The PhotoPills Expedition to the Canadian Rockies is SOLD OUT!
All 12 spots are already gone!
Thanks so much :D
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We’re going to the Canadian Rockies...
Are you in?
Around the New Moon...
From November 12th to November 18th 2023, Rachel Jones Ross, Bryan Peters, Clarence Spencer and Antoni Cladera (PhotoPills Masters) will be traveling across the Canadian Rockies to photograph the Aurora Borealis, Orion constellation, the thin Milky Way, and Autumn’s Golden Light along with frozen landscapes, turquoise lakes and majestic mountains…
Right when the Sun is entering the period of solar maximum, which means we will be more likely to see and photograph the dancing green lights of the Aurora!
We’ll be taking photos all day long... and all night long!
Can you imagine it?
To photograph the Aurora Borealis, Orion constellation, the thin Milky Way and the beautiful Autumn’s Golden Light with blooming frost flowers, turquoise lakes, methane bubbles trapped in ice, rushing rivers, deep forests, glaciers and snow-capped mountains.
We’re dreaming about it!
To achieve it, we’ll use the planning power of PhotoPills and the expert knowledge of Rachel Jones Ross, Bryan Peters, Clarence Spencer and Antoni Cladera to always be at the right place at the right time.
And we have many surprises for you! The first we will share is that Clarence Spencer from Spencer’s Camera will be bringing large tracking mounts, a telescope, and an Astro modified camera for you to try on location! You will be expertly guided by Clarence, the man who modifies the cameras that NASA sends into space!
The rest is Top Secret: we have quite a few legendary photos planned already ;)
The Deal (only 12 spots)
Since you subscribed to the Priority Access list...
We're offering you a $500 discount on the regular price!
All you have to do is to book 1 of the 12 spots available before Sunday June 25th.
Read carefully all the details of this unique adventure.
And when you’re ready, click here to book your spot.
Please, book as soon as possible. The seats are sold on a first come, first served basis.
12 PhotoPillers | 4 PhotoPills Masters | Canadian Rockies | Endless legendary photos
Warning! This is not a honeymoon... But it’s not a hiking adventure either. All shooting spots are at a short walking distance from the car.
We’re recruiting 12 brave PhotoPillers (PhotoPills and photography nerds) to join us on an 7-day expedition to photograph the Aurora Borealis, Orion constellation, the thin Milky Way and Autumn’s Golden Light along with some of the gems hidden in the majestic Canadian Rockies.
It’s autumn and it’s going to be cold!
The average temperature is between 0ºC (32ºF) and -12ºC (10.4ºF). The lakes might be frozen, and if it snows, the snowpack will be deep.
Frost flowers “bloom” along open bodies of water, and mounds of pillowy snow simplify the landscape. Snow and ice are the perfect companions for Aurora as they reflect the dancing green lights.
This expedition is a non-stop adventure to chase legendary photos and you are a key asset!
We have planned tons of photos, and we’ll travel many kilometers to capture them…
But we also want to maximize our flexibility in terms of itinerary and schedule in order to take advantage of all the opportunities that the changing weather will surely put in our way.
If we see something interesting happening in the sky, we’ll pick the best location possible, stop and take advantage of the occasion.
When we are hungry, we’ll stop and eat. When we are tired, we’ll stop and rest...
You are about to embark on a PhotoPills’ style journey. And it’s not going to be a honeymoon precisely... :P
You’ll be a true photographer!
Are you in?
Day 1. Sunday, November 12th - Welcome to the Canadian Rockies
It’s Sunday morning...
And you land in an early flight at the YYC Calgary International Airport in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
Although I suggest arriving the day before and staying at a hotel near the airport to have time to rest a bit before the action begins. I recommend the Wyndham Garden Calgary Airport Hotel.
After picking you up at the airport (or from a hotel nearby the airport) we’ll do a quick stop for groceries and snacks. And we’ll continue our journey towards the Rockies.
Due to its wonderful pristine nature, the Canadian Rockies have been included in the UNESCO World Heritage-list. The magnificent mountains stretch for about 180,000 km2 (69,500 mi2) through Alberta and British Columbia.
And in the heart of the Rockies, we find the Emerald Lake and the iconic Emerald Lake Lodge, where we’ll set our base camp for the whole expedition.
The lodge is an ideal location as it has a beautiful north facing view, perfect for shooting the Northern Lights.
