Category Archives: Photography

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

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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One Heck Of A Pothole!

It’s Trivia Tuesday! So, what are you looking at in this image, you may be asking yourself. You see a teeny white SUV to the upper left of this image, some golden grass and scrubby sagebrush. You see a large hole in the center and center-left of the image. Well, that’s a pothole you are looking at. Yes, a pothole – like the ones your vehicle drives over and it doesn’t get fixed until some member of the city council or their relative damages their car driving over it and they demand it gets fixed. Only this pothole was created by something entirely different, and is out in the middle of Drumheller Channels National Natural Landmark, a part of the Channeled Scablands landscape seen along the Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail in Eastern Washington state.

Ever heard of a “kolk”? Tens of thousands of years ago, colossal floodwaters surged through the area, higher than that white SUV, higher than any of the buttes you see in the image. Those waters were so strong and fast that they created corkscrew vortices called kolks (whirlpools) within the water. Those kolks drilled down into the ground and eroded and carried away boulders and soils to other destinations, leaving scraped and scoured landscape with these large potholes. And they are large. If you were to hike within the landscape of Drumheller Channels (much of which is located within the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge), you’d see dry potholes and water-filled potholes.

I’m writing a series of photo columns about the Channeled Scablands for the National Parks Traveler. Part 1 has already been published. Parts 2 and 3 are going to be published in later months.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Channeled Scablands, Drumheller Channels National Natural Landmark, Eastern Washington, Geology, Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail, National Parks, Travel, Trivia Tuesday, Washington State

Road Trippin’

Road Trippin’ Through Oregon Landscape

Despite the price of gas, you should not be dissuaded ever from taking a road trip. You see far more, closer, than you would in a plane filled with maskless people hacking, coughing, and sneezing and prone to fits of rage. I should know. I have flown my share of miles over the years. Now, I drive to places I would not have thought to go, otherwise.

Road Trippin’ Up Washington Pass To North Cascades National Park
Road Trippin’ Along The Chisos Basin Road In Big Bend National Park

I read a great article this morning in the National Parks Traveler. It’s written by the Traveler’s Editor-in-Chief about his 2,500 mile road trip from his home in Utah to attend a family wedding. Along the way to and from, he stopped at four park units within the National Park System, in Kansas and Nebraska, America’s heartland. He’s written about these places before, but he acknowledges that it’s one thing to write about them, but another thing entirely to actually visit them and speak to the rangers helping to protect these pieces of history and landscape. There’s a visceral feeling and a certain amount of satisfaction in reaching your destination via a road trip as opposed to flying (although reaching your flight’s end in one piece and on time – more or less – is a visceral satisfaction of its own, too, I guess).

Anyway, these images represent road trips I’ve taken in my own SUV. These are trips I might not have driven had I not been able to finally afford a vehicle that would not only take me to these places, but allow me to pack what I want without having to worry about weight limits and, if I wanted, I could camp overnight in (sorry, poor grammar here).

You might want to read the Traveler’s article, yourself. It’s a good one and might urge you on your own road trip.

Just click on the very top image to be taken to the Traveler’s article.

Oh, I don’t plan on driving to Nebraska or Kansas or anyplace out East anytime soon, but it brings to mind the road trips I’ve recently taken in Washington state and Oregon, along the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, the Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail, and even my winter road trip to Yellowstone National Park.

I’ll be continuing my road trips as long as I am able to do so.

On Top Of Columnar Basalts At Drumheller Channels National Natural Landmark

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Photography In The National Parks: Exploration Along The Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail

Dry Falls Vista

The National Parks Traveler has published my latest photo column. This month, it’s all about my day trip to Eastern Washington’s Dry Falls and Channeled Scablands landscape along the Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail.

