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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
Hi, my name is Kerry Leibowitz. I’m a Midwest-based (I split my time between the Chicago and Indianapolis areas) photographer with a particular propensity for the landscape.
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