Category Archives: The Banff – Jasper Photography Blog

Summer Photography at Lake O’Hara in Yoho National Park

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One of the premier locations in the Canadian Rockies for summer landscape photography is at Lake O’Hara in Yoho National Park.

Summer Photography - Lake O'Hara, Yoho National Park

Summer Photography - Lake O'Hara, Yoho National Park

Renowned worldwide for its stunning natural beauty, the Lake O’Hara environs should be at the top of every nature photographer’s list to visit and photograph.  Photographers can access Lake O’Hara by trail or by bus, but plan your trip into this area early as there is a quota on the number of visitors allowed in there at any one time.

Waterfall and Mt Schaffer, Lake O'Hara, Yoho National Park

Waterfall and Mt Schaffer, Lake O'Hara, Yoho National Park

Every trail in the area is littered with photo opportunities, particularly in the summer months when the entire area is snow-free and accessible.  My personal favourite is the Opabin Plateau Trail (the two pictures above are from the Opabin Plateau).

Plan to stay overnight at Lake O’Hara for at least a night in either the campground, the ACC Hut, or in Lake O’Hara Lodge to maximize your opportunities and to be there for the best light each morning and evening.  If you want to go in just for the day, Cathedral Mountain Lodge makes an excellent base camp for photography purposes.

Note that in summer, first light can be as early as 5 am in Lake O’Hara, so expect to be up hiking by 4 am in order to reach your destinations by the time the sun starts rising!

And if you’re interested in seeing more summer photography from Lake O’Hara and Yoho National Park, visit my Yoho National Park Image Library.

Happy shooting!

John

Jasper Wildlife Photography: Maligne Lake Road

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One of the premier drives for Jasper wildlife photography is Maligne Lake Road.  In fact, this is one of the premier drives for wildlife photography in the entire Canadian Rockies, and wildlife lovers and photographers alike won’t be disappointed spending a few days, or even a week, cruising up and down this road looking for wildlife!

The prime time to embark on this 45 km road, which winds its way from Highway 16 (the Yellowhead Highway) to Maligne Lake, is in the early morning or late afternoon/evening.

The first part of the drive to Maligne Canyon is a prime area to see mule deer, elk, coyote and even wolves, particularly very early in the morning.  It’s also a great area for bighorn sheep, especially large rams.

Jasper Wildlife Photography: Bighorn Ram

Jasper Wildlife Photography: Bighorn Ram

The rest of the drive from Maligne Canyon to Medicine Lake and beyond to Maligne Lake is full of great opportunities for wildlife viewing and photography.  In spring and summer, watch for black bears and mule deer along this stretch, especially in the afternoon and evening.  You may even get lucky and spot one of the few remaining mountain caribou in this area at the south end of Medicine Lake.

Jasper Wildlife Photography: Black Bear Cubs

Jasper Wildlife Photography: Black Bear Cubs

The Maligne Canyon area is also excellent for birders.  Gray jays and Clark’s nutcrackers frequent the parking lot, while canyon visitors may glimpse an american dipper or even the rare black swift, which nests in the canyon.

In late fall, you may get lucky and find a big bull elk or bull moose along the road.  In fact, late fall and winter are my favourite times of year to travel the road looking for wildlife.

Jasper Wildlife Photography: Bull Moose

Jasper Wildlife Photography: Bull Moose

As with all wildlife photography in the mountain parks, please respect the park rules and maintain a safe viewing distance from the animals.  For deer and bighorn sheep, this means staying at least 30 metres (yards) from the animal, while for larger, more dangerous animals like moose or bears, it means maintaining at least 100 metres (yards) between you and the animal.  Do not leave your vehicle if a bear is encountered.

Interested in seeing more wildlife photography from Jasper and the Canadian Rockies?  Check out my book, Wildlife of the Canadian Rockies: A Glimpse at Life on the Wild Side, now available online.

And want to get out and see wildlife in the Rockies, but don’t have a vehicle or aren’t sure you want to drive around by yourself?  Then sign on with Jasper Vacations in Jasper, or Banff Travel in Banff for one of their affordable wildlife safaris.  These guys have the local knowledge and the latest hot tips, and knowing many of their guides personally, I highly recommend both companies.

Happy Shooting!

John

Favourite Jasper Photography Locations: Cavell Pond

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One of my Jasper Photography favourites is Cavell Pond.  It combines everything a  landscape photographer dreams of…a beautiful emerald green lake (Cavell Pond), a magnificent hanging glacier (Angel Glacier), a towering snow-capped peak (Mt Edith Cavell), and if you’re lucky, some icebergs floating around in the pond!

Jasper Photography Favourites: Angel Glacier

Jasper Photography Favourites: Angel Glacier

The Cavell Pond loop is one of Jasper National Park’s most visited and most photographed locations.  The walk from the parking lot is easy and well worth the trek with camera bag and tripod in tow.

Jasper Photography Favourites: Mt Edith Cavell

Jasper Photography Favourites: Mt Edith Cavell at sunrise

My favourite shooting spots are from the front edge of the pond (seen above), as well as from up above the pond on the trail to Cavell Meadows (below).

Jasper Photography Favourites: Mt Edith Cavell

Jasper Photography Favourites: Mt Edith Cavell

The best time of year to visit Jasper’s Cavell Pond is early in the summer, in late June or July.  That maximizes your chances of finding icebergs in the pond.

