Category Archives: Glacier National Park MT

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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Don’t Throw Those Dud Photos Away Just Yet!

Looking Out Into The Evening – Original (Glacier National Park, Montana)

I was wandering through my Glacier National Park photo archives, looking for a particular shot, when I spied an original, unedited image I’d not touched. I remember exactly where I was when this shot was captured. I stood at the Wild Goose Island view area at St. Mary Lake, and turned to the side to photograph the scene there as the sunset afterglow turned the sky and clouds into a bright, fiery display.

You can tell that from this photo above, right?

It was the very first photo workshop I’d ever attended, back in 2008. I’d just purchased my first full frame camera: a Canon 5D with 12 huge, magnificent megapixels. I was still learning how to use it because I’d never heard the advice about knowing how to use your camera before you set off on a photo adventure. I pretty much knew zilch, to be honest (although I learned so much from that one workshop). Oh, I was not a newbie to photography; I’d photographed with SLR cameras since high school, but always using that Auto mode. I never really used the Manual mode in depth until I purchased that full framer. And, as you can see, I failed miserably at capturing that evening vista. The ISO was 100, shutter speed was 1/100 of a second, and the aperture was f/4 (although I think that was the widest aperture I could get with that particular lens, having never heard of a “fast lens” before). I can’t remember if the camera was on a tripod or not, although I might have been handholding it – the ostensible reason for using such a fast shutter speed.

You’ve read this from me before: the camera always has the data, it just needs to be brought forth with proper editing. Luckily, I had the presence of mind to not throw this original image away, which is surprising. Probably I just saw it, didn’t know how to work it, and just moved on to the next shot on the memory card. Hell, I was still trying to wrap myself around this new program called Adobe Elements – I had not even graduated to Adobe Photoshop yet.

Now, segue to 2022. I returned to the archives and picked up this original to start working on it for yucks and giggles.

Looking Out Into The Evening – Revised Image (Glacier National Park, Montana)

Quite the difference, huh?

Oh, I wouldn’t try to make a print out of this shot, because it’s still pretty grainy even after using noise reduction to the scene. But it definitely looks like the view I witnessed, with the fiery sky and the inner glow to the landscape as the evening settled in.

This, folks, is a great example of why you should NEVER immediately throw out a shot you think is a dud the first time you look at it. Unless it’s totally blurred or unfocused, there is always the chance that image can be rescued. It might take a few weeks or a few years or even a decade of learning new editing skills before you touch that “dud” image, but as you can see here, the beauty of that evening has been teased out for all to view.

Twelve megapixels back then was quite a feat. Now, I work with cameras possessing between 50 – 102 megapixels. Like editing skills, camera technology has come a long way in 14 years.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Reader Participation Day: What Is The “National Park Experience” To You?

Bison In A Snowstorm At Upper Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming)

I just returned from a winter trip to Yellowstone National Park. It was full of bucket list items I was able to check off. An amazing experience about which I’ll be writing in upcoming articles for the National Parks Traveler.

And, speaking of the Traveler, today’s edition has a Reader Participation Day article asking what the “national park experience” means to YOU. Why not go over, read the article and the questions asked, and leave a comment at the end of the article. The Traveler uses these things as pointers to what articles to next write and publish.

To read the article and leave a comment, click on the image above.

As for the image itself, it was serendipitous. I was staying at the Old Faithful Snow Lodge, and got up early that morning to do photography along the Upper Geyser Basin. It was snowing, and as I approached Old Faithful, I saw a small herd of bison grazing right there. Luckily for me I’d brought along my long lens (Sony 100-400mm) and captured some iconic shots that you’ll be seeing in upcoming Traveler articles.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved

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Filed under National Parks, National Parks Traveler, Photography, Seasons, Travel, Travel and Photography, winter, Yellowstone National Park

Photography In The National Parks: My 10 Fave Photos From 2021

The First Kiss Of Sunrise At Tipsoo Lake, Mount Rainier National Park (Washington state)

Everybody has a favorite photo (or two or three or more) they’ve captured in a national park, right? I certainly have mine. Today’s edition of the National Parks Traveler has published what was officially supposed to be my first Photography in the National Parks column for 2022 (but it got superseded by my Fort Clatsop article). Anyway, today’s article is a look back at my 10 fave images from 2021.

To read the photo column, see my other nine favorite photos, why I like them and how I got each shot, click on the image above.

