Posted by: kerryl29 | October 5, 2015

The Canadian Rockies Revisited

Last fall, I spent a couple of weeks photographing in the Canadian Rockies.  It was a tremendous experience and I came home with a bushelful of great memories and some images that I was happy with as well.  As great as the trip was, it ended with a focus on a couple of disappointments–most particularly a day of miserable weather at the elusive Lake O’Hara.  As a result, I came home with a burning desire to return to the region as soon as possible.  Without going through the specifics, I managed to figure out a way to go back to the Canadian Rockies this fall.  I flew from Chicago to Calgary on September 15 and returned to the American Midwest on September 30.

Aspen Meadow, Kootenay Plains, David Thompson Country, Alberta

Aspen Meadow, Kootenay Plains, David Thompson Country, Alberta

I covered a lot of ground during this trip, revisiting some locations from last year but I expended copious time visiting new places as well.  I spent the bulk of my time centered near Lake Louise, Alberta which provided me ready access to locations as far to the south as the town of Banff (about 35 miles away), as far west as the outer reaches of Yoho National Park, across the provincial border in British Columbia, and as far north and east as spots on the southern third of the Icefields Parkway and David Thompson Country.  Basically, if a location was within 90 minutes of my base, I deemed it in bounds.  I spent the final few days in and around the town of Jasper and along the northern 2/3 of the Icefields Parkway.  (Jasper is roughly 140 miles north of Lake Louise.)

Two Jack Lake Morning Black & White, Banff National Park, Alberta

Two Jack Lake Morning Black & White, Banff National Park, Alberta

The Canadian Rockies in the fall is a cornucopia of landscape photographic opportunities with subject matter ranging from towering, snow-covered peaks to pristine, glacially fed lakes and rivers, gushing creeks, forests of pine, spruce, golden-leafed aspen and needled larch, rolling meadows and plains and big, piercing skies.  I experienced it all, and then some.  The always variable and nearly impossible to predict mountain weather threw everything it had at me, from sun-splashed days to long periods of rain and, yes, a couple of snowstorms, just for good measure.  I experienced daybreak lows in the lower 20s (F) and a day or two where the afternoon highs reached the low 70s.  I was ready for all of it, at least in principle.

 Sunrise Snow, Moraine Lake, Banff National Park, Alberta

Sunrise Snow, Moraine Lake, Banff National Park, Alberta

With what amounted to a minimally passing familiarity of the region based on last year’s experience, I was able to make better decisions about where to photograph, considering the varying weather conditions.  But, given my desire to visit numerous locations I hadn’t had the opportunity to see last year, I still had plenty of scouting work to do this time around.  Regardless of the specifics, I always tried to spend daylight time–which averaged roughly 12 hours while I was in the region–wisely.

Yoho Valley Road Aspens, Yoho National Park, British Columbia

Yoho Valley Road Aspens, Yoho National Park, British Columbia

I had some photographic company during the first few days I was on the ground in the Canadian Rockies (more on that in future installments), but for the final 10 days or so I was on my own and really had no one to answer to–other than myself.  To the extent that I didn’t accomplish all that I’d set out to do when planning the trip, I had no one to blame.  But, for the most part, I felt as though I fulfilled my goals.

Mistaya River, Banff National Park, Alberta

Mistaya River, Banff National Park, Alberta

I returned home with oodles of images–several thousand frames representing hundreds of gigabytes worth of data.  I don’t establish image or data quotas when I head forth on a photo trip–that would be pointless and ultimately self-defeating–but I have no doubt that I set a personal record for most images made on a single trip last month.  It will take me a long time–months, I suspect–to sift through all of it.  I’ve been at it for four or five days now and I’ve scarcely scratched the surface.

Rampart Ponds, Banff National Park, Alberta

Rampart Ponds, Banff National Park, Alberta

Over the coming weeks I’ll be relating my memories of the experience of this trip, with plenty of visuals thrown in.  (The few photographs accompanying this post represent a virtually random sample of images that I’ve managed to post-process over the past few days.)  I expect that I’ll ostensibly follow the now familiar chronological approach that I’ve used to cover the events of past trips, but I anticipate tossing in a wider sample of thematic and other thoughts beyond the mere recitation of day-by-day events.  Hopefully this will provide the forthcoming series of posts with a bid more general interest than has been the case in the past.

