George Brybycin - Mountain Climber & Photographer Extraordinaire
Publishes his 50th Book - 2012
By Dr. Robert Berdan
June 15, 2012
(with photographs by George Brybycin)
George Brybycin stands in front of the Bow River in Stoney Plain Park with the Rocky Mountains as a backdrop.
I have met a lot of interesting people in my life and I include mountain climber and photographer George Brybycin as one of them. He recently published three new books for a total of 50. Two on the Rockies and his second book on Calgary to top off a career lasting more than 50 years of photography. George is a humble man who lives a solitary life and I get the feeling he chooses his friends carefully, and I am happy to say I am one of them. I admire his accomplishments which involve climbing mountains solo and then sleeping on the top in order to take photographs. Not many photographers have the stamina or are willing to go to this extreme and frankly, it's dangerous to say the least. George has had a few close calls on the mountains, he has encountered Grizzly bears, snow storms and even encountered a cougar up close, and yet, he still perseveres. He is one of Canada's best outdoor photographers and his accomplishments merit special recognition. He is a master photographer of the Canadian Rockies and we have much to learn from him.
Southwest of Peyto Lake stands a minor elevation, Caldron Peak (2917 m). Hike up towards Peyto Glacier, cross the icy creek to the west, gain the plateau by Caldron Lake and scramble the south ridge of Caldron Peak. It is a small, pleasant effort with great, rewarding views of: Wapta Icefield, Petyo Peak, Mt. Baker, Mistaya Mtn, Caldron and Peyto Lakes. George is setting up camp for the night. From his book the Amazing Rockies.
After 50 self-published books what does he do now? Will he join the digital age, start publishing e-books or buy a digital camera? George doesn't own a computer, at least not yet, and he may never own one as he seems content with a simpler lifestyle. For now, he continues to shoot his Pentax K SLR camera and record images on Fuji Velvia film, but he realizes it is getting more and more difficult to buy and process film. The main reason he uses a fully manual camera is that when it's 20 below zero he finds that shooting film is reliable and if the meter doesn't function, he exposes the scene based on experience and will usually bracket his exposures.
George is not shy about sharing his opinions, and said to me he may write his memoirs. George won't reveal his age, at least not to me, but it's clear he still has lots of vigor and energy though he said his"aging" knees don't allow him to climb like he used to. Like a mountain goat, George is a sure footed climber who has scaled more the 500 peaks in his lifetime and its clear he was born to climb.
George Brybycin holding his Pentax K SLR film camera in front of Upper Lake Kananaskis September 12, 2011
George on using a simple film based camera for shooting in the mountains
George is a private person who is fiercely proud and cares greatly about the environment. His hope is that his photographs and books will make a difference and encourage a new generation to enjoy and protect the mountain environment. His books are sold at a price that is often far cheaper then most other photo-books, something some publishers, store owners and photographers are not always happy about. George isn't motivated by money, so long as he can make a comfortable living he doesn't need or seek more money. He simply hopes his images of the Rockies will inspire others to visit and protect them.
George is European and has lived in Canada for over 50 years. Early on in his career he worked in the oil industry. His other interests include: music, reading, collecting stamps and coins. He decided to become a photographer at the age of 7. He often sleeps in his vehicle while travelling through the parks and his focus has always been on the Canadian Rockies though he also photographs in and around Calgary where he lives. Most of his previous books are sold out though copies can sometimes be obtained at used book stores and online. He is also looking to sell his collection of almost 100,000 edited images in hopes that they might continue to be used in the future.
Self publishing is a risky business. Authors have to self-promote and transport their books to one store at a time and there is always competition from upcoming photographers. Dealing with printers in Asia can also be frustrating trying to convey how the images should look in print. He would prefer to print his books in Canada, but found that prices are just too expensive. It hasn't been an easy life, and in spite of his accomplishments it's a shame more people don't know about George and his superb photography. If you are coming to the Canadian Rockies you can purchase his books at most of the local stores and also from the big book chains like Chapters\Indigo.
