Where can I photograph around Banff National Park during the Banff Landscape Photography Summit?

I’ve been getting this question a lot lately after the full weekend passes including all the tours for the Summit sold out in less than a week after they when on sale.  People want to buy one of the remaining the Full Summit Presentation passes  but they are wondering where they can also go for landscape photography while attending the Summit on Jan. 8-10, 2016.  I want to help them.  The mission statement for the Summit is:

To bring landscape photographers together

in one of the most beautiful places in the world

to learn more, see more, feel more, and communicate more through our art.”

Spring in the Mountains at Highwood Pass

Spring in the Mountains at Highwood Pass @www.brianmerry.ca

     Using this mission statement as my guiding principle I have a few suggestions to help you maximize your photography time time while you’re in Banff attending the Summit.  Even if you didn’t get a change to purchase the full Summit pass including the tours during the first week they were on sale in October.  

1/  Hire a local photographer to take you to the best locations to make efficient use of your time.

     A local professional landscape photographer knows the best places to shoot.  This goes for any area you plan on visiting really.  More importantly, a local pro landscape photographer knows where the best light will be given the current weather conditions at the moment.  And, they how to put you in the best position to photograph it.  The amount of time you’ll save searching for the best landscape photography locations, and the amount of pro advice you’ll receive during your tour, will definitely be worth the cost of hiring a local landscape photography guide.  Remember you want to make the most of your time here.  Hiring a local pro and having them use their local knowledge that they’ve gained over the years to guide you around is worth the $$.  I’m not available to privately guide during the Summit weekend but if you would like a few suggestions about who to hire then please send me a contact form and I’ll pass on the contact information of a few recommended photographers.

2/  Bring your car, or rent one while you’re here.

     Banff is full of extraordinary and world class landscape photography locations you can drive right up too.  The downside is you need a car to drive right up to them.  I’ll say that again.  You really do need a car, or someone with a car, to drive you around.  You can have a great day out shooting landscape by just walking around around the outskirts of Banff.  This is a world class landscape photography destination and the world class locations are all over the place.  But, to get the most out of the day for your landscape photography, you will need to have a car.


The Milky Way on the Red Deer River ©www.brianmerry.ca

3/  Bring an Ultra Wide Angle Lens for Landscape photography in the mountains.

     This seems obvious but to some landscape photographers but not to all of them, especially if you haven’t photographed in the mountains before.  The valleys here are so tight, and the mountains sooo tall and close together, that you will need some ultra wide focal length lens in your camera bag to take full advantage of the scenery.  In the 35mm/full frame format, that means bringing focal lengths as wide, and wider, than 24mm.  I think an ultra wide zoom lens in the 16-35mm range is an essential part of a Banff landscape photography kit and it will live on your camera body while you’re here unless you plan on photographing grizzly bears here in the spring.  Also, if you plan to photograph the night sky you’ll want to have an f/2.8 lens.  An f/4 lens just isn’t bright enough to capture those jaw dropping compositions with bright stars and the beautiful contrast in the shadows.  If you’re lucky enough to see the aurora you will need a bright f/2.8 lens to do a good job capturing it.  If you have an f/1.4 24mm lens I would definitely bring that lens for sure.  I think that lens is possibly the king of night sky photography!  Be sure to check out my blog post on photographing meteors and the night sky for more night sky photography tips.

4/   Stop by the Banff National Park Info Centre and ask for advice.

     The Banff National Park Info Centre, located on Banff Avenue in the heart of downtown Banff, has some very knowledgable people at the counter ready to answer your questions.  They also have brochures available to help you with your sightseeing in the Park.  Here’s a link to some of their brochures on their website.

The aurora at Lake Minnewanka in Banff National Park

The aurora at Lake Minnewanka in Banff National Park ©www.brianmerry.ca

5/  Come back to Banff in a different season to photograph it again, and again, and again, and….

    I live this last point to an extreme.  When I moved here I promised myself that I would stay here for two years minimum to give myself a chance to get a good sense of place for Banff so I could photograph it’s soul.  I promised myself I would do that no matter how hard it was going to be.  What I found was that my soul is anchored here too, and I stayed.  That was in 1996…. 

     I love Banff.  It’s my home and my wife feels the same way.  If you want to come to Banff for photography again in the future then please feel free to check out my website to see what I can offer you for a private landscape or wildlife photography tour of my home.  Or, browse through the articles in my blog to pick up on the great mountain photography and Banff location tips that I give there.  I offer group tours and workshops throughout the year as well.  The Lake O’Hara landscape photography tour is a very special tour.  You should read up on that place.  It is the best place in The Canadian Rockies for landscape photography.  That place needs to be on every landscape photographer’s bucket list, especially in the fall when the Alpine Larch needles turn yellow at treeline beside the high alpine lakes.  I sincerely hope you have the opportunity to see Banff, my incredible home, in the future.