Category Archives: Lessons

Wildlife Was Made For Black-And-White

Bison In The Snow, Yellowstone National Park

To me, wildlife photography was made for black-and-white photography. Or maybe it’s vice versa: black-and-white photography was made for wildlife. Yes, I love seeing wildlife and its environment in all the wonderful original colors of that environment, but you can’t disagree that reactions and drama aren’t ratcheted up a notch when a color image of wildlife is converted to black-and-white.

Take the bison in the snow, for instance. The day itself looked a little on the monochrome side, with the predominant colors being the brown-red coats of the bison herd on a snow-carpeted hillside. When converted to monochrome, textures, patterns, and the differences between light and dark really stand out in the absence of color.

Lone Coyote Just Off The Trail In Upper Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park

The shading of this beautiful lone coyote goes hand-in-hand with the lights, darks, and shadows in between when converted to black-and-white.

And the trumpeter swan below is a part of the icy image – rather than separate from its environment – when converted to monochrome.

Trumpeter swan on the Firehole River, Yellowstone National Park

My father – from whom I inherited a love of photography – only shot in black-and-white with his Mamiya twin lens film camera, scores of decades ago. He’d return from a day out hiking in Glacier National Park and go down to his basement darkroom to process the day’s shots.

Speaking of getting a monochrome image, IMO, it’s always best to go ahead and get the color version as your original, then make a copy and turn that copy into monochrome once you have returned to your computer. That way, you’ll always have the color shot in addition to the monochrome image. Sure, most cameras have in-camera settings to use for solely capturing black-and-white, but then you won’t have any original color shots unless you waste the time to change the menu setting from monochrome back to color. It’s a hassle, especially if you only have minutes before that elusive wildlife disappears or moves to a less-than-desirable background.

The next time you are out with your camera photographing the wildlife and birdlife, go ahead and get that shot in color, but when you return to your computer, make a copy of that shot and convert it to black-and-white and look at the differences.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Black & White, monochrome, Photography, Wildlife

Fun Fact Friday, January 21, 2022

A telephoeo view of the top of the lower falls of the Yellowstone River, Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming)
The powerful turbulence of the lower falls of the Yellowstone River
The lower falls of the Yellowstone River in an autumn snowstorm.

Hey,it’s #FunFactFriday ! If you’ve ever visited any of the view areas along the lower falls of the Yellowstone River in Yellowstone National Park, then you’ve probably noticed a green streek of water at the top of the waterfall.

As you know, the water from the riverbed, when it falls over the edge of the cliff, becomes a mixture of spray and turbulence, much like when water flows over a shallow, rocky portion of a riverbed, streambed, or creekbed. So, there’s a notch in the Yellowstone riverbed, right at the lip of the falls, extending down a little bit past the edge. This notch allows for a short, deeper flow of the riverwater to maintain its beautiful, clear green color before ultimately changing to spray / turbulance as it falls over and then outward from the cliff edge.

And now you know!

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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

National Parks Quiz And Trivia #35: The Waterfall Edition

The Weeping Wall along Going-to-the-Sun Road, Glacier National Park (Montana)

Ok, I’ll admit the image above is nothing to write home about, but I posted this because one of the quiz questions is about the Weeping Wall in my latest quiz and trivia piece published in today’s edition of the National Parks Traveler. It’s all about waterfalls in the national parks. Click on the link to test your knowledge about these sometimes-ephemeral, always beautiful cascades of water you might spy just off the side of the road or along the trail in a national park.

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

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under National Parks, National Parks Quiz, National Parks Traveler, Waterfalls, waterfalls

Traveler’s Checklist for Olympic National Park, and Photographing Water In The Parks

The Energy Of Agua, McDonald Creek, Glacier National Park (Montana)
Sol Duc Falls In The Early Morning, Olympic National Park (Washington state)

Ok, this post’s title is not very original , but it’s sort of a “two fer” post. The National Parks Traveler has published two of my articles. One of them is my monthly photo column – this month, it deals with photographing water. The other article is a Traveler Checklist with suggestions on things to do and see if you plan on visiting Olympic National Park.

To read the water photo column, click on the topmost image.

To read the Olympic National Park checklist, click on the waterfall image.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under National Parks, National Parks Traveler, Olympic National Park, Photography, Photography In The National Parks, Washington State, Waterfall Wednesday, Waterfalls

Waterfall Wednesday

A Little Waterfall Along Baring Creek, Glacier National Park (Montana)

It’s Waterfall Wednesday, so how about a little waterfall along the cold, turquoise-tinted water of Baring Creek, flowing beneath the arched bridge on Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park.

I last visited this park in 2017, when I captured the image above. No, it’s not Baring Falls – that one is much larger and further down the trail. I don’t really know why I didn’t hike the entire trail to the waterfall, but I didn’t. Next time I am in Glacier, I’ll hike down to get a different waterfall composition for a future Waterfall Wednesday.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Glacier National Park MT, National Parks, Photography, Waterfall Wednesday, Waterfalls

A Lesson In Composition

The Evening View From The Gazebo

A Kalaloch Beach sunset from the gazebo, Olympic National Park

Good morning, class. Today’s lesson will be in composition: as in, what to try and avoid when composing your image.

Now, the image above is lovely, or rather, is looking upon a lovely scene. At the time I captured it, I know I wanted to get the scene below framed by the gazebo structure. However, I must have suffered a bit of a brain fart, because the composition did not come out as I’d hoped. What I should have done (and don’t know why I didn’t), was include at least a portion of a third post into the left side of the photo. Right now, in this image, things look a little weighted and not quite right. There is part of a post on the far right side, and a post in the middle, but absolutely nothing on the left side.

So, the moral (lesson) of this story is to try and make certain that, when looking through the camera viewfinder, your images are evenly weighted with regard to natural frames (like the gazebo posts).

