The Canadian Rocky Mountains offer some of the most beautiful scenery in the world from towering glacier covered mountains to landscapes full of lakes, rivers, waterfalls and wildlife. The southern part of the Canadian Rockies is where most visitors spend their time, this includes Banff, Jasper, Yoho and Kootenay National Parks. In this article we have covered special lighting considerations for mountain photography, the pros and cons of visiting in each season and the top photography spots around Banff and Lake Louise. It’s the right light that makes the mountains, lakes, rivers and landscapes come alive.
Bright mid-day light is not a desirable shooting condition for many outdoor subjects, it’s particularly harsh for mountain scenes causing them to be washed out. The weather and lighting change dramatically throughout the day making a particular spot look different from hour to hour. Sometimes it just comes down to luck, being at the right place at the right time when trying to capture the perfect image. What is considered to be the most ideal time to visit the Rocky Mountains are the months from June to October, but all seasons of the year have something to offer. The months of July and August are the time for turquoise glacier lakes, the driest weather, warmer temperatures and by mid-July there is full access to all the hiking trails including the high elevation and back country ones. The downside is you have to be at your photo location as early as 5 am to catch the sunrise. Winter can be a beautiful time to visit the mountains, it’s like a magical white wonderland. If you are trying to avoid winter take note that it is a lot longer of a season in the mountains.
Mid-September through October is a beautiful time of the year to visit the Rocky Mountains. It’s the best time of year for elk photography, the elk rut occurs in early September and lasts well into October. During the Autumn mornings fog can often be seen sitting on the lakes and in the lower valley areas, it’s an interesting element to photograph. Some of the areas known for the fall tree colours in Banff National Park are in the middle section of the Bow Valley Parkway at Hillsdale Meadows and the Sawback Prescribed Burn area where there are groves of Aspen trees. Spring is a great time to see wildlife, the animals start to come down to the lower valley areas and can be seen feeding on the first areas of exposed grasses. The lower elevation lakes start to free of ice by May and lower elevation trails become accessible. Late May and June can be a nice time to capture the green of the lower valleys in contrast to the snow capped mountain peaks. From the top of Sulphur Mountain Gondola there are views overlooking the town of Banff, the Bow Valley, several mountain ranges and Lake Minnewanka. Stroll through Cascade Gardens for flower photography in the late spring and summer or take the classic shot overlooking the gardens and pools of water with Banff Avenue and Cascade Mountain in the background. From Banff Avenue there is another classic shot looking down the street with Cascade Mountain towering at the end. From Surprise Corner you can see the Banff Springs Hotel perched above the Bow River and back dropped by the mountains. On Mount Norquay road as you head up towards the ski hill there is a pullout area that provides a view overlooking the town of Banff and Mount Rundle. The Bow Valley Parkway is an alternate route between Banff and Lake Louise that runs parallel to the Trans Canada highway on the other side of the Bow River. At the half way point between Banff and Lake Louise just off the Trans Canada Hwy at the intersection with Hwy 93 South is Castle Junction. There’s lots of opportunities for magical winter photography all along the Bow Valley Parkway. The Cascade Ponds offer some nice reflection shots during the summer months from sunrise to mid-morning. Lower And Upper Bankhead are areas that have some interesting remnants from the old abandoned mining operation and town. The lake starts to freeze up by December and doesn’t completely thaw again until the end of May or early June.
Lake Louise can be a difficult subject to shoot with the stark contrast between the shadowed lake and highlighted mountain peaks and sky. Late June through July is the peak time for photography at Moraine lake when the water level is high and showing it’s beautiful turquoise colour.
Lots of interesting shots can be taken from along the shore. At the canoe dock you can get some interesting photos of the bright boat colours contrasted against the blue water and the backdrop of the mountains. The most popular shot is from the top of the rock pile overlooking the lake and the Valley of the Ten Peaks as seen on the back of past Canadian $20 bills issued between 1969 and 79. Mid to late morning is when the mountains and the water are both lit up.
The lake gets so busy in the summer months and during the Larch festival in September that you may find yourself having to park a kilometer or more down the road and walking in. The landscapes and terrain of the Rocky Mounains are so varied with different elements that you can easily use lenses from a very wide angle up to 300mm on a daily basis. If you are really keen on wildlife photography and your wallet has afforded you a 400 0r 500mm telephoto lens then by all means bring it. Located in California's Eastern Sierra, Mono Lake is an oasis in the dry Great Basin and a vital habitat for millions of birds. A monarch is pictured at Powell Gardens, a 915-acre botanical garden in Kingsville, MI, featuring 6,000 plant varieties. Wuzhen, a 1,300-year-old water town on the lower reaches of China's Yangtze River, is marked by ancient stone bridges and preserved historic buildings. One of the most scenic parks in the world, Wyoming's Grand Teton National Park was created in 1929 and is 310,000 acres.
