Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

New Zealand gets a run for its money

with 57 comments

As fabulous as New Zealand is for a nature photographer, the Canadian Rockies and nearby areas give it a run for its money. When I posted my first New Zealand picture in March of 2015, I emphasized the aquamarine color of the water I saw in its seas. The Canadian Rockies lack a seacoast, of course, but some of the lakes there provide colors to rival those of the ocean surrounding New Zealand. Shown above is Moraine Lake in Banff National Park, Alberta, on September 8th. Even the heavy haze of smoke from wildfires could only partially subdue the lake’s color; this corner was its most vivid.

In the posts ahead you’ll be seeing other photographs from this latest trip, along with some things from earlier outings, and of course updates from central Texas.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 21, 2017 at 4:42 AM

57 Responses

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  1. You were in Canada?!?! Yahooo! Isn’t it a beautiful country?


    September 21, 2017 at 5:58 AM

  2. Serene and tranquil!!

    Have a look at my posts 🙂


    September 21, 2017 at 7:03 AM

    • It was serene except for the hordes of tourists I had to work around to take my pictures. As the tourist season began fading in the first half of September, things got better.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 21, 2017 at 7:36 AM

      • Thanks for your note on my post 🙂

        Not aware of any scientific reason for the tail position of Magpie-Robin. I presume, that is the feature of the species… and no specific reason for it.


        September 21, 2017 at 11:07 AM

  3. You are quite the traveler these days! I gasped when I saw the opening photo in the reader this morning. The smoke adds a haunting depth. I thought it to be a painting rather than a photo. Beautiful.


    September 21, 2017 at 7:39 AM

    • Now you can add the Canadian Rockies to your list of places to visit (assuming you didn’t already have it on the list). The smoke was a challenge. At times I managed to use it for the painterly effect you mentioned, but I was disappointed that for at least two-thirds of the vacation the haze impeded a clear view of some of the most famous sights. On the good side, our chosen order of visiting places worked in our favor. Not long after we visited Glacier and Waterton Lakes National Parks, half of the former and all of the latter closed because the wildfires had kept spreading. I see that parts of Waterton reopened yesterday:


      Steve Schwartzman

      September 21, 2017 at 8:11 AM

      • My husband trekked out alone to Glacier NP a couple years back (kids and I were too full of activities) and his goal was to traverse the Going To The Sun Road, which we missed on our visit early in the previous summer. But he could see none of the dramatic views for all the smoke. So disappointing. Going to check out your link!


        September 21, 2017 at 10:55 AM

        • Sounds like he and we had similar experiences. We drove the entire Going-to-the-Sun Road westbound on August 30 and eastbound on August 31. Unfortunately the air had plenty of smoke in it due to a forest fire that began on August 10 and was still burning, so we couldn’t appreciate the majestic mountains we glimpsed through the haze. Since September 3, the western half of the road has remained closed due to the continuing fire. Here’s a map:


          Steve Schwartzman

          September 21, 2017 at 3:45 PM

          • Those seemingly regular forest fires are the reason we don’t go in July and August, which is really the BEST time to go weather-wise. Still a beautiful place to be outdoors, haze or no haze.


            September 21, 2017 at 5:00 PM

            • Another reason for not going in July and August is the swarms of tourists that are at their peak then. The same was true in Alberta. By the time we left on September 14, things were finally calming down and we experienced a welcome decrease in the number of people at popular attractions.

              Steve Schwartzman

              September 21, 2017 at 6:17 PM

  4. I concur. The one very slight advantage New Zealand may have is a lesser horde ( a different species from the greater horde). With increasing numbers of tourists coming to NZ that could well change. I like the way you have aligned the peaks of the trees with the two peaks across the lake.


    September 21, 2017 at 8:04 AM

    • I can report that there was quite a horde at Franz Josef Glacier when we visited in February. Even so, with increasing tourism in both countries, the relative accessibility of the Canadian Rockies to the millions of people living in southwestern Canada and the northwestern United States will probably always keep the Rockies more congested than NZ, to which outsiders have to fly or take a cruise ship.

      I’m glad you pointed out the alignment of the two trees. I hadn’t noticed.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 21, 2017 at 8:30 AM

  5. What a fantastic picture, Steve! 🙂


    September 21, 2017 at 8:50 AM

  6. Have you watched Top of the Lake on Netflix? It takes place in NZ. Decent series drama.

    Jim R

    September 21, 2017 at 8:57 AM

    • We’re not Netflix subscribers, so I haven’t seen that program. I got curious about which NZ lake was involved and found that it was Lake Wakatipu, which I featured a few times earlier this year:


      We spent a night in Glenorchy, at the “top” of the lake, where much of the series was filmed, and which is close to where Jane Campion lives.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 21, 2017 at 9:13 AM

      • That’s interesting Steve.

        Jim R

        September 21, 2017 at 1:43 PM

        • When we were in Glenorchy I’d thought of trying to find out where Jane Campion’s home is and checking to see if we could visit her, but I didn’t follow through on my idea.

          Steve Schwartzman

          September 21, 2017 at 3:52 PM

  7. Truly tranquilizing and majesty, well done.


    September 21, 2017 at 12:49 PM

  8. pretty as a picture !!! wow !


    September 21, 2017 at 1:02 PM

  9. Stunning blue beauty!!


    September 21, 2017 at 8:21 PM

  10. I suspect the tree “family” — father, mother, and little one — enjoy their view as much as you did. The water’s color is beautiful, but it gains by being paired with the pearl-like shimmer of the mountains. I like the way the snow fields coming down the mountains and the trees reaching up seem to make the distant trees the center of focus. The image feels almost perfectly balanced to me.


