ILPA Weekly newsletter by clicking the “subscribe” button on the top right of this page, or on the button found in top right of the newsletter front page, just below the banner photograph.

Each week I collect articles from around the world and showcase my interesting finds in the ILPA Weekly.  I do this because two of the key points in of the ILPA mission statement,  They state that we are bringing [international] landscape photographers together to learn more and to communicate more through our art, through our photography.  The weekly does a big job in helping us to accomplish this B-HAG mandate.  What is our Big Hairy Audacious Goal (B-HAG) of a mission statement you may ask …?

The ILPA mission statement is:

 “Bringing landscape photographers together to Learn More, See More, Feel More and Communicate more through our art!”

Speaking about B-HAGs, our lead story is about the brought to us by Parks Canada.  It’s about the BHAG of Parks Canada to reintroduce Bison into the wild in Banff National Park during a 5 year project.  Be sure to read about this monumental task being undertaken.

Thank you for your interest in the ILPA Weekly, and I hope this week’s edition lives up to your expectations.

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The Feb. 3, 2017 edition of the ILPA weekly is here!

“I think landscape photography in general is somewhat undervalued.” – Galen Rowell, Aug. 23, 1940 – Aug. 11, 2002

     Galen was, and still is one of the landscape and adventure photographers I look up to for inspiration.  I studied his work, followed him when he was alive and grieved when I heard that he and his wife Barbara died too soon together in a tragic small plane crash near their home in Bishop, CA.  So I’d like to respectfully, and sheepishly comment on Galen’s quote that I believe landscape photography has since gained notable value and much of the recognition it deserves as a solid form of art.

     It is out of this belief, and from ILPA’s mandate to learn more, see more, feel more and to communicate more with the entire photography community that I bring you this week’s issue of the International Landscape Photographers’ newsletter, the ILPA Landscape and Wildlife Photography weekly.  Click on the blue link in the title to go directly to the newsletter.  The following is a summary of the highlights of what I’ve found for you this week.

Let the sharing and learning continue…

Banff Landscape Photographer

Petrified Sand Dunes, Arches National Park, Utah by Banff landscape Photographer, Brian Merry 


The ILPA Weekly Highlights

     One of the headlines this week include an article by National Geographic about how Instagram is changing the way we travel.  Yes, Instagram is influencing where people choose to travel now-a-days.  Pretty interesting read…

     There’s also an article in the headlines about the congregation of wintering Eagles in the South Delta of BC.  That reminds of another popular place to photograph Eagles in the winter.  I have a photograph of 16 eagles preached in trees in Annapolis Valley, NS that I captured while working on my Honours Biology degree at Acadia University.  The story in this article is a video news story, so sit back and enjoy it as you learn about this Bald Eagle hotspot in the BC Lower Mainland.     

   There are many more stories, blog posts, cool photographs and videos in this week’s issue.  A 

Join a Regional Landscape and Wildlife Photography FB Group

     Did you know that there are eight Canadian regional landscape and wildlife photography FB groups administered by ILPA?  These groups are an excellent resource for travelling photographers to learn about an area before they go and visit.  One of the reasons I started these groups was to connect photographers with each other to share their knowledge and inspiration.  

     I choose to create regional groups instead of one huge group because one of the pet peeves I have for the larger groups is that the posts get buried in their timelines soooo fast that I simply can’t keep up with them.  Many of the posts are Worldwide or Continent wide in scope as well, so there are a lot of good posts that I’m simply not interested in.

     I’ve found that by breaking up the Country into more information manageable areas, I can keep up with the wildlife photography and landscape photography conversations going on in the different regions I’m interested in at the moment.  Sometimes smaller is better!  😉 


What is the International Landscape Photographers’ Association

Member discounts on ILPA events

     Yep, you read that right.  When you’re a member of ILPA you’ll receive at least 10% off of the regular registration prices of events advertised by ILPA Pro Photographers and ILPA Industry Partners.  This can add up to many hundreds of dollars in savings if you go on an event that an ILPA Pro or Industry Partner is advertising through ILPA.  

