There is a reason why the locals refer to November as “never miss a sunrise November.” The onset of winter is a special time in the Canadian Rockies. The changing seasons brings about fiery skies and a fresh blanket of snow on the mountain peaks. The beauty of early winter in the Rockies is that only the shallow lakes freeze while the deeper lakes remain open. This means that we can explore the alien landscapes created by frozen methane bubbles in the shallow lakes while still having an opportunity to capture stunning winter-wonderland reflections in the deeper lakes. Join me in November, for seven unforgettable days of photography and adventure on the ‘Banff Winter Wonderland Photography Workshop!’
Of course, if you follow my work you already know that I am completely enraptured with the night sky, especially in winter! Although the Milky Way core is not visible, the beauty of the stars shimmering in the crisp wintery air, and reflected from the small patches of open water under peaks freshly dusted with snow is a vision you will never forget. Early sunsets and long nights will allow us plenty of opportunities to capture the magic of a winter night in the majestic Canadian Rockies.
What you will learn on the ‘Banff Winter Wonderland Photography Workshop’
This workshop is designed to help you improve your skill and confidence with photography through developing your technical skills, and building your social media presence.
- How to capture high dynamic range
- Getting tack sharp images from corner to corner
- Focus stacking
- Exposure blending
- Creating compelling compositions
- Understanding depth of field
- Night shooting including
- focusing at night
- working creatively with light
- adding the human element to your photos how to get sharp images in low light
Building a Social Media Presence
A question that I am asked frequently is how I have grown my following on social media, and how I have come to work with brands such as Sony, B&H Photo, Acura, and SLIK USA. As part of the ‘Banff Winter Wonderland Photography Workshop’ we will cover:
- How to grow your following on social media
- The latest changes to the algorithms, and what this means for your following
- How to get maximum exposure of your content
- How to approach brands that you would like to work with
What is Included
- All lodging – We will be staying in the heart of the Canadian Rockies and the iconic Emerald Lake Lodge for 5 nights. Each cabin is equipped with a wood burning fireplace to cozy up to after a full day of shooting. The best part about staying here is the ability to step outside of our cabin doors to get amazing shots of this quintessentially Canadian cabin on the lake. And, Emerald Lake Lodge faces north, so it the Aurora dances, we will be in the perfect location to photograph it!
- Transportation from Calgary airport to all shooting locations
- Park passes for the national parks
- Photography Instruction
- Post Processing: Let’s get the most out of your images! I will be teaching you manual exposure bracketing and focus stacking. If you typically shoot everything in a single image, and you shy away from Photoshop, these easy to follow processing sessions will help you to conquer your fear of Photoshop and take your images to the next level! We can work on your favourite images from the workshop and we will show you how to edit images that will inspire others.
The weather in the Canadian Rockies is generally mild in November. However, mountain weather is quite unpredictable and there is always a possibility for temperatures to drop unexpectedly. With that in mind, you will need warm layers, including:
- A warm hat and a face mask (balaclava) that covers your face.
- Warm gloves that you can operate your camera without exposing your fingers to the cold. Big gloves are not good for getting to your camera functions. I use a touch screen liner glove inside of a wind proof mitten. This mitten folds back to reveal the inner glove so you can operate your camera. Both the inner glove and the mitten have room for chemical hand warmers. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND getting a pair of these mittens and liners. I have never had frostbite on my hands and I have worked in temperatures near – 40 Celsius! You can get them at B&H Photo through the hyper link. They will arrive in two days (even to Canada).
- Warm layers
- You need at least three layers to keep you toasty warm during our adventures. First, you need a thermal layer such as Merino wool. This type of fabric keeps you warm and dries quickly. Second, I recommend a fleece layer. Fleece is very insulating. Finally, you will need an outer layer that blocks wind. A winter jacket (down insulated) and ski pants will be perfect.
- Chemical warmers. You need chemical warmers for your mittens and boots. I prefer the insole style of foot warmers over the toe warmers.
- Winter boots. Your boots should be rated for cold weather. My boots are rated for temperatures as low as -50 Celsius but my feet still get cold sometimes. Regular hiking boots DO NOT provide adequate protection.
