Category Archives: Travel

Standing Amongst The Fallen

Standing between a couple of downed coast redwood trees

It’s Fun Fact Friday! Did you know that coast redwood trees have a very shallow root system? When I saw these and other downed trees while wandering the Stout Grove Trail in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, it brought to mind the downed oak trees I’d seen after hurricanes while living in southeast Texas. I asked a park ranger about this and she said yes, coast redwoods have shallow root systems that only go about 3 feet down, but the roots migrate outward around the tree for quite a distance, some as far as 80 feet from the tree. And, studies have indicated that one coast redwood tree’s root system can communicate with another redwood tree’s root system, providing nutrients and water to that other tree if it needs them.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under California, Fun Fact Friday, National Parks, Photography, Redwoods National and State Parks, Travel, trees

Waiting For Sunrise At Sunrise

Ok, I know it’s Tuesday, but the Labor Day holiday makes today feel like a Monday. Anyway, here’s a video for your Tuesday morning. I call it “Waiting For Sunrise At Sunrise.”

I’m trying to capture more videos when I visit the national parks. I tend to keep them relatively short because most readers’ attention spans aren’t that long, and most of the videos (99/9%) are captured with my iPhone 11 (it’s just easier and the iPhone does a nice job).

So, here’s a video I took while waiting for sunrise in the Sunrise area of Mount Rainier National Park. I was at my favorite spot on Sourdough Ridge Trail. I’d like to capture sunrise looking the other way, instead of looking straight at The Mountain, someday, but the parking lot for that particular “other way” spot is always jam-packed and I don’t want to be standing cheek-by-jowl with others at this point in time.

Anyway, enjoy the almost-sunrise at the Sunrise area of the park.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Mount Rainier National Park, Mt. Rainier National Park, National Parks, sunrise, Travel, video, Washington State

Since My Crater Lake Visit In July

The Kiss Of Dawn, Tipsoo Lake, Mount Rainier National Park

I was trying to remember what I’d done/seen since my previous post about visiting Crater Lake National Park in July, and I had to go to my Facebook photography page to figure it all out.

Let’s see: I managed to visit Crater Lake just prior to all the stupid stuff people started doing there, like illegally hiking (slipping, sliding, rolling) down the very steep rim of Crater Lake to get to the shore (FYI there’s only one legal place to get down to the shore and that’s the Cleetwood Cove Trail). I also managed to visit prior to people defacating along the shoreline of the lake, flicking their cigarette butts into the lake, throwing underwear into the lake, and bringing their little paddle boards and other illegal watercraft to navigate the lake (illegal watercraft can have invasives like quagga mussels encrusted on their bottoms), all of which pollute the pristine waters of this amazingly blue lake that only gets its water from rain and snow and no sort of creek, stream, or river.

There’s a new kind of visitor to the national parks since the coronavirus pandemic: those people who are used to going to Wally World and waterparks and theme parks where there are restrooms and trash cans and food kiosks. These people don’t know how to conduct themselves in a national park, where there may not be those little conveniences. Unfortunately, there are not enough ranger staff to educate the ignorant, so environmental destruction has run wild in these places. While I think it’s great that more people discover the joys of being outside and exploring national parks, it would help if they visited the NPS.gov sites for these national parks to learn what they can and cannot do and can and cannot bring and at least care a little bit about keeping parks in good shape for future visits.

Since that Crater Lake visit, I’ve taken a short, mid-August trip to the Sunrise area of Mount Rainier National Park to fulfill a bucket list of goals such as photographing sunrise, sunset, and the Milky Way in that particular area of the park. I accomplished that and have written a photography article that should post late next week (Sept 4th) in the National Parks Traveler.

As for future plans, I am considering a trip in October to Redwoods National and State Parks to see (and photograph and report) if the California wildfires affected the redwoods there, but that remains up in the air at this point in time.

I still practice social distancing and wear a mask when out. Many people don’t do either, unfortunately. Until we have a valid, tested vaccine for Covid, I’ll continue doing that. Washington state has three face mask orders currently in place.

That’s pretty much it. In between writing photo articles and creating national parks quiz and trivia pieces for the Traveler, I help out around the house and yard and plan for future trips I may or may not take.

