Traveling Alberta

So a few months back I got the exciting news that I’ve been chosen for a job to go to Alberta, Canada on 1st February 2015 for Travel Alberta. I will be sharing this experience with Lauren Bath from Australia, Jeff Bartlett from Jasper, Alberta (my guide for the week) and Sylvia Matzkowiak from Berlin, Germany. We will be visiting many places around Alberta during there winter for 7 days and posting images to my Instagram Page, Twitter and FaceBook of various things we get up too.

I’ve been lucky enough to visit Alberta before many years ago but without a camera. So to have this opportunity again with my camera was an opportunity I couldn’t say no to. Later on in the trip I was very happy to meet up with my good friend Lauren Bath.  I’ve never met Lauren, but we’ve known each other for over 3 and a half years, and have been following each other on Instagram right from the start of our own Instagram careers, so that was something else to be excited by.

As it was going to be cold I needed to prepare for the great outdoors in Canada. I remember it being very cold in some places as it could reach -40°c. So the only place to visit was my generous friends and sponsors at Cotswold Outdoors. They kindly provided me with warm clothing for my trip as well as a GoPro Hero 4 Black.

Various Pieces of Equipment For My Trip

15inch MacBook Pro with Lightroom 5 & Photoshop CC.
•500GB External Hard Drive.
North Face Snow Boots, Jack Wolfskin •Hat and Sinner Ski Goggles.
Manfrotto 190 Series Tripod with Manfrotto 498RC2 Ball Head.
GoPro Hero 4 Black Remote and Selfie Stick (also had helmet & body harness).
Canon 5D MKIII.
Canon Lenses 24-105mm, 70-200mm, 50mm, 100mm Macro.
Lucroit Filter Holder.
Lee Filters.
DrDre Beats Headphones.

Picking Up My Clothing From Cotswold Outdoor (Maidstone Branch).

Always so happy to get help from my friends at Cotswold Outdoor. Cotswold Outdoor started life in 1974 as Cotswold Camping, selling a range of basic camping accessories from a small outbuilding in the Cotswolds. 40 years later, the company is an award winning multi-channel retailer with stores throughout the UK.  

Typically I over packed and had to pay an over weight charge of £65. The way I think, its best to be safe than sorry, right? The flight took 9hour 30mins approx. to fly to Calgary in Alberta, Canada. It was a comfortable flight. It was great to get the chance to catch up with some movies I’ve been meaning to watch. Once I landed it took me 2 painstaking hours to get through customs and I finally met my guide for the week, Jeff Bartlett, and my friend Sylvia Matzkowiak from Germany. The first thing I noticed was how blooming cold it was brrrrrr!!!! I think it was -15°c and I remember thinking how thankful I was that I packed my North Face winter coat (I call it the bear).

We headed off to our first hotel in downtown Calgary,  Hotel Arts. My first impression was WOW! This hotel was definitely suited to all my needs. Very modern, comfortable, contemporary and the food was amazing! The rooms we were given were quite large and the view of downtown Calgary from the balcony was perfect. Gave a very good sense of city living. But if there was one thing I was so excited by, for a geek like me, and that was the vast quantity of USB sockets. There was so many. About 2 in every light stand and plugs sockets everywhere. Gone were the memories of hitting my head underneath tables looking for the one unused plug socket. All hotels must follow suite here.

Hotel Arts

View from my balcony at Hotel Arts, Downtown, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Image taken by me on the GoPro Hero 4 Black. 

My room and super comfortable bed with complimentary chocolates. Yummy.

Image taken by me on the Canon 5D MK III – 24-105mm Lens.

So after quickly settling in, we headed out to look for a decent bar for a few quick drinks. It was getting late and even though me and Sylvia were excited we were also tired from our long journey from Europe. We ended up at a sports bar where they were showing the Super Bowl. This is where is stops for me, I HAVEN’T A CLUE ABOUT American Football, only my brief spell playing John Madams on the Sega when I was a kid. I do struggle to say football, but lets be honest, its not FOOTBALL (controversial, I know haha). 

After the dramatic climax to the game and a great tasting burger and fries with an ok pint, we headed on back to the hotel for a well deserved sleep. 

Woke up at 01:00 and 03:00 hungry. Had nothing in my room but the complimentary chocolates. I couldn’t say no, so clearly as the gentleman I am, I shoved the whole chocolate in my mouth only to find out it had popping candy inside! So I sat on my bed jet lagged, hungry and my mouth popping and crackling with candy at 03:00 in the morning, bloody nice though ha.

