It's hard to explain in words the beauty of Banff National Park. That’s why Dan Hudson turns to photography and painting to perfectly capture his backyard. “It’s one of those experiences that doesn’t translate into language. That’s why I’m an artist.” Hudson says. The Canmore-based artist is also the subject of Sherpa Cinema’s Sculpted In Time: The Artist short film and we caught up with him this month to share his tips on photographing the Rockies.
Do you have a favourite place to photograph in the Banff area?
Hudson: A lot of what makes a good photograph in the mountains is the mood of the mountains with the interaction of the atmosphere and the weather conditions and the clouds... I don’t know if there’s so much a specific place. Just in general, the Rocky Mountains are pretty photogenic. When you catch the right kind of conditions you get spectacular images.
Mt. Temple, Lake Louise. Photo: Dan Hudson
Any tips of finding those right conditions?
Hudson: Evening and morning light is always nicer because everything is more cross-lit. The nice thing is, in the winter, because the sun is low you get a lot of that cross lighting all day. In general, the winter is a pretty good time to shoot. When the sun is still hitting the mountains but not high in the sky, you get the best conditions.
Any camera settings you recommend for photographing in the Banff area?
Hudson: A lot of times if I’m just carrying my camera with me and I’m taking advantage of opportunities- maybe seeing wildlife or some interesting atmospheric conditions- With the sophistication of the cameras these days- I’m talking everything from point and shoot to your best SLR, you can just take a shot in automatic and it will be a damn good shot… In terms of having your camera with you and taking advantage of your opportunities, I always just have my camera on automatic.
Mount Rundle. Photo: Dan Hudson
Any tips for photographing wildlife?
Hudson: Have your camera ready… I love taking pictures of wildlife but I’m just a total opportunist. You do see lots of wildlife just driving around here. I just have my camera nearby. Back to the first question, I have my camera on hand, set it in auto and have it ready to shoot right away.
Have you travelled out of the country and taken some nature photography? How does that compare to what you see in the Banff area?
Hudson: I’ve been on assignments all over the world… Iceland or Russia, I mean they’re all amazing places, but I would always spend the bulk of my time in the Canadian Rockies shooting and those were always the shots that would end up on the covers or spreads. It’s a great place to shoot just because it is so spectacular.
What is the arts scene like in Banff?
Hudson: It’s actually quite a creative area. It’s a full range of art activities. Everything from what you would call Sunday painters to a number of high quality professionals… In Banff, there’s a museum called the Whyte Museum which generally has really good exhibitions that have a bit of the history of the area. There’s a lot going on in the arts scene and also in film as well.
What would a visitor be surprised to find out about Banff?
Hudson: One thing that would be a little bit surprising is to see wildlife walking down the middle of main street. You can have huge bull elk right in town… it’s a pleasant surprise when you see it. Seeing wildlife is always a beautiful experience. It’s awesome when you see them coexisting in the same area where people live.
Cascade Mountain. Photo: Dan Hudson