On our way, we’ll stop for lunch at the Juniper Bistro. The view from up there will lift our spirits. This place inspires delicious dishes, always made from scratch. Proudly independent, they support local suppliers who share our care for the planet.
What about having the huevos rancheros or the salmon benny? Delicious!
We arrive at Emerald Lake, one of the most stunning lakes in the Canadian Rockies.
Located in Yoho National Park, Emerald Lake is known for its blue and turquoise waters, surrounding pine forest and snowy peaks.
There we’ll find Michael Peak (2,701m or 8,862ft), Walcott Peak (2,575m or 8,448ft) and President Peak (3,123m or 10,246ft).
Checking-in at the Emerald Lake Lodge and siesta (nap time)!
Time to begin the expedition briefing.
We’ll show you some photos and PhotoPills plans of the Sunset and Aurora spot from where we’ll be photographing today at Emerald Lake.
Also, there’ll be time to go over some compositional tips, the gear you need and the shooting techniques we’ll be using.
It’s a 10min walk to the Sunset spot in Emerald Lake. Here we enjoy a beautiful view of the frozen landscapes: the water, the trees, the peaks.
It’s time to scout the area and fine tune your compositions. And to practice the focus stacking techniques you’ve learned with Rachel.
Look! As the Sun goes down the golden light begins to fall on Michael Peak.
The spot is perfect to use both a wide angle lens and a telephoto lens if you wish to capture some parts of the landscape.
Open PhotoPills and check this out:
We’ll learn how to make the most of PhotoPills while in the field.
Golden hour begins at 4:09 pm, Sunset is at 5:01 pm, golden hour ends at 5:24 pm, and blue hour ends at 5:38 pm.
After the blue hour, when the light begins to fade away, we’ll pack up and go back to the lodge, where a delicious dinner awaits.
The astronomical twilight ends at 6:57 pm. It’s when the nighttime begins. So, after dinner, if the sky is clear, we’ll be right by the lake, photographing the Aurora Borealis.
And if the Aurora doesn’t show up, we’ll photograph the stars.
The Moon (0.2%) will be below the horizon.
As soon as we’re happy with our shots, we’ll go to bed. Because tomorrow we’ll get up very early to try to photograph the Aurora and the stars.
- Sunset at Emerald Lake.
- Aurora Borealis and stars at Emerald Lake.
- Practicing Focus Stacking technique.
Day 2. Monday, November 13th - The Turquoise Wolf
Wake up! We’re going to photograph the Aurora (and the stars) at the beautiful Peyto Lake.
Do you see the wolf?
Owing its existence to Peyto Glacier, Peyto Lake is a natural masterpiece—a jewel nestled in the heart of the Canadian Rockies.
Its vibrant turquoise waters, surrounded by majestic mountains and pristine wilderness, create a sensory experience that is nothing short of extraordinary.
Now, add to the mix that the lake has the shape of the head of a wolf (see photo above) and that we’ll be framing north... And we couldn’t ask for a better place to photograph the Aurora (and the stars).
As the blue hour begins, the scene changes completely. The sky is filled up with beautiful cold colors. Later, as the Sun rises, the blues give way to the reds and oranges. The colors of the golden hour…
Colors that fall on Mt. Patterson (3,552 m or 11,654 ft), Candron Peak (2,911 m or 9,550 ft) and Peyto Lake, just in front of us.
Blue hour begins at 7:24 am, golden hour begins at 7:38 am, Sunrise is at 8:01 am, Moonrise is at 8:39 am (0.1%) and golden hour ends at 8:54 am.
On our way back to the Emerald Lodge, we’ll stop for a well deserved breakfast at the Trailhead Café in Lake Louise.
Nap time (siesta) at the lodge.
Because we understand that you prefer to have more sleeping time, lunch will be on your own.
When you’re hungry, get up and go grab lunch at the lodge restaurant.
Our suggestion: rest and sleep as much as you can to be fresh and ready in the field.
After a relaxing sleep and a 1 h and 30 min drive, we arrive at Vermilion Lakes, our Sunset and Orion destination in Bow Valley.
Here the view of Mount Rundle (2,948m or 9,672ft) and Sulphur Mountain (2,451m or 8,041ft) is spectacular.
