Category Archives: Washington State

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

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

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

It’s Waterfall Wednesday 5-27-2020!

It’s #WaterfallWednesday ! So here’s a bevvy of waterfalls, and if you click on each photo, you’ll read an interesting fact or two about each.

This image was captured during a winter in Zion National Park, in Utah, so the water is more of a trickle or a track, indicating it’s falling down the side of a hanging valley. According to the placard I read: “Side valleys began to form at the same time as the Virgin River Canyon. But, the main stream downcut faster than its tributaries, leaving them hanging high above the canyon floor. The mouths of hanging valleys are a likely place to look for waterfalls; they also indicate the river’s former level – a measure of the stream’s carving power.”

This image was captured after a bit of a sweaty trek for me, carrying a heavy camera pack (as per usual) and a heavy tripod, working hard to match the pace of my two new friends who insisted I hike with them to Fairy Falls in Yellowstone National Park, because of a bear frequenting the area. I enjoyed the hike more than the falls itself, because I had a pleasant time visiting with the very nice couple.

According to the NPS site page for this park: “Fairy Falls, 200 feet (61 m) high, is one of Yellowstone’s most spectacular waterfalls. From the trailhead, walk 1.6 miles (2.6 km) through a young lodgepole pine forest to the falls. You can continue 0.6 miles (0.97 km) to Spray and Imperial geysers, which adds 1.2 miles (1.9 km) to the hike.” I was too pooped to hike to the geysers, so I and the couple turned around after a short looksee at the falls. I saw that waterfall in October, so the falls wasn’t as “spectacular” in terms of water volume as it probably is during the late spring and early summer.

A waterfall that I *did* think was pretty spectacular was Gibbon Falls in Yellowstone National Park. There is a large parking lot for this next-to-the-road sight with several different vantage points you can walk to along a nice, wide, paved trail. If this is what the waterfall looked like during the autumn, I can only image how powerful it must look during times when the water volume is higher.

According to author Lee H. Whittlesey in his book Yellowstone Place Names: “Gibbon Falls is believed to drop over part of the wall of the Yellowstone Caldera, which is thought to be 640,000 years old.”

Marymere Falls in Olympic National Park, is reached via a very popular, less-than-2-mile hike on a trail that starts behind Storm King Ranger Station, a hop-and-a-skip from Lake Crescent Lodge. This long, narrow waterfall seemingly nestled within a bed of green ferns reminds me of a whiskey bottle, with a long, tall neck and a shorter, fuller, bottom. To get there, you cross a couple of neat log bridges then handle some steep stairs up to two different viewing areas.

If you ever have the opportunity to spend a few days in the remote community of Stehekin, Washington, located at the head of Lake Chelan in Lake Chelan National Recreation Area, then take a hike (after visiting the Stehekin Bakery) or take a bus ride to popular Rainbow Falls. The waterfall cascades 312 feet down to Rainbow Creek, and there are a couple of vantage points from which to view this misty falls – near the bottom of the falls and a short hike toward the middle portion of the falls. It’s one of the most popular stops for day trippers to Stehekin (aside from the bakery, that is) 😉

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Canon, Lake Chelan National Recreation Area, National Parks, North Cascades Complex, Olympic National Park, Photography, Stehekin, Travel, Utah, Washington State, Waterfall Wednesday, Wyoming, Yellowstone National Park, Zion National Park

Waterfall Wednesday 4/29/2020

The Waterfall At Sunbeam CreekThe Falls At Sunbeam Creek

Courtesy of the little waterfall at Sunbeam Creek, just off the Stevens Canyon Road heading up toward Paradise at Mount Rainier National Park. As you can see, it’s good to return to the same scene during different seasons to photograph the changes. The first image was captured in July, which is analogous to spring in the upper elevations (hence the healthy water flow). The second image was captured in September. The summer might have been hot, resulting in less flow, and/or the high elevation from whence this creek originates might aleady have been freezing over. True summer, with warm, sunny weather, doesn’t often last very long in the mountains.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under autumn, Canon, Mount Rainier National Park, Mt. Rainier National Park, National Parks, Photography, Seasons, summer, Travel, Washington State

It’s Fun Fact Friday, 4-3-2020!

