Banff Winter Photography

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The short, cold, crisp days of January are some of my favourites in the Canadian Rockies for photography. While it’s often frigid (we had several days this winter close to 40 below — F and C!!), there are several advantages to spending a photo holiday in Banff or Jasper in the dead of winter.

For starters, the days are short, so to catch sunrise you don’t need to get up at 5 am…in fact, cozy up in your big down comforter at a hotel in Banff and sleep in until 8, then hit the trails right near town for some stunning winter images at Vermilion Lakes.

Mt Rundle and 2nd Vermilion Lake at dawn in Banff National Park

Mount Rundle and 2nd Vermilion Lake at dawn in Banff National Park

Winter in Banff also offers the opportunity to photograph from dawn to dusk, and since the days are only 8 or 9 hours long, you aren’t exhausted by the end of it! The light is fantastic throughout the day, so you can do blue sky scenics all day long if the weather cooperates.

Lake Louise, Banff National Park

Lake Louise, Banff National Park

However, I’m even more fond of the non-blue sky days…the snowy, wintery, blustery types of days where you can find animals hanging out along the Bow Valley Parkway or the Lake Minnewanka Road. Banff is an excellent place to see and photograph elk, deer, bighorn sheep and coyotes in winter. And some of my favourite images are of wildlife in their winter habitat.

Bull elk in a snowstorm, Banff National Park

Bull elk in a snowstorm, Banff National Park

The final big advantage to visiting Banff to photograph in the winter is that there are far fewer people in the park. It makes wildlife photography much more enjoyable when you can view and photograph an animal for hours without having to worry about twenty other people being there to scare your animal away. And similarly, the best spots for scenic photography are usually to be had to yourself, with not a soul around for miles!

Stay tuned in the coming weeks as I describe how to prepare for a day out photographing in winter in the Canadian Rockies, as well as offer up my opinions on the best winter photography locations in both Banff and Jasper.

Happy shooting!


(View more of John’s Banff photography)

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