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.
Or maybe I should have titled this post “The Lure Of The Trail.” Both are appropriate and actually meld into one another. I love leading lines – they are my favorite theme – and my favorite type of leading line is a trail. That trail leads the viewer’s eye deeper into the composition and onward to whatever adventure awaits. And trails within forests are my favorite, if for no other reason than the forest’s interior glow surrounded by green and brown shadows.
All of the images above were captured with my Sony Alpha 7riv and a 16-35mm lens during my 2020 October visit to Redwood National and State Parks. And all of these images were captured along one of the many trails in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park in northern California. The tops of the trees are veiled a little bit in mist, as this trip was during the height of all the wildfires in California. Smoke drifted in from everywhere.
I look back as some of my photos and wish I could revisit a particular landscape and capture the same scene with my newer-model cameras (bear in mind, newer-model also includes the high-megapixel Canons I’ve had since 2016). Dead Horse Point State Park in Utah is one such place, and this is one such scene.
I photographed this landscape back in 2013 (8 years ago – has it been that long – or that short – of a period of time??). The February winter midday light was harsh, but the distant snow/rain storm was pretty cool. I’d like to go back and see how much more detail and dynamic range my current cameras could pick up. Maybe someday, I’ll do just that.
Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.
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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.
A view of the Colorado River and Vermilion Cliffs from the Navajo Bridge in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area in Arizona
The Colorado River begins in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and runs about 1,450 miles through several states and empties out (eventually) into the Gulf of California. I saw a very tiny segment of this river during my short, 1-hour visit to Navajo Bridge in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area on my way to the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park.
As part of the National Parks Traveler’s continuing series on the health of the Colorado River, a great article has been published today about how climate change is affecting the Colorado River water in Glen Canyon NRA. Definitely worth a read.
To read this article, click on the image above.
I know, I have lots of links to the National Parks Traveler, don’t I? If you are new to my blog site (or if you just don’t look at my site that often but still follow me), I am a writer and photographer and contributing editor for the Traveler. I also believe in what the Traveler does, which is to report on our national parks and protected areas on a daily basis, providing you with travel, photography, and news articles you wouldn’t find anywhere else – at least, not on a daily basis.
In retrospect, I wish I could have stayed a little longer at Navajo Bridge then driven the 6 miles down to Lees Ferry to hike along the river. But, having departed Petrified National Park early that morning (it was a little after 10 AM when I captured the image above), I was tired from driving and ready to get to my next destination (the North Rim) with time to explore *that* area.
Next time …
Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.
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A morning alone with Solitary Geyser, Yellowstone National Park
This pretty geyser is indeed, solitary, sitting all by itself and located a short hike from either the Upper Geyser Basin boardwalk or on the way up or down the trail from Observation Point. This is one of those geysers that people tampered with way back when they didn’t understand geysers or geology that well. They wanted to use the hot spring water so they put a pipe in it, which lowered the water level several feet and caused the then-hot spring to turn into a geyser that erupted every few minutes. They removed the pipe and the water level rose again, but it continued to be a geyser that now erupts every 5-7 minutes (give or take). It’s not a huge geyser, though. It sort of “burbles” and erupts about 3-4 feet (so the nearby sign says). It was difficult to even see it erupt on that chilly day because of all the steam. I could only tell it was going to erupt by watching for ripples in the water in the far left corner of the geyser, which occurred just before that “burble” of an eruption.
I first visited Black Sand Basin in Yellowstone National Park during the evening on the previous day from this shot. It was overcast and getting dark and I didn’t even notice this little side area next to the entry drive to the parking lot. I didn’t see this until I visited the next morning, a lovely, sunny day. I’ve been reading: TravelBrains’ “Yellowstone Expedition Guide” and learned this interesting fact: the trees you see here are dead, of course. The bottoms of their trunks are white because they absorbed the hot water in the area, which is filled with silica in solution. That silica comes out of solution and is what has colored those trunk bottoms. It’s the first step in petrification of the trees. Oh, and Black Sand Basin gets it’s name from the black obsidian sand grains in the area. Cool, huh?
Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.
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Artist Paint Pots Geothermal Basin with Mount Holmes in the distance, Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming
It’s a short walk along a well-trod path to get to the boardwalk beginning the loop around the Artist Paint Pots basin. As I stepped onto the boardwalk, I passed a couple of men talking to each other. Another friend approached and they told him that their wives were off looking at the sights while they remained there, since they were not that enthused about the area. Lo and behold, as I passed the men, their wives returned and one of them said sarcastically “Well, that was a blast.” They were not impressed, either.
