Lori Janeson: How the World’s Second-Largest Country Is One Gigantic Photo Opportunity


It’s not exactly news that Canada is a beautiful country. Even if you’ve never set foot in this fair land, you’ve surely seen the pictures. Canada’s vastness is second only to its ecological diversity — virtually every temperate and arctic biome is represented here.

Lori Janeson, a longtime Manitoba resident who splits her time between the city of Winnipeg and a rural vacation home on the shores of Lake Winnipeg, knows a thing or two about Canada’s natural beauty. As an budding nature photographer, she spends much of her time out in the field. She hasn’t been to every great place to snap outdoor photos in Canada — no one has, because that would take lifetimes — but she’s done more than most.

Here’s why she’s so in love with photographing her home country — and why it might just be time for you to pick up your camera and head north.

Lori Janeson: Why I’m Spending More Time on Lake Winnipeg

There’s no place like home.

For Lori Janeson, home — at least, part of the time — is Lake Winnipeg, Canada’s sixth Lori Janeson kid with netlargest lake. Specifically, we’re talking about Hecla Island and its environs, protected by Hecla Grindstone Provincial Park.

Lake Winnipeg is enormous; Janeson freely admits she hasn’t seen the entire thing. Way up north, where improved roads are few and far between, simply accessing the shore is a challenge.

There are plenty of places to photograph within a couple hours’ drive of Winnipeg, though. The town of Gimli, arguably the epicenter of summer tourism on the lake, offers a great blend of rustic and urban photography. The Icelandic Festival of Manitoba, held here each year (and every year since the late 19th century), provides a wealth of human subjects; Viking Park, the town’s unofficial outdoor gathering place, sports a gaudy Norse warrior statue that’s required viewing for first-time visitors.

Further north, on Hecla Island, things get wilder. (In the purest sense of the term.) Lori Janeson has spent more hours than she can count waiting atop the wildlife viewing towers at Grassy Narrows Marsh, holding out for the perfect shot of a blue heron stalking the waters or an elusive moose browsing the forested edges.

An avid kayaker, Janeson spends plenty of time on open-water photography, too. The land looks a whole lot different from the water, after all, and many geological formations that aren’t clearly visible from shore are easily captured by boat.

Home on the Range

Janeson isn’t originally from Manitoba. She grew up in rural Saskatchewan, several hundred kilometers to the west.

Her family still owns a farm out there — they raise canola, mostly, on about 9,000 acres. Her brothers handle the day-to-day, but Lori along with her husband, David Janeson and their family have an open invitation to visit pretty much whenever they want. They take advantage almost every summer — for Janeson, it’s a great opportunity to teach her kids the value of a hard day’s work and remind them how good they have it out in Manitoba.

Saskatchewan’s wide-open prairies and endless skies also make for fantastic photo opportunities, so it’s no sweat off Janeson’s back to visit. Whenever she can beg off farm work in favor of an impromptu outdoor photo session, she does.

Great Lakes, Great Photography

A few hundred kilometers to the east of Lori Janeson’s home lies Lake Superior, the largest of North America’s five Great Lakes. (Lake Winnipeg isn’t among them.)

The shores of the upper Great Lakes are rugged, rocky, wild — a stark contrast from the gentler limestone edges of Lake Winnipeg. According to Janeson, the best time to photograph Lake Superior in particular is during one of the lake’s famous storms, which can kick up breakers taller than an adult human and swells up to 30 feet. (On a lake the size of the U.S. state of South Carolina, that’s pretty impressive.)

The Great White North: Worth the Journey

It’s often said that Canada is five thousand miles wide and one mile thick. While that’s obviously an exaggeration, it’s true that Canada’s population is disproportionately concentrated in its southern tier. The vast majority of its inhabitants live within 200 miles of the U.S. border. Head north and you’re in charted, but otherwise very thinly occupied territory.

Canada’s northern boreal forest and tundra ecosystems are vast and, for the most part, pristine. You need a plane, boat, or both to get up here, but it’s absolutely worth the journey. Where else can you take photos of caribou, Arctic foxes, polar bears, and seals — all on the same day, within a few miles of each other?

Urban Nature Photography? In Canada, It’s Not a Contradiction in Terms

In Canada, the urban-rural divide isn’t particularly stark.