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Canon, Composition, Lessons, National Parks, natural frames, Olympic National Park, Photography

Waterfall Wednesday

Gibbon Falls

It’s Waterfall Wednesday! I took a quick look through all the photos I’ve posted and I didn’t see this one listed, so here it is. If I missed it and have posted it before, my apologies. I just lose track, sometimes.

Anyway, this is Gibbon Falls in Yellowstone National Park. Yellowstone has plenty of beautiful, photogenic falls, reached either by view area right off the road, or via a hike along a trail. Gibbon Falls has its own large parking lot and view areas (yes, multiple spots to view different angles of this beautiful waterfall).
 
Waterfalls make great subjects for silky water shots, you know. Yes, some people like their water to “look like water”, as one fan told me, but others like that dream quality of smooth, silky water that a slow shutter speed gives you. The key to getting a shot like this, where the lighting for the composition is good and the highlights in the waterfall are not too very blown out (overexposed) is to use a tripod (required, really) and a neutral density (ND) filter. ND filters come in verying sizes, shades (densities) and prices. Some of the fancier (and super-expensive) ones, like the Singh-Ray brand, can be adjusted to various densities of darkness with a twist of the outer filter ring. The darkness of the filter allows you to use really slow shutter speeds while still capturing a well-exposed image. If you don’t have a ND filter (and every SLR photographer should have that filter in their gearbag), a circular polarizer (CPL) can do a decent job, too. To be honest, I can’t remember if I used a CPL or a ND filter for this shot. If you have both filters in your camera gear arsenal, then try experimenting with each one to see which result you like best.
 
I also shot at a focal length that would allow for a decent cutoff of the trees at the bottom of the shot. Taking your compositional details into consideration (rather than just getting a grab shot), can mean the difference between a good image and a great image. Think of it as akin to trying to figure out where to (figuratively) chop off the arms and legs of someone you are photographing. Sometimes you just don’t have enough room to get everything in your shot, so you need to make that cutoff somewhere. Rule of thumb on that is to NOT crop off at the joints so it doesn’t look like they’ve been amputated.
 
And that concludes our photo lesson for Wednesday, folks. You are halfway through the week!
 
Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Canon, National Parks, Photography, Waterfalls, Yellowstone National Park

Creepy

Shapes And Colors In The Rain Forest BW

I know, what a word to use for something as beautiful as the scenery along the Hall of Mosses trail in the Hoh Rain Forest of Olympic National Park. Actually, this image (just in time for Halloween, I might add), is a duplicate of the color one I uploaded to a post a couple of days ago. I wondered how forest interiors might look if converted to monochrome. I immediately noticed the clarity and texture of the tree roots, and the play of shadow and light in the scene. A lovely, green and brown serene scene became a bit more sinister in black and white.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Black & White, Halloween, HD PENTAX-DA645 28-45mm f/4.5 ED AW SR Lens, National Parks, Olympic National Park, Pentax Lens, Photography, Travel, Washington State

Waterfall Wednesday!

Falls Creek Waterfall

The waterfall at Falls Creek, Mount Rainier National Park

Whenever I enter Mount Rainier National Park via the Stevens Canyon entrance, I always stop at the Falls Creek pullout to photograph this waterfall. Depending upon the time of the year, it can be at full throttle, or a mere trickle. I also love photographing this waterfall because of the play of light and shadow, and the many shades of green. Plus, it’s good exercise for me in getting in a few “silky water” shots. During this particular instance, it was also good practice working with my new medium format Pentax 645z.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under HD PENTAX-DA645 28-45mm f/4.5 ED AW SR Lens, Mt. Rainier National Park, National Parks, Pentax 645z, Pentax Lens, Photography, Seasons, summer, Washington State, Waterfalls

Lightroom’s Dehaze Slider Tool

Dehaze Slider

Good Morning, Class – I know it’s been a few days since my last post. You know how it goes. You get busy doing things, either photography or regular home/chore/errands and you find you don’t have time for much else. I wanted to show you some example photos Before/After using a lovely little tool in Adobe Lightroom, called the Dehaze slider. You might find it helpful for some of your own images.

These photos were taken during a 2016 autumn visit to the Paradise area of Mount Rainier National Park, Washington. Autumn, for me, is a magical time to visit any national park, with some caveats. Autumn in Mount Rainier may mean wonderfully crystal-clear skies with The Mountain out in its full splendor, or it might mean you are socked in with low-hanging clouds and fog. While the fog/mist can create some ephemeral, haunting images, it can also get in the way, at times. And, that’s where the Dehaze slider comes in. It really does reduce the amount of whiteness/haziness that you might have in your imagery. The more you move the slider to the right, the more the haze is reduced.

These images are pretty much not edited in any other way than whatever preset I used in Lightroom, along with the Dehaze tool. I didn’t do anything in Photoshop except convert the TIF images to JPG and the color space from ProPhoto RGB to sRGB, with adjustments to the saturation and brightness.

If you use Lightroom for your own photo editing and have never tried out the Dehaze slider, I urge you to play around with it and see whether or not you like it.

Blue Grouse Chick - Before

Blue Grouse chick – before using the Dehaze slider

Blue Grouse Chick - After

Blue Grouse chick – after using the dehaze slider

Hoary Marmot - Before

Hoary marmot – before using the Dehaze slider

Hoary Marmot - After

Hoary marmot – after using the dehaze slider

 

Paradise Visitor Center - Before

 

Visitor center at Paradise – before using the Dehaze slider

Paradise Visitor Center - After

Visitor center at Paradise – after using the Dehaze slider

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under autumn, Canon, Lessons, Lightroom Dehaze Slider, Mt. Rainier National Park, Mt. Rainier National Park, National Parks, Photography, Seasons