Tour Info and Suggested Equipment List


This page is intended as an important equipment and information page for everyone attending the Lake O’Hara Landscape Photography Tour.  This is valuable info for people already registered for the trip.  If you need to contact me to talk about your equipment choices for the tour, then please use the contact form or call me on my cell phone toll free at 1-855-763-1114.  


Beautiful Opabin Plateau in Lake O'Hara
Beautiful Opabin Plateau in Lake O’Hara. With the right equipment we’ll complete enjoy this beautiful landscape.

I will be posting frequent updates on this page.  Please check back often for new information.


Sept. 20, 2017 update

Hi Everyone,

I have a link to a copy of the waiver from Sean Isaac, our ACMG Alpine Guide, for you to look over today before the tour tomorrow.  The link to my waiver is below.  Please familiarize yourself with both waivers before you come as you will be required to read, understand and accept all of the conditions and risks involved with this trip before coming on the trip.  We will have a hard copy of the waiver for you to read and sign for you before we head up on the bus.   A signed a copy of each waiver, from Sean and myself, is required to participant come on the trip.  

Download and read Brian’s waiver:

Waiver BmerryPhotography 2017

Also, it is going to be cool, wet and snowy up there.  Make sure that you bring clothes to keep you warm and dry.  If in doubt simply refer to the equipment list below or please call me at 1-403-763-1114 to ask me questions too!

**Remember, we will have these waivers printed off for you tomorrow morning.  We can’t accept completed waivers you bring from home. **

See you tomorrow,

Brian Merry

Sept. 5, 2017 update

Hi Everyone,

The annual Lake O’Hara Landscape Photography Tour is about two weeks away and things seem to be lining up very nicely.  I was around town today in Banff and noticed that the green needles on the larches are starting to fade a little bit.  Each year I closely watch the larches change colour.  It’s still a little early to tell but I think that the larches will be close to their peak during our tour there in about two weeks.  Our timing for the fall colours is looking pretty good for our trip so far.

The Weather

The weather is always a wildcard when I start planning this trip each year.  The hot, dry weather this year has definitely left me guessing like everyone else about when the colour will peak this year.  The long range forecast is calling for 3C-13C close to the tour with variable precipitation that could fall as rain or snow up in Lake O’Hara.  This is a very good forecast to help the needle to turn yellow.  However, the elevation at Lake O’Hara is about 2000m, ~6500 feet.  It will be cooler in lake O’Hara than in lake Louise.  There will be frost on the ground in the morning during our tour.  Make sure that you dress up warm for the sunrise and sunset landscape photography sessions.  But, expect the temperature in the afternoon to potentially be pleasantly warm for hiking and photography.   Basically, anything can happen with regards to the forecast.  Mountain weather is unpredictable and it’s best to be prepared.

The Hiking

We will be hiking between 3-10 kms per day with a elevation gain/loss between a a few hundred feet and 1000 feet, depending on the level of intensity hike you choose to go on.  The entire Lake O’Hara region is beautiful, but, unfortunately, the best landscapes are on the longer hikes with the most elevation gain/loss.

Stay comfortable

Staying warm and comfortable is extremely important for outdoor photography.  If you’re cold then your creativity goes out the window.  When you’re warm and comfortable then you tend to enjoy the beautiful scenery more and you can feel the landscape better when you create your compositions.

To that end, one of my most important pieces of photography equipment for shooting sunrises in the mountains is my down jacket.  That’s no joke either.  When the temperature is close to freezing I just slip on my medium weight down jacket and I’m instantly warm.  Once I’m warm I can concentrate fully on my creativity.  If you don’t own a down jacket, then I would suggest that you buy one this week at Mountain Equipment Coop, Coast Mountain Sports or a similar outdoor sports store.  You can expect to pay about $200+ for a good light to medium weight down jacket.  It will be worth the money and down packs easily into your backpack when you don’t need it.

