Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Smoke in the Canadian Rockies

with 38 comments

When I look at my photo archive I’m impressed by how much we accomplished on this date in 2017, all of it accompanied by varying amounts of smoke from forest fires. The first picture shows a view along the Trans-Canada Highway as we drove east that morning from our hotel in Golden, British Columbia.

We continued on to two scenic and therefore much-visited lakes in Alberta’s Banff National Park. The photograph above shows Moraine Lake, with its richly colored water, later in the morning. The view below lets you see how sunshine radiated through the clouds and smoke over Lake Louise as dusk approached.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 8, 2020 at 4:12 AM

38 Responses

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  1. Fabulous!

    Ms. Liz

    September 8, 2020 at 4:55 AM

  2. Beautiful landscape photos created by the hazy conditions often caused by forest fires, which appear to occur more and more frequently during the hot summer season! These conditions also make spectacular sunset photos as seen here in one taken in the Arrow Lakes area.
    Fiery Sunset

    Peter Klopp

    September 8, 2020 at 9:21 AM

  3. The blue water is so serene. Sounds like a trip worth reveling in. Thanks for sharing.

    Kate Garrison

    September 8, 2020 at 12:57 PM

    • The blue in some of those “glacial rock flour” lakes is magical. If you guys want a great place to visit after things return to normal, this is it.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 8, 2020 at 2:30 PM

  4. Your second picture is fantastic, Steve. What a shot! 🙂 👍

    H.J. for avian101

    September 8, 2020 at 2:38 PM

    • It’s hard to beat the color of that water, isn’t it? It’s due to what geologists call glacial rock flour.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 8, 2020 at 2:44 PM

  5. Breathtaking photography

    Minimal to Mindful

    September 8, 2020 at 3:02 PM

    • There’s a lot out there in nature, on both a large scale and a small one, that can make a person feel that way.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 8, 2020 at 3:43 PM

  6. We have had similarly smoky skies since August, Steve, and yesterday was the worst, as the prevailing winds blew the smoke straight down along the Front Range from a fire near Fort Collins. The smoke was replaced today by clouds that are dropping rain and even snow, and the temperature is 50 (!) degrees lower than yesterday. We have gone from wearing shorts to long underwear!


    September 8, 2020 at 6:03 PM

    • I heard about your drastic change in temperature on the news a couple of hours ago. If variety is the spice of life, you’ve had a spicy day. We’re generally more influenced by events closer to us in time than by events more remote in time; that makes me wonder whether Colorado’s weather reports over long periods show similar abrupt changes. I get the impression that a little snow in the mountains there a third of the way into September isn’t all that unusual.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 8, 2020 at 6:20 PM

      • Spicy, indeed, Steve!
        You are right, snow in September in the mountains isn’t that unusual, but we aren’t really in the mountains, and the unusual part was the rapid and extreme shift from record-highs to winter storm. But we survived (not sure about some of the plants, though), and most of the snow has melted already. We are grateful for the moisture, and the storm also helped dampen the wildfires and lessen the smoke.


        September 9, 2020 at 6:18 PM

  7. Looking at the first photo, I couldn’t help thinking of the fifteen firefighters who were trapped by the Dolan fire this morning, and had to deploy their fire shelters. I can’t think of much that would be more terrifying than waiting for a wildfire to overrun you. On the other hand, the photo does have appeal. It reminds me of our sunsets when the Saharan dust is thick.

    Taken as a whole, the set is a great representation of the mountains’ different aspects. The unearthly smokey light, the clarity of the lake, and the play of light among the clouds fit together well.


    September 8, 2020 at 9:16 PM

    • That’s a scary thought, all right. I take it those 15 ended up okay. The smoke in the first picture was eerie, denser than even the heaviest haze that would drift over here from the Sahara. Originally I was disappointed that the continuing smoke obscured some famous views. Well, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em, and I used the haze to make photographs I couldn’t otherwise have gotten.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 9, 2020 at 5:03 AM

  8. The fires must have been a disappointment on your big trip, but you managed to take some great shots.

    Eliza Waters

    September 9, 2020 at 8:34 PM

    • I was sorry to miss some of the majestic vistas I’d seen in online pictures when I did research before the trip. On the other hand, the smoke created some eerie sights that were worth seeing in place of the more-conventional ones.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 10, 2020 at 5:03 AM

  9. It has looked very similar here lately. I have been shooting some layered images myself … The Smokeys in Colorado. Your vertical panorama with godbeams is especially nice!


    September 10, 2020 at 12:22 PM

  10. We’ve had a few trips dominated by wet windy weather that definitely limited the photography. You maged to make the most of the weather/smoky conditions you found on your trip. It is hard to imagine the suffering that the beauty of smoke’s effect belies.

    Steve Gingold

    September 11, 2020 at 3:40 AM

  11. tonytomeo

    September 12, 2020 at 12:38 PM

  12. Very evocative smoky photos. Beautiful but somehow terrifying now there is so many more wildfires. We have had a bad one near us but went south and fast through eucalyptus and pine plantations.


    September 14, 2020 at 4:27 PM

  13. Superb photos Steve …


    September 16, 2020 at 2:37 PM

  14. I, for one, am glad the smoke is clearing out. 😦


    September 18, 2020 at 2:46 PM

    • I, for two. I saw on television a few minutes ago that rain is in the forecast for parts of the Northwest.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 18, 2020 at 5:21 PM

      • We did get some serious rain up here and it’s cleared up now so we’ve had a gorgeous day or two. Haze is supposed to build back in, possibly from the wildfires that CA is still dealing with, but it shouldn’t be as bad this time.


        September 28, 2020 at 7:32 PM

        • Then happy clarity to you. That just made wonder if anyone has ever named a child Clarity, which is only one letter different from the Charity that was once a not uncommon name.

          Steve Schwartzman

          September 28, 2020 at 8:45 PM

  15. I have to admit–with considerable regret–that I’ve not yet been able to make it to the Canadian Rockies (or Yosemite or Bryce or Zion or Mexico’s Copper Canyon or…or…or…I just have to hope that there’s another life coming my way after this one and that I don’t come back as a lesser being. Your second photo is a sigh of pure pleasure. Sorry about the late comment, but I’m still catching up from the week-long post-dry spell of the (wonderful) Wanaka trip.


    October 12, 2020 at 2:41 AM

    • You’ve traveled to so many more places than I have, and yet I happen to have visited all five of the ones you mentioned. In fact, I have three four-years-ago lookbacks at Zion scheduled for the week after next. Once you’re back in northern Minnesota, it won’t be too much of a hike to get over to the Canadian Rockies. As for another life coming, well, ….

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 12, 2020 at 7:20 AM

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