    September 21, 2017 at 8:54 PM

    • I wasn’t sure about including the shortest of the three trees because I thought it might be distracting. I considered cropping up to eliminate it, but in the end I left it alone.

      The mountains faintly visible are part of a group known as the Ten Peaks:


      While the pearl-like shimmer that you mention has its appeal and goes well with the aquamarine of the lake, I still wish I could’ve seen the mountains in all their clarity.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 21, 2017 at 9:39 PM

      • I pondered whether cropping would have improved the photo, and after some thought, I thought what would be lost in terms of balance wouldn’t be worth it. As it is, the lake and the mountain have a nice symmetry, and I don’t think the small tree’s a distraction at all.

        It must have been frustrating to deal with the smoke. It reminds me of my frustration in Arkansas, when fog kept the mountains nearly invisible.


        September 21, 2017 at 9:42 PM

        • It’s good to know that you don’t find the small tree a distraction. Other people probably weren’t bothered by it, either. Fussy me does tend to fret over such things.

          I remember your frustration with fog obscuring mountains in Arkansas. We do what we can when and where we are.

          Steve Schwartzman

          September 22, 2017 at 7:38 AM

          • There are ways to reduce, or increase, the fog effect in Camera Raw and probably Lightroom as well.
            Increasing the Clarity slider can draw some detail out of the fog while reducing Clarity can enhance fog’s effect. Using the Dehaze slider under the FX tab in Camera Raw can also alter the effects. I do not use Lightroom but imagine there are similar controls in the Develop module.

            Steve Gingold

            September 22, 2017 at 2:11 PM

            • I’m with you in not using Lightroom. As you say, Camera Raw, which I regularly use, seems to have the same functionality. Even with heavy doses of clarity and dehazing, this picture was never going to come out looking like a clear day, so I let the haze remain as hazy as it was. I did lower the Brighness slider to allow faint details of the mountains to show through.

              With portraits of people, I’ve sometimes pushed the Clarity slider to the left to smooth out skin imperfections and wrinkles.

              Steve Schwartzman

              September 22, 2017 at 3:33 PM

          • Can I butt in and admit to being a fussy one too? I think I might have cloned out that tiniest tree. But it is the water that draws in your eye and that is particularly beautiful.


            September 23, 2017 at 2:15 PM

            • Of course you can butt in and admit to being fussy. I considered not only cropping up from the bottom but also taking out the smallest tree instead, thereby leaving a little more of that gorgeous aquamarine water. In case you’re wondering why I didn’t shoot from a better vantage point in the first place, I don’t think there was an easy way to get higher up on the slope.

              Steve Schwartzman

              September 23, 2017 at 3:14 PM

              • Ah, sometimes little things do get in the way and there is nothing we can do about it. (Except use a photo editor…) 😀


                September 23, 2017 at 6:12 PM

  11. I have seen many images of Moraine Lake and the water’s color along with the mountain lines are breathtaking. And as you infer, even the smoke from the wildfires doesn’t completely mute the color so much that it can’t be appreciated.

    Steve Gingold

    September 22, 2017 at 5:21 AM

    • You were way ahead of me in being familiar with Moraine Lake, whose name I didn’t learn till I did research for this trip. A Google image search a few minutes ago for “Moraine Lake haze” still turned up almost entirely clear pictures, but did include a few taken in haze. One photographer dubbed his picture a “mysterious view.” That’s putting a positive spin on it.

      In fooling around a little more just now, I found that Google’s results don’t necessarily match the search criteria. I searched for “Moraine Lake Schwartzman” but my own picture didn’t appear. Then I tried “Schwartzman Moraine Lake.” Still my Moraine Lake photograph wasn’t among the hits, but this New Zealand picture of mine was:


      So was a lot of stuff that had nothing to do with me or Moraine Lake. So much for the vaunted Google search engine.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 22, 2017 at 8:13 AM

      • As I understand it, Google needs your image to be around for a while, unless you pay for placement, so it needs a number of hits plus a bit of time for their “crawlers” to see your picture and add it to their coverage. But…if your search for Portraits of Wildflowers, Moraine Lake, I bet it shows up as the “crawlers” most assuredly know your blog.
        However…I just searched for Steven Schwartzman Moraine Lake and your blog did show up.

        Steve Gingold

        September 22, 2017 at 2:07 PM

        • When I’ve occasionally checked, I’ve often found my latest blog post showing up in the “All” section of Google on the same day the post appeared. Apparently the “Images” section follows a different algorithm. As you pointed out, my Moraine Lake post already shows up in the “All” section, but it still doesn’t show up in the “Images” section, even while a couple of my New Zealand posts mistakenly show up in “Images” when the search is for “Steven Schwartzman Moraine Lake.” Inscrutable Google.

          Steve Schwartzman

          September 22, 2017 at 3:26 PM

  12. I so want to visit Canada .. I know that it is very beautiful. On my bucket list 🙂


    September 22, 2017 at 11:11 PM

    • The Canadian Rockies are a good part of Canada to begin with—or to work your way over to after you fly to Vancouver.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 23, 2017 at 7:57 AM

  13. stunning; it would be hard to leave that area – i’d want to throw on the brakes and bask in that view for the rest of the day!

    Playamart - Zeebra Designs

    September 27, 2017 at 9:06 AM

    • One thing that might prompt you to leave is the frigidity of winter there. In fact Moraine Lake Road is scheduled to close for the winter on October 10 and not reopen till May 22 of next year.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 27, 2017 at 9:49 AM

  14. […] that not only lakes in the Canadian Rockies but also creeks there can look turquoise or aquamarine, thanks to minerals dissolved in the water. […]

  15. I’d missed this one, and it is a beaut.


    November 26, 2017 at 9:33 AM

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