I don’t know what those two couples were expecting, but I have a feeling they have not been reading my photo column in the National Parks Traveler, where I urge people to 1) keep their expectations on the low side since it’s likely they will not see exactly what they expect to see, and 2) observe what is around them. Really *look* at where they are and what they see. I am assuming that the couples, like many other people who come to this area, were a little jaded and didn’t stop to think about what they were standing upon: thin crust with a busy geothermal system beneath them. It’s amazing that we can enter a national park that is so geologically active. How many other places in the world can you see so many active geysers, hot springs and fumeroles all in one area? How many other places can you actually hear the hissing of the steam and see the bubbling water and mud pots? I know there are some, but I’ll wager not that many that you can actually get to. When you are someplace like Artist Paint Pots, you are walking beside geysers and hot springs with boiling or near-boiling water.
These couples probably did not appreciate the many colorful hot springs around them (hence the name “Artist Paint Pots”), or the panoramic view that included a snow-iced Mount Holmes in the far distance.
I brought with me the mindset of a geologist and photographer, so I saw beauty everywhere I walked in that small basin. As a matter of fact, that’s what I told a retired gentleman and his wife as he approached the trailhead, with a daughter and active 6-year old in tow. He stopped me and said: “Two questions: how far to get there and is it worth it?” I told him I thought it was worth it but I was seeing everything through a geologic and photographic background. I then told him about the reactions of those two couples. I told him that I’d also seen another couple with their 4-year old child who was managing the walk and the uphill climb to the bridge overlook (which is where I stood to take this photo) with no problems. I said to him that they’d have to judge for themselves as to whether or not the hike and the view were worth it. I certainly thought both were.
Usually, I don’t travel to any national park with high expectations. I even wrote an article in the National Parks Traveler about the rewards of lowered expectations. I know it’s going to be rainy, overcast, snowing, probably the roads will be slick, and there might even be another f***ing government shutdown while I am there. Nonetheless, I am stoked to be returning to Yellowstone National Park in a few days for 8-1/2 days of fall photography. For a portion of that time, I’ll be staying at the historic Old Faithful Inn, and will definitely get some interior architecture images of that beautiful lodge. I so wanted to do this during my short summer stay (2-1/2 days) during my road trip move from Texas to central Washington, but the inn was full, the crowds were YUGE, and I ultimately needed to get back on the road again to my sister’s home.
I’ll be taking 3 cameras with me and an assortment of lenses: my Canon 5DSR, Canon 1DX Mk II, and Pentax 645z. I’ll take the Canon 16-35mm, 14mm, 24-70mm, 24-105mm, 100-400mm with a 1.4x extender, Pentax 28-45mm, and Pentax 55mm lenses. No need to tell me it’s going to be a heavy backpack I take onto the plane with me. I already know that. I had to pack one of my lenses into my laptop bag, which will also be carried onto the plane. Hey, I don’t know when I will be able to return to Yellowstone, so might as well bring as much as I can carry and that’s allowable on the plane, because I’d rather have it and not need it, than need it and not have it. Plus, I’ve broken lenses before while traveling (Hawaii comes to mind), so I’m being a little redundant with one of the lenses. I decided on this instead of trying to work around taking my Canon 500mm lens. As it is, I’ll probably forget something, even though I’ve written a list of things to pack.
Soon, soon, I will be back inside America’s first national park. Can’t wait!
It’s Waterfall Wednesday! So here’s a photo I took during my recent trip to Olympic National Park. It’s Marymere Falls, an easy .7-mile (one-way) hike on a well-trafficked trail behind the Storm King Ranger Station just a hop and a skip from Lake Crescent Lodge.
I talk about photographing Marymere Falls as well as Sol Duc Falls in my next installment of the Armchair Photography Guide for Olympic National Park, to be published Oct 1st in the National Parks Traveler site, so be on the lookout for Part 2 – The Forests. I mention this now because I’ll be in Yellowstone National Park at that time and don’t know what kind of internet service I’ll have around there.
In the meantime, this shot, taken at the upper level of the overlook, demonstrates the “silky water” technique and making use of the surrounding ferns for natural framing around the photo subject.
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