     Tis makes searching for a tours or workshops easy.  Look on the ILPA Events webpage first and you’ll receive a discount right off the bat if you’re a member.  There are many more benefits too.  Check out the ILPA website to learn all about the benefits of being an ILPA member.

     If you’re a professional photographer and you would like to promote your workshops, tours and seminars to ILPA members, then Join ILPA and advertise your events for free on the ILPA Events webpage, or advertise them in the ILPA Weekly newsletter.  ILPA is all about connecting and sharing with each other.  Check us out and consider joining ILPA.  It’s a great organization that I’m proud to be a part of.

      This was just a short summary of what you’ll find in the ILPA Landscape and Wildlife Photography Weekly this week.  Please check out the link to read the full newsletter!  If you like it then sign up for it to receive it every week in your inbox until you decide to unsubscribe, if ever.

Enjoy the Feb. 3rd, 2017 edition of the ILPA Weekly!!

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The Jan. 27, 2017 edition of the ILPA weekly is here!

Take a few minutes out of your day to nurture your artistic side!

Sunset on the Cheticamp Beach 2016, taken during Cape Breton Fall Colours landscape photography tour there last October 2016. Details of the next Cape Breton tour are here.


     The following post is a summary of the headlines in the newsletter.  To read the entire newsletter just click on the link in blue above the photography of Cheticamp Beach directly above.  If you decide you like it after reading it, you can sign up for it there, or on the top right of this page.  

Let the sharing and learning continue…

    Many of us enjoy reading the ILPA weekly newsletter.  I know I enjoy cruising the web to find, read, and screen each article and photograph to see if they’re the right fit to include in the ILPA Landscape and Wildlife Weekly.  Let me introduce you to what’s in this issue.

This week’s Highlights

     This week I’ve highlighted a time lapse video of aerial images of lava flowing into the Ocean off of the Island of Hawaii.  There are not too many places on the Earth where you can find a volcano that is relatively stable enough to photograph.  I’ve tried too.  A few years ago I rearranged my trip to Japan to photograph Sakurajima erupting on the South Island of Kyushu.  I arrived about 5 days too late to photograph the lava flowing down the mountain, but I can take comfort in knowing that I tried my best to capture this photograph that I have on my bucket list.  This persistence technique of relentlessly pursuing photographs on my personal bucket list has paid off for me multiple times in the past.  I’ll include an example of that from my blog in next week’s issue of the ILPA Weekly…

     Another headline article is on colour theory, again.  This article is a short and concise summary of colour theory.  I also recommend that you check out this comprehensive, and slightly longer article on colour theory to learn more about this compositional technique to boost your expression in your creative colour toolbox.  You can also browse the newsletter archives link on top of this newsletter.  The archive button to the page of the past newsletters is located right next to the date of this issue.

     If you like learning and sharing then you might want to join on of the the Canadian regional landscape and wildlife photography FB groups listed on this website.  I started these groups because I found other larger groups covering large geographic regions are quite hard to follow because posts and photos get buried so quickly in the news feed.  A smaller group is better in this case.  I wanted to create a place to share and learn about all of the other great places in Canada too.  The list of the Canadian FB groups that I link too in the opening sentence in this paragraph is the best that I’ve seen for this in Canada.

     I’m also happy with the public feedback and support that these groups have received so far as measured by the number of photographers joining them and posting.  This success is kind of a “catch 22” though.  The more photographers in  each group, the more quickly stories get buried in the timeline.  Right now the groups seem to be working well, and I think they will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.  There are about 6000 members in the eight different regional groups representing all of Canada.  You should click on the link to the see list of these groups and join one or more of them.

About our Parent organization,

the International Landscape Photographers

ILPA member discounts on ILPA Pro member events

     There are many benefits to becoming an ILPA member.  You’ll receive at least a 10% discount on the annual ILPA Photography Summit.  The next Summit is tentatively booked to happen in February 2018.   You’ll receive a subscription to Outdoor Photography Canada Magazine, and ILPA members also receive discounts on all of the ILPA supported workshops, tours, and events that ILPA pros list on the website under the ILPA community Tours and Workshops around the world.  Some of the events listed on this page right now include tours on the Cabot Trail on Cape Breton Island during the red, orange and gold Fall colours, Lake O’Hara during the peak of the Fall colours, a travel photography tour to the cultural heart of Japan during the peak of the Cherry Blossoms.  The amount of money you’ll save on the discount for one of these tours will likely cover the entire cost of your membership to ILPA as well.  It just makes sense to become part of ILPA.  