So our first adventure began with a trip out to Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary in Cochrane, Alberta. It was very cold, but I was all wrapped up for the very low temperatures. We drove to the sanctuary and saw the Wolfdogs curled up resting. We walked into the enclosure and was warmly welcomed by the handler as she woke the wolfdogs up from their rest by letting them know she had treats. All I could think whilst sitting on some plastic patio chairs was WOW. They are wolfs!! WOLFS right in front of me. They were gorgeous creatures. Beautiful winter coats and amazing bright colourful eyes.

Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary

Zeus and Nova from Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary

Image taken by me on the Canon 5D MK III – 70-200mm Lens –

1/800 sec – f/3.2 – ISO 100 – Focal Length 70mm

The Alfa Female of the pack Kuna, feeds from my hand.

Image taken by me on my iPhone 6+.

The wolfdogs walked around in front of us, and were being very cautious. We had to throw treats in front of where we were sitting to entice them in nearer. The handler was very informative telling us about the history of the Sanctuary and the Wolfdogs.

The Alfa female Kuna was the only wolfdog prepared to come close and eat out of your hand. She was very picky with the treats, they had to be a meat kind and not biscuits or she wouldn’t come near.

I had to pick out this moment as the best part of the 7 day trip. Being around such wild and beautiful animals was a special moment I will never forget.

We returned back to Calgary had a quick bite to eat and headed out to do some night photography of the city. We made sure we wrapped up warm as the temperatures dropped to -20°c.


Calgary City During A Very Cold Sunset.

Image taken by me, Canon 5D MK III – 24-105mm – Exposure 3.2 secs

f/14 – ISO 400 – Focal Length 35mm.

Peace Bridge, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Canon 5D MK III – 24-105mm – Exposure 26 secs

f/14 – ISO 100 – Focal Length 24mm.

The next morning we packed up our stuff, left Hotel Arts and headed towards Banff on a road trip. We will also be meeting up with Lauren in Banff.

Jeff took us on a fantastic scenic route towards Banff. Unfortunately there was a lot of low cloud, so most of the mountains were hidden. It didn’t stop us enjoying the view we had, as well as it being a great time to get to know each another.

We stopped off at various places to photograph the stunning lakes, they were frozen with thick ice. You could see people ice skating on the ice. I wanted to shoot on the frozen lakes, but at the same time it did make me quite uneasy as its something I’ve never done before and falling in doesn’t exactly appeal to me.

Spray Lakes

The Frozen Spray Lakes, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada.

Canon 5D MK III – 24-105mm – Exposure 1/100 sec

f/14 – ISO 125 – Focal Length 24mm.

Me Shooting On The Frozen Spray Lakes. Image Taken By Sylvia Matzkowiak

We stopped next to Spray Lakes, Kananaskis Country, and I hesitantly walked towards the frozen lake. Of course being the gentleman I am, I let Jeff walk on there first haha. He shouted out that you could see frozen bubbles underneath, that was all the info I needed to walk onto the lake because taking images of frozen bubbles has been an objective of mine to capture since taking up photography over 3 and half years ago.

Fortunately the bubbles that were there were frozen, but the wind was so bitterly strong and VERY cold, it kept blowing loose snow over the ice and prevented us from shooting them.

We were on the ice for about 20 mins and then we heard the noise of the ice cracking. Me and Jeff stopped and looked at each other, as to say did you hear that, and then another long loud crack. It was at that point we deciding to get off the ice quickly!

We know it was only the water underneath moving but it still gave you that feeling of, this ain’t right.

We carried on with our journey and came to a town called Canmore. Wow what a beautiful town and a place we would visit again on our way back to Calgary at the end of the 7 days.


A Stunning Looking Pedestrian Bridge In Canmore, Alberta, Canada.

Canon 5D MK III – 24-105mm – HDR 3 Exposure 1/200 -1/1600 – 1/25 sec

f/5.6- ISO 100 – Focal Length 73mm.

Me Shooting Jeff Bartlett In Canmore. Image Taken By Sylvia Matzkowiak
I Could’ve Sat Here All Day Looking At This View, Canmore, AB, Canada.

Canon 5D MK III – 24-105mm – Exposure 1/320 sec

f/14 – ISO 125 – Focal Length 24mm.

The Same Pedestrian Bridge But Looking At It From The Other Side

Canmore, Alberta, Canada.

