Canadian Rockies Photo Tour

Earlier this year, I spent five days in the Canadian Rockies on a photo tour led by professional landscape photographer Marc Adamus.  It was truly a remarkable experience and produced a number of images that I'm very happy with.  Here are a few of the highlights and a small sampling of my favorite images.

   Snow Streamers, Mount Rundle,   A windy dawn on Mount Rundle, near Banff (February 10, 2017)

Snow Streamers, Mount Rundle, A windy dawn on Mount Rundle, near Banff (February 10, 2017)

Before meeting up with the group on February 10, I had the morning to myself in Banff.  I considered a number of potential locations before settling on the most convenient--the Vermillion Lakes, which are practically in town but afford a great view of Mount Rundle.  The image shown here is a familiar scene for most landscape photographers and anyone familiar with the area.

While Mount Rundle is arguably the most photographed natural feature in the Canadian Rockies, I was still quite happy with Snow Streamers, Mount Rundle, as a start to the trip.  The blowing snow and wonderful pastel light of dawn help compensate for the familiarity of the scene.

Late in the morning, I met up with the group and we had lunch in Banff.  Marc provided an orientation and outlined some objectives for the day and for the tour generally, including ideas for taking advantage of the warmer weather and high winds predicted for the Banff/Jasper area over the next few days.  And sure enough, the high winds he mentioned would last through the week and produce blowing snow featured in a number of my favorite images from the trip.

   Feel the Wind,   Mount Baldy above Barrier Lake with blowing snow (February 10, 2017)

Feel the Wind, Mount Baldy above Barrier Lake with blowing snow (February 10, 2017)

That afternoon we drove down into Kananaskis Country, a mountainous area in between Calgary and Banff.  Our destination was Barrier Lake and vistas of Mount Baldy.  It was a fantastic way to kick off the tour, with blowing snow churning across the ice at regular intervals through the late afternoon. (see Feel the Wind).

And that was it for the day.  With long driving distances between many destinations, it was usually impossible to shoot an afternoon in one location and then spend the evening in another.  We generally stuck with 2-3 locations over the course of a day, from dawn to dusk (and sometimes later), and spent a not insignificant amount of time driving from place to place through the spectacular winter scenery of the Canadian Rockies. 

The following morning we drove out toward Abraham Lake and stopped at two destinations.  One was simply a roadside area that featured a vista of a windstorm in a distant mountain range...definitely an occasion for a powerful zoom lens.  The next was a flowing stream with expanses of frozen ice along its banks, including abundant icicles and deep powdery snow.  Both locations produced some good images but none that quite make it into my "favorites" from the trip.

Later on February 11, however, we explored the cliffs above Abraham Lake and a small section of the frozen lake itself.  The high winds--and I mean knock you off your feet high--produced exceptional atmospherics that made for great images.  One such image is Defying the Elements.  Gusts of wind would kick up snow from storms a couple days earlier and create huge clouds of blowing snow.  The small tree on the right-hand side of the image really caught my attention in exploring the area, and I like the balance it creates with the distant mountains in the late afternoon light.

   Defying the Elements,   a small tree in the late afternoon light and blowing snow on a ridge above Lake Abraham (February 11, 2017)

Defying the Elements, a small tree in the late afternoon light and blowing snow on a ridge above Lake Abraham (February 11, 2017)

I'll save a description of the next few days for a separate post in the near future.