     Incidentally, if you’re a professional photographer offering workshops and tours you can also have your tours list on the ILPA website and promoted in the ILPA newsletter.  Check the benefits of your ILPA Professional Photographer membership here to read how and about all of the other ILPA Pro Photographer benefits.  ILPA is all about connect and sharing with each other.  This is an inclusive organization.

      This is just a short summary of what you’ll find in the ILPA Landscape and Wildlife Photography Weekly this week.  Please check out the link to read the full newsletter!

Enjoy the Jan. 27, 2017 edition of the ILPA Weekly Newsletter!!

The ILPA Landscape and Wildlife Photography Weekly is out! Click this photo to read the latest edition.

A new issue of the ILPA weekly has been published!

Follow the link to read all the great landscape and wildlife photography articles that we’ve collected and screened for you this week!


The ILPA Landscape and Wildlife Photography Weekly is out! 


     Happy Friday, or TGIF as the saying goes.  The end of the week is here and the weekend is about to start.  For many of us that means that we finalizing our plans for our downtime over the coming weekend.  If you’re reading this blog then some of your plans might include getting outside to enjoy the outdoors with your photography.  I know that’s what I’m planning now that another issue of the International landscape Photographers’ newsletter, the ILPA Landscape and Wildlife Photography Weekly, is published.

     The past week was very busy for us at the International landscape Photographers’ as we held our annual conference, the Banff Photography Summit, here in Banff again this year.  We had presenters fly and drive in from all over the country.  Do want to learn more about the International Landscape Photographers?  Then follow the link to learn all about ILPA and what the benefits of your ILPA membership are.  I won’t get into details about the Summit too much here because you can go to the website to read about the leading landscape, wildlife, and travel adventure photographers we had presenting there.  We also had the largest Camera retailer in Western Canada, The Camera Store, there to show you the latest and greatest gear.

What’s in this week’s edition?

     This week in the ILPA newsletter we have another great lineup of interesting articles that we’ve found for you over the past week.  One of the headlines is about a tutorial on focus stacking.  This technique is very useful to help us to create images with everything in tack sharp focus in our ultra wide landscape photographs.  We’ve linked back to our list of Canadian regional landscape and wildlife photography FB groups again too.  Why?  Because these group are a great way to connect my local photographers and learn about new areas in Canada from the locals before you travel around the country.  BTW, if you would like me to start up regional groups for other regions in North America then just let me know.  If there is enough interest I might do that or I’ll search those regions for you to connect you with these groups if they already exist.

One last thing.

Discounts on Workshops and Tours for ILPA members

     One of the benefits of being an ILPA member is that you receive at least a 10% discount on the annual ILPA Summit and all of the ILPA supported workshops, tours, and events that ILPA pros list on the ILPA website under the ILPA community Tours and Workshops around the world.  The amount of money you’ll save on the discount on one of these tours will likely cover the entire cost of your membership to ILPA as well.  It just makes sense to become part of ILPA.  

I hope you enjoy this week’s edition of the ILPA Weekly!!


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The Newsletter

     Christmas has come and gone with another week passing.  And with that, we have the latest edition of the ILPA Landscape and Wildlife Photography Weekly newsletter published.  This issue features the legendary Art Wolfe as this week’s headliner.   The weekly is ready for you to pour over during your leisure time leading up to the New Year.  Just click on the link above to read it.  If you’d like to have the ILPA Landscape and Wildlife Photography Weekly emailed to your inbox every week, then simply sign up for it in the top right corner of the newsletter, beside the orange “Subscribe” button.  I hope you choose to subscribe to it and continue to enjoy reading the ILPA L&W photography Weekly as much as I enjoy finding the great articles each week to share with you in it.

