Category Archives: Vacation

Going-to-the-Sun Road is Open!

GTTS Road From Highline Trail

A view of Going-to-the-Sun road from the Highline Trail in Glacier National Park

Yahoo! Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park is now officially cleared of snow and open for the 2018 summer season to vehicles in all of its 50-mile stretch, as of June 23rd, 2018.

For those of you who have never visited Glacier National Park and driven along this National Historic Landmark for views of some of the most stunning scenery within a national park, it’s quite a feat to plow the snow from this road every year, starting in early spring. Usually, the road is open either at the end of June or sometimes, in early-mid July. So June 23rd is pretty early.

The history of this road is quite interesting, and if you want to read about it, click on the photo above.  The article is a little dated, but the history and trivia remains the same.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Glacier National Park MT, Landscape, Montana, National Parks, National Parks Traveler, Photography, Travel, Travel and Photography, Vacation

Happy New Year, London – It’s 2016!

Happy New Year From London

My last post described my New Year’s Eve experience in London.  This post shows you the results.  The fireworks display lasted around 11 minutes. I used my Canon 1DX and 16-35mm f/4L IS lens, set the ISO to 5000, shutter to 1/50 of a second, aperture was f/4 and I just left it at that for these photos.  I had to use some noiseware (Imagenomic) reduction software during the editing phase.

Happy New Year London 2-15-2016Happy New Year UK 2016Happy New Year UK 2016Happy New Year UK 2016Happy New Year UK 2016Happy New Year Longon 2-15-2016Happy New Year UK 2016Happy New Year London 2-15-2016Happy New Year London 2-15-2016Happy New Year London 2-15-2016Happy New Year London 2-15-2016Happy New Year London 2016Happy New Year London 2016Happy New Year London 2016Happy New Year London 2-15-2016

Some of these images bring to mind an abstract painting.  All of these images bring to mind an incredible event.

 

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Filed under 1DX, Canon, Canon Lens, holiday, London, New Year, Night Photography, Photography, Travel, Travel and Photography, Vacation

Ocotillo

Ocotillo Bloom

For my first vacation of the year, I drove  from my home in southeast Texas to Big Bend National Park in southwest Texas – a 13-hour drive (if my friend or her husband had let me borrow one of their brand new Corvettes, it might have only been a 2-hour drive) Winking smile

I’d visited the park back in December 2013 and I returned to that park for two reasons:  the starry night skies (it was a new moon when I visited) and the blooming cacti.

Two Bees In A Prickly Pear Bloom

So, where does the ocotillo come in?

Ocotillo and Chihuahuan Desert Scenery

Because it’s not a cactus.

Ocotillo Thorns

Even though it has thorns.  Lots of ‘em.

Ocotillo Bloom

No, an ocotillo is a shrub.  Most of the year, it looks dead.  But, when it rains, it puts out lots of little green leaves and these beautiful, orange-red tubular blooms.  The leaves fall off pretty quickly in an effort to conserve water, but these blooms remain for a bit longer.  Ocotillos can live between 60-100 years and grow 20 feet tall.

Early Morning In The Park

The ocotillo is a pretty cool plant.

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Filed under Big Bend, flowers, National Parks, Photography, Texas, Travel, Vacation

Becky’s 2013 Photographic Review

Becky At The Window Overlook

While perusing several other blogs which I follow, I noted one of the photographic bloggers was preparing a year in review post.  I decided to do the same.

Going through all of my photos taken over the course of year gave me pause in which I realized that I had a really good year.  Oh, of course I had ups and downs, but all in all, I had a great deal more ups than downs.

In February, I traveled to Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, and Dead Horse State Park – all in Utah.  This was my first winter trip in many years (most of my trips are mainly during the late summer or fall seasons).  During that time, I hiked up to Delicate Arch and had the entire area all to myself for a good 30+ minutes, and was also fortunate enough on the previous day to witness a magical snow fall in an otherwise arid region.

On Top Of The World

Steps Up To North Window

In early April, I had the pleasure of conducting a portfolio photo session for  a stunningly beautiful belly dancer.

Zaras Veils

And in late April, I photographed the wedding of a former co-worker and her musician fiancee (who now has a jazz CD out on iTunes).  The weather was perfect, the bride was stunning, the wedding went off without a hitch, and the day couldn’t have been better – we all had a great time.

Bride Relaxing On The Chairs

Newly Wedded

In July, I flew to Alaska for the first time in my life, spending a week with Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris in Katmai National Park and Preserve.  There, I captured some fantastic photos of the awesome coastal brown bears as they fished for the salmon along the Brooks River.  Prior to the trip to Katmai, I spent a few days just tooleying around the Anchorage area in a rental car, further cementing my desire to return in August 2014.

