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How to capture the sights in your Canada photos

posted May 31, 2016


How to capture the sights in your Canada photos

With stunning landscapes this diverse, a holiday to Canada certainly won’t disappoint photographers – budding and professionals alike! The only challenge is deciding where to photograph first.

If you want to capture the country’s full myriad of spectacular scenery in your Canada photos, an organised tour taking you over the iconic Canadian Rockies, out on the Alaskan waters and through the country’s best urban destinations offers a unique chance to see the full breadth of landscapes comfortably.

Departing in Calgary, the Rocky Mountaineer & Alaska Cruise Extravaganza journeys through Alberta and British Columbia. Aboard the luxury train, a journey on the Rocky Mountaineer will take you to the magnificent heights of Lake Louise in Banff before reaching the exciting port city of Vancouver. Your cruise ship will depart under the iconic sails of Canada place, and out on to the North Pacific Ocean, abundant with incredible marine wildlife.

Ahead of your trip, learn how to photograph the sights from sea to sky in our guide to capturing once-in-a-lifetime moments in your Canada photos.

Photo opportunities in Canada

“There is so much to see, the problem is deciding which to visit in the time you have” says photographer Robert Berdan from the popular website Canadian Nature Photographer.

Robert has been photographing the country for over 40 years, collecting his photos of some of the best places to visit in Canada across the provinces for the soon-to-be-published book The Art of Canadian Nature Photography – Wildlife and Scenic Vistas of Canada. He says: “I think Canada is the most beautiful place in the world and I have dedicated much of my life to capturing its beauty. What’s special is that we still have wild places, wild animals and sparsely populated regions and wilderness that is disappearing in most places of the world.”

Northern Lights in Canada

Similarly, Jaclyn of Jaclyn Tanemura Photography adds: “I’ve found the diversity of the landscape makes simply staying in Canada an easy choice for photography – I could probably try to explore this country my whole life, and still not see everything.”

As well as capturing her own images, Jaclyn co-leads photography workshops, which are sometimes held in backcountry locations on hiking or horse riding outings. She suggests the Fairview Mountain hike for the more active among us when visiting Lake Louise: “It’s not as busy as the other trails and the views are absolutely spectacular on the way up, and at the top”

Closer to the town area in Banff, straddling the British Columbian and Albertan provinces, Jaclyn recommends the Vermilion Lakes as a favourite spot for landscape photographers travelling through the Canadian Rockies. The Lakes are just off the side of the road and are known for their consistently beautiful light conditions, making them a dependable place for visiting shutter bugs to get those important Canada photos with little planning.

Vermilion Lakes in Canada

Naturally, the Canadian Rockies with their breathtaking views are a must-visit destination in Canada, but the abundance of incredible wildlife in Banff National Park in particular is yet another reason – as if you needed one!

“Canada’s scenery is perfect for photography because of its diversity and raw beauty” says photographer Jessica Veltri.

“I’m in love with Canada because of the mountains and the lakes – they’re absolutely stunning and there are so many to choose from!

“The Bow Valley Parkway in Banff is excellent for wildlife photography.  I recommend you aim for early morning or early evening for the best chances of seeing animals. My husband and I saw a pack of wolves, a grizzly bear, several big elk, and a black bear over the course of just a couple of days. It was incredible. Bring a telephoto lens so you can photograph from a safe distance.”

wildlife in Bow Valley Parkway in Canada

If you’re keen to explore the area, the locally operated Discover Banff Tours offers a huge range of options for getting out into the wild and experiencing one of Canada’s most striking National Parks. From personalised and relaxed sightseeing tours to adrenaline-fuelled whitewater rafting and mountain climbing experiences, Discover Banff Tours aims to help visitors connect with the natural splendour of sites like Banff National Park. They explain: “We’re so proud of our little corner of the Earth and recognise the impact that it can have on our guests from around the world.

“When you come to the Canadian Rockies, you are visiting one of the world’s most untouched landscapes. This is true wilderness and an expanse made up of hundreds of millions of acres of dramatic mountain peaks, pine forests and gorgeous glacial lakes and rivers that just cannot be found anywhere else on earth.

