My photo blog… visual thoughts around me.

Banff NP – always worth a second glance.

“We’re almost there!”

My last trip for the summer of 2012 was to Banff NP in Alberta, Canada. Like many other parks, both in the US and Canada, this location has been and continues to be shot by some of the best photographers in the world. While I do not include myself in their ranks, I do study the work they produce. I use what I have seen of their photographs, to both guide and inspire my own work. Seeing the light and perspective that these photos captured aides me to focus my vision of this iconic place.   Below you will find shots that I felt were from my minds eye, which is not to say I did not take the classic shots. I hope this will help shed some light for others, on what made me create these compositions.


“My Big Brother”

I had seen this first shot many times before. The rocks in front brought my eye into the larger picture so it enabled me to include a foreground element. It solidified a balance and completed the shot for me. The subtle light on both the back mountain and the foreground, do not compete with each other but instead helped finish the story for the viewer.


“What’s Up?”

After a short hike uphill, I could envision the picture I wanted to take. I shot a standard wide angle that included the whole lake and mountains. It had a nice composition but it was still missing that Aha moment. The shot you see above came to me on my walk back.
I kept glancing over my shoulder, watching the light and reflections in the lake. By using a longer lens to flatten the perspective, I then framed the image with the trees. The final piece to this puzzle came when I converted it to B/W.


“We’re almost there!”

“Curved Beauty”

These next two compositions proved to be very special to me. This was my first time on a glacier. Most are very high up and take a lot of hiking to reach. Often the trek required some really small steps in order to keep from sliding on the ice. I was amazed at how dirty the ice was at the lower levels. It appeared much whiter higher up where there was less movement. To show the expanse and give it a sense of place, I included people in this wide shot. Next, I tried to create flowing abstracts and still not lose the feeling that this was part of the glacier. The curves and a slow shutter helped blur the moving water and made this stand out both in the camera and the final print.


“Lead Me In”

Some days of my trip proved very rewarding. You can go seven days without the perfect sunrise, as I have experienced many times before. One morning I found a very accessible lake just off a main road. The problem was finding the right angle and foreground to match the beautiful sunrise that was quickly forming. The next obstacle was to try and not cause any ripples in this super calm lake as I was just inches from the water. In the final composition I had just the right light on the mountains and the reflection of the clouds.


“Come Together”

On the last morning of my trip, I visited a place called Lake Louise. The views of this vista were breath taking and I took the standard shots but it still seemed unfinished until a cloud bank came in. It was just what I needed, my camera eye went into overdrive. The clouds provided the drama element and by turning it into B/W, it sealed the deal and thus ended my trip on a high note.


Through my experience…. always take the standard shots, pictures that come easily, but don’t forget to take a second glance at the scene. It will help you create something different, and often unique…. you may find that iconic shot replaced by an unforgettable and truly original composition.


46 responses

  1. I’m in love with Canada and you’re not helping me ‘get over it’!! Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous photos, well done.


    January 10, 2013 at 9:45 pm

    • Emma… sorry to bring back such beautiful memories 🙂


      January 11, 2013 at 9:59 pm

  2. Wow Mike, you really caught the light of this place. I love the Canadian Rockies and you nailed it. I usually like to pick a favorite when I look at a group like this but I can’t. Each one of these images catches the beauty of the area in its own way. I also agree with your comment above about the scale of the photo “Curved Beauty” It could be a big river or a little trickle on a melting glacier. It’s up to the viewer to decide.


    December 6, 2012 at 10:10 pm

    • Many thanks Rich… your comments come from a place we both know … NJ… and not just the Jersey seen on TV. I tried a diff format to show my FAV’s in this blog and I am thankful for the follow.


      December 6, 2012 at 11:41 pm

  3. Lovely photos, Mike. I especially think the black and white ones suit the landscape, and help convey the scale and solidity of the mountains.

    The Rockies, and Lake Louise and Moraine Lake are my favourite places, so it’s a joy to see that area through your eyes.


    November 25, 2012 at 9:26 am

    • I also love to covert to B/W… sometimes it just pops. Big thanks for the visit


      November 25, 2012 at 9:51 am

  4. Some awesome shots there Mike – would love to see Banff NP for myself.


    November 17, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    • Well worth the trip Pete… big thanks for the visit!!!!


      November 23, 2012 at 6:20 pm

  5. Your posts are always well worth waiting for, Mike, and this one is spectacular. I love your sharing what was in your mind for each image, and the thought you put into their planning truly paid off for you. I’m not going to pick a favorite this time. Beautiful work.


    November 17, 2012 at 10:44 am

    • Big thanks for the support Gary… thinking for me can be scary at times… shooting from the hip sometimes pays off.


      November 23, 2012 at 6:19 pm

  6. This is absolutely stunning… I love all these pictures.. Mike you are a terrific photographer.. 😀


    November 17, 2012 at 3:52 am

    • I don’t know about the terrific part Abby, but I sure do love to take and create images… thanks again.


      November 23, 2012 at 6:17 pm

  7. Lookin at this images and the passion they pocess, makes you one of the best in this profession. Each one not only celebrates the beauty of each subject but it tell us a story filled with amazing lessions and reflections. That comes from a very talented eye. Thanks for letting us see these places….


    November 15, 2012 at 4:45 am

    • If you knew me ‘IT’ you would know how hard it is for me to express what is going on in words… so this is kind of therapeutic. Big thanks for the follow, your writing from the soul is what also inspires me!!!!


