Outdoor Recreation

Capturing the Essence of Kelowna: A Guide to Outdoor Photography

A photographer capturing a scenic view of the Okanagan valley with mountains and clouds in the background.

Kelowna, a canvas of natural splendour, offers a rich collection of photographic opportunities. From its lush vineyards to the peaceful waters of Okanagan Lake, this guide is your compass to capturing the city's breathtaking landscapes through the lens of your camera.

Selecting the Best Photography Spots in Kelowna

Knox Mountain

Overlooking downtown Kelowna, Knox Mountain Park presents a stunning vista of the city's waterfront and Okanagan Lake. A short hike from the parking lot near the summit brings you to an ideal spot for panoramic shots without the hassle of carrying heavy gear too far.

Myra Canyon - Kettle Valley Rail Trail

Myra Canyon's Kettle Valley Rail Trail is great for photographers. Whether on foot or by mountain bike, the trail offers myriad opportunities for capturing unique angles. The 18 trestles and two tunnels provide a dramatic backdrop for your subjects, perfect for showcasing the rugged beauty of the canyon.

Kelowna's Downtown Waterfront

Kelowna's downtown waterfront is a collection of photographic subjects. With sailboats dotting the lake and a lively atmosphere, this location is ideal for capturing dynamic, action-filled scenes. Position your subjects against the backdrop of Okanagan Lake or frame them with the numerous landmarks along the waterfront.

Kasugai Japanese Gardens

The serene Kasugai Japanese Gardens, reflecting Kelowna's bond with its sister city, are a peaceful retreat. Traditional elements like ponds, waterfalls, and stone figures amidst beautiful flowers offer a chance to capture tranquil, zen-like scenes.

Benvoulin Heritage Church

For those fascinated by architecture, the Benvoulin Heritage Church, built in 1892 and restored in 1986, is a prime example of historical beauty. Its unique angles and pioneer charm make it a compelling subject for photographers seeking to blend history with artistry.

Essential Photography Tips for Capturing Landscapes

Planning Your Visit

Researching and planning are key to successful landscape photography. Consider the time of day and year to capture the best light, and spend ample time scouting and setting up your gear. Different times can dramatically change the mood and visual appeal of a location.

Camera Equipment

A full-frame sensor camera paired with a wide-angle lens is ideal for landscape photography. High f-stops, such as f/16 or f/22, allow for sharpness across the entire scene. Digital SLR cameras, with their manual settings and lens choices, are preferable for their detail and image quality.

Use of Filters

Polarizing filters can dramatically enhance the quality of landscape photos, especially under daylight conditions. They enhance the blues of the sky and define clouds more clearly, while also controlling reflections in water. Neutral density filters are valuable for capturing long exposures in brightly lit scenes, adding a surreal quality to moving elements like water and clouds.

Tripod Usage

A sturdy tripod is essential for capturing the sharpest details in landscape photography. It allows for low shutter speeds necessary for high-quality images, especially in low-light conditions. Choose a tripod that balances sturdiness with portability.

Capturing Skies and Clouds

Clouds add drama and depth to landscape photos. Different types of clouds, from fair-weather cumulus to streaky cirrus, can dramatically alter the atmosphere of your shots. Time your photography around these natural elements for more compelling images.

Foreground Elements

Introducing interesting foreground elements can add depth and a sense of scale to your landscape photos. Look for objects that complement the background and contribute to the story you’re telling through your image.

Creative Photography Techniques

Including People and Wildlife

Adding human or wildlife elements can bring a new dimension to landscape photos. People and animals provide a sense of scale and relatability, inviting viewers to imagine themselves within the scene.

Camera Settings

Opt for low ISO settings to avoid graininess and achieve higher quality images. High f-stops and slow shutter speeds, combined with the use of a tripod, will help in capturing detailed and sharp landscape images.

RAW Format

Shooting in RAW format captures more data, providing greater flexibility during post-processing. This format allows for more accurate adjustments in colour balance and exposure, enhancing the final quality of your images.

Composition Techniques

Employ the rule of thirds to create balanced compositions. Minimalism can also be effective in landscape photography, focusing on simple yet powerful elements that tell a story.

Changing Viewpoints and Leading Lines

Experiment with different viewpoints to add creativity to your shots. Use leading lines, such as roads or rivers, to guide the viewer’s eye through the image.

Capturing Movement

Long exposure speeds can create dynamic images by capturing movement. Use ND filters to achieve this effect while maintaining sharpness in static elements.

Extended Time at Locations

Embrace the essence of a location by spending extended time there. This approach allows for capturing varying light conditions and perspectives. Consider visiting your chosen spot at different times of the day, or even camp out to experience and photograph it under varying natural conditions.

Get Off the Beaten Track

Venture beyond popular spots to discover unique perspectives. Seeking less-trodden paths can lead to fresh, original compositions that showcase Kelowna's landscapes in a new light.

Focusing on Small Details

Sometimes, the magic lies in the minutiae. Zooming in on specific details can offer a unique narrative about a place, highlighting aspects often overlooked in wider landscape shots.

HDR Photography

High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography can add depth and detail to your landscape images. This technique involves combining multiple exposures to create a single image with balanced light and dark areas. HDR, when used judiciously, can elevate your landscape photography, giving it a more dramatic and realistic feel.


Kelowna's natural beauty offers a multitude of opportunities for both novice and experienced photographers to explore and capture. By blending technical skill with a dash of creativity, you can create stunning photographic narratives of this picturesque city. Whether it's the historic charm of Benvoulin Heritage Church or the tranquil beauty of Kasugai Gardens, Kelowna's landscapes await to be immortalized through your lens.

In embracing these tips and techniques, remember that photography is not just about capturing what you see; it's about conveying how you perceive the world around you. So, load your camera, head out into Kelowna's vast natural canvas, and let your creativity lead the way.