We’re shooting towards the south. The Sun is setting in the west casting the afternoon golden light on Mount Rundle’s characteristic shape. In my opinion, the rock formation resembles the back of a dragon… What do you think?
We’ll shoot here until the end of blue hour.
Golden hour begins at 4:04 pm, Sunset is at 4:56 pm, golden hour ends at 5:19 pm and blue hour ends at 5:33 pm.
Dinner at the delicious Mexican restaurant, Añejo Restaurant in Banff.
If the skies are clear, we’ll photograph the constellation of Orion and the thin tail of the Milky Way over the majestic Mt. Dundle.
- Aurora (and Stars) at Peyto Lake.
- Sunrise at Peyto Lake.
- Sunset at Vermillion lakes.
- Orion and the thin Milky Way over Mt. Rundle.
Day 3. Tuesday, November 14th - Frost Flowers and the Red Train
We arrive at our Sunrise spot.
Morant’s curve is located in Lake Louise, about 1h drive away from Emerald lodge.
What’s so unique about this curve?
The story involves a train...
Morant's Curve gets its name from Nicholas Morant, a photographer working for the Canadian Pacific Railway in the mid 20th century.
His photos helped promote the railway and the Canadian Rockies.
So, in addition to the stunning mountains and the Bow River, the Canadian Pacific Railway train wraps itself through the beautiful scenery.
And this is what we want, to photograph the Red Engine train slowly traveling along the valley, next to the Bow River and among the mountains: Mount Temple (3,544m or 11,627ft), Mount Aberdeen (3,152m or 10,341ft), Popes Peak (3,163m or 10,377ft), and Waputik Peak (2,755m or 9,039ft)...
Blue hour begins at 7:23 am, Golden hour begins at 7:37 am, Sunrise is at 8:00 am and golden hour ends at 8:53 am.
Breakfast at the Trailhead Café in Lake Louise.
Class on Photography Planning with PhotoPills.
Lunch at Emerald Lodge and siesta!
Bow Lake is located on the Icefields Parkway, about 1 h and 30 min away from our lodge.
The impressive rock wall of Crowfoot Mountain (3,055m or 10,023ft), the glacier, and the infinite Wapta Icefield provide us with a unique photo opportunity.
And, on top of that, let’s add some frost flowers in the foreground and the afternoon golden light falling on Crowfoot Mountain. Cherry on the cake!
Golden hour begins at 4:03 pm, Sunset is at 4:57 pm, golden hour ends at 5:20 pm and blue hour ends at 5:34 pm.
Dinner at a local restaurant.
We want clear skies, we pray for clear skies… because our goal is to photograph a panorama of Orion while rising over Bow Lake.
Plan and Pray!
It’s been a long long day…
From Sunrise to Sunset, and then at night, we’ve been chasing a red train, the golden light, the Sun and Orion’s belt…
Tomorrow another adventure awaits!
- The Red Engine train at Morant’s Curve at Sunrise.
- Frost flowers and the Crowfoot Mountain at Sunset.
- Orion rising next to Crowfoot Mountain at Bow Lake.
Day 4. Wednesday, November 15th - The Secret
I’ve been giving you lots of details of this amazing expedition to the Canadian Rockies.
Maybe far too many...
But on November 15th we’ll do something very special...
What will that be?
Well, you'll have to be there, with us, to figure it out :P
Day 5. Thursday, November 16th - The Lake and the Peak
Wake up! Today we’ll photograph Sunrise at Abraham Lake and Sunset at Tangle Peak.
It takes a 2h drive to get to Abraham Lake.
This man-made lake boasts a serene and ethereal charm that sets it apart from other bodies of water.
Stretching across vast expanses, Abraham Lake showcases a mesmerizing blend of azure blue waters and icy landscapes, creating a sight that is both enchanting and awe-inspiring.
As the Sun goes up, the golden morning light will fall on Mt. Michener (2,545m or 8,350ft). And there we’ll be, ready to press the shutter.
Blue hour begins at 7:30 am, Golden hour begins at 7:44 am, Sunrise is at 8:07 am and golden hour ends at 9:02 am.
Time for breakfast.
We’ll drive 2 hours to Jasper.
Jasper is a place where nature takes center stage.
Towering mountain peaks, including the iconic Mount Edith Cavell (3,363m or 11,033ft) and Pyramid Mountain (2,766m or 9,075ft), surround the town, creating a majestic backdrop that never fails to inspire awe.
