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A Journey Through the Canadian Rockies with Gina Yeo

I just recently returned from a landscape photography retreat in the amazing Canadian Rockies. In the heart of September, as the Canadian summer begins its graceful descent into autumn, a group of us passionate photographers, gathered in Banff, Alberta for an unforgettable retreat led by the illustrious Gina Yeo. The promise of witnessing the enchanting transformation of the Larch trees and the vibrant fall colors in the Canadian Rocky Mountains was the catalyst for this extraordinary adventure. From sunrise to sunset, each day held the promise of breathtaking beauty and the opportunity to capture the splendor of nature's artistry through the lens.

Downtown Banff, Alberta
Downtown Banff, Alberta

Day 1: Castle Mountain - Where Dreams Take Flight

Our journey began with sunset at Castle Mountain. As I stood in awe of the mountain's formidable silhouette bathed in the warm, golden hues of the setting sun, Gina Yeo shared her wisdom and expertise. As we explored the area, she encouraged us to not only photograph the landscape but to feel its essence, to let the spirit of the place infuse our work. It was a gentle reminder that photography is not just about capturing images but about connecting with the world around us.

Castle Mountain
Castle Mountain

Day 2: Moraine Lake - A Sunrise of Hope

Rising extremely early the next morning to catch our bus, we ventured off to Moraine Lake, one of Canada's most iconic and photographed locations. Trekking out from the parking lot with our headlamps (thank goodness others had theirs as mine flaked out on me) and warm coats - it was 26ºF 🥶 - we ventured to the "rock pile" to set up for our morning captures. A couple of long exposure test shots before the sun rose allowed for a few spectacular photos of the starry sky and its reflection over the lake. Gina's guidance helped us compose our shots with precision, highlighting the grandeur of the surroundings. It was a sunrise that filled my heart with hope and my memory card with stunning images. It definitely was a dream come true to see this stunning place.

Moraine Lake Before Sunrise
Moraine Lake Before Sunrise

Morant's Curve - Where Nature Meets Nostalgia

One of the highlights of our retreat was a visit to Morant's Curve, a place where the romance of the Canadian wilderness collides with the nostalgia of the railway era. As a majestic train chugged through the valley, I clicked away, capturing the harmony between human engineering and natural wonder. Our little group waited for this choo-choo train for over 2 hours, and it was well worth it. Gina's ability to blend history and artistry added depth to our shots, reminding me that photography is a bridge between the past and the present.

Morant's Curve
Morant's Curve

Kananaskis, In Search of Larch Trees

Venturing deeper into the Canadian Rockies, we embarked on a larch tree hike around Kananaskis and some of its more off the beaten track hikes. Gina's infectious enthusiasm for these trees, which turn a brilliant gold in the fall, was inspiring. With her guidance, we explored the landscape, searching for the perfect angles to frame these magnificent trees against the backdrop of the Rocky Mountains.


This was also where I saw pikas in person for the first time ever and I was giddy with excitement. Cousins to the rabbit, pikas are quick and elusive so I was thrilled to hear their territorial calls and see them scurry through the rocky outcrops getting ready for their upcoming hibernation this winter.

Kananakis
Kananakis

Day 3: Bow Lake - A Symphony of Colors

The early morning light at Bow Lake painted a symphony of colors across the canvas of the sky. As we framed the mirrored waters and the glacier-carved peaks, Gina Yeo's words echoed in my mind: "Photography is about patience and timing." With patience, we waited for the perfect moment, and with impeccable timing, we captured the ethereal beauty of this place.

Bow Lake Sunrise
Bow Lake Sunrise

Lake Minnewanka - Afternoon Delight

After lunch, we headed to Lake Minnewanka. The serene turquoise waters and the rugged mountainous backdrops that were turning gold from the larch and aspen trees offered a different perspective on the Rockies. Gina encouraged us to experiment with angles, compositions and other techniques, reminding me that every location has countless stories to tell if we're willing to listen through the lens.

Lake Minnewanka
Lake Minnewanka

Lake Louise - Sunset

Lake Louise is a name that needs no introduction. A cloud-covered sky that evening proved difficult for a colorful sunset, but no doubt it was still a glorious way to end the day with some long exposure fun. Gina's words flowed effortlessly, guiding me to capture the essence of this iconic location. The result was a collection of images that tried to do justice to the natural wonder of Lake Louise.

Lake Louise
Lake Louise

Day 4: Vermilion Lake - Painting with Light

Sunrise at Vermilion Lake was nothing short of magical. The stillness of the morning, broken only by the call of birds, offered a tranquil canvas for creativity. As the sun tore through the clouds it was definitely a "sky's on fire" moment and I couldn't help but jump up and down with joy. Gina's lessons in painting with light, using long exposures to capture the dance of water and light, elevated our photography to new heights.

Vermillion Lake
Vermillion Lake

Peyto Lake - Nature's Masterpiece

Peyto Lake, often called the "wolf's head" for its distinctive shape, was a true masterpiece of nature. Gina guided us in finding unique vantage points to capture the lake's striking turquoise hue against the backdrop of rugged peaks. The resulting images were nothing short of awe-inspiring. It's a place that doesn't seem real when you see it. Simply amazing.

Peyto Lake
Peyto Lake

Natural Bridge Waterfalls and Emerald Lake - A Finale of Beauty

Our journey that day concluded first with a quick stop to visit Natural Bridge waterfalls, a testament to the sculpting power of water over time. We then ventured to Emerald Lake, where the setting sun bathed the surroundings in a warm, golden light. Gina reminded us that photography is not just about capturing what we see but also what we feel. As I looked through my viewfinder, I felt the beauty and serenity of these places in my heart, appreciative to see it firsthand.

Natural Bridge Waterfall
Natural Bridge Waterfall
Emerald Lake
Emerald Lake

Day 5: Three Sisters - A Farewell to the Rockies

Our final sunrise together was at the Three Sisters, a trio of towering peaks that stood as a symbol of this unforgettable journey. As I clicked away, my heart was filled with gratitude for the experiences we shared and the knowledge we gained. Gina had not only guided us in capturing stunning photographs but had also taught us to see the world with a deeper appreciation.

Three Sisters
Three Sisters

Our journey through the Canadian Rockies with Gina was an adventure filled with moments of wonder, awe, and inspiration. Through her guidance and mentorship, I learned not only some new photography techniques but also the art of storytelling through images. Photography is not just about capturing moments; it's about preserving emotions, memories, and the profound connection we have with the world around us.


As I departed from this breathtaking corner of the world, my camera bags may have been heavier with equipment, but my heart was lighter, enriched with the beauty and wisdom I had encountered. Gina's retreat was more than just a photography workshop; it was an immersive experience that rekindled my passion for photography and deepened my appreciation for the stunning landscapes that surround me. With memories etched in my mind and photos that will last a lifetime, I left the Canadian Rockies as not just a photographer but as a storyteller of nature's grand narrative. 🏔️

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