About Me

Wells, BC, Canada
Richard is a working photographer and writer in B.C. His camera focuses on natural history. archeology, travel, and documentary photography. His photography blog may be found at: http://richardtwright.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Wildlife photography in the Canadian Rockies

As my last posting indicated I have been off for a week of shooting in Canada's National Parks, and to attend a conference on Urban Wildlife Interface.

Any trip through the national parks of Jasper, Banff and Kootenay and the Rocky Mountain Trench is good, and the weather was spectacular.   However, this time the wildlife remained elusive.  Even my usual guarantee of bighorn sheep did not prove up. But the scenery was stunning.

Along the Athabasca River on Highway 16 in Jasper. Richard Wright photos.

It had been a dark and stormy night when I pulled into Jasper after the seven-hour drive from Wells, and the waitress at the cafe said the weather had poor for days.  Perhaps that accounted for the desk clerk's grumpiness at the Mount Robson Inn, and her demand to check my room before my deposit was returned the next morning.
But, despite that poor start the weather was -8 C, clear and bright. The mountains leapt out to greet travelers.  I spent a day traveling Highway 16, the route of the Overlanders of 1862, and remembered how they had written poems, sung hymns and quoted biblical verses in their diaries when the reached this valley and the towering mountains, after weeks on the prairies.
[For a summary of their journey and the resulting change in history go to: www.theatreroyal.ca and click on the Producer's blog.]

Deer and elk - that was it.  Now I like deer and elk but, of course, the bulls did not have their fall racks. However, cruising around I did manage to find a few backroad deer. 

Mule deer, 70-200 f2.8 after a slow stalk across open ground. Richard Wright photo.

Whitetail, 70-200 f2.8 Nikkor, from the passenger side window.
Typical of whitetail I had about 2 minutes of shooting before they bolted. Richard Wright photo

Two Mule deer, in morning light, using my truck as a blind I followed them for
about 20 minutes. 70-200 f2.8 Nikkor. Richard Wright photo.

Fortunately the highway through the National Parks is wide enough to easily pull over and get right off the road.  I have found it is usually best to stay in the vehicle to shoot, so I had a couple of window rigs set up for resting camera and lens. Usually though I only had time to grab the usual bean bag.  In this situation I always have a long lens mounted, either the 70-200mm or my Nikkor, 200-400mm f4, a favorite of mine, set to auto.  I figure if I want a scenic I will always have time to pull over, mount a wide angle and shoot whatever I want. Animals do not always wait.

One of the problem son this trip is that I was traveling on my own and did not have my partner Amy to watch the right side for random sightings. I traveled slowly, stopped lots, and concentrated on the left side of the highway. The elk were cooperative and I was able to add to my collection of cow elk, or wapiti.

Wapiti, or elk, in Jasper. Nikkor 70-200mm f2.8. Richard Wright photos.
Another night in Jasper after a 13-hour day of shooting. Diesel here is 30¢ a litre cheaper, so time to fill up my 100-gallon tank. Oh, and a different motel, The Marmot Inn, bigger, better, with a restaurant, solid not sketchy wireless and the same price.

No luck with sheep, goats or wolves, and bears seem to still be denning.  Tomorrow I head south along the Icefields Highway.  It's all good. Let's face it - any day of photography is better than a day in the office.
Go to my website for more photos from this shoot.
And the Hong Kong diaries are coming soon.

Website: http:richardtwright.photoshelter.com

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