Polar bears on frozen tundra © Mike Grandmaison

     Our headliner this week, Art Wolfe, is highlighting some of his stunning wildlife photography from his travels around the world in his article.  We have a story from Outdoor Photography Canada magazine on Macro photography, a video on Sunrise and long exposure photography, and even a daring story about a photographer who approached to within inches of a crocodile to “get the shot”.  That last one probably raises several safety and ethical questions for many of you.  It certainly does for me.  When that article caught my eye I knew I had to include in this weeks edition of the ILPA Landscape and Wildlife Photography Weekly for you hoping you’ll think about your own safety and ethics in landscape and wildlife photography.

The ‘Almost Free’ Banff Sunrise/Sunset Meet Up Group

     One of the other headlines this week is about the ‘Almost Free” sunrise/sunset landscape photography meetup in Banff that I practically give away to photographers once a month.  At first glance it may seem a little crazy that I practically give a tour away once a month that I normally charge 10x the price for on any other day during the month.  I thoroughly explain why I do this in here.  

     It all comes down to the the fact that more people come to the meet up if I charge a few dollars than if I simply give it away.  I know, that’s weird.  You’ll understand after reading the article I linked to in the previous paragraph…  At any rate, space is limited in this almost free tour and it fills up very quickly after I announce it in the meet up group and in the free North American regional landscape and wildlife photography facebook groups that I administer, which is another totally free thing I do to support the industry right across the Continent.  Anyone can join the meetup group for free and sign up for the almost free photography tours through the group.   This is a great way for photographers on a budget to get some almost free experienced professional guidance once a month in Banff.

     Do you like to travel for your photography?  I do, and there is another great article in the newsletter by the Globe and Mail highlighting the National Geographic top travel photography destinations in 2017.  This article will help to give a little inspiration for us all to grab our camera backpack and to hit the road!  Check ’em out.  I was inspired to get out there by their list of top travel photography destination for 2017.

The 2017 Banff Landscape and Wildlife Photography Summit

     How about combining the Summit with one of National Geographic’s top travel destination for 2017, Banff National Park?  No kidding, the Globe and Mail reported that Banff made Nat Geo’s 2017 list of top travel destinations.  Why not combine your trip here with attending the ILPA Banff Landscape Photography Summit.  We have some of Canada’s top landscape Photographers coming to present again this year.  One of them is the legendary Mike Grandmaison.  Mike is coming to deliver his keynote presentation on Friday to open up the 2017 ILPA Banff Landscape Photography Summit.  Mark the Summit weekend of  Jan.13-15, 2017 off in your calendar to be here.  This pure landscape and wildlife photography conference is probably the event of the year for the industry.  You’ll want to be here for it.

     There are a ton of other reasons to come to the Summit this year.  Check out the Summit website for all of the details about the speakers presenting in Banff in two weeks.  I hope to see you here at the Summit too!

**   The ILPA Landscape and Wildlife Photography weekly is a free newsletter offered by the International Landscape Photographers.  To learn more about ILPA and about the conference that we host every year in Banff, please click on the ILPA link.  I hope to see you at the Summit! **

Yes, it’s true.  Once a month I host an “almost free” sunrise photography meetup tour in Banff National Park.  Offering an almost free tour seems counter intuitive to running a photography business to make a living, doesn’t it?  And, at first glance, it is.  Keep reading to find the link to this amazing sunrise tour towards the end of this article.

The Rundle Diamond in Banff National Park

The reason I do this is to give people new to the area or people who really can’t afford to hire me at my regular rates a chance to get out shooting with a bit professional guidance.  Most of my business is geared towards offering landscape photography tours and events where I do charge enough to make a living from photography.  That makes sense, right?  I have to make a living.  But, if you look deeper into why I started my photography business way back in 1997, you’ll also understand why I choose to practically give away my services for free, once a month, on a predetermined date.

How and why does a pro photographer practically give a photography tour away that he normally charges for?

I started my professional photography business way back in 1997 for two reasons.  Firstly, because I have a need to express myself emotionally through photography,  AND secondly, because I wanted to share my emotions with others through my art.

Whoa!  Reality check Brian!