Recently, I received my book Scenic Science of the National Parks. The National Parks Traveler had done a podcast interviewing the two authors of this book and it sounded pretty cool, so of course, I ordered it. I love learning things about the national parks I’ve photographed, and am pleased and proud that I’ve photographed some of the things mentioned in the book. Here are some interesting facts straight from the book.

Rainforest Growth

This veiny-lettucy-cabbagey lichen in the photo above is called Oregon Lungwort, and it can pull nitrogen straight out of the air.

Oregon Spikemoss

Oregon Spikemoss can grow 6 feet in length. When parts of this moss die, the spiky leaves curl up and turn brown.

Licorice Ferns And Big Leaf Maple

These bright green, delicate ferns waving in the breeze are called licorice ferns. They grow on epiphytes (plants growing on plants) on Bigleaf Maple trees (I didn’t even know this was a maple tree until I looked closely at the leaves) and really do taste like licorice … if you like licorice, that is (ugh).

And now you know!

Scenic Science

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

 

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Filed under Fun Fact Friday, National Parks, Olympic National Park, Photography, Travel, Washington State

A Photographic Trip Down Memory Lane: 2019

Becky At Grand Prismatic Overlook

My usual look when in the field: sweaty, tired, and happy as hell

Earlier this morning, I read a lovely little blog post in which the photographer, stuck inside and unable to travel, decided she might as well take a trip down memory lane with her photos. It was a nice post with pretty pics, except there came a point when the enjoyment was ruined after this photographer mentioned that she and some pals had hiked up to a locked fire lookout and jimmied open the lock to get in. FFS, people! Please respect other agencies’ properties. If it’s locked, it’s locked.

Anyway, to get back to the gist of this post, I thought it would, indeed, be a nice idea to take a photographic trip down my own memory lane, as Washington state has a shelter-in-place order right now and I also can’t get out. Parks are closed, and since I have a compromised immune system and my sister with whom I live is 73, I’m just fine with staying at home. Heaven knows, I have lots of photographs and memories, so I thought I’d start with 2019 and work my way back.

In 2019, I was settled into my new home in central Washington. I’d FINALLY been able to move out of Texas and back to the mountains. I’m a mountain gal; I was born in northwest Montana and mountains are a part of my soul, not to mention I don’t much like the South’s politics or attitudes. Full disclosure, however, I do miss Big Bend National Park and Padre Island National Seashore. These two places are favorites of mine and I visited Big Bend 4 times and Padre Island twice. So, I suppose there actually is something I like about Texas.

Once totally moved, I wanted to explore National Park System units around my new neck of the woods. Washington is blessed with three national parks and several national recreation areas and national monuments, all between 2 – 6 hours’ (give or take) drive from my home.

I travel alone. I like it that way. I’ve always been a loner and prefer my own company. I don’t have to worry about whether or not anybody else is bored. I don’t have to deal with non-photographers who don’t understand why I want to stop every 10 minutes for a photo op. I can go where I want when I want, eat what I want when I want, buy what I want (or what I can afford), and basically do what I want, within the boundaries of decency and the law. That said, I wouldn’t mind hosting a photo workshop or photo tour – I do enjoy talking to fellow photographers and I do enjoy showing people different / better ways to get a beautiful shot. Other than that, though, I go solo, if I can manage it.

January 2019: Olympic National Park

Early Morning On Kalaloch Beach

A winter morning along Kalaloch Beach, Olympic National Park in Washington state

My visit coincided with the partial government shutdown, which meant national parks were open, but not staffed. Lodging was open so I spent a few days in an awesome cabin at Kalaloch Lodge, my base from which I explored and photographed Kalaloch Beach, Beach 4, and Ruby Beach.