Opabin Plateau, Yoho National Park, British Columbia

Opabin Plateau, Yoho National Park, British Columbia

Regardless of the particulars that make up any future posts, I hope you find the presentation pleasing.  I do enjoy relating the nature of the experience and I hope that comes through in my accounts.  ‘Til next time…

Maligne Lake Earthshadow, Jasper National Park, Alberta

Maligne Lake Earthshadow, Jasper National Park, Alberta



  1. Rockies are always amazing!

  2. Really amazing nature and great shots! Thanks for taking me there 🙂 Bye. K

    • Thanks very much!

  3. I thought that your photos from last year were some of the best landscape images that I’ve ever seen, this post is even better!

    I’ve been watching some online videos that feature professional photographers, some of whom work for National Geographic, and I would say that your work is just as good or not better than than any of theirs. I’m completely blown away by the last two images in this post.

    • Thanks! I really appreciate the kind words.

  4. As always stunning images, but these ones here seem to have an extra something that surpasses that! Beyond stunning, will have to do 🙂

    • Thanks very much!

  5. intriguing

  6. I saw many of these images first time around and was deeply envious of your opportunity to shoot them – I ADORE Sunrise Snow!

    • Thanks very much–much appreciated.

      As a point of clarification, all of the images accompanying this post are new; they’ve never appeared on my blog (or anywhere else for that matter) before. Some of them (e.g. Moraine Lake, Kootenay Plains, Maligne Lake) are from locations I visited last year, but all of these photographs are fresh perspectives, each one made over the last two weeks of this past September.

      • They must be similar enough to the ones I saw first time round to confuse me 🙂

        • 🙂

  7. I always find it so difficult for me personally to cram the enormity of these scenes into a picture without losing the connection that just makes your heart stop when you are actually there…I have to say you did a stunning job of sharing the real joy and beauty of this part of the world.

    • Thanks!

      You’re right, distilling sprawling, three-dimensional grandeur into a finite, two-dimensional space is a real challenge. In fact, in a broader sense, once the technical aspects have been mastered, composition (writ large) is arguably the principal challenge that underlies photography. I know it’s a good part of what keeps me coming back for more, month after month, year after year.

  8. Amazing place! These shots are a beautiful… a dream!

  9. Exceptional views–and refreshing!

  10. Stunning!!

  11. […] ✦ The Canadian Rockies Revisited […]

  12. Outstanding photos! If only I could afford to go there!

    • Thanks very much. And if circumstances ever do provide an opportunity, I strongly urge you to visit the Canadian Rockies; the region is a feast for the eyes and the psyche.

  13. I laughed when I read how many photos you took-after a long wait (years) I got to Jasper for 3 days last week and took over 500. Good colour but definitely past the peak.I love your Maligne colours and mists at Rampart ponds – look forward to more images of the areas you visited.You helped me, due to information from your last trip with scouting for the best light and times and I am happy with the results.Thank you!

    • Thanks for the kind word and I’m glad you found some value in my past posts.

      Good to hear that you got back to Jasper after all that time. I’m impressed to hear that the color hung around for you, even if it was past peak. I was in Jasper at the tail end of September (27-29) and at that time there were areas that were at peak and a few, including one of my favorite meadows, about ten minutes south of town on the Icefields Parkway, that were well past already.

  14. Simply divine!

  15. Awesome! Great work…..

    • Thanks very much!

  16. […] was so entranced by the Canadian Rockies in the fall of 2014 that I returned the falling autumn, a decision I have never […]

  17. […] the end, going to this location wasn’t a mistake.  (In fact, I went back to the spot when I returned to the Canadian Rockies the following year.)  But after I first visited this location, I came to realize that I’d […]

  18. […] I could see that the beauty of the place was absolutely transcendent. That experience lead to my return to the Canadian Rockies the following year and three more visits to the Lake O’Hara area, two of which included far […]

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