I also need to make a living.  That is a reality.  Giving my services away doesn’t make sense.  Starting a pro photography business to make a living two decades ago seemed logical, and somewhat romantic at the time.  LOL!  Ah, the innocence of youth!  The landscape photography business has an incredible amount of obstacles in it, including a plethora of excellent photographers giving their services away practically for free, myself included!

The two reasons I started my photography business above are somewhat contradictory.  Let me explain.  To emotionally communicate with the masses almost for free by practically giving a sunrise tour away seems contradictory to my effort to actually charge a sustainable rate for my other tours, workshops and for the annual landscape photography conference that I host, the Banff Landscape Photography Summit.  These two desires obviously create psychological and financial barriers for myself, and many other people too.  Some people simply can’t afford to pay for my tours and workshops, while other people simply don’t want to pay for photography services from a so called “professional” who occasionally gives his services away.

This creates a dilemma for me.  How can I share my love for photography with as many people as possible without their personal finances being a barrier, and how do I still attract enough customers to my ‘for profit’ events to earn a living from photography for me and my family?  Humm.

Part of the answer I came up with was to create the best, and the first, annual landscape photography conference in the North American continent featuring the best presenters, and photography tour excursions available.  That was a tall order to fill.  But the parent organization, the International Landscape Photographers’ Association, or ILPA, is fortunate enough to be based in one of the most desirable landscape photography destinations in North America, Banff National Park.  Because of this, I am able to afford to reach out and offer something to people who can’t afford to come on paid workshops, tours, or even attend the annual Banff Landscape Photography Summit which I priced very reasonably considering what you get when you register.  Collectively, I’m able to reach out and offer photographers who are on a tight budget something too, while I’m still being able to earn a living from my ‘for profit’ events.  

~The Almost Free Tour~

I created a cost effective alternative for photographers living on a tight budget.  I created the Banff Landscape Photography Sunrise/Sunset Meetup group.  This monthly meetup is about an hour to an hour and a half long and I take two lucky photographers out to shoot the sunrise or sunset in Banff National Park practically for free.  I think I’ve found the delicate balance by offering this almost free tour to just two people, only once a month, along with all my regular normally priced tours, workshops and the conference, the Banff Landscape Photography Summit.  I am still able make a living from photography.  

But, why bother to charge 10 bucks?

So, this is the question you’re probably asking yourself.  You aren’t alone either.  What is the point of charging $10?  That makes no sense,… right?

When I started this meetup group I did offer it for free to everybody.  What happened was disappointing and a bit humiliating personally.  The meetup always filled up almost as soon as it was announced, Yeah!  Success!  Right?  But, for 3 months straight I only had one person actually show up out of the six people who had signed up.  That was emotionally degrading.  I was donating my time organizing and offering this tour for free, and for the most part it seemed that people didn’t care, want, or respect my efforts.  I thought about simply giving up trying to give a tour away and go back to just concentrating my efforts on my paid events that still continued to sell out regularly.  It just didn’t make any sense at all.  My paid tours were still well recieved, but my free tours were a dismal failure?

However. instead of giving up I decided that I’d charged a modest $10.  Kazue, my wife and business partner, thought I was crazy.  But, I thought that, maybe if people felt that they have more “skin in the game” with a modest $10 on the line, they would take the meetup more seriously.  My “Almost Free” strategy was born, and it has since proven very successful.  Go figure, free just doesn’t seem to work anymore!

In my first three totally free tours, I only had 1 person out of 6 people who had signed up actually show up for the tour.  In contrast, for my first three $10 tours, I had 5 people show up out of the 6 signed up for the “almost Free” tour.  That’s about an 85% success ratio.  Humm, I wonder what happened to the one person that didn’t show up.  I hope he’s OK!  😉

So, there is the answer to the omnipresent question as to why I charge $10 for a tour once a month when I offer almost same tour for $200 available anytime during the rest of the month.  The paid Sunrise photography tour does include two or three more locations to shoot instead of just the one location in the monthly almost free tour.  I hope my lengthy answer to this simple question makes sense to you.  I also hope to see you out on ANY one of my tours in the future, paid or almost free!  Have a great day!