Camera Gear

As far as camera gear goes I want to make sure everyone brings their widest zoom lens.  A 24mm lens (on full frame cameras) isn’t wide enough.  A wide angle zoom in the 17mm-35mm range (full frame) or 12mm-24mm (cropped sensor) is ideal.  We are very close to the mountains in Lake O’Hara it will be impossible to squeeze everything into your frame with a standard wide angle lens.  If you’ve been holding off on buying an ultra-wide zoom lens then now would be the time to buy it.   

You should also bring a tripod, a medium range zoom lens (24~70mm) and a macro/close-up lens.  You can bring your short telephoto zoom lens too in the 70-200mm range (35mm equivalent) but it would also be OK to leave that one home.  That lens isn’t necessary in Lake O’Hara.  However, if you don’t mind the weight I would bring that one too.  A 18”-24” pocket reflector is a good idea too for close-up photography.   If you have longer telephoto lenses then I would suggest that you consider leaving them home.  You probably won’t use it very much and the weight of a long telephoto lens will be a bit of a burden to pack around lake O’Hara. 

One more thing.  A flash is something I always carry in my landscape backpack.  Yes, I said a flash for landscape photography.  A remote flash sync cord is useful too.  I’ll show you why flash is important in landscape photography when we’re up there if you’re interested.  

Night Sky Photography

If you have an intervalometer you should bring that too.  That will be useful during the night sky photography tutorial we’ll have, weather dependant.  My goal with this tutorial is to help you to learn the skill for night sky photography and help you to capture an image(s) for you to refer to later on your computer at home.  The optional 30 minute or so night sky tutorial will happen after it gets dark around 11pm.


You can see that we have a lot planned for you this weekend.  Our main objective is to bring you to some of the most beautiful landscapes the Canadian Rockies has to offer.  Once at these locations we’ll help you take your photos of them.  We’ll do this, and more.  Did I forget to mention that our exclusive back country chef, Kelly Mager from Backcountry Bistro, creates amazing meals.  I can promise you that you won’t leave hungry!

I can’t wait for the tour again this year.  This place is beautiful!  I’ll see everyone soon!


Sincerely yours,

Brian Merry


The Elizabeth Parker Hut in Lake O’Hara.  Our home for the duration of the tour.  We can store excess equipment inside the hut.  Photo courtesy of the Alpine Club of Canada.

Suggested Equipment List


Camera Equipment

-One or two camera bodies.

-Extra charged batteries.  There is nowhere to charge your batteries at the hut.

-An ultra wide zoom lens.

-A mid range zoom lens.

-A night sky photography lens f/2.8 or faster and 24mm minimum, or wider.

-A polarizing filter for your lens.  One for each lens is best, except maybe for your ultra wide zoom lens like the Nikon 14mm-24mm or the Canon 11mm-24mm.  You really don’t need a polarizing filter for these two lens.

-You can bring a short telephoto zoom lens (70mm-200mm in 35mm format equivalent) if you don’t mind the extra weight, but, this lens isn’t really necessary.  The valleys are tight and the mountains are so close to us and high you probably won’t use it.  It would be OK to leave this lens behind if you’re worried about the weight of your camera bag.

-Tripod to be used for night sky photography and maybe macro photography


-Hiking boots

-Coat, jacket, sweatshirt


-Hat or toque  

-Long pants  

-Rain gear

-Shirts (short and long-sleeved)

-Shoes (a pair for hiking and maybe a light pair of shoes for around the hut)

-Extra warm socks x3


-Underclothing (poly pro long underwear)


-Aspirin, band-aids, antiseptic

-Contact lens solution, eye glasses and case (if required)


-Skin lotion, chapstick


-Toothbrush & toothpaste

-Towel, wash cloth, soap


-“Wet ones” or “baby wipes”

-Miscellaneous items of a personal nature

Cooking, Eating, & General Use

-All cutlery, plates bowls and glasses are suppiled

-Duct tape

-Headlamp or flashlight with fresh batteries

-Plastic zip-lock bags

-Water bottle

Sleeping Equipment

-Sleeping bag

-Earplugs (There is always someone in the group who snores.  Come prepared for that)