We’ll have lunch and enjoy the beautiful little city.
Tangle Ridge is an impressive 3,000m (9,800ft) mountain summit located in Jasper National Park. Due to its pointy shape, it forms a beautiful triangle under the stars.
We’ll arrive with enough time to find our Sunset shooting spot… and also our Orion composition.
As the Sun sets, it will cast its golden light on the side of Tangle Ridge.
Golden hour begins at 4:00 pm, Sunset is at 4:55 pm, golden hour ends at 5:19 pm and blue hour ends at 5:33 pm.
Dinner in the field!
The Moon (15%) set at 6:57 pm. The sky is pitch black. There is zero light pollution here. We’re enjoying a Bortle Class 1 sky.
Very soon, the Orion belt will be rising on the left side of the point mountain in front of us.
And if the Aurora shows up… we’ll shoot all night here!
- Sunrise at Abraham Lake.
- Sunset at Tangle Ridge.
- Orion rising next to Tangle Ridge.
- Aurora at Tangle Ridge.
Day 6. Friday, November 17th - Frozen Bubbles
After a good sleep, we’ll have a slow breakfast at the Emerald Lodge.
Editing class with Rachel. She’ll show us the exact workflow she uses to create her stunning images, including image editing, blending, focus stacking and more!
We’ll take the lunch bags that the cook at the Emerald Lodge has kindly prepared for us and we’ll jump into the vehicles to go to our next Sunset and Aurora Borealis destination: Abraham Lake.
In autumn, a curious phenomenon occurs here in Abraham Lake: methane bubbles are trapped between the layers of ice.
The methane bubbles are produced by the bacteria eating dead organic matter at the bottom of the lake. As they float upwards towards the surface, the bubbles get trapped in the ice… Creating a unique foreground for our photos!
So the idea here is to photograph the bubbles along with the majestic Mount Michener (2,545m or 8,350ft) at Sunset and at night, when we expect (we beg) the Aurora Borealis to appear in the sky.
Look! The Sun is already setting and the golden light is falling on Mount Michener.
Golden hour begins at 3:55 pm, Sunset is at 4:50 pm, golden hour ends at 5:14 pm, and blue hour ends at 5:29 pm.
Dinner in the field. It seems that we’re going to be lucky. A strong Aurora has been predicted and the skies are clear.
If the Aurora finally doesn’t occur, we’ll stay and photograph the thin part of the Milky Way and Orion.
One thing we love about Abraham Lake is the multiple photography options that it offers. We could spend several days just photographing the frozen lake, the trees, the mountains… and Orion!
If the skies are clear, we’ll spend hours photographing Orion, and if we’re lucky, the Aurora, until well past midnight.
We’re driving back to the Emerald Lodge. It’s a 2h 30min long drive, but we’re so happy. Whether we get the Aurora, Orion or the clouds, the photos we bring home deserve being hanged from a wall!
Bed time! Tomorrow we’re going home.
- Methane bubbles and Mount Michener at Sunset in Abraham Lake.
- Aurora Borealis dancing over Abraham Lake. Or maybe the stars, Orion or the clouds!
Day 7. Saturday, November 18th - The Farewell
One last Sunrise in the Rockies...
This time involving a stunning mountain that resembles a castle.
It’s called Castle Mountain (2,766m or 9,075ft). It’s located in the Banff National Park, at about 1h 30min drive from the lodge.
The shooting spot is by the Bow River. We’re shooting, pointing to the north. So, as the Sun is rising in the east, it’s casting its light on the rocky Castle from the side, creating a show of spectacular shapes and textures.
Blue hour begins at 7:29 am, Golden hour begins at 7:43 am, Sunrise is at 8:05 am and golden hour ends at 9:00 am.
After a copious breakfast at Juniper Bistro, we will make our way back to Calgary Airport, where we expect to arrive at about 4:00 pm (after stopping for lunch, of course).
It’s time to say goodbye.
See you soon friends!
Life goes on...
Book now and save $500 (only 12 spots)
To book your spot to join the expedition to the Canadian Rockies at a reduced price of $4,900 US (the official price is $5,400), a $1,000 deposit is required by Sunday, June 25th.
Payment in full is required by Sunday July 30th, 2023.
Please, finalize your booking as soon as possible. The seats are sold on a first come, first served basis.
