Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Cascade Ponds

with 26 comments

“These algae looked like… mosaic art to me!” is how one online reviewer described what he saw when looking down from a little bridge into the water of Cascade Ponds outside Banff, Alberta, in the fall of 2017. When we visited on September 2nd of that year I confirmed the mosaic look and also the presence of what another online writer called “neon green algae.” That green life had lots of abstract photographic appeal for me, though whether it was a sign of ecological health or distress, I don’t know.

What I do know is that Cascade Ponds was a good place to photograph the adjacent Cascade Mountain. Notice how water in fact cascades down the mountain in a chain of waterfalls.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 2, 2018 at 4:42 AM

26 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Beautiful abstracts! And those waterfalls look like one big ribbon down the center. We have friends that go to Banff every year – one friend did the horseback outfitter trips for a week. I’m not sure I’d last long in that chilly-looking scene you have there!


    September 2, 2018 at 5:57 AM

    • Yay, abstraction! The first view owes its texture to the wind, the second to the refracting power of water.

      We visited Alberta at the warmest (and therefore also most touristy) time of year. The night before we left for home in mid-September, the Calgary weather report already mentioned snow in the mountains, and by two weeks after that one of the roads we’d driven to go up to a scenic lake closed for the winter. Like you, I wouldn’t do well in such a frigid climate.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 2, 2018 at 6:25 AM

      • Thanks for explaining how those textures came about. Weather and various conditions can change everything in the blink of an eye. Yes, people seem to think since I’m originally from Nebraska that I must love or just tough out the cold weather. I never liked it, and I’m miserable in it for more than a couple of days.


        September 2, 2018 at 6:30 AM

        • You’re welcome to the explanations. The second picture also shows the effects of wind, though not nearly as much as the first.

          We’re alike when it comes to living in cold places. I always felt chilled in the New York winters of my childhood and moved south by my late 20s, first to North Carolina for a few years and then to Texas ever since.

          Steve Schwartzman

          September 2, 2018 at 6:46 AM

  2. The gradations of color in the first photo are beautiful, although it looks to me more like a thick-piled velour than mosaic. I can imagine the cross-hatching being created by someone pulling the pile this way and that with their fingers.

    If the second photo’s a close-up of what’s shown in the first, the difference between the views is remarkable. The second looks like our sea lettuce. The ripples and the streaming filaments give it such a sense of movement, and of course it has that wonderful glimmer that clear water always adds.

    Did you notice how much the waterfall and cloud combine to create the appearance of a flower, with the waterfall the stem, and the cloud the bloom?


    September 2, 2018 at 7:37 AM

    • Different views for different yous, we might say. Your association in the first image is with textiles, mine with glass. It reminds me now of the textured glass sometimes used on the sliding panels that enclose one side of a bathtub or shower.

      I should’ve made clearer that the second picture isn’t a closer view of what’s in the first. Different parts of the ponds had different-looking plants growing in them. The plants in the second photo were mostly close to the shore, while the view in the first picture shows how things looked a little farther out into the water. Like you, I get a sense that the plants in the second photograph are swaying in the water.

      Not till you suggested a flower did I see that likeness in the mountain and cloud. What a change of scale your imagination has worked.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 2, 2018 at 8:50 AM

  3. Good morning, Steve,
    In the first picture I like the structure of the ripples on the water, but it is the last one, with that cloud in the blue sky above the towering rocks, that I like most.
    Have a wonderful Sunday,


    September 2, 2018 at 8:28 AM

    • Good morning to you, too. Given the way the mountain grabs you, I can’t help thinking you’d find a trip to the Canadian Rockies thrilling. We saw literally dozens of mountains as imposing as this one. If this region isn’t already on your list, I imagine it should be. Some more portraits of enticing mountains will be coming up here in about a week.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 2, 2018 at 9:07 AM

      • I agree, Steve, that the Canadian Rockies would be an excellent destination. But there are already ever so many (other) destinations on our bucket list that we’ve recently started to call it a “barrel list”! 😀


        September 2, 2018 at 9:17 AM

  4. Wow! These are really cool!

    Reed Andariese

    September 2, 2018 at 5:24 PM

    • Thanks, Reed. It’s hard to go wrong up there, with so much to see. I’ve been recommending the Canadian Rockies to everyone since our trip a year ago.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 2, 2018 at 6:35 PM

  5. Those ponds are quite interesting. Glad you shared them with us. That cascading meandering waterfall is quite cool as well.

    Steve Gingold

    September 2, 2018 at 6:49 PM

    • As soon as I glimpsed the textures and colors in the pond, I was hooked. I think you’d have been, too.

      I see now that I took 18 pictures of Cascade Mountain with my 24–105mm lens, hitting both extremes and some other focal lengths in between. The picture shown here was at 35mm.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 2, 2018 at 6:55 PM

  6. If I view the first photo from a distance, I see wind blowing through a paddock of grass. In the last photo, the cloud looks poised to precisely deposit moisture at the top of the cascade. I would say that Cascade Ponds was a good place to ponder different views of water.


    September 3, 2018 at 7:54 AM

    • That’s some original pondering you’ve done, and not at all ponderous. In the preponderance of accounts I’ve heard, water gets turned to wine. Now you’ve gone a different way, turning water to grass.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 3, 2018 at 8:28 AM

  7. That last shot is superb … nothing to do with the fact that I’m a cloud fan 😉


    September 7, 2018 at 4:49 PM

    • Glad to hear you’re a fellow cloud fan. Now you’ve made me wonder whether there’s anyone who’s not.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 7, 2018 at 5:30 PM

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: