Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em

with 42 comments

Following the adage in the title, sometimes I was able to make artistic use of the smoky haze from forest fires that was with us for much of our stay in the Canadian Rockies. In today’s picture, from the morning of September 7th along the Trans-Canada Highway in Yoho National Park, British Columbia, the haze abstracted the mountains into overlapping margins whose darkness decreased as the distance increased. The resulting minimalist photograph keeps reminding me of a classical Chinese landscape painting.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 23, 2017 at 4:30 AM

42 Responses

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  1. Classical Chinese landscape painting was the first thing to enter my head when I saw your image. I smiled to read those very words in your text.


    September 23, 2017 at 5:51 AM

  2. Despite there being so little obvious detail, there’s a lot to love in this photo: the layers, the fringe of trees, the colors. While looking at the photo, something occurred to me. Not every photographer gets the opportunity to make an image like this. Anyone with an iPhone, a mountain range, and a blue sky can take a passable photo, but this took an eye and some skills that I certainly don’t have.


    September 23, 2017 at 5:59 AM

    • The haze in the air was an obstacle. The haze was also magical. I think you’d have been drawn in, too, along with your camera, had you been there on that morning of smoke and a red sun.

      Your use of “fringe” reminded me that I’d originally chosen that word, then changed it to “margin(s).”

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 23, 2017 at 9:57 AM

  3. Impressive! Someone else I follow has been in Canada recently and she also spoke about all the smoke obscuring the views.


    September 23, 2017 at 6:54 AM

  4. This is very nice, Steve. As with Linda’s recent leaf post, there is beauty to be found even in unfortunate events. Certainly the case here.

    Steve Gingold

    September 23, 2017 at 7:18 AM

    • I’m sure you’d have been out every morning to record sunrises with mountains and trees hazily looming through the smoke. There were moments when it was magical.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 23, 2017 at 10:02 AM

  5. Again, a fantastic picture!


    September 23, 2017 at 7:54 AM

  6. A lovely image gleaned from an unfortunate landscape.

    Martha Goudey

    September 23, 2017 at 8:08 AM

  7. Lovely capture! Smoke adds a beautiful dimension to pictures and you got that.


    September 23, 2017 at 8:42 AM

    • I still wish he’d had more days of clarity to balance things out. That said, I’m glad you appreciate what I could let the smoke do for some of the pictures I took on this wonderful trip.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 23, 2017 at 10:15 AM

  8. I found this to be a stunning capture. I’m not sure why it draws me in so much, but it’s simply magnificent!


    September 23, 2017 at 8:43 AM

    • It drew me in, too, so I understand your reaction. I wish you could have seen it in person and shared the scent of smoke.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 23, 2017 at 10:30 AM

  9. Steve, I agreed. Your image has a Chinese sensibility as well as elements of abstraction. Truly, one must return to appreciate the composition. It’s a beauty on many levels.


    September 23, 2017 at 2:18 PM

    • Thanks for your appreciation, Sally, and for confirming your association with Chinese painting and abstraction. The Canadian Rockies would be a great place for you to visit if you haven’t already been there.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 23, 2017 at 3:17 PM

  10. […] Highway in Yoho National Park, British Columbia, after I pulled over on September 7th to photograph the overlapping mountains in smoke that you saw in the previous […]

  11. Wow! Jenny Meadows/My Copy Editor, New Zealand/USA


    September 24, 2017 at 5:11 AM

  12. You’ve really captured an iconic image of the area with this one. This is just how the area looks like in my memory.


    September 24, 2017 at 7:18 AM

  13. […] of our trip to the Canadian Rockies and vicinity, we did enjoy a few days free from the otherwise predominant haze. One of those clear days was September 2nd, when we drove north and covered the length of the Bow […]

  14. Beautiful image, Steve. Echoes of Chinese landscapes, and Japanese printwork. Three tones only as if the image is posterized. I love it.


    September 27, 2017 at 2:23 AM

  15. Well there can be beauty in smoke and fires; that is a beautiful and calming image. Buen trabajo!

    Playamart - Zeebra Designs

    September 27, 2017 at 9:03 AM

  16. Hey Steve, wow that is something else. Shame that where there is smoke there is a fire.


    September 27, 2017 at 10:46 PM

    • Given all the smoke, I tried to use it to my advantage. It’s good we went south from Calgary for a few days when we did, because not long afterward the authorities closed all of Waterton Lakes National Park and half the length of the main road through adjacent Glacier National Park. I just checked and found that that part of the road is still closed after more than three weeks.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 28, 2017 at 12:03 AM

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