Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 14

Thread: Banff in March

  1. #1
    Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    NJ
    Posts
    70

    Banff in March

    With my family's input we just decided on Banff (Alberta Canada) for our next vacation. This is likely the last family vacation for a while as our son and daughter will be graduating college soon and will no longer have off for spring break.

    We'll have eight full days to see as much of the area as possible. We'll likely ski two or three days, go snowmobiling for one or two days and sight-see the rest of the time.

    I'm hoping to see as much as possible as you never know if we'll be able to come back some day. As of this moment the only thing booked is the flight from Newark NJ to Calgary and back. None of us have ever even slept in Canada (unless my kids sleeping in the car on the way to Montreal counts), so were open to suggestions on what to see during mid-march. We're leaning towards staying in or very close to Banff in a Best Western type place for the first five nights. We may then head to the Golden BC area for a few nights. I'm open to suggestions on what to see, we're hoping that we might see the northern lights, some of Banff National Park and perhaps Glacier NP in BC. I only looked briefly, but I'm not sure when the Northern Lights are visible (if at all during March).

    I own (notice I did not say i'm talented with) Canon 5Diii, 16-35f4L, 24-70f2.8L, 70-200f2.8L, 100-400L and Sigma 35f1.4. I'm hopeful this set of lenses will cover everything I will experience. Do you guys think I need to bring every lens I listed or could I leave one or two at home. Ideally we would get to see and photograph the northern lights, large wildlife, and some of the landscape photos that a few other's on this site have captured and shared with all of us. I've only tried shooting night skies a few times and will certainly practice between now and March. I assume the Sigma 35 f1.4 would be best for this? Do I need any filters for viewing the Northern Lights?


    Sorry for all of questions, needless to say I'm just a little excited. Please share any ideas or suggestions you may have.

    Thank you,
    Scott
    Scott

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Newfoundland, Canada
    Posts
    433
    Hey Scott;

    Congratulations on booking the trip! I've only been to Banff in the summer and that was over 10 years ago (pre-dslr for me) so I don't have much in the way of specific recommendations to see there. But I will recommend seeing the Fairmont Banff Springs hotel...very nice to see the grounds/architecture just for a walk around even.

    As for the northern lights, they are typically strongest around the equinoxes (so Sept 22 & March 22), but of course it varies considerably. You won't need any filters. I'm not sure specifically how much northern lights activity there is in Banff, but even if there is none you should definitely try for some night sky shots. You'll definitely notice more stars compared to the heavily light polluted eastern seaboard/NJ area.

    Hopefully Jonathan Huyer will chime in here as he is local to the area (Canmore I believe) and can definitely give some better advice!

    Stephen

  3. #3
    Senior Member Jonathan Huyer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Canmore, Alberta
    Posts
    869
    Hi Scott -

    Nice to hear you're coming my way! I saw your PM as well but I'll give the answers here if that's okay. March is probably the best time of year to go skiing, so you'll certainly have good opportunities when you're here. Snowmobiling is not available around here, but when you go to Golden, British Columbia then some opportunities begin to open up.