Becky At Brooks Falls

Caught One

And I wasn’t finished with July travel.  Work required me to travel to London;  this time, it was via Business Class, which is a heck of a lot sweeter than economy, believe me.  In between work at the London office,  I managed to do things in that great city that I had not been able to accomplish during a visit two years prior (tour the National Gallery, ride on the London Eye at night and purchase a ticket to see Spamalot).

Becky At Trafalgar Square

At The Top Of The Eye

In October, I flew to Maine and spent a week on Mount Desert Island where I captured the gloriously-saturated colors of autumn.  Because this trip coincided with the  government shutdown, I investigated Acadia National Park via biplane rather than hiking.

Becky And The St. Augustine

Maine From Above

The Road To Cadillac Mountain

Starting on the 7th day of September, I helped my 88-year old mother hang 3 hummingbird feeders;  throughout the month, I had the wonderful privilege of photographing the beauty and antics of the ruby-throated hummingbirds that made their annual migration through my part of southeast Texas.  During those days and evenings of photography, I digitally captured hummingbird behavior that I had never witnessed before.

Becky And The Hummingbirds

Pulling The Head Feathers

In November (well, actually, that last day of November and the first day of December), I spent the weekend with my friends The Merchant Prince and his Lady Michelle, photographing their food & beverage venues and some crazy characters out at the Texas Renaissance Festival.

Christmas Becky

The Kings Feast Staff

Basil Drake and Fans

Gypsy Dance Theatre

In December, I managed to salvage enough vacation days for a 13-hour drive to Big Bend National Park, where I spent 4 full days in this incredible southwest Texas park.  I was so taken with this place that I will be making the long drive back in late April 2014 for a week’s stay.

I Made It

The Chisos Mountains And Chihuahuan Desert

Casa Grande and A Gibbous Moon

And, throughout the year when not traveling far and wide, I have visited and photographed the nearby Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge as well as Brazos Bend State Park.

A Golden Burst

Evening At Creekfield Lake1

Things have gone well, workwise.  My health has been good, as has the health of other members of my family.   I continue to contribute articles and photographs for the National Parks Traveler and my Facebook photography page has over 6000 Facebook Fans. Open-mouthed smile

Throughout the year, I got to do a lot of traveling and photography – the two things I love doing the most.  I guess I could have eschewed many of the trips and bought the big honkin’ prime lens that I’ve been lusting after for a couple of years now.  Instead, though, I chose to spend my discretionary income on traveling.  An old “rockhound” friend of my parents once told us “You can’t take your stuff with you but you can take your experiences with you”.  I totally believe that.  So, I opt for the travel experiences and thank my lucky stars for lensrentals.com Winking smile

Yes, there have been a few tough times, but not as many tough times as good times.  I’ve got a roof over my head, food in my tummy, a good job, and my family.  It’s been a really good year.

I look forward to next year and hope that it’s as good as this year has been.

Official Big Bend Fan

How has 2013 treated you?

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Filed under Acadia National Park, Alaska, Arches National Park, Big Bend, Blogging, Katmai National Park, Life, Maine, National Parks, Parks, Photography, Texas, Travel, Vacation

Photography In The National Parks: Big Bend in December

Sunset Over The Chisos Mountains

The National Parks Traveler just published a little “Exploring The Parks” article I wrote about my recent mid-December road trip to Big Bend National Park, Texas.  If you are interested in checking it out, just click on the photo above.

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Filed under Big Bend, National Parks, Night Photography, Photography, Texas, Travel, Travel and Photography, Vacation

Acadia National Park…..By Biplane

The National Parks Traveler has followed up my previous kayaking article with my article I wrote regarding photography of Acadia National Park from a biplane.  Click on this  link to get to the article where I not only tell my story and have aerial photos of one of the shut down parks, but I also impart  advice on aerial photography should any of you out there ever take a flightseeing tour of an area.

Becky And The St. Augustine

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Filed under Acadia National Park, aerial photography, Equipment, Maine, National Parks, Photography, Travel, Vacation

My 15 Minutes Of Fame: An Email Interview With CNN

This morning, I am in Bar Harbor, Maine.

As you know, I contribute to a monthly Photography In The Parks column on the National Parks Traveler website.  Because of this, most (if not all) of my vacations from my day job are centered around trips to national parks.

About three months ago, I purchased a plane ticket to Maine, paid for a rental cottage in Bar Harbor, pre-paid for a rental car (a Toyota Avalon, which is pretty darned nice, as they bumped me up to mid-size rather than economy at no extra charge), and made preparations to spend my days visiting Acadia National Park.