“One of the main reasons these areas are so heavily photographed is just how dramatic the environment is. Banff National Park has towering peaks and deep valley bottoms. This fresh air, this peace and this wide-open space often represents an escape and guests’ photos allow them to bring a little piece of this feeling back home with them.”

In the spring, Banff’s fantastic plant life comes into bloom, but winter enthusiasts may be more at home during the winter season. The park’s snowy slopes are just as good for magnificent photos as they are for a ski holiday in Canada. With popular ski resorts such as Whistler or the family pick Sun Peaks, British Columbia is a world-class destination for slope side action.

Banff National Park in Canada

Heading down the mountains and towards the shoreline in British Columbia, Vancouver’s buzzing cityscape couldn’t be more in contrast with the province’s mountainous landscapes. A change in scenery can mean only one thing, another opportunity to capture those photos of Canada.

While natural daylight is perfect for shots of the great Canadian wilderness, Vancouver really lights up at night and when the sun sets there’s one place with an unrivalled perspective over the city – Vancouver Lookout.

Standing at an impressive 550ft, no other attraction in the city offers 360 degree unobstructed views of both the North Shore Mountains and Burrard Inlet. You may even be able to make out Mt. Baker all the way in the USA on a clear day! Being high enough to see the surroundings but not so high that you need to lug a larger long-focus telephoto lens up with you, the top viewing deck is also a great place to add a few iconic building shots to your Canada photo collections.

Vancouver Lookout makes the ideal introduction to the city and the information plaques located throughout the deck and guided tours should offer some inspiration in planning what to do with the rest of your time in Vancouver.

There’s certainly plenty to do, whether you’re after a spot of shopping, fine dining or want to check off the top attractions in Vancouver. While cheap flights to Vancouver have made it easier to reach this cosmopolitan city, Vancouver’s coastal access makes it a great place to stop over and explore before setting off on the next leg of your journey through Canada and beyond.

Vanocuver Lookout

Tips for capturing Canada

Discover Banff Tours says: “It also doesn’t matter what time of day you get out, or what season in which you visit and shoot these scenes. From the golden larches in autumn, to misty spring mornings and snow-covered winter peaks, our landscape is forever changing and always unique.”

No matter when you decide to visit, following advice from our experts will guarantee the perfect Canada photos to add to your album. For instance, Jaclyn recommends being aware of the lighting conditions and how this will affect your final shot. She explains: “Shoot when the light is the most dramatic; sunrise for the mountains near Banff, both sunrise and sunset elsewhere. That way you’ll catch the clouds lighting up with colour, and the beautiful alpenglow on the mountains.”

Jessica, on the other hand, has her checklist of tips to consider for fool-proof photographs:

  1. Go early to avoid crowds and to capture the beautiful morning light.
  2. Use a tripod to get maximum sharpness and maximum depth of field.
  3. Experiment with long exposures to get movement in the clouds and water. It can turn an ordinary snapshot into a breathtaking landscape worthy of hanging on your wall.
  4. After you get your wide angle shot of the scene, play around with different compositions focusing on the little details.
  5. Use a polarizer to deepen the blue of the sky and to eliminate distracting glare on the water and leaves.

Banff National Park

Gearing up for the wilderness and carrying the right equipment can help, as Robert adds: “Cameras with a digital single lens reflex are best for capturing high quality photos and a wide angle lens is good for landscapes.

“A tripod is useful as it makes folks look more carefully and slow down so they see more. It can also be used for night photography when a slower shutter speed is necessary.”

If you’re heading to Canada for the first time, virtual tours via Google Street View can offer some insight into the area and help you prepare for every photographic opportunity ahead of your trip. Simply head to Google Maps, search for the location you’re interested in and drag and drop the little yellow character from the bottom corner of the screen into an area you want to explore further, as in this example of Lake Louise. The Canadian Nature Photographer also offers ebook quick guides that detail the best places to take photos in places such as Banff National Park. These can be viewed on your phone or tablet computer when you’re on the move.

Image Credit: Robert Berdan (canadiannaturephotographer.com), Jaclyn Tanemura (jaclyntanemuraphotography.com), Jessica Veltri (jessicaveltri.com), Andrew Bell (instagram.com), Vancouver Lookout (vancouverlookout.com)

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