Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Emerald Lake shore

with 31 comments

A year ago today we (and many other people) visited Emerald Lake in British Columbia’s Yoho National Park. The smoke from forest fires dulled views of the surrounding mountains, as you see above, so for some pictures of the lake I aimed closer in. As an example of that approach take the second photograph, which plays up the tall trees while still allowing the color of the lake to come through.

The low plants along the water in the photograph above are sedges. Below is a close view of one taken from the shore looking back the opposite way. In “La Belle Dame sans Merci” Keats mentioned this type of plant:

O what can ail thee, knight-at-arms,
Alone and palely loitering?
The sedge has withered from the lake,
And no birds sing.


And to counteract the pallor of any pale loiterers among you, here are some fireweed flowers (Chamaenerion angustifolium) that also grew close to the shore.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 7, 2018 at 4:46 AM

31 Responses

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  1. There’s no chance of my pallor being pale with all these lovely scenes. The close-up of the sedge on the edge is sedgesational. In the second photo, do you know what the blue patch about two-thirds of the way up, on the left hand side is? A tarpaulin, a tent, or a reflection? Or?


    September 7, 2018 at 5:27 AM

    • I like that: sedgesational. On that score, botanists are fond of pointing out that sedges have three edges.

      The little bits of blue puzzled me too. My first thought was a patch of blue sky, but the sky wasn’t bright blue that day because of all the smoke in the air. When I zoomed in on the original just now I could tell that the blue was part of some man-made structure, though the dense trees kept me from seeing enough detail to guess what sort of structure it was.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 7, 2018 at 7:37 AM

  2. Well you’ve finished up the week with a bang, four terrific shots!
    The sedge is sedgesational, and that first shot has a wonderful dreamlike look to it.
    I think the blue spot is a Treehouse Portapotty, that’s a new thing, kind of dangerous, for all concerned, during periods of high wind.

    Robert Parker

    September 7, 2018 at 7:58 AM

    • Someone’s got an active imagination this morning. TGIF indeed. Perhaps you’ll feel relieved if you work that idea out more thoroughly.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 7, 2018 at 8:29 AM

  3. We walked the trail around that lake.

    Jim R

    September 7, 2018 at 8:09 AM

    • You probably had clearer views than we did, what with the smoke that followed us so much of the time. Maybe someday I’ll get a smokeless look.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 7, 2018 at 8:31 AM

  4. What a beautiful spot, even through a veil of smoke. The second shot is pretty terrific, right down to the edgy sedges. I’ve probably mentioned my mentor in the botany world has devoted her career to the study of sedges, and has written 3 books on the subject, another on the way. Her studies haven’t taken her out that way, however.


    September 7, 2018 at 8:50 AM

    • Do you think you should suggest a visit there to her? Maybe you could go along as an assistant.

      Emerald Lake is a big tourist destination. Even with smoke the place was crowded and the parking lot filled up early in the day.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 7, 2018 at 11:03 AM

  5. Great post Steve! I’m more aware of sedges now because Florida has many wetlands. Can you believe John Keats died at the age of 25?

    I have always found ‘loitering’ to be a complicated word. It must be because it has negative connotations?


    September 7, 2018 at 11:11 AM

    • The young constellation of English poets of which Keats was a part burned out early. Shelley lived only to 29, and Byron to 36. What a loss.

      From what you say, sedges are apparently more common in Florida than in Puerto Rico. I expect you’ll be featuring some sedges on your blog.

      The meanings of loiter given in Webster’s American Dictionary in 1828 were: ‘To linger; to be slow in moving; to delay; to be dilatory; to spend time idly.’ You’re right that the word has taken on a negative connotation because of people who hang around in a place and get into trouble.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 7, 2018 at 11:29 AM

      • The Webster’s definition is really good, or at least I can understand it better. I like the ‘dilatory’ meaning. Spanish is similar with ‘dilatar’ but of course ‘loitering’ is strictly English.

        The botanical garden here has mostly exotic tropical plants, so the only way to get more natives is to go to a wildlife refuge or a lake. Just now I posted about a Mexican daisy. At least that is more familiar than some other Asian varieties they have.


        September 7, 2018 at 2:08 PM

        • Yeah, most botanical gardens everywhere are stocked primarily with exotic species. Some botanical gardens have a section with native plants, and a few rare botanical gardens like the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center here in Austin feature only native species.

          Steve Schwartzman

          September 7, 2018 at 2:31 PM

          • Yes, I know Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center does, and that is nice.


            September 7, 2018 at 2:33 PM

  6. The lake is so beautiful, fascinated me. Thank you, Love, nia


    September 7, 2018 at 2:33 PM

  7. Speaking of blue, there are some interesting hints of blue in the anthers of the Chamaenerion angustifolium. It’s a beautiful little detail of the sort that rarely gets photographed. I noticed that what I think is the pistil spreads out in four directions, rather than the Aries-like curls that so many stamens seem to have. I love that you managed to capture so many of the details of the flower.

    I especially like the drama of the sedge closeup, and I like the parallelism of the pines edging the bottom of the mountain like the sedges line the lakeshore.


    September 7, 2018 at 9:38 PM

    • Yes, little bits of blue are lurking in there. I believe the pistil is the entire female structure, divided into three parts. Going outward, the three parts are the ovary, the style, and the stigma. It’s the stigma that splits into four sections in this species. I didn’t know that about fireweed flowers, not having them locally, but I learned it from the photograph. I also see that in order to avoid self-pollination the style in this species carries the stigma well above the anthers.

      The close view of the sedge particularly appealed to me, too. For the second picture I originally had an adjacent frame that was about half forest and half lake but such an even split seemed too static to me so I swapped it out.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 7, 2018 at 10:16 PM

  8. Although the smoke is not a welcomed sight for most, it does add a mystic air to this image. And, of course, smoke creates some amazing sunsets at times. But the smoke bolsters the coolness exhibited by the blue water. Lovely shot, Steve.

    Steve Gingold

    September 8, 2018 at 4:41 AM

    • I was hoping the smoke would lead to some good sunsets. There was one that I liked but it occurred when we were driving through an agricultural area south of Calgary. Because my pictures of it couldn’t keep from including an electrical tower, I never showed that sunset here.

      The smoke also led to what you might call daytime sunsets, i.e. moments during the day when the heavy smoke made the sun look the way you expect it to when it’s setting. Here’s an example:


      Steve Schwartzman

      September 8, 2018 at 6:07 AM

  9. Amazing images Steve … have to agree sedgsational🙂


    September 13, 2018 at 4:21 PM

  10. Emerald Lake was living up to its name, Steve, despite the smoky air!


    September 19, 2018 at 5:34 PM

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