Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

More from Yoho National Park and vicinity

with 25 comments

Four years ago today we spent some scenic time in and around British Columbia’s Yoho National Park. One highlight was Natural Bridge Falls, with its intriguing rock formations on the Kicking Horse River. Carloads and busloads of tourists swarmed the site, so it took patience and some judicious framing to get pictures without any people in them, like the first one below.

Along the Trans-Canada Highway a little west of Yoho National Park
we saw a bunch of female bighorn sheep, including the one
in the bottom portrait, whose texture and coloring seem
to me now to match those of the rocks in the top picture.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 7, 2021 at 4:38 AM

25 Responses

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  1. The sheep’s coloring and texture certainly do lend themselves to that terrain! It’s beautiful, and so are the rocks and water.

    Isn’t amazing how opportunistic trees and bushes are! How they find little crevices to grow from rocks is mind boggling.


    September 7, 2021 at 8:53 AM

  2. With natural selection in action, you might expect the sheep to resemble the rocks in texture and coloring, eh? Great photos, though I prefer the water to the rocks, and the sheep sharply shown before the blurred background is perfect.


    September 7, 2021 at 9:18 AM

    • The stop at Natural Bridge Falls was planned, as it’s a main tourist attraction in the area. Sighting a group of female bighorn sheep by the side of the road was unplanned, but I quickly pulled over to take advantage of it. A 300mm focal length accounts for the blurred background beyond the in-focus sheep.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 7, 2021 at 9:39 AM

  3. Nice photos and a very handsome creature. Hard to think of this bighorn as a relative of the short-legged, roly-poly domesticated sheep, it seems like it would more likely be a cousin to a pronghorn, even though I know that’s not true. Convergent evolution I guess.

    Robert Parker

    September 7, 2021 at 12:34 PM

    • In this case I don’t know about convergent evolution, but I was happy to converge on Yoho National Park. Actually four Canadian national parks converge in that area, the other three being Kootenay, Banff, and Jasper. Together the four of them provide enough fantastic scenery to satisfy the most ardent tourist.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 7, 2021 at 1:10 PM

  4. You are right they seem to blend, sheep and rock. I like the texture and detail on the rocks.

    Alessandra Chaves

    September 7, 2021 at 5:50 PM

    • Those rocks were great for texture. I took pictures of them in lots of compositions, from closer and more abstract to landscapes like the one here.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 7, 2021 at 6:57 PM

  5. Those rocks are quite interesting with their forms. And the sheep has a sweetness to her.

    Steve Gingold

    September 7, 2021 at 6:08 PM

    • Four years ago I didn’t link these two pictures. The similarity in color and texture between the rocks at Natural Bridge and the sheep’s coat occurred to me years later in Austin.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 7, 2021 at 7:53 PM

  6. The sheep looks quite dignified. The striations in her horns make an especially nice match to the texture of the rocks.

    I must say, my favorite aspect of the first photo is the assortment of baby trees. When I scroll-cropped enough to eliminate the trees on the far shore, it was interesting to see how the scale seemed to change. The trees appeared full-grown then, tucked into truly mountainous terrain — and water that could give Victoria Falls a run for its money.


    September 7, 2021 at 7:30 PM

    • The striations in the horns are lagniappe when it comes to texture matching.

      That’s a good discovery you made by scroll-cropping: eliminating the trees in the background changed the scale dramatically bd made saplings seem mature. I suspect my imagination would have kept me from seeing that because I’d been to the place and remembered what was what.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 7, 2021 at 7:58 PM

  7. Well-matched images. The big horn sheep fits perfectly into its environment. I looked back on your earlier post on Kicking Horse river. I noticed your reference to similarities with the Punakaiki rocks in NZ. I can see those similarities too. I followed the link on Kicking Horse River and discovered that the name was associated with a misfortune which befell James Hector, surgeon and geologist to the Palliser Expedition. To my absolute shame, I had to discover through Wikipedia that James Hector was one of NZ’s most influential scientists. Our very precious Hector dolphin is named for him. https://teara.govt.nz/en/biographies/1h15/hector-james


    September 8, 2021 at 4:06 AM

    • When I first posted about the Kicking Horse River I read the Wikipedia article about it and how it got its name. Not till your comment just now, however, did I follow the link about James Hector, who “went on to have a lengthy career as a government employed man of science in New Zealand, and during this period he dominated the Colony’s scientific institutions in a way that no single man has since.” Now I fully understand your comment on the widow skimmer post. And now that I’ve read the Te Ara article you linked to, I know even more about James Hector. That guy sure got around. I wonder if he retained a Scottish accent.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 8, 2021 at 5:12 AM

      • I expect he did retain his accent. My Scottish great grandmother certainly did; or so I was told.


        September 8, 2021 at 6:06 AM

        • Since the advent of sound recording over a century ago, we’re increasingly able to hear how people spoke farther and farther back in time. It’s a boon for linguists, who’ll be better able to track how languages change.

          Steve Schwartzman

          September 8, 2021 at 6:14 AM

          • Yes, we have some wonderful sound recordings in New Zealand which linguists use to trace the development of the NZ accent.


            September 8, 2021 at 6:19 AM

            • The linguist in me says that probably should be plural: New Zealand accents. Speaking of which, at https://teara.govt.nz/en/speech-and-accent I found this:

              New Zealand English varies between social classes.
              The only regional dialect is in Southland and parts of Otago, where an ‘R’ sound is more commonly pronounced after vowels. This accent was maintained by the area’s Scottish settlers.
              Māori English is heard increasingly often. It is not spoken by all Māori, and some Pākehā also use it. It has a different rhythm from Pākehā NZE, and ‘eh’ is more often used at the end of a sentence.

              Steve Schwartzman

              September 8, 2021 at 6:42 AM

              • Accents is probably correct. My accent is so old school now that many younger NZers ask me where I come from!


                September 8, 2021 at 9:33 AM

                • That’s funny. Yes, we more or less continue speaking the dialect we grew up with. The older we get, the more our manner of speech becomes a time capsule, and the less familiar it seems to young speakers. That’s reciprocal, of course, and young speakers sound increasingly strange to us older speakers.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  September 8, 2021 at 10:22 AM

                • Yes, a time capsule expresses my situation well. Also funny is that it is supposedly ‘not done’ to ask where someone is from but no one seems to mind asking me. And I don’t mind answering the question although I still struggle to know what to say.


                  September 8, 2021 at 8:30 PM

  8. Oh, I love the portrait of the bighorn sheep! Nature is so beautifully camouflaged. I love the detail of the shaggy coat with summer hair coming out, making way for the winter coat.


    September 8, 2021 at 7:34 AM

    • I hadn’t thought about the changeover from summer coat to winter coat, but of course you’re right. By the time we left Calgary and flew home in mid-September, the weather forecast had already reported snow in the mountains a few hours away.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 8, 2021 at 8:48 AM

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