BTW, the ILPA Landscape and Wildlife Photography Weekly is a free weekly newsletter available to anyone.  This is something I do totally for free for photographers.  You can sign up for it in the top right corner of newsletter and have it emailed each week to your inbox.  If you  have a bit of disposable income then you may consider joining the International Landscape Photographers’ association too.  You can learn more by clicking through on the link with the logo.  Membership is just $95 and you’ll receive a ton of benefits worth more than $100 when you join, including a subscription to Outdoor Photography Canada magazine and other significant discounts on tours and workshops* offered by all the ILPA Professional Photographers* listed on the ILPA website.  When looking for a tour or a workshop, check out the ILPA Pros first and save on their tours when you’re a member!


Sincerely yours,

Brian Merry

Now, get off of the computer and get out shooting!!!!


 *  ILPA Professional Photographers may advertise their workshops and tours on this website and in the newsletter if they offer ILPA members 10% or more off of the event registration fee up to $300.  This is a pretty amazing benefit when you consider that costs only $95 a year to Join ILPA.



This is the gateway page to the contest. Please fill out the form on my contact page to fill in the form to be entered into the draw!!

Takakkaw Falls in Yoho National Park in the Canadian Roackies showing the correct use of a circular polarizing filter in landscape photography.

Using a circular polarizing filter correctly to improve your landscape photography is a basic skill that all landscape photographers should have.  Experienced landscape photographers know how to do this instinctively.  However, learning to use one correctly can be a bit of a hurdle for amateur photographers at first.  In my last blog post I talked about all the pros and cons to consider when using polarizing filters in landscape photography, but I thought I’d expand on the topic with practical examples from a landscape photography session I had at Takakkaw Falls in Yoho National Park which is just a short drive from where I live in Banff, Alberta.  In this post, I’ll explain, with examples, exactly how to use a circular polarizing filter correctly.

Just a few hundred meters down a popular walking trial from the parking lot at the end of the Yoho Valley Road in Yoho National Park is the viewpoint for the spectacular Takakkaw Falls.  The photographs I’ve included in this post were taken from that viewpoint.  I should also mention that it is possible to walk up to the base of the waterfall and stand so close to it that you’ll be soaked by it’s spray, which is pretty refreshing on a hot summer day.  This large beautiful waterfall is 302m high from it’s base (991 feet) making it the 45th highest waterfall in Eastern British Columbia, Canada.   The road is closed during the Winter and Spring due to the high avalanche risk from the large slopes on which the road is build so it’s best to plan your visit there during the Summer or the Fall.

Now I’ll get straight to the point of this post and give you some practical tips on using a circular polarizer correctly.

A circular polarizing filter has it’s greatest effect when the camera angle to your subject is 90 degrees to the sun.  That is to say that a polarizing filter has it’s greatest effect when the sun is immediately to your right or your left from your shooting direction.  The filter will still have a lesser effect and smaller angles to the sun, but it will have no effect if you point the camera directly towards the sun or if you photograph with the sun directly at your back with your shadow cast immediately in front of you.  To learn the technical aspects of using a polarizing filter for landscape photography, please take a look at my post on the pros and cons of using a polarizing filter for landscape photography.  At the Takkakkaw Falls viewpoint between 12 noon and 1pm the sun is angled 90 degrees to my right immediately over my right shoulder as I look squarely at the waterfall.  As I rotate the polarizing filter attached to the front of my lens I will be able to see the maximum and minimum effect achievable when using this filter.  At noon, the sun creates creates nice side lighting on the cliff and the waterfall adding emotional depth to the photograph.  Once again. I won’t get into those technical details about what the effect is here since I recently detailed what that in my recent blog post I linked yo above, but you can assume the effect you see in the photographs below are about as dramatic as you can expect with this filter.

Once you have the correct camera angle to the sun simply look through the view finder as you rotate the filter.  What you see will be what you get in the final photograph.

In this first photograph below I rotated the polarizing filter so it no effect and all the unpolarized light was allowed to reach the camera sensor.  The photograph is good but it could be a little better.  This photograph is pretty close to what I saw with my eyes without wearing polarized sunglasses.