What’s included in the price
- A 7-day expedition photographing the Canadian Rockies along with the Aurora Borealis, Orion, the thin Milky Way and Autumn’s golden light.
- 7 days of learning, fun and adventure with Rachel Jones Ross, Bryan Peters, Clarence Spencer and Antoni Cladera and the funniest geek community – the PhotoPillers.
- Full immersion in the PhotoPills method (Imagine.Plan.Shoot!).
- 6 nights of lodging, sharing a double room with another PhotoPiller (Optional $800 single room supplement upon availability).
- All activities on the Secret day.
- Ground transportation during the expedition.
- All transfers.
What’s not included
- Flights/transport to Calgary, Canada.
- Medical and travel insurance coverage (strongly recommended).
- Breakfast, lunch & dinner.
- Snacks, alcohol and beverages.
- Anything not mentioned in the “included” list.
Do you want an example of how huge this will be?
This is a glimpse of what happened in the PhotoPills Expedition to Iceland... But we had so many adventures and it was so much fun... We can’t wait for the Canadian Rockies!
But you don’t have to take our word for granted. Here’s what some PhotoPillers say about the PhotoPills adventures:
“I went to Iceland expecting to have the opportunity to photograph the marvelous landscape and master nightscapes. What I encountered was so much more – 14 kindred souls from across the globe who share a passion for photography. Together we expanded our creative boundaries, learned from one another and had an insane amount of fun in the process. I am confident that everyone came away from the experience a better photographer.”
“From the very moment the guys from PhotoPills announced the expedition to Iceland... I didn’t think it twice! I was using PhotoPills but not at its full capacity, so I had no better chance to learn from the creators of this amazing app. The experience was even more amazing than anything I could have imagined. In Iceland, I discovered a bunch of folks as crazy about photography as I am. I had a blast!
Photography is a continuous learning process, you always find something new that motivates you to improve. And this adventure made me improve more than I could imagine.”
"The PhotoPills guys know how to create a fantastic experience. They bring an infectiously fun energy and are always willing to drop some handy photography knowledge on you that you will take with you. You take their trip and you'll for sure have a good time, get some amazing pics and leave a better photographer."
“During my experience in Iceland I lived wonderful moments and had surprises that were beyond the expected. It completely exceeded my initial expectations! Sharing knowledge, experiences and ways of working and living photography with such a great group has been one of the most enriching life experiences I have ever had.
Who he said that learning and knowledge sharing can not be wonderfully fun?”
“I can't say enough about what a fantastic time I had during the PhotoPills Iceland photo tour! The guys from PhotoPills and Donal Boyd were so knowledgeable, accommodating, and especially lots of fun. Never a dull moment – nonstop action and shooting of amazing landscapes for 10 days. I came away with enough images and memories to last a lifetime!”
What’s the temperature in the Canadian Rockies in November?
The average temperature is between 0 degrees Celsius (32ºF) and -12 degrees Celsius (10.4ºF). The lakes might be frozen, and the snowpack is deep. Frost flowers “bloom” along open bodies of water, and mounds of pillowy snow simplify the landscape. Snow and ice are the perfect companions for aurora as they reflect the dancing green lights.
For more information about how to prepare for this winter expedition in the Rockies, check out Rachel’s winter gear guide.
What gear and clothes should I bring?
You’ll find all the gear and clothing you need in Rachel’s winter gear guide.
Is travel insurance included in the price of the expedition?
No. Participants are suggested to purchase national or international medical and travel insurance coverage.
Also, we recommend you to choose a travel insurance that:
- Covers trip cancellation costs.
- Covers Covid-19 health, travel and cancellation costs.
What is the cancellation policy?
We hope you don’t need to cancel your spot, but if a situation arises where you don’t have a choice, our cancellation policy is the following.
If you cancel and the expedition is otherwise filled, we'll refund you the full booking fee you have paid, minus a $300 administrative fee.
If you cancel and the expedition doesn’t fill, then you’ll be refunded according to the following schedule, based on the full fee of the expedition:
- 61 days or more before the expedition: 100% refund, minus the deposit payment and the non-refundable costs that are withheld by our travel partners.
- 60 days or less before the expedition: No refunds will be given.
Refunds will be paid using the same original method of payment.
Credits: Cover image by Rachel Jones Ross.