Photography In The National Parks: An Exploration Of The Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail – Part 2

A view of Echo Basin from the South Alcove of Frenchman Coulee, Channeled Scablands, Eastern Washington

September is a two-for-one month regarding photo columns published in the National Parks Traveler. The first article was about smartphone photography. This article is about a photographic visit to Frenchman Coulee in Eastern Washington, a feature of the Channeled Scablands along the Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail.

To read this article, click on the image above.

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Photography In The National Parks: Getting Great Smartphone Shots – Part 1

I admit to being an SLR-kind of gal, but I also admit that the smartphone camera is an amazing piece of technology and people are getting all sorts of really cool shots with their smartphones.

So in today’s edition of the National Parks Traveler is my article about getting great smartphone (well, iPhone) shots using the photos I captured with my iPhone during the 3.5-mile hike of the Naches Peak Loop Trail at Mount Rainier National Park in Washington state.

To read this article, click on the image above.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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National Parks Quiz And Trivia #53

Visit a unit of the National Park System and you might come across a raven giving you the once over, like I did during a 2021 trip to Yosemite National Park. In addition to their raspy croak/caw, how many other vocalizations do ravens have?

That’s one of the questions in this month’s quiz and trivia piece I penned for the National Parks Traveler. If you feel like stretching your mental muscles and testing your national park knowledge, click on the image above. The questions are multiple choice or True/False. Who knows – you might even learn something new or decide to travel to one of these park units mentioned in this quiz.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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A Sunrise For Your Saturday

A sunrise at Mesa Verde National Park (Colorado) – the edited version
Same image as above, unedited

Here’s a sunrise for your Saturday, courtesy of Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado.

And now, class, here’s your lessons for today.

My editor wanted me to send him some images of cliff dwellings I’d captured during my visit to this national park some years ago (10 years, actually – same year I started volunteering photos and articles to the National Parks Traveler). As I was perusing all the images, I came across this sunrise shot photographed from the balcony of my room at the Far View Lodge. I noticed I’d never done anything with it – probably because I thought it wasn’t very good afterall, and because I didn’t have the editing skills to bring out the beauty of the shot. I did something that all of you should do with photos you don’t think are worth anything but that are technically ok (i.e. not blurred or really grainy): keep it until you have the skills to return to work on it.

I don’t care what anybody says, it’s my opinion that every image you capture needs some bit of tweaking. Sometimes, it needs quite a bit of tweaking to bring out what your eyes saw when you composed and captured the image. This image is a good example.

The original image is dark and muddy and has some extraneous junk in the corner (a part of the balcony roof) as well as a couple of sensor spots. I could have deleted the image and gone on about my business, but I chose to keep it (actually, I think I just passed by it and forgot about it for all these years). Now, some 10 years later, I’ve returned to work on it, and it’s not turned out too badly, I think. With improvement in my photo skills, I’ve been able to bring out details and color previously hidden, and cleaned up the composition as a whole.

You can do all this too. Just keep practicing and learning new editing skills, and don’t delete those photos you think are not that great. They might be real keepers.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Mesa Verde National Park, National Parks, Photo Editing

My Favorite National Parks For Photography – Part 2

Can you remember that first time you ever visited a particular national park, and hiked up to an iconic scene you’ve only ever read about or seen in textbooks? It’s a pretty cool feeling, isn’t it? I remember that feeling the first time I ever visited Arches National Park and hiked to Delicate Arch. This was back in 2012, the same year I began writing and photographing for the National Parks Traveler.

Published in today’s edition of the Traveler is my Part 2 to my favorite park units for photography. Arches National Park (among a couple of others) is one of my favorites for photographing cool geology.

To see what other photographic favorites I have, click on the image above.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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National Parks Quiz And Trivia #52: Water

A wake of water on Lake Chelan at Lake Chelan National Recreation Area, a part of the North Cascades National Park Complex in Washington state.

Water, water, everywhere … or maybe it’s water, water, used to be everywhere. Time to test your national parks knowledge and maybe learn something new with my latest quiz and trivia piece published in today’s edition of the National Parks Traveler.

To take the quiz and read the trivia, click on the image above.

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Fun Fact Friday, August 5, 2022: Exfoliation

It’s #FunFactFriday

Ok, be honest. What comes to mind when I write the word “exfoliation?” To me, a picture of dry, flaky skin first comes to mind. However, exfoliation has a geological context to it, too. It’s a weathering process and one of the best places to see this process is along Tioga Road in Yosemite National Park.

As you drive that road, take a look at the granite hills and domes all around you. Notice that interesting sort of “onion peel” effect on the rock layers? That’s exfoliation! It’s a type of weathering and is common in granites.

You see, granite formed beneath the earth’s surface, under immense pressure. So, when the surface sediments and rocks – collectively termed as overburden – covering that granite are eroded or removed and that granite is exposed, the pressure beneath which the granite lay is gone and the granite begins to expand, forming all sorts of fractures (joints). Weathering (like frost heaving) causes plates, or flakes of rock to strip away the surface rock much like onion skin peels away from the onion.

And now you know.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Fun Fact Friday, Geology, National Parks, Photography, Yosemite National Park

What’s With All These National Park System Units, Anyway?

Ever wondered what the difference is between a national park, a national monument, a national recreation area, etc?

The other day, during a Zoom meeting, a member asked if a national park was a single unit. Another member wondered if people understood the difference between different units within the National Park System. Heck, I write about national park units I’ve visited and sometimes I need a little primer. So, I wrote an article for the National Parks Traveler about the differences between units found within the National Park System.

To read the article, click on the image above.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Photography In The National Parks: My Favorite Parks For Photography – Part 1

Painted Hills Unit Landscape Color, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument (Oregon)

In my lifetime, I’ve visited over 30 units of the National Park System. This includes national parks, national monuments, and national historic sites. This also includes a national historic trail, a national natural landmark, and a national geologic trail. Some of these places were visited B.D.C. (Before Digital Camera), which means I have no images of them (like Mammoth Cave, which I did photograph with a film camera but no longer have the prints or the film strips, unfortunately).

Most photographers will tell you they have no specific favorite park for anything. Well, while I love every single one of these units I’ve visited, I do have favorites for specific photography categories. You probably do too, although you may not have thought about it much. For instance, what are your favorite parks for photographing color? No, not autumn color, but landscape color. What is/are your favorite park(s) for photographing a sunrise or a sunset? What is/are your favorite park(s) for photographing mountains?

Today’s edition of the National Parks Traveler has published my latest Photography in the National Parks column. In this Part 1, I list my favorite parks (of the ones visited and photographed) for specific categories (sunrise/sunset, landscape color, mountainous landscape, wildlife, etc.). I don’t include the recent visits to sights along national historic or geologic trails, or the national natural landmark. So, there’s the caveat to my favorites. Future national park unit visits may change the order of my favorites. We’ll see.

For now, check out the article by clicking on the image above.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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National Parks Quiz And Trivia #51

Wow, Beck, what a – um – er – lovely photo you have there (???)

Yes, all you smarty pants out there – it’s not my usual stunning landscape image. Instead, it’s a grab shot I captured of Liberty Cap travertine cone at Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park during my first visit ever to this park in 2018. But, I’ll bet you don’t know how Liberty Cap got its name, do you?

That’s one of the quiz questions in National Parks Quiz and Trivia #51 published in today’s edition of the National Parks Traveler.

To take the quiz (and find out how Liberty Cap got its name) and read the trivia (and maybe learn something new about the National Park System), just click on the image above.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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