Takakkaw Falls with No effect from the polarizing filter and No Clouds

In this first photograph the polarizing filter is rotated so no unpolarized light is filtered out rendering the sky a lighter blue colour and allowing too much reflected light off of the cliff to be captured in the photograph.  his photograph is too contrasty and is a typical result for a landscape photograph captured at mid-day.


In the second photographed below I rotated the polarizing filter attached to the front of my lens so it filtered out the maximum amount of unpolarized light.  You can see that the sky has become unnaturally dark blue.  The side lighting on the cliff has rendered it unnaturally contrasty too.  If you were to view this landscape photograph critically you would come to the conclusion that the sky is unnaturally dark and you’d judge this as an example of a poor photograph depicting the sky unnaturally dark blue to almost black and the landscape unnaturally contrasty, which they are.  

Takakkaw Falls with the polarizing filter rotated to filter out the maximum amount of unpolarized light.

Takakkaw Falls with the maximum amount of polarization possible. All of the unpolarized light possible is filtered out. The sky is rendered unnaturally deep blue in colour and all of the reflecting sunlight off of the cliff is removed resulting in a photograph that is too contrasty.


     In the last photograph in this post I feathered the rotation of the polarizer between having no effect and having the maximum effect so the photograph captured reproduced a realistic blue sky.  And that is the key.  You need to judge what is realistic as you rotate the polarizing filter while you are looking through the lens.  Once you see a believable effect you can stop rotating the filter and assume it is set correctly.  The amount you rotate the polarizing filter to achieve an affect that you judge as natural is a judgement call you make on scene as you rotate the filter on the lens while looking at your subject through the view finder.  What you see is what you get (wysiwyg) when is comes to adjusting your polarizing filter.  You need to make an objective judgement call on what look is realistic to you for the photograph you want to create.  In this final photograph, which is also the lead photograph at the top of this post, I also waited until the clouds I wanted in the photograph moved into position to create an interesting sky instead of having an empty and boring big blue sky.


Takakkaw Falls with clouds and good use of a polarizing filter

Takakkaw falls photographed with a polarizing filter rotated so it filtered out part of the unpolarized light (reflected light) in the scene rendering the sky a realistic blue colour and removing much of the reflected light off of the cliff. I also waited until some clouds filled the empty blue sky to add another interesting compositional element to the scene and bring balance to the photograph.


I hope you found this post useful and please feel free to share it if you did.  Also, if you would like to hear more of my photography tips on technique, locations and gear reviews then please join my facebook page where I frequently post links on my facebook page to blog articles on these subjects written by myself and other professional photographers.  Lastly, if you’re interested in a more intensive photography experience  then maybe check out the landscape photography tours and workshops I’ve been hosting for the past five years throughout the year in my home, Banff, where I grew up on Cape Breton Island and in Japan, where my wife Kazue is from.  Please keep an eye on my website for my latest offerings.  

Thank you and Happy Shooting!



I sincerely believe every landscape photographer NEEDS a polarizing filter.  It’s arguably the most important filter in your camera bag, but why do I think that?

I’ll discuss the pros of using a polarizing filter first followed by a few cons.  I’ve included a few photographs to demonstrate it’s proper and improper use.  You can also review some of my photographs where I almost always used one.  All of the follow points are relevant for landscape photography and to all wildlife and landscape photographers.  To learn how to use a circular polarizer properly and see example photographs please see my blog article “How to Use a Circular polarizer Correctly to Improve Your Landscape Photography“.

The benefits of using a circular polarizer:

1/  Protection for the front lens element

It protects the front lens element from finger prints, scratches and other precious lens coating destroying dirt.  The acidic oils from your fingerprints on the front lens elements will dissolve the lens coating in the shape of the fingerprint.  This will permanently reduce the level of image sharpness that your lens can produce.  Also, strange flare patterns can occur when the sun invariably strikes the damaged lens coatings on the front element.  However, coatings on your polarizing filter can be damaged by fingerprints too.  It is important to wipe fingerprints off of the filter if your happen to touch the front or rear glass elements and leave a smear.  However, a circular polarizing filter is a small faction of the cost of a nice camera lens so even if it gets damaged by fingerprints you can take comfort in knowing that the “insurance” of the filter paid off by protecting the lens coatings on the more expensive lens.

