I admit, I used to hate winter.
As a photographer I amÂ already loaded down with gear and time consuming preparations before going out on a shoot. The last thing I want to do is worry about surviving a winter gale with temperatures making a head-dive to sub arctic, turningÂ your breath to icicles. Also, since I don’t ski, many people have asked me;
“Mark why do you live in Banff if you don’t ski or like the cold?”
Well this is one question I have no trouble answering. Here are theÂ top 5 reasons why I love winterÂ photography in Banff National Park:
1.The sun is at a low angleÂ throughout the dayÂ
As photographers know, when that sun in the summer time hangs in the middle of the sky, itÂ creates harsh shadows and destroys colour saturation. As beautiful as Banff is in any light, often by noon I have put my camera down and will wait until later in the evening for the light to improve.
In the winter the sun in Banff stays at a fairly low angle for the entire day; making for Â great shooting conditions with light all day long so there is no down time and no waiting around until sunset to pick up my camera again.
2.The air is crystal clearÂ
The winter air in Banff makes for very clear skies right fromÂ sunrise to sunset showing even distantÂ mountains in full detail. You rarelyÂ see any blue haze that diminishes detail in the distance requiringÂ a polarizing filter to try and cut through it.
Summer in Banff is our forest fire season. From the end of July to the end of August fires are often ablaze in the Rocky Mountains filling theÂ atmosphere with smoke, making for hazy days.
3.Late sunrises and early sunsetsÂ
I love shooting sunrises and sunsets. In the summer this would mean sometimes getting up at 4:00 am for sunrises and waiting as late asÂ 10:00 pm for sunsets. I am at least lucky to live in the town of Banff, so no matter where I go, it is a shorter distance than most who want to capture this incredible scenery.
Not a fan of early mornings? Winter to the rescue!Â Sunrise is as late as 8:45 AM, so no pounding back that litre and a half of coffee to get the brain kickstartedÂ at 4:00 AM.
Â 4.Snow is a wonderful white canvas for lightÂ
Snow is a beautiful white canvas takingÂ on any colour the sun throws at it. From mountaintops to wide open fields, if you are out taking pictures at sunrise and sunset, glorious colour awaits your camera sensor!
5.Spruce trees become interestingÂ
Banff and the Canadian Rockies are full of spruce trees. These trees grow densely and are officially black holes for light; they are dark (around -3EV) and offer up minimal formations to include in a composition.
In winter, snow changes everything. The darkness is broken up with fresh dumps of snow that cling to their branches creating beautiful contrasts, details and shape!
Ready for a winter adventure in Banff? Check out ourÂ Abraham Lake and Banff Winter Photo TourÂ or hire a Private Guide!