The name "Quivira" is Spanish-derived, given to the region by the explorer Coronado in 1541. The Teton Range is the youngest mountain range in the Rocky Mountains, and is still growing. Morning fog rises from the water at Marsh Creek State Park, nestled in the rolling hills of north central Pennsylvania.


A bald eagle swoops in for a fish at Lock and Dam 14 on the Mississippi River above Davenport, Iowa and Moline, Illinois.
Fall foliage is something to behold in Colorado, where peak colors emblaze the landscape in lush golds and fiery reds.
Vivid spray paint murals brighten an alleyway in downtown Kansas City, a center of visual and literary arts. Butterflies use a long, tubular structure to sip nectar, but they actually do all their tasting through receptors on their feet! A slim and twisting corridor meanders through a cathedral of undulating Navajo sandstone walls in the American Southwest.
A vast field of sunflowers is reflected in a single morning dewdrop, suspended momentarily on the tip of a yellow petal. Found in Africa and Asia, the pied kingfisher dives into the water to capture fish, and can swallow its prey mid-flight. The leopard, which can run close to 40 mph, will often stash its prey in a tree for safe keeping from scavenging hyenas. Known for its elegant profile and striking coloration, the American avocet can be found in wetlands across North America.
Fun fact: Hummingbirds can remember every flower they've visited, and how long it takes that flower's nectar to refill. The Wulong Karst, an otherworldly limestone region with sinkholes, underground streams and caverns, is located in southwest China.
Yellow-billed oxpeckers have a symbiotic relationship with the Cape Buffalo and other hoofed African mammals, feasting on ticks, parasites, earwax and even diseased wound tissue. The Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes are one of many spectacular landscapes in Death Valley, the largest national park in the lower 48 states. Each spring, a stunning spectacle of more than one million snow geese migrates to the Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge in Mound City, Mo. The avian visitors are a major boost to the local economy, as tourists flock annually from all over the world to witness the extraordinary gathering. Draped over miles of mountaintops like a winding river of ancient brick, the epic Great Wall dates back more than 2,000 years and stretches across 8,850 km from east to west of China. Today, less than 30 percent of this iconic cultural relic remains in good condition due to natural erosion and the roughly four million tourists who visit each year. Sprawled like a shimmering azure portal to another world, the glacier-fed Milk Lake nestled in the mountainous folds of Yading Nature Reserve, China, brilliantly contrasts the rugged landscape and jagged mountains piercing the sky. The vibrant cerulean hues found in this pristine glacial lake situated at 4,600m high come from a powdery "rock flour" that absorbs and refracts varying colors of sunlight.
Brendon used a 3-minute exposure to capture the amazing color changes and "milky" effect of the water.
Photo captured at Antelope Canyon, Arizona, by Caroline Tien-Spalding, our Director of MarkComm. Stunning Maui panorama – an example of what you can create in seconds with ArcSoft Panorama Maker®. Photo of Maiden with the Seagull, taken in Opatija, Croatia, by Steven Wei, PhotoStudio user. In any of these areas it would be difficult to find a poor location, you could randomly press the shutter button on your camera and get a beautiful scene.
We have a separate article for photographing the attractions along the Icefield Parkway and the best spots for wildlife viewing in the Canadian Rocky Mountains.
Like so many types of outdoor photography it’s those precious hours around sunrise and sunset that will allow you to create some of the most spectacular images. It depends on what you want to photograph. Is it landscapes with colorful wildflowers, winter scenery, turquoise coloured lakes or wildlife that you are interested in?
The other drawback to summer is that you will be sharing the mountain parks with crowds of other visitors, tour groups and locals coming in from nearby areas. Snow usually starts to fall in November or earlier and continues through March and even longer in higher elevation areas. The daytime temperatures are perfect for hiking, just a slight bit of crispness in the air without being too cold or too hot. Near Lake Louise there are golden larch trees in the Saddleback Pass and in the Lake O”Hara region of Yoho National Park. Spring starts later in the mountains, mid-April and into May is considered early spring as the season transitions from winter. This can be one of the best times to see bears as they are emerging from hibernation and seeking food. The lighting is good at sunrise and sunset and this is when the water is calmest allowing for reflection shots of the mountains. In the summer months you need to arrive very early in the morning or later in the evening to avoid the crowds that get brought in on tour buses. At this spot on the Bow River there is the Castle Junction Bridge, old iron structure that offers some of the best views of Castle Mountain. You could be waiting for a while for a train and hopefully the light will be right if one comes by. The popular areas to take photos from are around the canoe boat dock, the outlet stream and at the front of the lake for reflections of Mount Victoria. About once every decade an early snowfall occurs before the lake freezes over and creates a beautiful scene of snow on the mountains and surrounding ground around the lake.