2/  Reduce reflections on natural and manmade surfaces

It reduces reflections on wet rocks, deciduous tree leaves, coniferous needles, grass, and most importantly, it reduces reflections off of water droplets in the air which we call atmospheric haze.  In simpler terms – a polarizer cuts through the haze and naturally saturates the colours in the landscape.  You can see this in the photographs I took this spring in exactly the same spot about 3 seconds apart.  You can also see some examples on Amar Athwal’s website.  Amar is another local landscape photographer here in Banff.

Banff landscape photographer

Spawning white sucker wildlife photograph using a circular polarizering filter rotated so it maximizes the reduction of the reflection from the overcast sky.

Banff landscape photographer

Spawning white sucker wildlife photograph using a circular polarizering filter rotated so it doesn’t reduce the reflection.

3/  Stay away from cheaper filters

We’ve all heard the saying from the anti-filter camp of photographers, “Why put a cheap piece of glass in front of an expensive lens.”  My reply to that is, “Don’t buy cheap filters.”  Sure you can spend about $100 on an entry level 77mm polarizer but you can also spend $350 on seemingly the same filter from a top manufacturer.  I’ve found that when I spend about $250 on a 77mm circular polarizing filter, I’m getting good value for my money.

4/  Circular polarizing filters vs. linear polarizing filters

Linear polarizers.  Does anyone use these anymore?  Most modern DSLR cameras use a phase contrast focusing system and need circular polarizers in order to achieve reliable autofocusing.  Sometimes you may see linear polarizing filters on sale at some camera shops as they try to get rid of old stock.  Do not buy a linear polarizer for your autofocus camera.

5/  It tends to darken and saturate a clear blue sky at 90 degrees to the sun

I had a hard time deciding if this point was a pro or a con.  A polarizing filter works best at 90 degrees to the sun.  That means when you use an ultra-wide lens parts of the sky can turn deep blue to almost black while other parts of the sky at a smaller angle to the sun can be light blue.  This just looks bad in a landscape photograph.  The way I manage this is to look through the lens and turn the polarizer until I see a believable effect.  WYSIWYG as you look through the veiwfinder before you trip the shutter.  It might be a good idea to critically examine the photograph on the LCD too after you take the photograph to see if you have a realistic and believable blue sky.  When the proper amount of polarization is applied to the sky, it tends to look pretty good.

The disadvantages of using a polarizing filter, the cons:

1/  It uses 2 stops of light.  

When you pick up a polarizing filter you’ll immediately notice that it’s dark when you look through it.  That translates into the filter using up about two stops of light.  That is, if the correct exposure for a scene is 1/1000s and f/8 without the filter on then the correct exposure with the filter on becomes 1/1000s at f/16 or 1/250s at f/8, or some variation thereof.  This can become an issue in wildlife photography where you to be use a shutter speed setting around 1/2000s to freeze the movement of your subject.

2/  The cost

The cost of a good polarizing filter for autofocus lenses start at about $200 for a 77mm filter.  The image quality improvement over a cheaper polarizing filter is noticeable.  I would even go as far to say that I’d rather shoot without a polarizing filter than shoot with a less expensive, poor quality filter.  

3/  Flare

This is related to the cost above.  You get what you pay for when you buy filters.  A low cost, poor quality filter will have increased flare (the random scattering of light inside the lens barrel) compared to a middle of the line or top quality filter.

4/  Night photography

Remember I said that a polarizing filter uses up two stops of light?  For this reason you should remove your polarizer when shooting at night.  It really has no effect except for adding neutral density.   

5/  Colour cast (cool tone)

Another drawback to buying an entry level, low cost, polarizing filter is that they often have a cool colour cast and disrupt the colour balance of the scene.  Once again, you can easily avoid most of this problem by buying middle to high end filters.  A middle to high end filter is carefully crafted to reduce or eliminate the shift in colour balance towards the cool side of the spectrum compared to what you will when using a lower end filter.

You can see that polarizing filters have a lot of benefits in Landscape photography.  I recommend buying one and simply leaving it on the front of your lens unless you find yourself shooting in overcast light when you should probably just remove it.  I also recommend removing it if you’re using flash.

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