As you know, the shutdown has caused havoc with the national parks.

I was perusing the items on my Facebook Page – one of the pages I like is CNN.  One of their posts announced they were looking for people to email them with changes they had made to their vacation / wedding / other plans regarding a visit to a national park.  I was at the airport in Houston and I typed an email out on my phone and sent it off to CNN.

Lo and behold, as I was sitting on the plane waiting for it to finish loading and get ready for take-off, I received an answer back from CNN wanting to hold an email interview and asking me to answer some questions for them.  So, I did – all before the plane left the ground.  And CNN printed part of my interview, along with others they interviewed.

Here’s the link.  I’m the photographer mentioned regarding Acadia National Park.

My 15 minutes of fame.

😀

P.S.  Stay tuned for photos from Maine

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Filed under Maine, Photography, Travel, Vacation

The Trail To Delicate Arch

C2C8824_Delicate ArchView

I’ve heard that Landscape Arch and Delicate Arch were – but for a mistake –  actually meant to be named the other way.  I can understand that (if the story is true), having seen the long tenuous length of Landscape Arch, versus the “sturdier” and thicker curve of Delicate Arch.

Naming conventions aside,  it was Delicate Arch I wished to see on my final day in Arches National Park, Utah.  That particular landmark, emblazoning everything from t-shirts to water bottles to post cards to advertising campaigns, has been on my bucket list for years.  How can anybody visit this park without going to see for themselves this amazing rock formation?  It’s not really a very long hike; 3 miles round trip.  It is a bit arduous, but not too bad – certainly not bad enough for an arthritic, overweight, out-of-shape gal like me to avoid.   And I will tell you right now that this was an accomplishment that was the highlight of my entire vacation.

I’d saved this hike for my last day in the park, having (I hoped) built up my stamina to hiking and higher elevations (by “higher”, I mean anything higher than the 30 feet elevation of the Texas town in which I live) .

I like taking photos of trips and trails and posting them for others to see, because I like to see photos of places I want to visit, so I have an idea of what to expect.  Thus, below is a photo travelogue from start to finish of my hike.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

There is a sign pointing to a turnoff along the main road through the park.  The sign says something like “Delicate Arch/ Wolfe Ranch”.  It’s a little misleading, that sign.  You see, not only does that turnoff lead to the parking lot for the Delicate Arch trailhead, but if you drive on a little further past that first parking lot, you will see another parking lot specifically for the Delicate Arch OverlookThat trail is maybe 1/2 mile (straight up) and it affords the viewer a distant landscape vista of the arch.

B5A6800_Delicate Arch Overview

Many people get the two places mixed up, thinking they are going to the overlook via the shorter route, when they really are taking the longer trail straight up to the arch itself.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

The prime time for photographing Delicate Arch  is generally during the late afternoon/evening, and I’ve seen photos of the hundreds of photographers with their spots staked out by tripods, all ready to catch that evening light on the arch.  August is extremely HOT during the afternoon and evening hours, so  I instead opted to hike in the morning for a couple of reasons:

  • Fewer people; the tourist buses do not disgorge their riders at the main sights until around 10-11 AM.
  • Cooler temps.  If I’m going to huff and puff my way up the 1.5-mile trail, then I want to do it under less heat-debilitating conditions (and believe me, that intense, dry heat out there literally sucks the moisture from a body).   I carried two 32-oz water bottles with me and completely emptied one of them on the way up.

Not only were the temperatures cooler that morning, but it was overcast, with some interesting clouds.  Good thing I brought along my Lee 4×6 .9 graduated ND filter and had a polarizing filter on my Canon 16-35mm lens (the only lens I brought with me for this hike). I’ve learned over the years that I don’t do well carrying a backpack loaded with lots of heavy camera equipment.   I also learned during this  Colorado/Utah vacation that I was primarily using my 16-35mm wide angle lens far more than any of the other two lenses I’d brought along.  So that was the lens I took with me for the Delicate Arch hike.  Oh, I also brought my tripod, which served a dual purpose as a hiking stick.  I’m not a very sure-footed person, and that tripod was a great stabilizer for me.

C2C8622_Delicate Arch Trailhead

Along the trail is the Wolfe Ranch homestead (aka Turnbow Cabin).  It’s a small building with a protective screen  blocking the entrance, prohibiting both man, woman, and beast from entry.  It also takes a little creative angles in order to get a lovely photo of it without the screen door or window.  I opted to concentrate the lens on the beautiful wood used to construct the cabin out in what was (and sort of still is) the middle of nowhere.