A graduated filter can be helpful or shoot multiple images to merge in post processing. If you are set on photographing the turquoise colour lake water you are pretty much limited to the months of July and August. Any earlier and the water level is either very low or still frozen. The road to Moraine Lake is only open seasonally.


Other mountain scenes are so expansive you might want to shoot several images to stitch together as a panorama. A soft edge one is preferable in the mountains as there is rarely a precise horizon line. You can also shoot multiple images in varying exposures to merge together in post processing. If you’re visiting during winter take note that the cold sucks the life out of batteries very quickly.
They range from partial to full day shooting events to multiple day excursions including meals and accommodations. We have created this site to share our photography and personal experiences in Banff National Park and the rest of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. A recurring theme, our gorgeous full-screen hero image on home page features a carefully selected photograph taken by talented pro, semi-pro and amateur photographers. Huangshan is characterized by odd-shaped pines, bizarre rock formations, seas of clouds and clear hot springs. 1 on the "Top 10 Paradises for Photographers" by CHIP FOTO-VIDEO Digital, a famous Chinese professional photography magazine.
There are a number of classic locations to photograph, hopefully you can try to capture something a little different by putting your own creative spin on them. As the sun rises and sets the mountain peaks and skies can light up with hues of pink, red, orange and yellow. You can often hear and see the rams clashing their horns together as they fight over the females.
Just east of Canmore the Highwood Pass in Kananaskis Country showcases fall colours of aspen, birch and larch trees. The weather and temperatures during springtime can be all over the place, large dumps of snow can still fall or milder warm weather can occur. Some of the roads to popular destinations such as Moraine Lake, Mount Edith Cavell and Takkakaw Falls do not open until early June or later and most campsites are closed until mid to late May. Vermillion Lakes is one of the first areas to green up in the spring and this attracts wildlife such as elk and deer. The hoodoos themselves are not that spectacular but, the views of the Bow Valley, Spray Valley and Mount Rundle are. In late spring and early fall the weekends are busy, but during the week it’s quieter. Occasionally on clear nights in the winter months some incredible displays of the northern lights (Aurora Borealis) can be spotted in the sky above the frozen lake. Depending on conditions it’s open from early June through the Canada Thanksgiving holiday weekend in October. You can do an internet search for Canadian Rocky Mountain photography tours and a myriad of companies and local photographers offering these services will come up. Because imaging technology is at the core of all we do, we celebrate both the process and the creativity that results from visual inspiration.
You’ll often hear the word Alpenglow talked about with regards to mountain photography, this is rosy light illuminating the mountain peaks when the atmospheric conditions are right.
Days with clouds, mist, fog and stormy weather can make for much more dramatic and moody images. It’s also not one of the best times to spot wildlife as many of the animals retreat high into the mountains to escape the heat and human activity. Places like Lake Louise have snow on the ground in May and the lake is usually frozen until early June.
The winter activities have not started yet and the summer ones have ended and it’s no longer warm enough for some visitors taste. The colours can peak out as early as the third week of September or it can push later towards the beginning of October. June is the wettest month, but showers are generally isolated and rarely does it rain all day long. The shallow lakes also provide a wetland for a variety of waterfowl and birds. You can easily spend hours to the better part of a day here taking photos along the shoreline. At Hillsdale Meadows there are stands Aspen trees that display orange and yellow colours in September and in late spring and early summer there are wildflowers.
Through the canyon you reach the lower and upper falls on a series of  trails and catwalks suspended from the rock walls.
It’s easy to pack around and I find it very useful for a variety landscape details and wildlife.
Less daylight hours are available in the winter, photo shooting for the day is wrapped up by 4 or 5pm. The weather is very location specific, driving 10 to 15 minutes to another area can often land you in more favourable conditions.
Moose Meadows is another area that has good photo opportunities with views of Pilot and Copper Mountain. If you’re looking to take wildflower photos in the alpine meadows it can vary year to year, but the peak blooming sits somewhere between mid-July and mid-August. From Banff town follow Mount Norquay road and turn left just before reaching the Trans Canada Hwy. If you want to avoid crowds then stay clear of the holidays through Christmas and the New Year.



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