Canon 5D MK III – 24-105mm – Exposure 1/100 sec

f/14 – ISO 100 – Focal Length 28mm.

Once we shot beautiful Canmore we headed off to Banff where we would meet up Lauren Bath at our next Hotel The Fox Hotel & Suites. Smaller Hotel than what we had in Calgary but I had a great authentic Canadian Lodge feel to it. It also had a great indoor and outdoor hot pool with sauna. But silly me I forgot to bring my shorts!!

We collected our ski rentals and headed out that evening for some dinner. I had the best steak ever that night, YUMMY!!

The following morning we headed off to our 1st ski resort the Sunshine Village in Banff.

Me, Lauren and Sylvia were beginners, so we had an instructor for the morning whilst Jeff met up with friends and done his own thing.

Sunshine Village Ski Resort

Here’s Me, Jeff Bartlett & Lauren Bath in the Gondola at Sunshine Village. I don’t know what I’m saying but they don’t look interested ha.
Image taken by Sylvia Matzkowiak 
Here I am preparing to ski. Image taken by Sylvia Matzkowiak

Our instructor Andrew was a very nice guy, very informative and help progress my skiing so much in a few hours. It had been 12 years since I last went skiing so I was very cautious to see how I would pick it up again. With Andrews help and guidance, it wasn’t long before I was feeling confident once again.

Once the skiing had finished we were all very eager to head out for sunset. So we went to Lake Minnewanka in Banff National Park.

The lake was completely frozen, but it also had a large amount of snow on it. So once again I was denied frozen trapped air bubbles. The frozen boat huts in the middle of the lake gave the whole scene a sense of scale. This was truly such a wonder to see.

Lake Minnewanka

Boat Huts Frozen In Lake Minnewanka Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada.

Canon 5D MK III – 24-105mm – Exposure 1/60 sec

f/14 – ISO 100 – Focal Length 45mm. 

Me Exploring Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada.Canon 5D MK III – 24-105mm – Exposure 1/100 secf/14 – ISO 100 – Focal Length 24mm.

The clouds were disappearing so we headed off to Vermillion Lake to hopefully capture some lasting colour in the sky. Vermillion Lake was soon to become our most photographed place during our trip. With the images below you can understand why.

Vermillion Lake

SETUP: Canon 5D MK III – 24-105mm – Exposure 120 secs

f/14 – ISO 100 – Focal Length 28mm.

RESULT: Long Exposure at Vermillion Lake, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada.

The sun was just setting, so I set up for a long exposure to create some wispy clouds in the sky and to reflect in the lake.

SETUP: Canon 5D MK III – 24-105mm – Exposure 1/15 sec

f/14 – ISO 100 – Focal Length 24mm.

RESULT: Vermillion Lake, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada.
Me At Vermillion Lake, Banff National Park, Canada.Canon 5D MK III – 24-105mm – Exposure 1/15 sec

f/14 – ISO 100 – Focal Length 24mm.

Beautiful Reflections at Vermillion Lake, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada.

Canon 5D MK III – 24-105mm – Exposure 1/125 sec

f/5.6 – ISO 100 – Focal Length 60mm.

The last 3 images above were taken on our last day in Alberta, Canada. The cloud was low and we were experiencing a warm spell of 12°c, so the ice was starting to melt and thin.

Vermillion Lake was so beautiful. The colour of the trees reflecting off the water made the scene even more photogenic, if that was at all possible.

There was also some great features to play around with like pontoons leading from the bank into the water and looking out towards the mountains. These were perfect for some shots of people (or myself) standing at the end. I wanted to showcase the Vermillion shots together, so apologies if it’s a little out of sync with the time frame.

Two Jacks Lake

Top Photo: Me at Two Jacks Lake, Banff National Park during sunset.

Canon 5D MK III – 24-105mm – Exposure 1/50 sec  f/14 – ISO 100 – Focal Length 24mm

Bottom Photo: Lauren BathJeff Bartlett & Sylvia Matzkowiak on the same lake. Taken on my iPhone 6 +

This image took a while to complete. The day before, we headed here for a sunset but there was a lot of photographers there already so we said we would come back the next evening, which we did.

No photographers in sight. But as we walked across the lake, the direction we wanted to go was towards the the part of the lake where it was not frozen. To get there meant we had an obstacle in our way. We’re guessing some park ranger or someone that tests the thickness of the ice has drilled a hole in the ice. This has caused water to rise up a make the top of the ice we needed to walk on very slushy.