- Micro spikes. You will need micro spikes that slip on over your boots for getting around on the ice. Please be sure to try them on with your boots before arriving. Please note, the diamond style grips are NOT sufficient for getting down to the ice at Abraham Lake.
- Rain sleeve for your camera. The disposable sleeves are fine. I don’t expect it to rain during your stay, but it will likely snow. The rain sleeve will protect your camera from moisture.
- ***STURDY TRIPOD*** I can’t even tell you how many tripod issues I encounter on every workshop. You will be shooting in strong winds at Abraham Lake. You need a tripod that isn’t at risk of blowing over when you mount your camera and lens on it. You will want it to get low (within a few inches of the ice). Mefoto and the ManFrotto BeFree tripods are NOT acceptable. I use a Slik USA carbon fibre 734 with an SBH 200 DQ Ball Head. It is lightweight but sturdy, and it gets low. This tripod has been all over the world with me and has worked reliably at every shooting location. SLIK has graciously extended a 15% discount to workshop attendees if you need to upgrade your current gear. Use the code RJR15.
- Camera with interchangeable lens
- Wide Angle Lens. The Rocky Mountains are imposing peaks that fill the frame of a wide-angle lens. I use a Sony 16-35 mm f/2.8 G Master, and a Sony 12-24 mm f/4. If you don’t currently own a wide angle lens, you will need to rent one for this trip.
A few other things to remember
- BATTERIES and battery chargers!
- Memory cards
- Headlamp or flashlight for night shooting (please avoid anything with a red light function)
- Cloth grocery bag or super lightweight duffel bag to hold your warm gear and snacks.
- Shutter release cable (recommended but not required)
- A note about camera straps. Camera straps blow and flap in the wind. Using camera straps on a tripod is a bit like attaching a parachute to your camera. I recommend removing the ones that come with your camera. If you feel better about having a strap, I recommend getting a black rapid style that quickly and easily detaches from your camera before you put it on a tripod
- Laptop for post-processing
This workshop is all about chasing light. We will have a flexible itinerary that will allow us to go where the clouds and light are. Emerald Lake Lodge is ideally situated between Banff, Lake Louise, and some of my favourite shooting locations along the Icefields Parkway. If it snows or the clouds don’t cooperate we will spend our time at the lodge editing by the fire! And, even if it is snowing, the lodge is beautiful to photograph.
My name is Rachel Jones Ross. I am extremely lucky to call the Canadian Rockies home. I have been teaching for many years. My path to teaching started in university where I was instructing psychology, statistics, and communications classes, and photography part time. In 2018 I switched to teaching photography full time. It is so rewarding to give people the tools to capture their own creative visions!
I am a proud Sony ambassador, and fortunate to have the support of Sony and B&H Photo in my creative projects, as well as my workshops.
My Workshop Vision
I want to create more than an educational experience on this workshop. This is a community-based workshop that is aimed at connecting you with other creatives, and with the natural world in all of it’s beauty. It is my goal to share the majesty of my home in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, and the magic that blankets the ethereal winter landscape when the snow falls. I have traveled all over the world but there is no place I have seen that rivals the beauty of winter in the Canadian Rockies. I know every detail of the places we will visit, from the smallest frost flower to the way the light changes. It is these intricate nuances of the landscape that I hope will inspire you, the way they inspire me.
November 21st-27th, 2021
Accommodations are based on shared occupancy. The total cost of the workshop is $3150 (USD). A deposit of $950 is required to hold your spot.
*Before Covid, deposits were non-refundable. However, I’m trying to be as flexible as possible. In the event that you cannot attend, deposits can be credited toward another workshop at a later date. If for some reason you need to cancel within 72 hours of the workshop, your deposits will be non-refundable as the hotel has a 72 hour cancellation window and I will be charged.*
To ensure the comfort and safety of all of my guests, I am also offering private/semi-private workshops at no extra cost. If these dates do not work for you, or you are concerned about the risks associated with small groups, we can arrange a private session for any of my Canadian Rockies based workshops.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions! You can contact me here.
I look forward to working with you!