Stay safe out there, folks.

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Filed under coronavirus, covid-19, Crater Lake National Park, Mount Rainier National Park, Mt. Rainier National Park, National Parks, Photography, Travel

Photography In The National Parks: A Short Stay At Crater Lake

Crater Lake just after sunrise

If you read my previous article published in the National Parks Traveler, then you’ll know how I prepared for my photography trip to Crater Lake National Park during the Coronavirus pandemic. My latest article published by the Traveler is about the photography you can achieve within this park.

To read my photo article, click on the image above.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Canon, coronavirus, Crater Lake National Park, Equipment, National Parks, National Parks Traveler, Nikon, Oregon, Photography, Sony Alpha a7r IV, Travel

Photography In The National Parks: Getting Out There With My Cameras During The Coronavirus Pandemic

The view from the summit of Watchman Peak in Crater Lake National Park

It is possible to take a safe and enjoyable trip into a national park, if you prepare and use some precautions. I returned alive and well (it’s been 14 days since my return) to write how I did it and what I saw at Crater Lake National Park in Oregon.

To read the story published in the National Parks Traveler, click on the image above.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under coronavirus, covid-19, Crater Lake National Park, Equipment, health, Life, National Park Lodging, National Parks, National Parks Traveler, Oregon, Photography, summer, Travel, Travel and Photography

The Great American Outdoors Act

Sunrise as seen from Sinnott Memorial Overlook at Crater Lake National Park in Oregon

Yahoo! The Great American Outdoors Act has been passed! So, now what? How will that $1.3 billion a year over the next 5 years be spent, and who gets the money? Remember, there are 419 units in the National Park System.

The National Parks Traveler has an interesting article asking that very question. Go check it out.

To read the article, click on the image above.

As for that image, I had arrived at the Crater Lake Lodge area around 4:00 a.m. and realized it was too cloudy to get any pre-dawn star shots. So, I sat in the car for awhile before finally venturing out to find the steps leading to the overlook, then setting up my tripod and camera for Blue Hour, sunrise, and after-sunrise shots.

I used my Sony Alpha 7R IV camera and 16-35mm lens for this shot.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Crater Lake National Park, National Parks, National Parks Traveler, Oregon, Photography, Sony Alpha a7r IV, starbursts, sunrise

Photography In The National Parks: My Final Fave Places

The view overlooking Kilauea Iki Trail in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park

The Kilauea Iki Trail in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park provides some of my favorite views for photography in this national park. And I’ve included this with a number of other national park fave spots in this month’s photography column published by National Parks Traveler. Go check out the article to see if my faves are your faves.

To read the article and view the photos, click on the image above.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under National Parks, National Parks Traveler, Photography, Travel

A Little Advice For You Photographers Out There

Sunrise over “The Mountain” at Tipsoo Lake, Mount Rainier National Park

Each photo you take tells a story. I practically hammer that in to my readers in my monthly photo columns on the National Parks Traveler . But, I have some advice for you photographers who post your images out there on Flickr, Twitter, or Facebook:

Write a little bit about your photo, too. Add to that story.

People enjoy reading about how you captured the image, what you were feeling, what camera you used, even your settings. It adds to your story, fleshes it out, and helps others figure out settings for their own camera in similar situations. It also makes you more engaging, both as a photographer and a storyteller.

It drives me nuts to see an interesting image with no title, no commentary, no exif, no nuthin’. Now, I can understand why a photographer might not wish to indicate the location of the photo, since many places are loved to death, aready – no need to add to that. But, it’s a primary rant with me that many photographers won’t tell a damned story. Yeah, the sunrise over the mountains in that photo is gorgeous, and yeah, it looks a little cold, but surely there is more to it than that! What did you feel at the time you clicked that shutter button? How many miles did you have to hike to get there? Know anything about the ecosystem there; any sort of facts or trivia to impart to your viewers?

For instance, I took a couple of day trips this month (June 2020) over to Mount Rainier National Park, here in Washington state, for some photography. I was itching to get out with my cameras, but leery of things due to the coronavirus pandemic. When I visited, I practiced my social distancing, went to areas where there were few-to-no people, wore a mask where there were people, and thoroughly enjoyed myself – except for that one moment when a woman in a group not practicing social distancing came up to me, pointed at my mask, and told me I needed to take it off.