C2C8625_Wood and Nature

A slight detour from the trail brings the hiker to a set of petroglyphs (carved into the rock, as opposed to pictographs, which are drawn or painted).  The detour trail actually loops around and joins back with the main trail to Delicate Arch, so it’s a worthwhile stop to see some ancient artistry.

C2C8653-2_Petroglyphs

C2C8628_Trailside Vista

C2C8631_Bridge Over Calm Water

This little guy was chomping down on some pistachios left on the bridge.  It was so busy with the food that it hardly noticed me inching closer and closer to try and get a cute pic (using a wide angle lens).

C2C8645_Pistchio Breakfast

Who would have thought there would be such an oasis in the middle of this arid landscape?

C2C8637_Wolfe Ranch Vista

C2C8649_Oasis

Onward via the trail, heading toward that area of pink slick rock.  In this photo, it looks like it’s gently sloping upwards.  In reality, it’s rather steep.

C2C8662_On The Trail

See the couple making their way down from the slick rock?

C2C8666_Up Toward Slick Rock

C2C8669_Up Toward Slick Rock

Pointing the way to Delicate Arch.  These artful little rock piles called cairns fascinated me.

C2C8684_Stone Pointer

On the slick rock, heading up, up, up.  That teeny little “blip” near that green dot of shrub is a person way ahead of me.

C2C8691_Slick Rock

Looking back toward the parking lot, which is marked by that small swath of blue-green color in the middle of this image, just below the horizon.  I’m still trying to find out exactly what mineral created that lovely color.  I made the mistake of asking a former geology professor what mineral that might be, and he told me he never saw anything that color out there…..he reminded me he is color blind.

C2C8694_Looking Back

C2C8700_Sign Post

C2C8702_Slick Rock Trail

C2C8704_On The Right Track

Had I not been fiddling with my water bottle, I should have kept a little closer to those hikers ahead of me in the photo below.  If I’d done that,  I would not have mistaken a rock pile for a cairn and veered off in the wrong direction.  When I looked down a 10-foot drop off to see two real cairns and several other hikers, I knew I’d made a wrong turn somewhere and had to re-trace my steps.  It’s easy to re-trace the trail in the daylight, but I shudder to think of how some photographers make it back down at night, after capturing their evening images of the arch.

C2C8708_FollowThose hIkers

I saw these little guys and knew I was still heading in the right direction.

C2C8710_Pointing Toward The Ledge

Stone steps leading up to a ledge about 3-4 feet wide which wraps around that rock formation for about 200 feet.

C2C8715_Steps To The Ledge

Looking back toward some other hikers behind me coming up to the ledge.

C2C8722_Heading Up the Ledge

The view from the ledge.

C2C8879_Looking Back Along The Ledge

Delicate Arch is not visible until rounding the corner of the ledge wall.  Then, the destination in sight.  Once there, one has to scramble over those rocks you see in this photo in order to gain entrance to the slickrock “bowl” anchored at one end by Delicate Arch.

C2C8729-2_Destination In Sight

Delicate Arch is an incredible sight!  It’s one thing to look at photos of it, but no photo can convey the feeling of human smallness against the geologic immensity of this rock arch.  I gingerly made my way around the sloping slick rock bowl toward the arch and set up my tripod.  There were so few people there that morning, and the four guys underneath the arch obligingly moved out of the way to make room for others (like me) who wanted themselves digitally memorialized against that pinky-red sandstone behemoth.  I told a couple standing near me that I’d take their photo if they would take mine.  My camera was set up on the tripod and all ready for someone to hold down on the shutter button.  The cute young couple were thrilled to have someone offering to get their photo under the arch, and I was equally as thrilled that they would do the same for me.

Photographers, take note:  I understand that you want people out of the way so you can get your winning image of Delicate Arch, but you must remember that this is a national park – a public place for everybody.  Naturally, everybody who makes it up the 1.5-mile trail wants to view in awe (and photograph) this amazing structure.  Be nice, be patient, and you should have no issues with your photography.  I certainly had no problems being able to photograph the arch from different angles, and if somebody was in the way….well….that’s what the Content Aware menu item on CS5 & CS6 is for.

I met some interesting people while up there, too.  A couple from San Antonio, Texas, struck up a conversation with me about my use of the graduated ND filter.  As they were leaving, the husband turned to me, remarking that it was a shame it was not a sunny day.  I held up my grad ND filter, smiled, and told him that overcast, cloudy days can yield some images every bit as interesting as those taken on a sunny day.

