The combination of climbing and auroras is no coincidence, says Paul Zizka.
That very combination, however, has resulted in spectacular images that have become something of a trademark for the Banff-based professional photographer.
And it’s just one such stunning image that fills the large-scale cover of his new coffee table book of photographs, The Canadian Rockies Rediscovered.
The sixth book of Zizka’s images published by Rocky Mountain Books, The Canadian Rockies Rediscovered features 200 intriguing, exciting, gob-smackingly beautiful and technically intricate photographs.
Following the publication of four books of travel photography geared toward the Canadian Rockies’ tourist market and produced in collaboration with his wife, writer Meghan J. Ward, Zizka said he feels his latest book showcases his growth and evolution as a photographer since his first book of images, Summits & Starlight: The Canadian Rockies was published in 2013.
“I feel this is the followup to Summits & Starlight, which features my more ‘off the beaten track’ work, or signature ‘Zizka style,’ as people say,” Zizka said.
The spectacular shot of an ice climber delicately hooking and stepping up the vaulted blue ice wall of a glacial cave with a backdrop of magenta and emerald green aurora illuminating the night sky showcases the quintessential Zizka style.
It’s also one of the things Zizka is most proud of about his new book.
“I feel that my work has changed a fair amount since Summits & Starlight,” he said. “I am still very proud of that book, but am also proud to see a volume published that highlights my work for where it’s at today. It’s a natural progression I think any artist experiences – better skills, a more discerning eye, a desire to challenge myself – and one that I think has led to much stronger work in the last five years.”
The climber and aurora combination is the result of forethought and patience, he explained.
“For me it represents the evolution I’ve seen in my own photography and a move towards more pre-visualized images,” he explained. “This took a lot of patient waiting for the various elements to come together and being ready to get out there as soon as they did.”
While his landscape images and closeups of flora and fauna beautifully capture the ruggedness and sublime textures of the Canadian Rockies, his climbing and adventure photographs share his passion for pushing photographic boundaries.
“From a logistical standpoint, the climbing shots are among the most challenging, as these involve getting to those locations in the first place, with the gear,” Zizka said. “It’s rarely convenient to pull a camera out when you’re climbing, and you have to have great partners who are willing to spend a few extra moments along the way to help execute the shots.
“Add to that the cold, wind and, at times, precarious positions you find yourself in in the mountains, and the mountaineering shots easily become some of the most difficult to obtain.”
Those challenges though, and others, have kept Zizka inspired for 17 years, and, he suggested, will for many more.
“The Canadian Rockies are ever-changing,” Zizka said. “No matter how much time I spend out there, I always find new and fresh experiences. On the exterior, one sees the dynamic weather conditions and the drastically different seasons, but there is also the inner journey and the person who evolves – something that is augmented when you return to some of your favourite spots in the mountains and see how much you’ve changed yourself.”
Zizka will sign copies of his new book, The Canadian Rockies Rediscovered on Wednesday (Nov. 29) at the Masonic Museum Cascade Lodge at 103 Caribou St. in Banff. Doors open at 7 p.m. Admission is $5 with proceeds going toward the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies. Beer, wine and light refreshments will be provided. Optional RSVP at www.eventbrite.ca/e/book-launch-the-canadian-rockies-rediscovered.