To read the article, click on the image above.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Eastern Washington, Geology, Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail, National Parks Traveler, Photography, Travel, Washington State

Help Out The National Parks Traveler And Check Out The Traveler’s New Apparel Store

The National Parks Traveler has a new apparel store! Designed around the national park photography of Yours Truly, the shirts and hoodies let you align as a traveler in your favorite park. While this initial launch offers images from Yellowstone, Glacier, and Olympic national parks, future editions will let you claim Bryce Canyon National Park, Zion National Park, Katmai National Park, Grand Teton National Park, Grand Canyon National Park, Yosemite National Park, and other destinations around the National Park System.

You also can forgo a park image and simply declare yourself a parks traveler with the National Parks Traveler logo on the left breast and “National Parks Traveler” running down the left sleeve in the news organization’s colors.

Click on any of the images above to go to the Traveler store, then save the link as a Favorite. The images above are examples of what you can find on the store (different sizes, shirt colors, designs).

Keep an eye on the store for new editions. By purchasing these items, you not only can align with your favorite park, but support the Traveler, as a small percentage of each sale goes right towards operational expenses.

P.S., I’ve already done a little shopping myself, and once I receive the products, I’ll show you how they look. Ever the little shopper, I’m pretty excited the Traveler finally has a store out there.

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Filed under National Parks, National Parks Traveler, Photography

Photography In The National Parks: More Favorite Spots For Photography

Sunrise Viewed From The Sinnott Memorial Overlook At Crater Lake National Park (Oregon)

If you have ever visited a national park more than once, then you probably have a few favorite spots in that park that you like to revisit, right? I certainly have favorite spots, and managed to find more than a few in the park units I visited since late 2019. I have written about these spots in my latest photography article for the National Parks Traveler.

To read my article, click on the image above.

Copyright Rebecca 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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Filed under Glacier National Park MT, National Parks, Photography

Fun Fact Friday, May 6, 2022

One Heck Of A North Rim View, Grand Canyon National Park (Arizona)

It’s Fun Fact Friday, and since the North Rim of the Grand Canyon is set to open this month, I thought I’d put a few fun facts out here about this part of Grand Canyon National Park:

The North Rim is 1,000 feet higher in elevation than the South Rim. That means it’s cooler, wetter, and there are far more trees – so many, in fact, that I found it difficult to get an unencumbered photo of the canyon landscape because of all the trees.

If you are standing at the South Rim looking toward the North Rim, the distance (as the crow flies) is about 10 miles. If you choose to hike from the South Rim to the North Rim, the distance to get there is 21 miles. And if you want to drive from the south to the north, you’ll be taking the “scenic route” and it will take you about five hours to get to the North Rim.

Only about 10% of all visitors to this national park ever make it up to the North Rim, so it’s much less visited – although that doesn’t mean it won’t be crowded at times. Plus, there is only one lodge up there: Grand Canyon Lodge, and one campground (although there are other campgrounds outside the park boundary).

This image was captured at one of the two small view areas below the Grand Canyon Lodge. I spent a couple of days at the North Rim during my move from Texas to Washington state.

Click on the image above if you are interested in purchasing a print.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Fun Fact Friday, Grand Canyon National Park, National Parks, North Rim, Photography

Canada’s Most (And Least) Visited National Parks And Sites For 2021

A lovely spring morning at Lake Louise in Banff National Park, Canada

Back in 2016, I spent about a week visiting Canada’s Banff and Jasper national parks. I hadn’t visited in decades – not since I was a little girl maybe not quite nine years old (perhaps a little older, I can’t really remember) – we might have already moved to Kentucky when we went.

Anyway, spring is a beautiful time to see the rugged mountain landscapes, but be aware there is still plenty of snow up there to cover many of the trails.

And, speaking of Banff and Jasper national parks, today’s edition of the National Parks Traveler has an article about Canada’s most (and least) visited national parks and sites for 2021. If you are curious, or planning your own Canadian park trip, then check out that article.

To read the article, click on the image above.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Banff National Park, Canada, National Parks, Photography, Seasons, Spring, Travel