C2C8768_Delicate Arch Vista

C2C8750_Taking Pictures

C2C8759_Slick Rock Bowl

Tenacity

C2C8846_Tenacity

Time to head back down.

C2C8891_Headed Back Down

Taking a short break resting on Fred Flintstone’s recliner chair.

C2C8898_Becky Relaxing2

I made it!!

C2C8743_I Made It REV

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Filed under Arches National Park, National Parks, Photography, Travel, Vacation

Tulip Town

5080_Yellow

The last time I visited the Skagit Valley tulip fields was back in 2005.  And I left in a huff after capturing some really cool photos because I (and a number of other people, photographers and non-), were yelled at by what I assume was the foreman of the tulip pickers.  We’d parked before they opened and our bodies were in the way of the pickers (they weren’t, I’m here to tell you).  We all understood the deal and that obnoxious cretin didn’t have to yell – all he had to do was simply ask us to please move our cars because the parking area was not yet open.  That would have done it and none of us (read: me) would have been bent out of shape. I vowed never to return and I wrote a letter of complaint to the organizers of the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival.  There was no sign, no nuthin’ telling us the area was not open.  And apparently none of the tulip field owners or the tulip festival organizers were photographers, else they would have known that sunrise and sunset shots of the fields are the best, so there should be at least one field allowing people (who might buy their bulbs or their  cut tulip bouquets) to come and set up their tripods.

Fast forward to 2012.  I decided – now that I understood most parking areas were not going to be open at sunrise-thirty AM – this year would be a good time to break my promise never to return, and actually go back to the tulip fields.

Although I try to have no expectations, I guess for the tulip fields, I had way too many.  I do admit to being tired on the day of my arrival, having driven a little over 3 hours from Mt. Rainier National Park up to the Mt. Vernon area (about 60-70 miles north of Seattle).  I did capture some really nice images (I think).  But….well….it just wasn’t what I thought it would be.  When I lived in Seattle some 17 years ago, I remember there being more than just 3 fields, which is the number of tulip fields I found that day of my arrival  (Ok, I didn’t look too hard, I’m sure there must have been more).  Only one of those fields was open and available to the public:  Tulip Town.

Quite the little enterprise, is Tulip Town.  For $5, you can park your car, enter and walk through a huge tent full of cut tulip bouquets, a couple of food stalls, a couple of art gallery-type stalls, a few tables and chairs, and then find yourself out among a couple of small tulip fields.  Although walking between the rows was prohibited, people were allowed to get as close as possible to the flowers.  They even had a tractor trailer to ferry people around  (for a fee, I believe).

It’s been a very cool spring up there (ironic, since it’s been an exceedingly warm spring here in SE Texas), so the majority of the tulips were not in bloom or only just beginning to open up.

5169_TulipField

The red and yellow tulips were in full bloom, so  I have a lot of red and yellow tulip photos.

94C3501_One Lone Red CROP

5120_Red Row

5104_Red Row

5163_Red

5150 Red Tulips CROP

94C3508_RedRow

94C3498_Yellow Rows

5088_White Tulips

The day was sort of ho-hum, but I could discern a little bit of detail in the uniformly-spread cloud cover, so with my Lightroom 4 gradient tool, I managed to get that slight detail/drama to show through in some shots.

_MG_6329

For these images, I used a 70-200mm lens and my trusty 24-105mm lens (for the close ups).  I don’t have a macro (next on my “to buy” list) at this point in time, so no really close close ups.

I left satisfied with my image captures.  No dramatic sunrise or sunset with the mountains and foothills in the background.  No barns surrounded by tulips.  That was ok, though.  I got photos of my favorite flowers and I was content.

5174_Fuscia

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Filed under flowers, Photography, Travel, Vacation, Washington State

Evening On Elliott Bay, Seattle WA

I’ve been pretty darned prolific with the posts, I readily admit.  Probably because next weekend I doubt I will have a chance to post anything at all.  I’m photographing a wedding on the 29th and so will be readying myself and my cameras for that awesome event.  Hence, the reason for my prolific-ness (is that even a word??)

After publishing an earlier post about my Seattle 2012 stay, I found some more photos I took during that first wonderful afternoon gazing out my hotel window onto the ever-changing scenery of Elliott Bay.

So, here they are.

94C0003_Ferry and Evening Stormcloud - IMAGENOMIC

94C0008_Ferry and Evening Stormcloud

94C0022_Sun Storm Ferry IMAGENOMIC

94C0049-2_Storm Cloud Cargo Ship Sunlight

94C0169_Tugboat At Sunset

94C0113_Elliott Bay Sunset

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Filed under Landscape, Photography, Seattle, Travel, Vacation, Washington State