Excerpts of George's comments in his Book the Amazing Rockies
I am still using film cameras (2012), as I own a few of them, plus several expensive lenses that are not sold anymore. We all hear conflicting reports on digital technology. Young, new photographers are all excited by how great the system is, allowing this and that. Many old pros won't touch the stuff, proclaiming pro film as being superior to digital, at least for now.
Both are correct, depending on what and how you photograph.
Anywhere and whatever you are photographing do not rush. Explore the area. Evaluate the subject. Walk around it slowly. Choose the best angle and lighting. If you are not totally satisfied, come again and the next time, earlier or later in the day. In photography, the light is almost everything. However, another thing to keep in mind is the weather.
For outdoor photography there really is no bad weather. Some of the best photos may be taken on an overcast day or even when it rains or snows. Changing weather is superb for moody, unusual photos, spot lighting, a misty morning at the lake where a Moose forages, a light shaft coming through the clouds or rain drops falling on a pond. Just take a raincoat and go!
In my book, there is absolutely no "monkey business" or gimmickry. All you see is honest, hard work, with all natural ingredients as nature created it and how it looks in reality. Only in a very few cases were images enhanced by graduated or colour filters.
Below are some of George's spectacular images in his Book "The Amazing Rockies". Note these pictures were scanned directly from his book so the quality of the images shown here is significantly poorer than the images in print.
The tortured beauty of the jagged west face of mighty Mt. Forbes (3612 m). It is the seventh highest elevation of the Canadian Rockies and quite a serious and complex climb on very rotten rock and ice. To get here from Highway 93 North, take a major trail southwest to Glacier Lake and in front of you, to the southeast looms the giant. The great view is from Arctomys Peak (2792 m), looking southeast. Banff National Park.
Johnston Canyon is circa 20 km west of Banff and is a well known tourist attraction featuring interesting land forms, clear examples of water erosion and several small large waterfalls. The Canyon is at its best in early summer although winter attracts many ice climbing enthusiasts.
Kananaskis country has it all, large recreational facilities and playgrounds designed mainly for Calgarians This photo features a nocturnal image of the valley with some facilities and is viewed from the top of Mt. Kidd (2958). The lights of Highway 1A are on the horizon with the lights from Calgary visible at the top right.
When visiting Maligne Lake, take an easy trail north to Opal Hills. Once you get above the treeline, large, open rolling meadows and nice views are yours. Should you have some energy left, scramble the scree to a ridge east of Opal Peak (photo) and enjoy a broader view to the west. With some luck you may catch a glimpse of a Mountain Caribou in the high valley to the left (west). If you are not lucky, you many encounter a big, ferocious Grizzly. Be prepared and alert. Jasper National Park.
Hardcover 192 pages
Hardcover 96 pages
Soft cover 192 pages
"According to George, once you know and love the subject, it is not a work ,but a meaningful relationship, a passion, a deep lifelong romance". Anyone that visits Calgary and the Canadian Rockies would do well to buy George's books as a souvenir. His book "The Amazing Rockies" represents a lifetime of amazing photographs. Most of us only see and photograph the Rockies from the valley bottoms. George Brybycin's mistress is the Canadian Rockies and that is where he spends most of his time. His images represent decades of work, yet his photography is refreshing and new including night photography, star trail images, he also covers the Rockies in all seasons and his views from the top of the mountains where most tourists rarely venture, are simply spectacular.
George is a pioneer in climbing, photographing and publishing books on the Canadian Rockies in Canada and its due time he is recognized for the amazing photography he has accumulated over the years. RB
George is looking to sell his stock images which include over 100,000 images of the Canadian Rockies if you or someone you know may be interested you can contact George by phone at (403) 228-6897. If you are interested in buying his books please check with the local book stores. If are are interested in ordering 4 or more books you can call him, otherwise he would appreciate if you contacted one of the book stores in Calgary or in the Rocky mountain parks.