All photos © Robin and Arlene Karpan
A definite highlight of 2023 for landscape photography was our trip to northwest Argentina where the high desert mountains are so brilliant that they look as if they have been splashed with paint. According to an ancient legend, some of them were painted. We also had some wonderful opportunities closer to home with a trip to the Rocky Mountains in the winter, then again in the fall. Canola season is always wildly colourful, and Saskatchewan’s Land of Living of Skies never fail to put on a show. Here are 10 of our favourites from this year.
The Serrania de Hornocal is one of those rare places where photos, no matter how good, can never prepare you for seeing it in person. Even when we arrived, it still seemed unreal. Reaching over 4,700 metres or 15,000 feet, this remote mountain range is in Argentina’s far northwest near the town of Humahuaca.
The colours are caused by various chemicals in the limestone and erosion over thousands of years. This image is special to us because we almost got skunked. Dark storm clouds moved in just as we arrived, but fortunately a bit a sun briefly poked through the clouds. Ten minutes after we took this shot, the scene disappeared as we were hit by a powerful rainstorm.
According to a legend, long ago the children of this village decided that they wanted to live somewhere more exciting. So each night they sneaked out of their beds and painted the hills a different colour. They did this for seven nights, leaving us with the landscape we see today. Scientists have more mundane explanations involving minerals and erosion. In reality there is more than one hill and more than seven colours. The entire area surrounding Purmamarca is a kaleidoscope of wild hues.
Northwest Argentina abounds with so many brilliantly colourful places that it is hard to choose favourites. This one stood out for us because it is a bit more off the beaten path, unlike the previous two places which are solidly on the must-do tourist circuit. The mountain slopes overlooking the small town of Maimara are called the Painter’s Pallete because of the wide array of colours. A nice walking trail heads into the hills, and on the day we went, we had the entire place to ourselves.
We got this shot from the top of the Banff Gondola that runs up Sulphur Mountain. It was early evening in winter, dark enough for the town lights to come on but still light enough to have a bit of colour in the sky from sunset and for the mountains to still be visible.
One of the few hiking trails open in winter is the walk along Johnston Canyon. When we got to this frozen waterfall a climber was ascending the ice wall. We were especially pleased that this climber had the good sense to wear colourful clothing that added to the image.
Jasper abounds in magnificent mountain scenery, but this more intimate scene became a favourite. We like the combination of primary colours – red and blue from the boats on the beach, and yellow from the fall colours reflecting in the water.
Just north of Golden, BC, the creek flows into the Columbia River. The story goes that early travellers would pause here or “wait a bit” before continuing into the more turbulent river. There’s a small, basic recreation site with a free campground as a bonus. This was the view from our campsite. An aurora display added to the starry night.
This was one of the most incredible aurora displays of the year. It was during full moon which sometimes washes out the colours of the aurora. But this evening the lights were so strong that it didn’t make a lot of difference.