A View Of Beach 4

The view at Beach 4, Olympic National Park

Ruby Beach Logjam

Log jam at Ruby Beach, Olympic National Park

I was always mindful of the tides because I sure didn’t want to get caught in high water or squashed between beached logs, which can move around with the flowing water. I did make the mistake of wading through a beach stream only to get caught by an incoming tide that almost capsized me (and my cameras). Lesson learned.

A Winter Sunset Over Kalaloch Beach

A winter sunset over Kalaloch Beach, Olympic National Park

Winter weather creates terrific storms and clouds along the coast. Sunrises tend to be muted affairs, but winter sunsets can be blazingly colorful.

I really wanted to wander around the trails in the Hoh Rain Forest, but some roads were closed due to the season, and others were closed due to the shutdown, with nobody to make repairs to the storm damage or remove fallen trees in the road. So, I settled for driving to the national park portion of the Quinault Rain Forest, some 27 miles south of Kalaloch, where the road was open as were the trails.

My favorite photo spot was July Creek. There’s a parking lot and a trailhead to a very short loop which crosses over the namesake creek. Nobody else was there so all I heard were the sounds of birds, water dripping, and flowing creek water. The creek allowed me a great opportunity to practice my silky water skills. Because it was damp, the browns of the branches and tree trunks were dark and saturated, as were the greens, yellows, and reds of the foliage and fungi.

The Bridge Over July Creek

The bridge over July Creek in the Quinault Rain Forest, Olympic National Park

I’m a contributing writer and photographer (some use the slang “stringer,” but I like to think I’m more than that) for the National Parks Traveler. I’ve been volunteering my writing and photo abilities for this site since 2012. So of course, I wrote about my shutdown stay for the Traveler. Here’s the link.

May 2019: Mount Rainier National Park

Paradise And The Paradise Inn

“The Mountain” and Paradise Inn, Mount Rainier National Park in Washington state

When the Traveler wanted someone to report on the May Grand Re-Opening of Mount Rainier National Park’s Paradise Inn and its newly renovated Paradise Inn Annex, I raised my hand and volunteered to stay a few days up at The Mountain. FYI, there is still deep snow up there in May.

A Little Spring Snowshoeing For Becky CROP

Going for a little spring snowshoeing, Mount Rainier National Park

It was nice to see the turnout for this event. I’ve stayed in the Annex when it was in big need of renovation, and a tour through the newly-refurbished building showed a world of difference. It was also great to hear about the history of the inn and to meet all sorts of national park / public lands luminaries.  Here’s the link to my story.

June 2019: Mount Rainier National Park

Adventure Awaits

Adventure awaits along the Grove of the Patriarchs Trail, Mount Rainier National Park

I live about 1-1/2 hours’ drive from Mount Rainier National Park’s boundaries, so it’s easy to make just a day trip now and then. I decided to take a trail I’d never hiked before, and chose the Grove of the Patriarchs trail. This relatively short trail ventures into the forest to a group of tall, old-growth trees that are, indeed, patriarchs of Nature.

Bridge Over The Ohanapecosh

The suspension bridge over the Ohanapecosh River, Grove of Patriarchs Trail

1000-Year Old Twins

1,000 year old twins, Grove of Patriarchs Trail, Mount Rainier National Park

July 2019: Stehekin

The Landing

Approaching Stehekin Landing, Lake Chelan National Recreation Area, in Washington

In the early 90’s, I lived in Seattle. I’d once read about this community called Stehekin, out in the middle of nowhere within the North Cascades. I distinctly recall scoffing that I’d never want to visit such an out-of-the-way place.