With few exceptions, the country’s major cities have excellent park systems and plenty of preserved natural space within their borders. Even densely populated Vancouver — Canada’s San Francisco — has a temperate rainforest within sight of its downtown core. (Not to mention stunning views of British Columbia’s famed coastal mountains.)

Lori Janeson has been all over urban Canada, capturing unexpected images that highlight the constant push and pull between nature and human habitation. Whether she’s snapping the sunrise over Lake Ontario from Toronto’s waterfront, capturing sweeping views of downtown Montreal from towering Mont Royal, or shooting the gentle bends of the Red River in her own hometown, Janeson is at home in any environment. She’d like her fellow photography enthusiasts to be able to say the same.

Five Thousand Miles from Coast to Coast

Canada stretches some five thousand miles from British Columbia’s stunning Pacific islands to the very tip of Newfoundland’s Avalon Peninsula. In between lie some of the world’s most beautiful landscapes, bountiful wildlife, and inspiring horizons.

It’s impossible to travel through the Canadian countryside or wilderness without feeling a stirring in your soul. Lori Janeson knows the feeling well — she experiences every time she picks up her camera, packs her bag, and heads out for another round of shooting. If you’ve yet to feel it, there’s no time like the present to get started.

These 15 Canadian Parks and Natural Areas Beg to Be Photographed

By Lori Janeson

Canada is blessed with an abundance of pristine natural areas and scenic wonderlands. Much of the country is a boreal forest that evinces only minimal evidence of direct human impact — though of course it’s under the gun from insidious threats like climate change and water pollution.

These places begged to be photographed. Whether you’re a budding amateur shooter or a seasoned professional, it’s hard to go wrong with any of them. Here’s what you need to know to plan your next nature photography trip in Canada.

1. Banff National Park, Alberta

Say the words “national park” and “Canada” in the same sentence, context-free, and nine out of ten listeners will assume you’re referring to Alberta’s Banff National Park. Perched in an impossibly beautiful section of the Rocky Mountains, with stunning alpine lakes and high peaks all around, Banff is almost too easy to photograph well. It’s particularly beautiful in the early morning and late afternoon, when the sun’s sharp angles play game with the snow-covered mountains.

2. Jasper National Park, Alberta

Jasper National Park isn’t as well-known as Banff, but it’s actually larger: 11,000 square kilometers, to be precise. And it packs a lot in, from the stunning Icefields Parkway to Mount Edith Cavell, one of Canada’s true natural treasures. (Due to the area’s environmental sensitivity, you’ll need a permit to trek up Mount Edith Cavell.)

3. Fundy National Park, New Brunswick

The Bay of Fundy is one of the world’s best-known tidal bores, and it’s definitely not boring. This rugged seaside landscape is at once intimate and grand. Whether you’re shooting delicate wildlife in its countless tidal pools or capturing the broad sweep of the shoreline, there’s a lot to take in here.

4. Hecla Grindstone Provincial Park, Manitoba

Among Canada’s most distinctive provincial parks, Hecla Grindstone Provincial Park protects more than 1,000 square kilometers of forest and shoreline.


“Come to photograph the charming village; stay to catch a glimpse of moose browsing in Grassy Narrows Marsh.”—Lori Janeson


The park is also home to a historic Icelandic settlement that’s one of the few surviving remnants of a semi-autonomous community within what was then Canada’s Northwest Territories.

5. Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland and Labrador

Visitors to Gros Morne National Park are forgiven for checking their GPS coordinates. More Norway than Newfoundland, this stunning seaside park is characterized by dramatic fjords, soaring cliffs, and scoured rock landscapes displaying centuries of wind and water action. Don’t miss the Tablelands, a broad badland with stunning rock and water views.

6. Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia

A kinder, gentler version of Gros Morne, Cape Breton Highlands mixes watery lowlands with steep sea cliffs, rounded interior mountains, and endangered alpine ecosystems. Hit the Cabot Trail, a stunningly beautiful drive up the park’s west coast, across the interior, and back down its east coast. Mind the switchbacks and remember to stop often for photos.

7. Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta

Waterton Lakes National Park functions as an extension of Glacier National Park, just across the international border in Montana — or perhaps it’s the other way around. Either way, the landscape here is just as stunning: clear blue alpine lakes, high peaks, and ancient glaciers threatened by a changing climate.