Jeff went first as we cowardly watched. He made it with no problem as it was completely safe. But as I’ve said previously, I haven’t walked on iced lakes before and falling in wasn’t on my list of things to achieve. Lauren & Sylvia were both saying “Sean you go”, with a nervous laugh and after about 30mins of debating wether it is 

safe or not, I finally took a deep breath and quickly (probably not the best thing to do if the ice was going to crack) walked across the slushy ice, with Lauren & Sylvia following quickly behind.

We made it in time for sunset and set up our tripods, but theirs one thing that surprised me with Alberta especially around the mountains. It’s that the sunsets were lacking in colour. Still very beautiful because of the stunning landscape, but not much colour considering their was clouds and some blue sky. Jeff is a local and warned me that their might not be much colour, and he was right. Later on this trip, the sunset will lack in colour again and I will loose my favourite sun glasses because of a bet. Note to self…. Always trust the locals 😉

Lake Louise 

So our time at Banff was sadly over and we needed to head towards Lake Louise in the morning for our next stop. We were staying at Lake Louise Inn. Lovely hotel in a gorgeous location (shame we couldn’t see much because of the weather). If you do stay there, I recommend you try out the pizzas in the restaurant upstairs. Mmmm.

We set off from Banff early morning to go and shoot sunrise, but the weather was a complete white out (loads of snow you can’t see much). This made taking pics very difficult and made sure our sunrise wasn’t going to happen.

We arrived at Lake Louise Inn got checked in and had to quickly leave for Lake Louise Ski Resort.

We arrived a little later than planned but quickly got our equipment on and met our instructor for the day, Connor.

Me, Lauren and Sylvia were going to have an instructor for the morning again whilst Jeff did his own thing.

A quick lesson from Connor and we were on the slopes. Connor was a top instructor and skied with the biggest smile. Me and Lauren had to do a photoshoot of him skiing.

Conor skiing with such a big grin on his face. Surely this is the only way to ski.

Canon 5D MK III – 24-105mm – Exposure 1/400 sec  f/4 – ISO 100 – Focal Length 95mm

After a few hours with Conor I felt my skiing had come on so much in the last 48hrs it really made me feel very confident at progressing to the Blue Slopes (Level 4).

We stopped for lunch (less said about that the better, yuk) and met up with Jeff. After lunch Jeff was going to come with us on the slopes as we do our own thing. Sylvia was going to stay behind as she struggled to get to grips with the skiing.

Me, Lauren and Jeff headed out to the slopes and Jeff being the experienced skier took the lead.

We had fun skiing a few slopes. We had time for one more, so we went to the top to have one more epic ski as it was our last for the trip. Jeff set off and we slowly followed behind and I was having so much fun. But then disaster struck, as I was turning on the slope I hit some hard snow and then some powder (fluffy snow) it threw me onto the slope. I was travelling at some speed and the fall knocked the wind out of me. I stood up and I had a lot of pain from my chest. I thought I must have bruised my rib or something. 

I slowly made my way back down to the bottom of the slope after telling Jeff and Lauren to carry on down. The pain was quite bad but barely manageable. I didn’t want to think nothing bad had happened as I didn’t want to jeopardise the remaining days I had left for me and the group in Alberta. However later when I returned home to the UK I went to A&E and found out that I had fractured my rib. It will take up to six weeks to heal. Bad as that might be, the pain was so worth the visit to Alberta though.

So our skiing was over but with a lot of painkillers, our photographic journey had to continue. That evening we headed out to the beautiful place of Lake Louise. 

It may still be fully covered in snow and with a lot of low cloud it still looked stunning!

Lake Louise Boat House Covered in Thick Snow. Alberta, Canada.

Canon 5D MK III – 24-105mm – Exposure 1/100 sec

f/4 – ISO 100 – Focal Length 65mm.

Lauren Bath with a cheeky grin at Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada.

Canon 5D MK III – 24-105mm – Exposure 1/200 sec

f/4 – ISO 160 – Focal Length 40mm.

Me doing Game Of Thrones but on Ice ha. Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada.
Canon 5D MK III – 24-105mm – Exposure 1/6 sec

f/14 – ISO 100 – Focal Length 28mm.

A Lodge At Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada.

Canon 5D MK III – 24-105mm – Exposure 1/6 sec

f/14 – ISO 100 – Focal Length 28mm.

