When this pet sitter takes a vacation, photography is now part of the planning. Since I was going on vacation in mid July and it was so hot & humid in Charlotte, I opted to head for the much cooler Canadian Rockies. Banff in Alberta Canada has been on my bucket list for several years. It did not disappoint. I thought the pictures that I'd seen online must've been photoshopped but no, it is real. The Banff area is as pretty in person as any picture I'd ever seen. I wasn't sure what to expect because further north there were quite a few forest fires. Luckily for the locals, it rained a good bit the week I was there. Not so great for me and for photography but I still loved the trip. I arrived mid-afternoon at the hotel on a Saturday. I grabbed some lunch and then walked into town. I'd read online that anyone doing any hiking should have "bear spray" so I spent my $40 CAN and signed my waiver that I wouldn't use it as a weapon. I'd watched a video online (you gotta love youtube) about how to use the bear spray should you encounter a bear. Don thought I was crazy for buying it but the chicken in me needed it. After checking out some of the t-shirt shops on Banff Ave and armed with my bear spray, I headed back for the hotel.
I'd been planning the trip for several months and since I've recently taken up photography, I decided to spend a day with a local photographer who could provide me with some tips on photography as well as the best places to shoot around the area. The 2nd part was easy.... anywhere around Banff is an excellent place for photographers. I kid you not, everywhere you turn is a breath taking view.
On my first full day, the photographer (Mark with Rocky Mountain Photo Adventures) picked me up at 4am. Luckily I was still on east coast time so it was 6am to me. We drove 60 minutes to Moraine Lake near Lake Louise and set up to do some sunrise shooting. The hike to the location wasn't long but it was uphill and then back down over some rocks to reach the lake so I was huffing and puffing when we got there. We got the camera set up on the tripod and starting taking some practice shots. We were shooting towards the mountain range behind Moraine Lake which is the Valley of the Ten Peaks. Unfortunately, the skies were pretty cloudy. Clouds over the mountains would've been okay but the clouds also blocked the rising sun. We weren't able to capture any photos of the sun hitting the mountains which was the shot I thought I'd be taking.
Mark suggested we go down to the water and look for some other photo opps. He got pretty creative and we were able to come up with this composition. Honestly, it wasn't the image I was hoping for but I do like the orange rock on the left side of the photo and the reflection of the mountains in the water. We snapped a couple of photos of a stream as we were hiking out of the area (the 2nd photo.) We wrapped up our day around 1pm.
In Banff this time of year, the sun rises around 5:30am and sets around 10pm. Since we'd finished our day at 1pm, I still had a lot of daylight left. There was an area near town called Vermilion Lakes that was supposed to be a nice place to do some sunset shooting. As the sun sets, it hits Mount Rundle one of the famous peaks in Banff. I decided to get in the car to go check out the area and see where I might want to set up. There are 3 lakes along Vermilion Lakes Rd and I'd stopped at the 3rd to snap a few pictures. A car pulled up behind me and said if I drove down the road just a ways, I could see a black bear. I hopped in the car and drove around 50 yards. There were cars stopped on the other side of the road and a Canadian Parks Authority truck stopped in front of me. I looked to my right and saw a very large tree trunk being pushed over by an angry grizzly bear. The park ranger guy was waving everyone past so I didn't get a chance to snap his picture. It was a very cool experience although I will say my hands were shaking as I drove by. Seeing a grizzly that close (he was probably no more than 20 yards away) was surreal. Needless to say, I decided against returning to this area to do any sunset photography. :(
That was the end of day 2 in Banff.