Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Paint Pots in Kootenay National Park

with 30 comments

A year ago today we stopped to visit the Paint Pots in British Columbia’s Kootenay National Park. The “paint” is ochre, which permeates the earth there. Parts of the ground are sodden, and in some places water flows over the ochred earth.

It was common to see dead trees fallen across the rivulets.

We followed the trail past the scenes shown in the first three photographs and ultimately came to a picturesque pond ringed with ochre. Notice—as if you could miss it—the approximate ellipse implied by the curved dead tree and its reflection.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 8, 2018 at 4:41 AM

30 Responses

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  1. The curved dead tree with its reflection is wonderful!


    September 8, 2018 at 5:05 AM

  2. How good of the Paint Pots to paint a perfect photo opportunity for you.


    September 8, 2018 at 7:18 AM

  3. I read ochre was also used as an adhesive. Its powder had resin adhesives to mount tools onto handles or shafts in the Middle Stone Age. It was also used to tan hide. Ochre also has anti-bacterial qualities which helped preserve hides. It was also used as natural sunscreen as well as a barrier from insects like mosquitos. It has been scientifically proven to inhibit the effects of ultra-violet radiation. It is still used as a sunscreen today by some African tribes.


    September 8, 2018 at 8:06 AM

    • When I saw that ochre is ferric oxide, it reminded me that zinc oxide was a traditional sunscreen in my childhood. I still see it from time to time on the noses of Galveston surfers and paddleboarders.


      September 8, 2018 at 8:25 AM

      • It’s very good for the skin also. I remember seeing it as an active ingredient in acne topical creams. Zinc oxide can help by calming inflammation and further protecting skin. It helps soothe redness, decrease the size of breakouts and helps to dry out oil production. Also, a mixture of zinc oxide with about 0.5% iron(III) oxide is called calamine, which is the active ingredient of calamine lotion.


        September 8, 2018 at 8:35 AM

        • Ah, more practicality. Now that you mention it, I remember lifeguards in the 1950s and ’60s with white sunscreen on their noses. I guess that was zinc oxide. I’m not sure I ever knew it was an ingredient in anti-acne creams. As for the last thing you referred to, I remember the line “It’s gonna take an ocean of calamine lotion….”

          Steve Schwartzman

          September 8, 2018 at 8:44 AM

        • Calamine lotion? Oh, my. The go-to treatment for everything from mosquito bites to poison ivy. As the old song has it, “you’re gonna need an ocean of calamine lotion.”


          September 8, 2018 at 8:45 AM

          • Separately and at about the same time we both brought up the old song, which I seem to have misremembered slightly.

            Steve Schwartzman

            September 8, 2018 at 8:56 AM

    • It’s good that you researched all those practical uses of ochre. I didn’t know there are so many. For me, the ochre in British Columbia was strictly a lure for photographs of a sort I’ve never been able to take anywhere else I’ve traveled.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 8, 2018 at 8:37 AM

      • As for photography, last night I saw a video on the new Canon mirrorless full frame. What a disappointment that it does not have an EF mount. They ended up making lenses exclusive for the mount which render my own lenses useless or having to buy a mount adapter to be able to use the camera. Disappointment!


        September 8, 2018 at 8:56 AM

        • I remember speculation about whether Canon’s new mirrorless full-frame camera would allow for the use of EF lenses. I guess they’re just too big for Canon to accommodate them easily. Using an adapter may not be too bad, though, unless it comes with disadvantages.

          Steve Schwartzman

          September 8, 2018 at 9:01 AM

          • The irony is that new lenses termed ‘R’ mount are just as big, what they did was slim down the shaft that attaches to mount, but that’s about it. There is a rumor that an even more advanced model is yet to come. Maybe that’s the one with the EF mount. Canon is now famous for withholding useful features in most models. The expense of this new system is beyond discussion.


            September 8, 2018 at 9:13 AM

            • Maria

              September 8, 2018 at 9:15 AM

              • I found it strange that most of the new lenses lack image stabilization. And as you say, the price is way up there. I know you were hopeful about a full-featured lighter-weight camera, but this seems not to be it.

                Steve Schwartzman

                September 8, 2018 at 10:23 AM

                • At 1.45 lbs body weight and full frame sensor is a bit irresistible, and that adapter could be here to stay since it follows the logic of new line of lenses that were created for it.


                  September 8, 2018 at 10:41 AM

  4. I especially like the strip of ochre bisecting the oval created by the branch and its reflection, and the way the trees and plants edging the pond are transformed in their watery reflections. The trees are especially interesting; not only is their color changed in the reflection, but they seem to be clarified in a way that makes individual branches more obvious.


    September 8, 2018 at 8:46 AM

    • Now that you’ve pointed it out, the reflection of the trees seems to me more like a pastel sketch than a photograph. It also occurred to me that in the upper part of the image, the small daubs of brown in the trees “reflect” the color of the ochre along the pond’s shore.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 8, 2018 at 8:54 AM

  5. Never heard of The Paint Pots until now. The second image could be an abstract on some corporate wall. Or in a home.

    Steve Gingold

    September 8, 2018 at 11:10 AM

  6. Gorgeous reflection capture in your last image!


    September 9, 2018 at 10:38 AM

  7. Hey Steve .. love the colours, but that last shot is super! The layers of colour and contrast make it an eye catcher 🙂


    September 14, 2018 at 4:34 PM

    • Then I’m glad it caught your eye. I’d intended to show another version of this last year but changed my mind. Better late than never.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 14, 2018 at 4:54 PM

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