Category Archives: Photography

National Natural Landmarks – An NPS Designation For Very Special Places

A Northerly View Of The Yakima River At The Umtanum Ridge Water Gap, Washington State

When is a landscape associated with the National Park Service, yet not a unit within the National Park System? When it’s a National Natural Landmark.

Today’s edition of the National Parks Traveler has published an article of mine about these very special places, designated by the NPS for their outstanding examples of a biological or geologic feature.

To read the article, click on the image above.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under national natural landmark, National Parks Traveler, Photography

Fun Fact Friday January 27, 2023

It’s #funfactFriday folks! And today’s edition of the National Parks Traveler features a contribution from the Caldera Chronicles, a weekly feature produced by collaboration by scientists and the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory.

Today’s article is all about how the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone came into being. Granted, it’s not like the Grand Canyon of Arizona, but it’s a pretty cool (and colorful) place all on it’s own, “Stretching from the Lower Falls to the Tower Falls area, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is about 28 km (17 miles) long, 250–350 meters (820–1150 feet) deep, and 450–1200 meters (1500–4000 feet) across. It appears to be a surprisingly young feature of the region, having mostly formed during and immediately following the last ice age, within the past 20,000 years or so. “

To read more about this and view the video, click the image above.

These shots were captured during my autumn 2019 visit to Yellowstone National Park. I’d wanted to see the Lower Falls area back during the summer of 2018, as I made my way from TX to WA, but the crowds were horrendous and there was absolutely no place to park – seriously, every single parking space was filled. On the other hand, this visit resulting in these images was great – definitely no crowds.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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

Photography In The National Parks: My 10 Favorite Shots From 2022

The National Parks Traveler has published my latest Photography in The National Parks column. It’s the same thing every year, in keeping with a tradition I began back in 2015 when I started listing between 5 – 10 of my favorite images captured the previous year.

This month’s column is about my 10 favorite images I took during 2022, including the one you see here.

Now, I’m pretty sure you are wondering why on earth I might like an image like *this* one. Well, sometimes it’s not so much the landscape itself that makes for a favorite shot, as it is a pattern, color, texture, or memory of when / why that image was photographed. In the case of the image here, I thought the lines from the bottom of the photo leading my eye toward the Old Faithful Inn in the distance were pretty cool (aka leading lines). I liked the colors, the texture, and the parallel patterning of that thick ridge of snow and ice on the boardwalk (a good reason to be wearing traction devices on one’s boots, btw) on that very cold winter day in February 2022.

To see the rest of my 10 favorites, and to read why they are faves and how I got the shot, click on the image above.

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Filed under National Parks, Photography, Photography In The National Parks

What’s Around The Corner For 2023?

What’s around the corner in 2023? What have you learned in 2022?

Today is the last day of 2022. It’s time for 365 days of 2023. What’s in store? For me, I hope it’s more travel and photography and articles for the National Parks Traveler.

I truly enjoy the travel. Sometimes, I enjoy the journey as much as the destination – although a 15-hour drive is really pushing it in the “enjoyment” department. That aside, I love seeing new places and photographing new things – well, new to me.

Quite a few of the images I post here are of iconic locations that have been photographed a gazillion times. It’s ok, though, to photograph that iconic location, you know. You are capturing the image with your own camera, and the time of day, weather pattern, and season make slight differences to the photo taken a previous day, or any photo taken in the future. It’s like one photographer I follow on Flickr said (and I paraphrase): you don’t avoid a very popular restaurant just because there are so many people who go there. You go to that restaurant because the food is fantastic (and that’s why it’s popular). Same thing with photographing an iconic spot.

I look back to the images I captured this past year. I didn’t travel as much as I wanted to – that whole money thing, you know. I stayed closer to home for photographic day trips. And I learned about the area around me. I’d never heard of the Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail, and yet a majority of this route is in eastern Washington. Heck, I’d even studied the Channeled Scablands when I was a geology student in college, but I’d still never been there. It’s one thing to read about it in a textbook, and an entirely different thing to actually see the landscape about which you’ve read. So, it really worked out that I photographed landscapes closer to where I live.

Where would I like to go in 2023? Well, I do want to take a day to see a couple of National Natural Landmarks along the way to visit Fort Vancouver National Historic Site. I’d also like to visit San Juan Island National Historical Park. I’ve got plans to travel (15 hours) to Sequoia National Park this year in mid September. Fingers crossed nothing occurs to prevent the trip, since it will be the third time I’ve tried to get there. I will, of course, continue making trips now and then to Mount Rainier National Park. During the summer, it’s only 1.5 hours away from where I live. In the winter, with the passes closed, it’s about 3 hours. I’m actually thinking of going there tomorrow, if for no other reason than to report on the crowds there because the Paradise area is only open on the weekends this winter due to a staffing situation.

There are a couple of other places I’d like to visit. Not end destinations (like Yellowstone or Glacier or Olympic national parks), but rather destinations on the way to an end destination. I’ll just have to see how that pans out.

Here’s to a hopeful New Year. For me. For every one of you. And thank you all, again, for keeping up with my posts and tidbits of trivia and photo tips and techniques.

