Vermilion Lakes sunrise, Banff National Park

Landscape Photography in Banff National Park

Posted on Posted in By Destinations, Canada, Photography & Outdoor Report, Travel Blog
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If we survey on how people first learn about the landscape of Canada, Banff National Park would be a strong contender for the first place. It has become everyone’s must-visit in the Canadian Rockies. During the autumn to winter period 2017, we visited Banff National Park multiple times and were amazed by its natural beauty. Here in this post, we are sharing with you our Banff landscape photography experience including location info, photography tips/tricks and more.

Vermilion Lakes

This is the most visited photography location in Banff, and it lives up to the fame. Every morning we came here, we were accompanied by other photographers, even when it was freezing cold. The shape of the mountains, lake, and ice give you so many possibilities for composition that you will want to come again and again. And when you do visit this place multiple times, you will appreciate the changing weather that gives you different looks/moods to the images.

Vermilion Lakes morning sunburst
Vermilion Lakes morning sunburst

 This view of the lake and mountain was not from the classic location by the lake. It was actually from the rest area along the Trans-Canada Highway1 close to the Banff town. On that cold morning, we were behind our plan for shooting sunrise at the lakefront. I figured it was probably too late to catch the first beam of the day when we arrived at the lake. When I saw this rest area I immediately decided to stop our vehicle to grasp the moment of warmth seeping into the cold and gloomy morning cloudscape.

Interestingly, and as expected, photographers were gone soon after the sun rose up in the sky. But I still thought there to be something worth photographing. I set my camera to interval shooting with minimal interval time to capture dozens of pictures and blend these in photoshop to achieve the long exposure effect without using an ND filter. 

Vermilion Lakes morning brightness
Vermilion Lakes morning brightness

The other day we came back again, arriving at the lakefront well before sunrise. And this time we were not disappointed. The glowing clouds turned into flames, waving in the sky for a couple of minutes and they went off so fast. Everything calmed down.

Vermilion Lakes morning glow, Banff Landscape photography
Vermilion Lakes morning glow
Vermilion Lakes landscape after the morning glow
Vermilion Lakes landscape after the morning glow
Winter landscape at the Vermilion Lakes
Winter landscape at the Vermilion Lakes

Before I wrap up this part, don’t forget the amazing wildlife here as well. They fit into the images in a harmonious way. 

morning family time , Vermilion Lakes, Banff
morning family time, Vermilion Lakes, Banff

Lake Louise and Moraine Lake

These are the two locations visited by everyone, which deterred my interest photographing them quite a bit. I only spent one early morning in front of Lake Louise and got a selfie before every spot was taken by tourists and photographers.

Early morning at Lake Louise, Banff National Park
Early morning at Lake Louise, Banff National Park

Before the visit, I had the idea of shooting the night landscape at the Moraine Lake where the direction of the mountain peaks would be suitable for a milky way photograph. Unfortunately the day we went scouting was the last open day. When we came back at night the road to Moraine Lake was shut down due to winter conditions.  

Moraine Lake tourist
Moraine Lake tourist

 Photographing a touristy location like this requires more patience in post-processing where I ended up removing a lot of people in the image with clone stamps. 

 Two Jack Lake

Banff National Park winter landscape near the Two Jack Lake
Banff National Park winter landscape near the Two Jack Lake

If you have read my post, Banff Wildlife photography without a telephoto lens, you probably know this is my favorite area for incorporating wildlife elements into the landscape. And with the majestic mountains and serene lakes, I am sure it will be a highlight of your Banff landscape photography trip.  

Two Jack Lake, Banff National Park
Two Jack Lake, Banff National Park

After spending so much time here and also looking at other people’s work on the internet, I do feel winter to be the best Banff landscape photography season. Cold weather put off a lot of visitors, and most of the people coming here are doing snow related sports. This left us photographers with all the space and freedom digesting the beauty of nature, changed every day by snowfall.  

Two Jack Lake winter
Two Jack Lake winter

 Castle Mountain

 As the name suggests, you are going to be amazed by the formation of this grand structure. It is located about halfway from Banff town to Lake Louise and will be an easy find on google map. But before arriving here there are several viewpoints along the highway to show off the Canadian Rockies. So don’t rush it, prepare to stop along the way when you find a good view.

Canadian Rockies landscape
Canadian Rockies landscape
Castle Mountain, Banff National Park
Castle Mountain, Banff National Park

Mistaya Canyon and Johnston Canyon

We only had the chance to visit the canyons around Banff in winter. The frozen waterfalls in Johnston Canyon are fun to shoot. Under the correct shutter speed, the water appears to be gentle and energetic. 

Johnston Canyon frozen waterfall
Johnston Canyon frozen waterfall

Mistaya Canyon is another worthy visit on the way to the north. The rushing water from warmer seasons turns into little streams. with the snowfall, a new world is there. 

Mistaya Canyon winter landscape
Mistaya Canyon winter landscape

It’s been over a year since our visit to the Canadian Rockies, but the memory is so fresh when I see all these photos. If it were not for my Banff landscape photography, I couldn’t have wakened up in so many early mornings. And we would have missed a lot of the excitement. 


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