Enjoying The Ferry Ride Uplake

Enjoying the ferry ride to Stehekin, Lake Chelan National Recreation Area

Fast forward to 2019. I took a scenic, 4-hour ride on the Lady of The Lake ferry up to the headwaters of Lake Chelan in the Lake Chelan National Recreation Area to stay for a few days in Stehekin. It’s beautiful up there, peaceful, realllly out of the way, and has one of the best bakeries around (Stehekin Pastry Company – their lemon bars and pizzas are to die for). You really can’t get there from here, unless you take a boat, plane, or hike about 24 miles into this isolated community near the Pacific Crest Trail and North Cascades National Park. As a matter of fact, Lake Chelan National Recreation Area is a part of what is called the North Cascades Complex.

The Stehekin River At High Bridge

The clear, cold water of the Stehekin River, North Cascades National Park

A Place To Sit And Meditate

A nice place to sit and meditate, Lake Chelan National Recreation Area

Of course, I wrote a story about my stay for the Traveler. Suffice to say, I’d be more than happy to revisit Stehekin again. No more scoffing.

July 2019: Ross Lake National Recreation Area

Sunrise Over Diablo Lake

Sunrise at the Diablo Lake Overlook, Ross Lake National Recreation Area, in Washington

I’d told the Traveler I planned on writing an article or two about places within the North Cascades Complex. Having already visited Lake Chelan National Recreation Area, I made plans to travel to Ross Lake National Recreation Area and North Cascades National Park. Here’s the thing: there are not that many places to lodge within this vast area of wild forest land, cold, clear rushing waters and rugged peaks. Most of the trails are for long-distance backpackers and there aren’t that many view areas into which you can drive in, look, then drive out. With that in mind, I opted for a short stay at the North Cascades Institute, which turned out to be perfect for exploring and photography.

A Place To Sit And Rest And A Surprise Visitor

A nice place to sit and rest, plus a little surprise visitor (can you spot it?), North Cascades Institute

Enjoying A Morning Snack

A furry little visitor in the garden at the North Cascades Institute

Pearly Everlasting

Pearly Ever Lasting, Ross Lake National Recreation Area

A Dam Fine View

Diablo Dam and the mountains of the North Cascades

With these July visits, I was able to put together my Armchair Photography Guides for the North Cascades Complex. I have rheumatoid arthritis. As such, I don’t really do much – ok, I don’t do any – long backcountry trips. I’ll hike at least 5 or 6 miles if the trail is relatively easy, but really, I am firmly of the opinion that anybody can photograph WOW-worthy images from view areas, shorter trails, and pullouts without ever having to go far from their car, camper, cabin, or tent. Thus, my Armchair Photography Guides were born. These guides have photographic tips and techniques for all, regardless whether you use a smartphone, point-and-shoot, or tricked-out SLR. If you go into the Traveler’s site and use the search engine to type in “Armchair Photography,” you’ll pull up all these guides pertaining to national parks I’ve visited.

August 2019: Olympic National Park

That short partial shutdown visit in this national park whetted my appetite for a longer trip, so I booked stays at Kalaloch Lodge (in a cabin, again), Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort, and Lake Crescent Lodge. Using each of these places as a base, I explored further into this national park, from beaches to rain forests to rugged mountains. Olympic National Park has a little bit of something for everybody. While it’s usually pretty wet – particularly in the rain forest portion – I managed to luck out with dry, mostly sunny days and gathered enough material for three separate Armchair Photography Guides:

Part 1 – The Beaches

Sunset scenery at Ruby Beach

A Ruby Beach sunset, Olympic National Park, in Washington

Part 2 – The Forests

The Trail Into The Rain Forest

The trail into the Hoh Rain Forest, Olympic National Park

Part 3 – The Mountains

Olympic Mountain Scenery

Hurricane Ridge scenery, Olympic National Park

September – October 2019: Yellowstone National Park

Morning Glory Pool

Viewing the beauty of Morning Glory Pool, Yellowstone National Park, in Wyoming

I’d only visited America’s first national park for a period of about 2 days, and that was during my 2018 road trip move from Texas to central Washington. That first, short August stay almost put me off ever returning – well, at least, during the summer. Talk about crowds! Talk about stupid people doing stupid stuff! Talk about no parking spaces whatsoever! Definitely no social distancing. I only saw maybe 1/10th of 1% of what I wanted to see.