This image, captured just at the beginning of sunrise on a frosty, snowy morning in Mount Rainier National Park, is one of those 10 favorites. For me, it was a culmination of trying to get just the right sunrise composition of this spot overlooking Tipsoo Lake, over which “The Mountain” towers. Sunrises are, of course, always gorgeous here, but they can often look waaaay oversaturated. In truth, that’s *exactly* the way sunrise looks, for maybe a minute, before the sunrlight then turns white on the snowcapped mountain. The colors for that one moment almost scream at the eye. So, for this shot, I waited for the perfect moment to photograph the composition just as the sun kissed the top of the mountain, leaving the rest of the scene looking cold in the blue/purple shadows of the morning.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Capturing The Color And Character Of Fall

The Beginning Of Sunrise At Paradise, Mount Rainier National Park (Washington)

The National Parks Traveler has published my latest photo column. This month, it’s all about capturing that last bit of autumn color before the monochrome palette of winter completely takes over.

To read the article, click on the image above.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under autumn, Mount Rainier National Park, National Parks, Photography, Seasons, Travel and Photography

Photography in The National Parks: Yosemite Tried, True, and New

Yosemite Valley Landscape, Yosemite National Park (California)

The National Parks Traveler has published my latest photography column. This month’s column is all about capturing iconic as well as new perspectives of this particular national park. To read the article, click on the image above.

As for this image: I drove into Yosemite Valley several times during my week’s stay in the park. Every time, I’d pass by this one spot along the road – a small pullout large enough for a vehicle, right next to the rocky banks of the Merced River, which was a trickle of its former self. So finally, I stopped, took out my camera and tripod, and gingerly picked my way to a spot to photograph forest, river, and El Capitan (I believe that’s El Cap) all beneath a blue sky with wispy clouds.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Some Very Quick Thoughts On The Fujifilm GFX 100S

A Trail And The Mountain, Sunrise Area, Mount Rainier National Park (Washington state)

I don’t know how many of you out there are still on a waiting list for a Fujifilm GFX 100S. I had to wait 5 months for mine and I only lucked out because I started looking at camera store websites other than the Big Two (BH Photo and Adorama). I can honestly say that, if you are a landscape photographer, the wait is worth it. The resolution is phenomenal and Fujifilm has not only actually brought a medium format camera down to the price of a high-end SLR like Sony, Canon, or Nikon, but at about the same size, too!

So, not too long ago, I spent a couple of days with my cameras up at Mount Rainier National Park. My main reason – aside from getting out and about – was to give my Fujifilm GFX 100S more of a workout. It wasn’t a complete workout because I didn’t try to get any night shots (the moon was out, making the sky too bright for decent star pics – that plus I was too tired from a full day of hiking), but it was enough for me to give a few more thoughts on this camera as well as the Fujifilm GFX 100.

Sunrise at the Sunrise Area, Mount Rainier National Park (Washington state)

1. The level of detail is simply amazing. I find, though, that I must add more saturation to the image when working with it on the computer. Sure, I could switch the film simulation from Provia/Standard to Velvia/Vivid, but that’s just a bit too vivid for me. That, plus it appears – on the LCD anyway – that some of the finer detail seen in the Provia/Standard setting is removed, or covered over, with that large boost of saturated color in the Velvia setting. I tend to apply saturation judiciously and thus prefer using Photoshop, where I feel I have a little more control.

2. Learning the menu setup is like learning another language. I’m language-challenged, but I do know my rudimentary way around the Fujifilm, Sony Alpha, and Canon menu setups. The menu setup for this brand of camera is extensive, but easier to intuit than Sony’s menu settings. That said, it behooves one to do a marginal skim of the owner’s manual before heading out into the field. I didn’t do that and ended up spending 30+ minutes trying to work with a setting while out in the park, wasting some good lighting conditions. And, I know better than to do that! Jeesh.

3. Battery life sucks for air – especially with the GFX 100S. My intention was to use the GFX 100S for an entire day of shooting, but both the battery that came with the camera as well as the spare battery I’d purchased pooped out on me before midday. I’ve since ordered an extra couple of batteries on top of the two I have, and I went ahead and ordered a couple more batteries for the GFX 100, although it’s battery life seems to be a bit longer. I just don’t want to be caught out in the field empty handed when that once-in-a-lifetime composition comes along. Know what I mean?