Oh, yeah, about the image here. I was standing in the Olmsted Point parking area with my zoom lens and I thought it would be a neat photo of that car rounding the corner of Tioga Road, with a distant view of Tenaya Lake and the rounded granite Sierras within Yosemite National Park. Sort of a “what adventure is just around the corner” shot.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Holidays, National Parks, New Year, Photography

2022 Year In Review: Photography A Little Closer To Home

It’s been quite a year for the National Parks Traveler, with new units of the National Park System explored and resulting news, general interest, and photography articles written. If you follow the Traveler (and you should, if you want DAILY news from an editorially independent source about national parks in the U.S. and Canada), then you’ll know that the Traveler – like other news outlets – has been publishing various year-in-review articles the past week.

Published in today’s edition of the Traveler is my own 2022 Year In Review Photography article. Aside from a couple of 9- and 10-hour road trips to single destinations (Yellowstone National Park in winter and Lassen Volcanic National Park in autumn), the majority of my photography explorations have been a little closer to home along routes you might not even realize are parts of the National Park System.

To read the article, click on the image above.

This image is one of those closer-to-home venues, although I guess “close” is a relative term. It only took me 5 hours total drive time for a couple of days of photography including photographing the waves resuling from the annual king tides at Cape Disappiontment in Washington state, where the Pacific Ocean meets the mouth of the Columbia River.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Photography, Photography In The National Parks, Travel and Photography

Photography In The National Parks: A Matter Of Perspective

Photography is a matter of perspective, you know. It’s how *you* see things through your camera lens. My latest photography column has been published in the National Parks Traveler, and it deals with photographic perspective, using sample images I captured while visiting Lassen Volcanic National Park in California.

To read the article, click on either of the two images above.

The first image is the ground level view of the wall of blocky, black lava rock comprising the Fantastic Lava Beds, next to Butte Lake in the northeastern section of the park.

The second image is a much higher view of the lava beds from the summit of Cinder Cone, about 2 miles away from the first view.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Lassen Volcanic National Park, National Parks, National Parks Traveler, Photography, Photography In The National Parks

Fun Fact Friday 12-16-2022

It’s #FunFactFriday folks! According to the 2021 annual report put out by Yellowstone Volcano Observatory, which continues to work at locating every single hydrothermal feature within Yellowstone National Park, there is a current count of 1,100 thermal features within Norris Geyser Basin alone!

Pictured here is another “same place, different season” set of images captured at Porcelain Basin, a smaller area within the larger Norris Geyser Basin purview, showing some of those 1,100 thermal features.

There are times when I deliberately set out to photograph a spot I’ve already captured at some other time, but this was not one of those times. I just happened to be standing at the same view area slong the boardwalk – one time in early October (early autumn), then again in mid February (late winter) and discovered just this morning I’d taken photos of that same landscape.

The autumn image was captured with the Canon 5DS I used to own, and the winter image was photographed with my Sony a7riv. Both cameras used a 24-105mm lens (each their own brand). The 24-105mm lens is a great travel lens with a nice focal range that produces great landscape retults.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Fun Fact Friday, National Parks, Photography, Yellowstone National Park

Same Spot, Same Year, Different Season

Ok, here’s yet another example of why you should take your camera out to a favorite spot during different times of year, weather patterns, and/or times of day. In the case of these two images, one was captured in mid-spring (June) 2020, and the other was captured in mid-late winter (December) 2020. Both were captured during the morning hours. Notice the difference in water flow and vegetation amount and color.

Ok, granted, the cameras and lenses are different, but the location – right off the side of Westside Road, about a mile away from the Nisqually Entrance (Mount Rainier National Park), is the same.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Mount Rainier National Park, Mt. Rainier National Park, National Parks, Photography, waterfalls

Same Spot, Different Season

I was in the process of uploading the image above to my photo website when I noticed the image at the top already on my website. I’d unknowingly captured pretty much the exact same spot at Biscuit Basin in Yellowstone National Park, only during different seasons of the year (and different years, too, actually). The top image was photographed in the summer (July) of 2018. The bottom photo was captured in the winter (February) of 2022. Note the difference in algae color in the stream leading away from the lovely blue hot spring in the background. These color changes indicate temperature changes and maybe even different algae accustomed to environments of different temps. The yellow means the water is much cooler in that leading line of a stream than the water in the hot spring. And the green means that the temperature is slightly warmer than the yellow, yet still cooler than the blue of the hot spring. Science is pretty neat! Yellowstone National Park is pretty neat!

These two images are fantastic examples of my constant advice telling you to go out and photograph the same favorite spot or view area during different seasons, times of day, and weather conditions. The landscape can change markedly, depending upon these factors.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under National Parks, Photography, Yellowstone National Park

Texture And Color

In many articles I write for the National Parks Traveler, I stress a couple of things for capturing a great image: look for texture and look for color(s). This telephoto shot of a bison seen between Mammoth Hot Springs and the Lamar Valley in Yellowstone National Park is an example of both color and texture. Take a look at the thick, wooly textures of the bison. And take a look at the differing shades of red-brown. When you look at a bison from a distance, you don’t necessarily see all those color gradations within its furry coat. And you know that the bison has a thick, wooly coat for the winter, but when you look at a close-up, you see the fine differences in texture, from what looks like soft undergrowth to much coarser wooliness. Even the bison horn has a certain amount of textural and color differences.

I captured this image at a turnout on the way to the Lamar Valley, testing out my previously-underused 200-600mm lens on the Sony A1. While not a prime lens, it’s a pretty decent lens for getting close to the subject.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Photography, Wildlife, Yellowstone National Park