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Fall 2014 Photography Tour in the Canadian Rockies

March 31, 2014

This year was another fantastic autumn experience for our landscape photography group in David Thompson Country and locations along the Icefields Parkway. Hosts Madeleine and Alan Ernst at our base at Aurum Lodge took good care of us each day, while my colleague Dan Wheeler and I introduced our small group to many of our favourite photography locations.

As we’ve seen the past few years, temperatures remained above normal for the time of year. Although what’s “normal” any more? Anyway, we had a great time outdoors as many hours each day as possible… not too hot, not too cold. And we were able to take advantage of some great light most days, as well as gorgeous fall foliage up and down our traveling routes. Without having had a hard frost anywhere in the region, trees were turning colour at a more gradual pace. Pockets of foliage were completely down in some places, still green somewhere else, and glowing golden yet elsewhere. Some days the air was preternaturally still, while others we were out photographing in some pretty strong gusts — all par for the course.

The water level in Abraham Lake was somewhat higher that usual this year, though not as high as the near-record levels we saw last fall. There was flooding in a few places, providing some interesting opportunities to work with reflections and other mixes of water with our subject material. As a bonus, nobody stepped in a bog and filled their boots this time out! (Okay, I admit I did find one of my waterproof boots had developed a torn seam that leaked… but that doesn’t count.) As a further bonus, we used our group sized and shared attention to photography one day to take the Consolation Lakes trail near Moraine Lake. The group quite enjoyed the experience, even though the larches along that trail were a little past their prime.

I hope to have some photo results to share before long; just look for posts here on the blog with the tag Fall 2014 Photo Tour. You can also see some favorite photo results from our tour group in the following guest blog posts:

If you like the idea of photographing and learning with a small group in great locations, check my events page here for information about future tours & workshops. Or contact me directly to inquire about new events that may be in the works but not yet posted.


Co-leaders: Royce Howland & Dan Wheeler
Group size: 7 participants maximum, intermediate to advanced photography experience
Dates: September 30 – October 5, 2014
Highlights: 6 days / 5 nights at Aurum Lodge & David Thompson Country
Travel on location: Car-pooling with the group
Fee: $1,899 CDN including all accommodations & meals; not including travel to the lodge
Registration info: The photo tour event page at the Aurum Lodge web site
Contact: Royce Howland (royce at vividaspect dot com) or Alan Ernst (info at aurumlodge dot com)

Fall at Abraham Lake 2 // David Thompson Country

It’s time to announce the ever-popular Fall photo tour! As with last year, at the time I’m writing this, a winter storm has again hit Calgary with below-seasonal temperatures and a big dump of fresh snow. But thinking about the coming seasons, and looking at photos like the one above, help to make the close of this drawn-out winter a bit easier to take. 🙂

This year, I’m joined by Dan Wheeler assisting in co-leading the tour. Dan is from Peace River (currently President of the art society there), but very experienced in photographing the areas where we’ll be working with the group. We’ve adjusted our Fall dates a little bit and will visit David Thompson Country and the Canadian Rockies from September 30 – October 5. Once again, we’ll be taking a small group to great locations with a wealth of photographic opportunities to satisfy anyone with a taste for working outdoors with a camera. Any outdoor photography event has to deal with unpredictable conditions; but in past years we’ve been able to meet or exceed every participant’s expectations, and we plan to do the same again this year!

Our main base will be Aurum Lodge. As I’ve written before, the lodge is ideally positioned to give our group maximum opportunity for autumn photography each day. We’ll cover locations along Highway 11, also known as the David Thompson Highway. This is in front range territory and includes Abraham Lake, pictured above. We’ll also reach into the main Rockies along the world-famous Icefields Parkway, traveling reasonable distances to reach spots north or south of Saskatchewan River Crossing.

We call this a photo tour which means our primary goal is field-intensive photography. We’ll be in the field using any & all available light each day, giving everyone the best chances to build out a great portfolio of images. Even though this is not a workshop with specific teaching or learning goals, we also provide hands-on “learning by doing” in the field, focused on any participant’s needs. We expect everyone to be suitably equipped and to know the basics of using their gear, but we can cover instruction in equipment, technique, composition, processing, and other topics for anyone who’d like to pick up extra approaches to highly productive field photography. If the event leaders photograph for themselves, it will only be as a #2 priority after first ensuring that the group is firing on all cylinders.

We will also provide site orientations as we hit each new or different type of location, because part of getting good photographs is always improving how to see and respond to the unique opportunities at each location based on the subject material, season, weather and other conditions. Landscapes will include both grand and intimate views of mountains, lakes, rivers, canyons, waterfalls, plains, aspen & pine forests, and more. We’ll also take wildlife and macro opportunities if they present themselves. The group will experience a broad spectrum of subjects and locations that are important to a full appreciation of a region as diverse as the Canadian Rockies.

As on every tour, outside of any scheduled side-trip which may have a locked day plan, we otherwise don’t have a fixed itinerary each day. Instead, we’ll be very dynamic in arranging where we go after considering locations, weather, local conditions, and participant interests. Transportation to locations will be based on car-pooling amongst the group. We avoid excessive road miles whenever possible, but time in the vehicles (as well as our daily meals together) are also great opportunities to chat with tour leaders and other group members about anything & everything photography! 🙂

If this kind of small-group, intensive field photography experience sounds like the ticket for you, please see the event page at the Aurum Lodge web site for registration details. Also see the Vivid Aspect blog Workshops & Events page for information including links to past tour announcements and participant photo results. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me (royce at vividaspect dot com) or Alan Ernst at Aurum Lodge (info at aurumlodge dot com).

If you’re looking for a great autumn photography experience this Fall, I hope you’ll join us! Registration is now open, and spaces are available.

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