A return trip was in order and I made my plans for the autumn, which is a perfect time for a little holiday. There were fewer people, plenty of parking space (well, except at Grand Prismatic), and the photo ops were incredible. I totally understand why Yellowstone is a huge favorite among so many people. Of course, I wrote an article about my 9-day visit to this national park for the Traveler.

Sunlight And Shadow On The Landscape

A view of the mountains at Swan Lake Flats on a chilly autumn afternoon, Yellowstone National Park

Black Growler Steam Vent And Ledge Geyser

Black Growler steam vent and Ledge Geyser, Porcelain Basin, Yellowstone National Park

Basking In The Sun

Resting in the golden grass, Yellowstone National Park

A View Of Lower Falls From Artist Point On A Snowy Day

The lower Yellowstone Falls on a snowy autmun morning, Yellowstone National Park

Watching Old Faithful From Observation Point 2

Watching Old Faithful erupt from Observation Point, Yellowstone National Park

That sums up my 2019 photo travels. Do check out the various links in this post. These links helped keep this post from becoming a long-assed tome.

Next up: A Photographic Walk Down Memory Lane: 2018.

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Filed under Canon, Lake Chelan National Recreation Area, Mount Rainier National Park, National Parks, National Parks Traveler, North Cascades, North Cascades Complex, North Cascades National Park, Olympic National Park, Photography, Ross Lake National Recreation Area, Stehekin, Travel, Washington State, Yellowstone National Park

Where Will The Trails Take You?

Hiking The Trail To Adventure

It’s the weekend! Where will the trails take you? Will you be hiking into adventure or staying closer to home. Wherever you will be, have fun, stay safe, and, if you *are* out hiking, then pack out what you pack in.
 
This image was captured at the beginning of my walk through the Hall of Mosses Trail in Olympic National Park during my August 2019 visit. The boardwalk made a perfect leading line, and I was hurrying with my camera and 14mm lens to get a nice, wide-angle shot of the boardwalk, the trees in the distance, and the couple on the trail before they disappeared within the shadows of the forest. I thought the two people made a nice bit of scale and reference to the scene.
 
Summer is a nice time to visit this park, believe it or not. There were lots of people, but nothing compared to the masses I encountered when visiting Yellowstone National Park the previous August of 2018. If you get out early enough, you’ll escape the crowds that appear later in the morning and afternoon.
 
Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

 

 

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Filed under 5DS, Canon, Canon EF 14mm f/2.8L II, Canon Lens, National Parks, Olympic National Park, Photography, Seasons, summer, Travel, Washington State

Fun Fact For Your Monday

Hoh Rainforest Scenery

Here’s a fun fact for your Monday: the Hoh Rain Forest in Olympic National Park gets over 12 feet of rain a year. So, when you go visit, make sure you take along a rain jacket.

The image below was taken during late summer, and it was actually a dry day. In truth, all the days I was there in the park were dry days – well, ok, except for the last two days, when I visited Hurricane Ridge.

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, National Parks, Olympic National Park, Pentax 645z, Pentax Lens, Photography, Seasons, summer, Travel, Washington State

The Last Weekend Of 2019

Over The Bridge And Up The Trail To Marymere Falls

A part of the Marymere Falls Trail in Olympic National Park

Wow! I just realized earlier this morning that this weekend is the last one of 2019. Next weekend will be in a new decade!

I wonder where the 2020 trails will take me. Hopefully to more photographic adventure. There are a couple of national parks that I want to visit for certain.

What about you? Where do you think the 2020 trails will take you?

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

 

 

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Filed under Canon, Canon Lens, National Parks, Olympic National Park, Seasons, summer, Travel, Washington State