I posted some of those images on Flickr, and added commentary along with exif data (specific information about the image, including settings, etc.), because I want people to see the exposure information and to visibly see the difference visiting the same spot can make during different seasons, different times of the day, and under different weather conditions; in this instance, rainy and overcast versus a blue-sky day.

My first trip to the park since the coronavirus pandemic was June 8th, shortly after it reopened. My second trip was June 18th. The difference in weather is dramatic and you can see it in the images.

A fast-flowing stream on an overcast day, Mount Rainier National Park
A sunny day along the same stream in Mount Rainier National Park

The first time I visited, I did not go via Chinook Pass to Tipsoo Lake because I knew things would be snowed over and, due to the rainy, overcast weather, I figured The Mountain would be hiding behind an iron curtain of gray fog. The second time I visited, I did drive by Tipsoo Lake, as you can see from the image at the top of this post.

The view from Ricksecker Point on June 8th
The view from Ricksecker Point on June 18th

I won’t make this post any longer, since attention spans aren’t what they used to be. But you should get the gist of what I am saying to you. If you post to a public viewing site, then write a little commentary / story to go with the image so people get a better flavor of the atmosphere and feeling around the photo.

FYI, in case you wish to quibble, photo essays are a little different, and there, you do need to be able to tell a story with just your photos and captions. Flickr, FB, and Twitter, however, are not exactly conducive to photo essays.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Mount Rainier National Park, Mt. Rainier National Park, National Parks, Photography, Telling A Story, Travel, Washington State

Monday Morning Sunrise

Here’s your Monday morning sunrise, courtesy of the Green River Overlook in the Island-In-The-Sky District of Canyonlands National Park in Utah. The National Parks Traveler has both a Feature Story and a podcast centered around the impacts that could be made to Utah parks (including Canyonlands) and national monuments due to the sale by the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) of oil and gas leases in these areas.

To read the Feature Story, click on the image above. To listen to the podcast, click on the link below.


https://www.nationalparkstraveler.org/podcast/2020-06-21-national-parks-traveler-episode-71-oil-and-gas-and-national-parks

As for this image, it was captured the day after New Year’s, back in 2018. I was trying to divide my time between Arches and Canyonlands national parks. I did not want to hike to Mesa Arch and be greeted by a gazillion other photographers and tourists who were waiting to see sunrise beneath the arch, so I drove on to the Green River Overlook to capture the saturated golden and orange hues bestowed upon the red rocks by the rising sun. I was the only one there and it was great!

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Canon, Canyonlands National Park, National Parks, National Parks Traveler, Photography, Podcast, Travel, Utah

Photography In The National Parks: Back In Business Again

Forest Magic in the lower elevations

My photo article has been published on the National Parks Traveler. Usually, my columns are published a little closer to the end of the month, but this one is different in that it deals with what you might see if you happen to visit Mount Rainier National Park anytime soon, since it’s reopened the road from the Nisqually entrance to Paradise.

To read the article, click on the image above.

As for this photo – the rain was pelting down as I got out of the car with my camera. I captured this image handheld because it was a pain to get out the tripod and set it up in the downpour. Even my camera’s rain protection was beginning to get saturated, and my bangs were plastered to my forehead. Yes, I did wear a rainjacket but didn’t pull the hood over my head because water kept dropping from the hood onto the camera. It was a mess and I was lucky to get this shot.

This was using my Nikon D850 and 24-120 lens. This is the lens that I won’t ever use again because out of all the shots I took with it, only this and one other image turned out. I’d read about problems with this lens but didn’t think it would happen to me. I guess sort of like people thinking coronavirus won’t happen to them. I *thought* everything was hunky dory after doing some lens calibration, but apparently not. Live and learn. Better to have this happen with a nearby park trip than next month’s Crater Lake trip.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Mount Rainier National Park, Mt. Rainier National Park, National Parks, National Parks Traveler, Photography, Photography In The National Parks, Travel, Travel and Photography, Washington State