Schmidt Fine Art Gallery Collection: Banff National Park Waterfall and Ice Dam by Chalbaud

Posted by Jacob Hawthorne on

This stunning photo taken in Banff National Park by Aurora Chalbaud comes incredibly close to recreating the feeling of standing at the foot of the Rocky Mountains. The icefield is a prominent feature of this image because of its position in the centre and the contrast in colour. The composition of this landscape captures the viewer’s attention immediately with the bright white icefield in the midground that melts seamlessly into the deep blue stream below it. The ripples in the stream are interrupted by scattered rocks protruding from the ground. What is particularly striking about this image is also the contrast in textures between the sleek ice and serous stream interface the asperous mountain and bristly pines. It makes you want to explore what is just beyond the bend, and amongst the coniferous trees that line the mountains. This photo displays a cohesive balance of natural elements with the icefield flanked by tree-covered mountains that gradually curve, taking up the top third of the image starting at the horizon. This arrangement makes the viewer excited to have the opportunity to share in this momentary encounter with nature and it builds excitement for what is to come. The lack of negative space emphasizes the grandeur of the mountains compared to the viewer which heightens that feeling of excitement and wonder.


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The adventurous spirit of the photographer is ubiquitous here in spite of her efforts to remove herself from the image. Chalbaud’s signature landscape bears many hallmarks of her style in the composition and focus on texture. This image discloses Chalbaud’s dedication to mastering the technical elements of photography. Her photographs memorialize a moment in time that she wishes to share with the viewer. Inevitably personal, it is a glimpse into the world around her.


Banff National Park is located in the Canadian Rockies and has the distinction of being the country’s first national park. Archaeological evidence suggests that the first signs of human activity in the area date back to 10 300 B.C.E. Conflicting claims over who “discovered” the hot springs at Banff and the competing interests over how the land should be used led Canada’s first Prime Minister, J. A. MacDonald, to declare a 26 km2 area around the Banff springs a national park in 1885. By 1887 the area was expanded to 674km2 and today Banff is surrounded by several national parks, most notably, Jasper. The development of the park into a tourist destination was made possible by the expansion of the railway and later the creation of the Trans Canada Highway. Today the park receives over 3 million visitors annually.


We would like to acknowledge the Stoney Nakoda, Ktunaxa, Tsuut'ina, Kainaiwa, Piikani, Siksika, and Plains Cree aboriginal communities that occupied the land that is now Banff National Park.

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