    Regarding photo ops, March is one of the best times for aurora. But it's still a big crap shoot, and you'd have to place the odds at less than 10% that you would have a successful evening during your visit. Still, you can keep your fingers crossed and hope for the best. Your 35 mm prime is a bit too tight for that, I'd say. You might be better off with the 24-70 f/2.8 to give a wider view (even though it's a bit slower). The 16-35 f/4 would be too slow. March is a very nice time for daytime wintry landscape shots, and there is no shortage of opportunities. Vermilion Lakes in Banff is a must-do, for sunrise or sunset. Bring a good pair of boots since you need to wade into the muck sometimes to get into the best spot (there is an area that remains thawed year round, due to a thermal spring). For other options, I'd suggest having a look at this e-book: http://www.oopoomoo.com/eguide/banff-national-park/ It is a great photo guide to the area and is only $10 Canadian. I'd also suggest taking a drive up the Icefields Parkway (there's another e-book for that on the same site) and heading up at least to Peyto Lake at Bow Summit. It will be frozen solid of course but is still a great view.
    Wildlife will be hit and miss at that time of year. The bears are still hibernating (they don't come out till end of March), but you should be able to find elk in the area. The bulls should still have their antlers... I think they tend to drop them in April. I can give you some pointers of where to go to see them. If you drive up the Icefields Parkway then there is a chance you could see lynx (it happened once to me at that time of year). So always have the camera ready, turned on and pre-set. If you see them it might be only for a few seconds.
    A very cool place to go in March is Johnston Canyon, where you can photograph ice-covered waterfalls. You'll need to wear a pair of ice cleats to make your way up the trail without wiping out, but it's worth it! Likewise Mistaya Canyon on the Icefields Parkway is very cool.
    For hotels, check out TripAdvisor and go with whatever suits your budget. March is still high season (thanks to the skiers) so prices will be up there a bit. But at least the currency exchange rate is in your favour.
    In terms of camera gear, the lenses you have should all be very useful. The 35 f/1.4 may be redundant because it is too tight for aurora, as mentioned. And of course a tripod is a must.
    I hope that helps! Meanwhile feel free to keep in touch and fire off any more questions you might have. Hopefully we can connect when you are here, and grab a sunrise shot together.

  4. #4
    Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    NJ
    Posts
    70
    Wow, TDP comes through again. I appreciate all of the detailed information and all of the suggestions. This site amazes me how much people are willing to share information and offer constructive criticism when asked. I've read a little bit about places to see in and around Banff, but there's no replacement for first hand knowledge (especially coming from someone that lives and shoots regularly where we're heading). If anyone ever decides for some reason to visit the "great state of New Jersey" I hope I can offer some advise.

    I will certainly invest in ice cleats, they are not to expensive and I'd hate to learn that both my snow boots and my hiking boots prevent me from seeing something that is so beautiful. I'll also order both books as I need as much information as I can get.

    As far as camera gear goes, I may end up renting one fast wide angle prime for night shots. Would you suggest 24mm, 20mm or 14mm?

    Johnathan, I'm grateful for the offer to meet up with you while we're there but I'm not sure you would have the patience for a novice like myself. I'm fearful that after I ask nineteen stupid questions in a row within the first two minutes, you may wind up pushing me and my gear off a cliff and saying to yourself.....Never again! (lol)
    Scott

  5. #5
    Senior Member Jonathan Huyer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Canmore, Alberta
    Posts
    869
    Hey that's great --- glad the information is useful. If you want to rent a lens for nightshots, it's a toss up whether to grab the 24 mm f/1.4 or the 14 mm f/2.8. I'd probably lean towards the 24 mm lens first, if you want to get a nice mountain shot at night. I'd suggest stopping it down to f/2.0 rather than using it wide open, to reduce coma (where the stars look like streaks in the corners of the images). You might say that f/2.0 is not much of an advantage over f/2.8, and you could well be right. But you still get twice as much light for the same exposure time, which would be useful if your shots can include the Milky Way.

    Hope that helps --- and the offer is still open to connect when you're here! Maybe tie yourself to a tree just in case you're standing next to a cliff, though

  6. #6
    Super Moderator Kayaker72's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    New Hampshire, USA
    Posts
    4,107

    Banff in March

    Should be a great trip, congrats!

    My quick take on the lenses would be, in order of priority:
    24-70
    100-400
    16-35
    nightscape rental
    70-200 f/2.8 (mostly for shallow dof, which may not be needed)

    The above would be a great collection of lenses for the trip. I am not sure Id take the 35 mm prime.

    Id also have a tripod, graduated and solid ND filters, all depending on what/how you are planning to shoot.

    Have fun!!

    Btw, what would you recommend in NJ? Im there probably once or so every year.
    Last edited by Kayaker72; 11-25-2017 at 02:56 PM.

