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Banff, 2011

I was recently at a conference in Banff, in Alberta. After the conference, I got to spend a couple of days bopping around the mountains, hiking and photographing with a friend. The first day, spent hiking around Lake Louise and driving up the Icefields Parkway (including a stop at the amazing Athabasca glacier), was snowy and cold. The second was stunningly warm and beautiful, and we spent it hiking around Jasper until almost 10 PM, enjoying the wonderfully long summer day. The third day was overcast and damp, and we spent it driving the Bow Valley Parkway, doing various short hikes there, as well as a somewhat longer hike around Emerald Lake in Yoho. The photos here are in chronological order, so you can guess whereabouts they were taken, but I'm not going to label them.

The birds at the end are Barrow's Goldeneyes, which I last saw in Yellowstone some years ago. As for the bird photo earlier on, I'll guess it's a Ruby-crowned Kinglet, but it would take a better birder than I to be sure. We also saw a pair of Three-Toed Woodpeckers, and I saw a Ruffed Grouse, gray morph; I got photos of both, but they're not worth posting. And various others, either less exciting (Canada Goose!) or less firmly identified (some sort of plover-y shorebird that refused to stand still).

These photos are all taken with my spiffy new camera, an Olympus PEN E-PL2. This is a "mirrorless interchangeable lens camera": like a DSLR, you can change the lens, but like a low-end digital camera, you get a live preview on the LCD screen, because there's no mirror in the light path (which is, in DSLRs, a bizarre anachronism, a holdover from film camera designs). The E-PL2 is also a "Micro Four Thirds" camera, meaning that it uses a larger CCD sensor than low-end digital cameras, but smaller than high-end DSLRs, forging a nice compromise between high image quality and light weight. It also has in-body image stabilization, which was a major selling point for me. These photos were all taken with the 14-42mm kit lens that comes with the camera; I bought the camera just before leaving for Banff, and I haven't yet figured out a good way to carry other lenses with me while hiking. Anyhow, so far I'm quite happy with this camera. It's the spiffiest camera I've ever owned, and I'm really pleased with the image quality — especially in comparison to my last camera, a Panasonic DMC-FZ50, which was always kind of a disappointment to me.

"Original" photos posted here are actually reduced in size, as usual; contact me if you want a full-size original.

These images copyright © 2011 Ben Haller. All rights reserved.