Road Trip On Route 93, 11 and Bow Valley Parkway

So it was our last day before we head back to Calgary and then home. We thought we would go on a road trip. But due to the amount of snow that fell over night, most of the roads were closed because of a potential avalanche risk. So we were limited to where we could go. But as we’ve found out already in Alberta, that still means we will get some amazing views.

Great view of this road heading towards the mountains on a winding path and Abraham Lake to the right. I could drive these roads all day. These are views that will never tire.

Canon 5D MK III – 24-105mm – Exposure 1/60 sec  f/14 – ISO 100 – Focal Length 80mm

Here’s the view from inside our SUV. See what I mean by not a bad view from inside. You might be able to just make out a bag of Maple Candy. Hands off their Lauren’s!!!

Canon 5D MK III – 24-105mm – Exposure 1/160 sec  f/9 – ISO 200 – Focal Length 24mm

The beautiful wintery view on Bow Valley Parkway. The snow had stopped and the sun was trying to make an appearance. This was such a great place to take pics from, with a winding train track below.

Canon 5D MK III – 24-105mm – Exposure 1/320 sec  f/14 – ISO 200 – Focal Length 47mm

Here is a pic of me shooting some mountain sheep up on a hill to our right. Thats Abraham Lake to the Left.

Picture taken by  Sylvia Matzkowiak

Here I am standing overlooking Abraham Lake and the Rockie Mountains. We went here for frozen bubbles in the lake again but the ice had melted too much to see them.

Canon 5D MK III – 24-105mm – Exposure 1/200 sec  f/10 – ISO 200 – Focal Length 24mm

Here another shot of me jumping for joy in Alberta, Canada underneath the bridge at Castle Junction. This didn’t help with my recovery of a fractured rib. Ouchie.

Canon 5D MK III – 24-105mm – Exposure 1/320 sec  f/4 – ISO 250 – Focal Length 24mm

So the trip to Alberta was coming to an end, and we had one last chance to shoot some images on the journey out of the mountains towards Calgary. The time I have spent here completely blew my mind. I’ve always wanted to return from my last visit 12 years ago and I was so thankful I had the opportunity to do it and more.

Last Day 😦

The Beautiful Little Church Just Outside Cochrane on Highway 1A

Canon 5D MK III – 24-105mm – Exposure 1/80 sec

f/14 – ISO 100 – Focal Length 32mm.

Canon 5D MK III – 24-105mm – Exposure 1/4 sec

f/4 – ISO 100 – Focal Length 24mm.

The Image above was taken on Ghost Lake Reservoir and we stopped here to watch the sunset. The beautiful frozen ice looked so good of an opportunity to miss as the reflection would be insanely good. The sun was producing some colour and looked like it would pop. However Jeff Bartlett said it wouldn’t.

From what I saw their was no way it was going to be a no show from the sunset. So it was at this point I bet my  favourite Hawkers Sunglasses that the sunset would show (Jeff had been eyeing them up for a while). So we sat in our vehicle and waited. It look very promising at times throughout the going down of the sun, but Jeff was right. The sun didn’t pop. But that didn’t stop us going down on the ice and shooting the dramatic clouds. which looked so cool with the reflection.

This truly was a magical end to such an epic trip!

I would like say a BIG THANK YOU to Travel Alberta for choosing me for this trip and making it such a magically enjoyable one. I would also like to thank Lauren Bath for pitching for me for this job and being exactly like I thought you would be…. AWESOME!! Another BIG thank you to Jeff Bartlett for being an amazing guide and now a good friend (make sure you look after my sunglasses). A good bye to Sylvia Matzkowiak thank you for taking images of me and it was good to see you again.

Until we meet again my friends….

Last but definitely not least. A MASSIVE THANK YOU to my sponsors

Your support means a lot!

Until My Next Adventure!

Published by

Byrne Photography

Hello my name is Sean Byrne, I'm a passionate landscape/travel photographer and social media influencer from the UK. I have a passion for taking photos of the great outdoors, whether that's in the UK or around the world. I've been a photographer for over 4 years now. I'm also self taught after becoming addicted to photography on Instagram. Now more than 4 years on I have collaborated with National Geographic, Waitrose, Travel Alberta, Visit England, Swiss Air, Iceland Air, Austria Tourism, Enterprise, Sony Xperia and many, many more. I've also been a speaker at Blog Stock, Brit Mums and Inflow Travel Summit. Thank you for taking the time to read this bio, I hope you enjoy my blog and all my past adventures. May this journey continue ...

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