  7. #7
    Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    NJ
    Posts
    70
    Hmmmm, didn't think anyone ever visited NJ, except for visiting NYC or driving through to another state. On a serious note, the NJ shore has a few places worth photographing if your into wildlife. There are three public parks along the beach that I'm familiar with, all of them are worth seeing for a few hours a piece I guess. Sandy Hook occasionally gets whales off the beach and on cold winters seals will visit on the bay side. Lots of waterfowl comes through, most during migration times in the spring and fall. Island Beach state park gets lots of waterfowl throughout the year, I typically only visit during the late spring through Thanksgiving (when fishing inshore or offshore in a boat). Finally Cape May is known for whales and yet more migratory birds. I rarely visit Cape May as it's the farthest to me, but I gather it is one of the best locations in the state to see many types of ducks, a few types of owls and hawks and Monarch butterflies.

    The Manhattan Skyline and Ellis Island are very easy to see from the NJ side of the Hudson River (splits NJ and NY). I would visit Weehawken or Jersey City to see the Freedom Tower, Empire State Building, etc Daytime really doesn't do justice, really need a clear cold night for the best photos. Lots of places to stop along the waterfront to get a decent shot.

    Finally the top of NJ (High Point area) is pretty picturesque during the fall when the leaves are at their peak. That same area along the Delaware River is still pretty rural for NJ and nice year round (Dingman's Ferry/Delaware Water Gap area).

    If your looking to come with a family I can offer other ideas, just ask. With regard to lenses, I'm leaning towards leaving the 35mm and I'm on the fence on the 100-400. It would be very convenient if I could get close enough to the wildlife that I could fill the frame using just the 200mm side or the 70-200, but I doubt the animals will be that used to humans. I do have (easy to pack) 1.4II and 2.0III extenders if that makes a difference.
    Scott

  8. #8
    Super Moderator Kayaker72's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    New Hampshire, USA
    Posts
    4,107
    My company is headquartered out of Philadelphia. I am down there anywhere from 3-6 times a year. Usually brief trips, but occasionally longer. As for New Jersey, I work in environmental remediation. As you might suspect, with as much old industry as there is in NJ, there are reasons for me to visit.



    Quote Originally Posted by Always Looking View Post
    With regard to lenses, I'm leaning towards leaving the 35mm and I'm on the fence on the 100-400. It would be very convenient if I could get close enough to the wildlife that I could fill the frame using just the 200mm side or the 70-200, but I doubt the animals will be that used to humans. I do have (easy to pack) 1.4II and 2.0III extenders if that makes a difference.
    You could get away with 200 mm. Just understand, depending on how and where you see the wildlife, you may not be able to get close up shots. But, perhaps you just compose them differently, you take in the scene rather than trying to get the head shot. Often, these are as good or better types of pictures anyway.

    So, Banff is one of those places where you may be close enough to get tighter shots of wildlife with 200 mm. Of the 4 times I saw elk this past trip, I needed 400mm+ for three of them to get close up shots, and the fourth, they were right by the road and I have good shots at 150 mm. All four of them, I could have composed the wildlife in a scene with 200 mm. Of course, safety comes into play, so do not get too close.

    One more thought, if you really want to take the 70-200, maybe buy or rent an extender. I did this on one trip when I still had the 100-400L Mk 1. The 70-200 II plus 2x extender isn't that far off in IQ. The AF is a bit slower, but I did this for a trip that was primarily for family, so I really wanted the 70-200 II with occasional wildlife shots. But I still got a few of whales that I thought were pretty good.
    Last edited by Kayaker72; 11-26-2017 at 01:54 PM.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Jonathan Huyer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Canmore, Alberta
    Posts
    869
    Yup, you can probably leave the 100-400 lens behind if you are tight on space. The 70-200 with 1.4X TC will do nicely for the wildlife opportunities that you are likely to come across. Your most common subject in Banff will be elk, and you might see some bighorn sheep. A wolf or lynx sighting would be super rare, but it happens.

  10. #10
    Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    NJ
    Posts
    70
    Trip is finally coming up the end of this week. I'm about to rent a fast wide angle lens for night sky photos for my Canon 5dIII. I've narrowed it down to the following and am looking for input.
    Canon 24mm 1.4II
    Sigma 24mm 1.4
    Sigma 20mm 1.4
    Sigma 14mm 1.8

    Looks like there not that much of a different in the rental price.

    Thank you.
    Scott

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •