The North Thompson offers endless photo-ops.
Here at Alpine Meadows, our shutterbug guests are always thrilled to get shots of the incredible variety of animals that call this area home.
For those of you new to wildlife photography, it can be hard to know where to begin.
A quiet moment in Wells Gray Park is interrupted by birdsong. Look! Right there! There’s a tiny black and yellow waterthrush, calling for his mate. Oh! How you wish you could show this to everyone back home…
You’ve hiked a long way, today. As you enjoy a break in the Trophy Mountain flower meadows, you notice a rustling in the woods that edge the area. A cinnamon bear, newly emerged from his wintry hibernation, is foraging for a treat. You stay where you are, and quietly snap a photo on your phone (it’s all you have handy, and you know it’s not going to startle this hungry giant).
Or, perhaps, you’ve set up a spot right here in the resort. You’ve woken before dawn, and your DSL is ready and waiting on its tripod. You’re in the perfect position to catch that family of deer taking a quiet morning drink from pristine Hallamore Lake. Snap! Amazing. (Now you can head back to your chalet for a celebratory cup of coffee.)
All of the awe-inspiring, true Canadian moments that unfold before your eyes here can be hard to capture on film.
We want to help you make lasting memories! To that end, we’ve compiled some tips to help you best photograph all of the region’s incredible wildlife.
Obviously, you should have your camera with you, charged and at the ready! A flock of migrating birds can take you by surprise, but you’ll likely have enough time to get the shot if you’ve got your equipment handy.
Alternately, let the photo ops come to you. If you have patience, a planned shot can turn out to be something magnificent (National Geographic winner, maybe?). Remember, it might take awhile for your subject to appear, or to get to the right location with the right conditions. The best photos capture moments that you’re ready for! Find a comfortable, unobtrusive spot, set up your camera (and tripod, if necessary), and…hang out.
Enjoy the quiet, stunning beauty of the North Thompson mountains, waterways, and steppes. Relax. Contemplate. Make some memories. This is paradise –don’t forget to enjoy it with you eyes as well as your lens!
Do A Little Research
Determine which animals you’re interested in sighting. Birdwatcher? Know which of the more than 300 species of fliers you’re likely to find, where they tend to alight, what time of the day they’ll be out. You’ll have much more luck getting the perfect shot if you’ve got plenty of subjects to shoot! Find out more about birding in the North Thompson.
Want that iconic Canadian image of a grizzly fishing for salmon? Our furry neighbours know the easiest catch comes in August and September are when the salmon head to their spawning grounds along the rivers. Or take a bear-watching tour from a local outfitter.
Find out what time of day has the “right” light. Following the sunrise/sunset calendars online can help you plan for just the right conditions.
Have the Right Equipment
- Any camera can take a picture, and with today’s technology, smartphones are able to catch some stunning images. But for true, professional-looking wildlife photography, you should use a “real” camera. A Digital SLR with a good zoom and high resolution is the best piece of equipment you can have.
- Bring other lenses! A telephoto lens is essential for capturing pictures of Canadian fauna. You never want to get close to a bear, a moose, or a cougar! But with a telephoto lens, you can see them with up-close detail from a safe distance.
- Conversely, a macro lens can help you record the beauty of some of the park’s smallest creatures (and its beautiful plant life).
- A fast shutter speed and a camera with burst mode will allow you to get just the right frame when your subject is on the move. Curious hummingbird? No problem.
- Unless you’re a professional steadycam operator, use a tripod. Nowadays, you can get a lightweight, collapsible model that fits easily in your pack and will improve your photography skills substantially.
Go Where the Spotting Is Good
This one’s easy. There is such an abundance of wildlife in this region! You’re sure to find some creature going about its day no matter where you are. Hiking the backcountry, paddling Murtle Lake, exploring one of the park’s 40 waterfalls…someone is always stirring! Capture (on film only!) the salmon heading to their spawning grounds, ospreys soaring above the waters as they fish for the day’s catch, or an elusive elk making its way through the woods. Just look around, you’ll start to notice life all around you.
While we welcome all guests to Alpine Meadows with open arms, we want to remind everyone that we humans are but visitors in this magnificent habitat. This is home to all of the animals that you’ll encounter. Know how to share nature with them.
- Do not approach a wild animal. There is no way to know how an animal will react. Watching from afar is the best way to appreciate them.
- Never feed the animals. These animals are wild! Habituation to humans can be very dangerous for them and for us.
- Do not try to scare or induce the animal into doing something cute for the camera. Cruel and dangerous behaviour is always a bad idea.
- Be Bear Aware. Keep 100 meters between you and a bear at all times. BEARS ARE FAST.
- Don’t panic. If you run into an animal, stay still, or back away very slowly.
- Don’t use a flash. It could startle your subject.
- Don’t make yourself obvious (but don’t surprise an animal, either!). The animals know you’re there, they have unparalleled senses. But if you are inconspicuous, they’ll just ignore you. Making your presence known can be very distressing for them, and can have unforeseen consequences.
- Know when it’s time to go. No photo is worth putting yourself or your subject in danger!
For some excellent technical tips for wildlife photography, try this page.
As you set out into the wilderness around Alpine Meadows with your camera, remember that, while you’ll be able to capture some breathtaking pictures, the best images are the ones you’ll see with your own eyes and keep in your memory, forever.
We can’t wait to hear all about what you’ve seen on your vacation!