2020 was historic and chaotic year to say the least. With the arrival of
Covid -19 the world began to shut down its doors to travelers and
tourists alike. A large amount of people were laid off due to
businesses closing down as a way to slow down the spread of the
virus. Unfortunately, I found myself among those unlucky ones as I
work for the hospitality industry a sector that was particularly hard hit
by the still present pandemic. Nevertheless, despite that major
setback I did manage to have some memorable encounters out in the
back woods of the Canadian Rockies.
Spring in the Rockies is definitely a great season to head out and
explore. These first images of Loon, Big Horn Ram, and Black Bear
were captured during the span of that season. I remember vividly how
cold and chilly it was the morning I drove to a local lake here in the
Canadian Rockies in hopes of finding any sort of critter to photograph.
Spring in the Rockies is cold and although some plants are starting to
green up, winter storms are not an uncommon sight around this part of
Moreover, notice how critters like the bear and Big horn have not yet
shed their winter coats. Spring is that chaotic transition between winter
and summer where anything can be unpredictable weather wise. The
plus to this is that animals are still looking really photogenic with their
winter coats on.
Getting into the middle of June late spring and into summer brings out
another great sort of sightings. Grizzly Bears are definitely one of the
big five most sought-after species to photograph. However, in Alberta
they are at the present moment considered a threatened species with
less than 800 individuals remaining. That being said, considered
yourself lucky if you manage to spot one of these majestic beasts
during your travel through the mountains.
I specially love June since it’s the start of the mating season for bears
and there’s lots of action happening on the landscape. Furthermore,
the types of bears I usually bump into during my excursions are for the
most part Sow with cubs and juveniles. As shown on the photographs
above, I had an opportunity to spend time with a well known female
from the area and a solitary juvenile both of which were photographed
from the safety of my vehicle and with a 500 mm lens.
Photographing bears in the Rockies is often a controversial subject
even among photographers and park managers alike, but this is a talk
for another blog post (ethics in Nature Photography).
As Summer starts to wind down, days are getting shorter, and the air
is crispier. The foliage undergoes a radical transformation from bright
green to an intense yellow and the sound of clashing horns fill the
Autumn in the Rockies is by far my favorite time of the year,
particularly because there’s just so much stuff happening that its hard
to focus in one thing to photograph. As seen in the photographs above
bull elk and moose are busy competing against each other for the right
to mate, grizzly bears are busy trying to get advantage of the last
remaining berries before heading into hibernation.
I was lucky enough to witness one particular event that most people
often do not get to experience. Bull Moose in preparation for its known
as the RUT (mating season) often shed their velvets by rubbing it
against tress and trunks. When I encounter that Bull shown in the
picture I was with another friend of mine and fellow wildlife
photographer. It was by far I think the highlight of the year. We were left in awe as we watched that bull thrash around any trees within his
By November most of the bears have gone to hibernate and the first
serious snowfalls of the year have begun to blanket the landscape
announcing the arrival of Winter.
Winter in the Canadian Rockies, depending of who you ask, tends to be a quieter time of the year. Even though the bears went to “sleep”, there’s still lots of opportunities to photograph wildlife such as moose, big horn sheep, ravens, elk, deer, and the less commonly seen wolves, lynx, and cougars are all year-round active animals. Furthermore, if you brave the temperatures, winter can also be a fun season to shoot landscapes. Photographers often pursue lakes with mirror like reflections, ice crystals formations along the edge of partly frozen lakes, and methane bubbles formation to mention a few of the most popular landscape subjects taken during winter season
Despite the year having its ups and down with the pandemic, I managed to still come out with some memorable images.
Till next time and Happy Shooting
Rafael Marrero Reiley