      November 23, 2012 at 6:16 pm

  8. Barbara

    You mentioned earlier about always glazing over your shoulder. You have said that about shots before. I would like to think someone is telling you to look back the shot is right behind you.


    November 14, 2012 at 10:31 am

    • You are so insightful… in the old days you would be locked up for listening to that person on your shoulder… now its just someone talking on a phone in there ear that you can not see 🙂


      November 23, 2012 at 6:12 pm

  9. Barbara

    As always Mike, these are beautiful shots. Your talent and eye are something I really admire. I believe it takes a lot of patience to catch just the right shot. This is why although I would like to be passable photographer, I can’t. I don’t have the patience it takes to wait for the shot.


    November 14, 2012 at 10:28 am

    • Hey Barb… I will let you in on a lil secret…. if you ever saw me in the field you would swear I had camera ADHD. I am always looking for some diff angle. Big thanks for the support


      November 23, 2012 at 6:09 pm

  10. denisebushphoto

    Beautiful compositions, each and every one! Nice to read what you were thinking with each shot.


    November 13, 2012 at 5:05 pm

    • Most of the time whats in my mind should stay there!!!! Thanks for stopping by ‘D’.


      November 23, 2012 at 6:06 pm

  11. My Big Brother and Lead Me In are exceptionally beautiful. I really like the full tonal range in Come Together as well.


    November 12, 2012 at 11:14 pm

    • Dan that pic was just so flat in color… flipping it to B/W just made it pop… thanks again for the visit.


      November 23, 2012 at 6:05 pm

  12. Terry Wilson

    They are all wonderful! I like your decisions to go black and white on certain shots.


    November 12, 2012 at 2:03 pm

    • You know Terry B/W has a way of speaking to me and many times its ‘what were you thinking… just turn it back to color. But when it works , its just to sweet. Thanks


      November 23, 2012 at 6:02 pm

  13. Beautiful reflections of the mountains in the clear lake water…in your post on a reflection of a past trip. 🙂


    November 12, 2012 at 11:53 am

    • Really appreciate the follow C&C.


      November 23, 2012 at 6:00 pm

  14. Mike, I love your vision. And, good to see how powerful an image can be even when you violate composition “rules” as in “Come Together” with its centered horizon.


    November 12, 2012 at 11:21 am

    • Oh Ralph you don’t know how long I played with NOT breaking those rules…. that lil guy on my shoulder just won out and I had to do it 🙂


      November 23, 2012 at 5:58 pm

  15. Jo Walter

    Every single shot is exquisite!! Love, love them all! Great work Mike!


    November 12, 2012 at 11:05 am

    • Big thanks for coming back Jo.


      November 23, 2012 at 5:56 pm

  16. Bonnie Rovere

    Wonderful work as always Mike! LOVE the title of the first shot!


    November 12, 2012 at 10:57 am

    • It really fits doesn’t it!!!! Thanks Bonnie.


      November 23, 2012 at 5:55 pm

  17. Pat

    Breathtaking scenes! Brilliant work, Mike.


    November 12, 2012 at 10:43 am

    • Thanks Pat… just hiking at that altitude takes my breath away, literally!!!!


      November 23, 2012 at 5:54 pm

  18. Fabulous images Mike, especially “Lead Me In”, it deserves to be enlarged and on a wall somewhere.


    November 12, 2012 at 10:29 am

    • Big thanks… way ahead of you… trying to save for a frame for my wall 🙂


      November 23, 2012 at 5:47 pm

  19. Mike: You have such a natural eye for creating unusual and inviting images. My favorite is Curved Beauty followed by What’s Up! You always give me some inspiration to keep plugging along with the camera.


    November 12, 2012 at 9:09 am

    • Glad to be the carrot… ‘What’s Up’ just stood out once I brought it up on my screen.


      November 23, 2012 at 5:45 pm

  20. Kathleen

    Mike, your images are award winning for sure!!!! Curved Beauty spoke to me, really!!! “Lead me In” is a “Wow” shot. Would love to see Banff someday soon. 🙂


    November 12, 2012 at 7:20 am

    • That ‘Curved Beauty’ is special to me also… took a long time to compose.


      November 23, 2012 at 5:43 pm

  21. These pictures are amazing! I love “Lead me in” especially, the colours and reflection is beautiful (:


    November 12, 2012 at 4:01 am

    • One of my favs too eugene… funny how your smile goes the opposite way of mine 🙂


      November 23, 2012 at 5:42 pm

  22. Stunning shots! That last one is especially gorgeous.


    November 12, 2012 at 3:32 am

    • Thanks Zel… that last one was very hard to compose at first… but I finally settled on a very symmetrical image.


      November 23, 2012 at 5:40 pm

  23. Yo Mike! Razor sharp views with great color. Would love to get to such a place – dreaming of Yellowstone some day. On “Curved Beauty” wouldn’t some sort of scale ref help? Almost can’t tell if it is an aerial view of a river or a macro of a trickle… Love the BW work.


    November 12, 2012 at 3:01 am

    • Thanks Alan… I think a reference to the scale would draw away from this image, where as the Glacier shot that included the peeps added to the drama.
      The answer to your question… this small piece of the glacier stretched for miles but I choose to isolate about 20 yrds.


      November 23, 2012 at 5:37 pm

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