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Here’s Everything You Need for Your Next Nature Photography Excursion

By Lori Janeson

Gearing up for the wildlife photography expedition of a lifetime? Or just heading out for a quick out-and-back overnight at the nearest national park?

Either way, you need to be prepared for the unexpected — and equipped to take memorable photos in virtually any conditions.

Don’t leave home without taking these essential items.

Zoom Lenses

Gone are the days of carrying a different zoom lens for every type of photo.


“Think in advance about the type of shooting you’ll be doing — for instance, wildlife photography that requires high-detail distance shots necessitates more powerful equipment.”—Lori Janeson


Today, you can get away with two, maybe three, for the vast majority of nature photography applications.

Waterproof Carrying Case

This is an absolute necessity, even in arid climates and on trips that won’t involve water travel or crossings. You never know when a storm will spin up or you’ll lose your balance at exactly the wrong moment and plunge into a creek.

Lightweight, Sweat-Wicking Fabrics

With the possible exception of summertime excursions in arid climes, where your sweat is likely to burn off before it does much harm, you’ll want to trade in your cotton underlayers for lightweight, sweat-wicking synthetic or silk materials. The cost of these products has cratered in recent years, so stocking up won’t set you back too much. Remember, wet cotton isn’t just uncomfortable: at lower temperatures, it can be dangerous.

Weather-Appropriate Clothing

Each photography expedition is different. If you’re trekking through the desert during the summer, you’ll need a very different wardrobe than you brought on your journey into the high Rockies last November.

Beyond synthetic fabrics, you’ll want to prep for the warmest possible days and the coolest possible nights that you’re likely to encounter — particularly in areas without reliable weather forecasting, such as remote mountain regions.

Lightweight down jackets have improved to the point that they’re not much more than shells, and they pack down accordingly. Wool socks with sweat-wicking liners work wonders in cool, moist climes. Windbreaker jackets are crucial in exposed areas. Head protection —  a wool cap, heavy-duty flapper with ear protection, or baseball cap, depending on the temperature — is a must for sun and weather protection.

Weatherproof Sleeping Bag & Pad

You can always unzip or writhe out of a heavy duty sleeping bag when you get too hot, so bring the coldest-rated bag you’re realistically likely to need. At altitude and high latitudes, for instance, you’ll want a bag rated to withstand freezing temperatures at any time of year.

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10 Incredible Places to Photograph on Lake Winnipeg

By Lori Janeson

Canada’s sixth-largest lake is one photogenic body of water. With thousands of kilometers of untrammeled shoreline and a surprising variety of ecosystems within its watershed, Lake Winnipeg is not to be missed by anyone who fancies themselves handy with a camera.

Lake Winnipeg’s southern lobe is pretty accessible. It begins less than an hour’s drive north of its namesake city, which has an international airport with direct service to most major Canadian cities and a handful of major U.S. cities as well, plus ample car rental options. Paved roads nearly encircle Lake Winnipeg, though there are quite a few inlets and points without direct road access.

Still, to find your perfect Lake Winnipeg photo, you may have to travel a bit off the beaten path. What follows is a cheat sheet to 10 of the top spots to photograph on or near Lake Winnipeg. Most are within three hours’ drive of Winnipeg.

1. Grassy Narrows Marsh, Hecla Island

Hike the Grassy Narrows Marsh Trail to one of the wildlife viewing towers and stake out for a while.


“Chances are good that you’ll see a majestic blue heron, soaring bald eagle, or — fingers crossed — elusive moose.” —Lori Janeson


This is probably the best place to spot wildlife in Hecla Grindstone Provincial Park, and it’s well worth the short drive over from the mainland.

2. Hecla Village, Hecla Island

Nature meets history at Hecla Village, an old Icelandic fishing village restored to its circa-1920 glory. Several buildings, including an old fish house and church, offer a glimpse into the hardscrabble lives of so-called New Icelanders, who eked out a living by fishing Lake Winnipeg and trying to farm the rocky soil. (They weren’t very successful at the latter.)

3. Grindstone Point

Remote Grindstone point juts well out into the northern edge of Lake Winnipeg’s southern lobe, providing panoramic views of lake, sky, and distant land. Visit at night for the chance of a long-exposure shot of the northern lights.

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