Peering through an iceberg at Angel Glacier on Mt Edith Cavell, Jasper National Park

Peering through an iceberg at Angel Glacier on Mt Edith Cavell, Jasper National Park

Stay tuned for more Jasper Photography Favourites in coming entries, or visit my Banff – Jasper Photography Gallery for more images of Jasper National Park and the Canadian Rockies.

Happy Shooting!

John

Best Banff Accommodations for Summer Photography: Numtijah Lodge

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One of the best Banff accommodation choices for summer photography in the Canadian Rockies is Simpson’s Num-ti-jah Lodge, located along the Icefields Parkway between Banff and Jasper.

Spectacularly set on the edge of glimmering Bow Lake and surrounded by a sea of towering Rocky Mountain peaks, this beautiful Banff resort is more eco-lodge than true hotel. It’s considered to be prime accommodation for nature photographers coming to Banff because of it’s gorgeous locale away from the hustle and bustle of the towns of Banff and Jasper.

Bow Lake, the location of one of Banff's best accommodations for summer photography, Num-ti-jah Lodge.

Bow Lake, the location of one of Banff's best accommodations for summer photography, Num-ti-jah Lodge.

Photograph to your heart’s content at a number of prime photo locations within a 20 mile (30 km) drive of the lodge, including Bow Lake, Crowfoot Glacier, Peyto Lake, and Upper and Lower Waterfowl Lakes. Photographers can easily spend 4-5 days in this area alone.

Reserve your spot for the summer months early, as this Banff accommodation gem books up early!

Happy shooting,

John

Rockies Spring Preview: Black Bear Photography

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There are few better places in the world for black bear photography than the Canadian Rockies in spring. Black bears come out of hibernation around here in April and May and head straight down to the valley bottoms.

Spring in the Rockies = great black bear photography

Spring in the Rockies = great black bear photography

Black bear photography is at a premium along roads like the Maligne Lake Road in Jasper, the Kootenay Parkway (Highway 93 South) in Kootenay National Park, and along the Icefields Parkway in Banff and Jasper. The best time of day is in the afternoon and evening and the best month for black bear photography is June!

Happy shooting,

John

(View more of John’s spring black bear photography from the Canadian Rockies)

Banff Winter Photography Favourites

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It’s 5 pm on February 6th, 2009, and for the first time in over a month, it’s snowing outside here in Banff!! So with that in mind, I give you my three favourite Banff winter photography locations, which, in my mind, are always better when there’s fresh snow on the ground and trees:

3. Lake Louise. Located an hour inside Banff National Park, few locations in the world offer the grandeur of Lake Louise, beautifully framed between several towering peaks and with no less than seven glaciers at its head. For optimal winter photography, aim for early or mid-morning, from 9 to noon. But be forewarned, it’s cold at that time of the day!!

Lake Louise, Banff National Park Winter Photography

Lake Louise, Banff National Park Winter Photography

2. Mount Rundle and Vermilion Lakes. One of my all-time favourite locations to photograph in Banff National Park at any time of year, this classic offers up a variety of views as you hike and drive the Vermilion Lakes Road. Winter photography rarely gets better than a sunny afternoon spent taking pictures at one of Banff’s most beautiful locales. Aim to spend all afternoon here on a nice winter day, focusing your efforts on getting ready for the alpenglow sunset that will light up Mount Rundle.

Mount Rundle and Vermilion Lakes, Banff Winter Photography

Mount Rundle and Vermilion Lakes, Banff National Park Winter Photography

1. Castle Mountain and the Bow River. Though not as well known or as visited as Lake Louise or the Vermilion Lakes area, this is my favourite winter photography location in Banff National Park. It offers a spectacular view of a gorgeous sunlit mountain above the picturesque Bow River and surrounding snow-clad forest. I often spend entire afternoons walking the edges of the river and looking for different angles to photograph Castle from. You can find this gem halfway between Banff and Lake Louise just off the Trans-Canada Highway at the Highway 93 South junction.

Castle Mountain, Banff National Park

Castle Mountain, Banff National Park

That’s it for now, but watch in coming posts for a spring preview of wildlife photography opportunities in Jasper National Park. And please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or comments at info@wildernessprints.com

Happy Shooting!

John

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!

John

(View more of John’s Banff photography)

The Banff and Jasper Photography Blog

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Hello, and welcome to my first official blog post for CanadianRockies.net!

My name is John E. Marriott and I’m a full-time professional wildlife and nature photographer based out of Canmore, Alberta on the edge of Banff National Park. I’ve been living in the Canadian Rocky Mountains for the last 18 years and have photographed all over the parks extensively in that time. You may have seen my work in publications like National Geographic Adventure, Canadian Geographic, Popular Photography, Photo Life, Ranger Rick, National Wildlife, Reader’s Digest or Our Canada.

I’m thrilled to use this space in the coming months and years to provide you with tips on where to photograph in the Canadian Rockies, including hotspots in Banff, Jasper, Yoho and Kootenay National Parks. I’ll also provide information on photography conditions in the parks so you’ll know what to expect at various times of the year, as well as give my opinions on where the best places to stay are to get you into the heat of the photo action each morning/evening, and where the good wildlife spots are. And finally, I’ll include some of the stories behind my photo adventures, much like I do on my personal nature photography blog.

Look for the first of my tips in the next week and then watch for them regularly throughout 2009!

Mt Rundle from Third Vermilion Lake, December 2008

Mount Rundle from Third Vermilion Lake, December 2008

Cheers, and happy hunting with your cameras.

John