This past December, I spent the Christmas holiday photographing my favorite place. I'm often asked, "what is the best time of year to photograph Banff?" Well, there is never a bad time of year to photograph Banff! By late December, most of the lakes have frozen over solid. Slightly lower in altitude and slightly warmer in temperature, Canmore still had some flowing water, but not much. The temps hovered around -8C, so dress warm and prepare yourself carefully before heading out to shoot. You definitely want to be mindful of things like pulling your gear out from a warm car to frigid outside temps. Allow your gear to acclimate for a few minutes inside of your bag before taking it out. The same goes for putting it away when you are finished. Rapid temperature change can create moisture build-up, causing issues with your gear. If this happens, pull the battery out of your camera and let it dry out, slowly.
A polarizer can be a great tool for winter photography, giving you more definition in your sky and popping any color that may exist in your frame. Otherwise, a wintery scene can tend to become very bland and gray. In the above image, I used a Cokin 3-stop grad along with the Cokin circular polarizer.
Tripods can also fall victim to freezing temps. If the legs become wet and frozen, you may find that they won't retract when you are finished. Again, allow them to warm in the car a spell. Hopefully once defrosted, the legs will retract. Be careful not to force them before they are ready. My current tripod is the Sirui W2204 and I can honestly say that I have never had this problem. It's one of the only waterproof tripods on the market and is also very affordable, a great value for the money!
Finally, remember to bring plenty of charged batteries with you. My grandma used to place her small cell batteries in the refrigerator to extend their life. So... one might think that the cold weather will have the same affect on their camera batteries. Not the case. The frigid temps will actual drain your battery much faster than normal. There is nothing worse than defying the cold temps to hike through hip-deep snow only to have your battery die! So, charge them up and have back-ups before heading out.
As always, please feel free to e-mail me with any questions you may have related (or unrelated) to this post and happy shooting!