4. Two-second timer. When the camera is on the tripod, I always use the 2-second timer. It eliminates that last bit of vibration from my finger touching the shutter button. With both the GFX100 and the GFX100S, there’s three parts to the timer. In the Shooting setting (the little camera icon in the menu), you can set the self-timer to 10 seconds, 2 seconds, or Off. Then, you need to tell the camera to remember that self- timer setting in order for that timer to remain in effect for the next image, or if you turn the camera off and then back on at a later time. Otherwise, the timer will only work for one shot. Then, you’ll have to go back in and tell the camera to use the timer again. You’ll also need to decide whether or not you want the self-timer lamp on. That’s the little light that turns on while the s elf-timer is in use. For night shots (which I haven’t tried yet), I’ll turn that lamp off.

That’s all I’ve got, for now. I’ll be taking the two cameras with me on a forthcoming 2-week trip to a couple of national parks I’ve never visited (fingers crossed I don’t have any further health issues – or car issues, for that matter). I’m not certain if I’ll be able to get any star shots due to the smoky skies from area wildfires, but if the sky is clear, then I’ll see how well these cameras do regarding night scenes.

Mid-morning At Reflection Lakes, Mount Rainier National Park (Washington state)

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Fun Fact Photography!

The Secondary Phloem Of A Redwood Tree, Redwood National and State Parks (California)

Do you know what a secondary phloem is? I didn’t. But I saw this interesting site of the redwood tree’s parting of the outer bark to show the inner bark and took a photo of it. And, that’s what this month’s photography column I wrote for the National Parks Traveler is all about. I call it “Fun Fact Photography” and it’s facts about the subjects in some of the photos I’ve captured.

Have you ever seen something during a wander in a park about which you’d like to know more? All you have to do is snap a photo of it.

To read the article, click on the photo above.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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What’s On Tap For Your Memorial Day Weekend?

A Smoky Morning Along McDonald Creek in Glacier National Park (Montana)

Planning to visit a national park this 3-day holiday weekend? If so, make sure you check that park’s website for alerts/closures and whether or not you might need a reservation to access certain parts of that park.

Take Glacier National Park, for instance. No, you don’t need to worry about forest fires if you visit now. This image was captured several years ago, during the Sprague Fire on the western side of the park. But, you do need to be aware that the Many Glacier Road is closed this weekend, and visits to this national park now require not only a park pass to enter, but also reservations since it’s ticketed entry to drive Going-to-the-Sun Road.

Same thing with Rocky Mountain National Park – timed entry tickets are required and all the pre-reserved tickets are sold out. This national park does keep a percentage of tickets for those wishing to enter the park on that day. If you want to avoid a reservation, then you need to enter the park before 5 a.m. or after 6 p.m. Good reasons to be an early riser or night owl for sunrise, sunset, and night photography.

I’m staying home this weekend. I do NOT want to encounter the huge crowds I know will be in the parks, and I’m still prepping for my Big Trip that I’ll be taking in about 2 weeks.

Where ever you go, whatever you do, stay safe, keep a good social distance, and be nice to people … unless they are doing something totally stupid, in which case, gently remind them to not do whatever stupid thing it is they are doing (like trying to get a selfie in front of that momma grizzly and her cubs). Your reminders probably won’t work, but at least you’ll have done your part.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Glacier National Park MT, Holidays, Memorial Day, Montana, National Parks, Photography, Travel

National Parks Traveler Checklist: Petrified Forest National Park (Arizona)

The promise of a summer storm over the Painted Desert, Petrified Forest National Park (Arizona)

If you are planning a trip to Arches or Zion national parks in Utah over the Memorial Day holiday, then you’d better brace for crowds. No duh, right? However, if you are looking to spend time in a less-visited park that has some amazing scenery and geology, then why not take a look at Petrified Forest National Park, in Arizona. As a matter of fact, the National Parks published my latest Traveler Checklist today. These checklists I write are not the kind reminding you to bring along your toothpaste and not to forget the toothbrush, but rather what you might do during a visit to the park, what to watch out for, and maybe where to get a decent coffee or meal.

To read the checklist, click on the image above.

This image was captured shortly after my arrival at the Painted Desert portion of the park during my road trip move from TX to WA. It was summer, which is the monsoon season out in that part of the U.S., so storm clouds floated over the park, threatening to create a downpour. Never happened, though – may have been cloudy, but was dry as a bone over the landscape.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Arizona, National Parks, National Parks Traveler, Petrified Forest National Park, Photography, Travel and Photography, Traveler's Checklist