Tag Archives: landscape

2021 12-Month Wall Calendars Are Here!

According to one of my twin nephews, nobody uses wall calendars anymore when they can keep everything digitally on their computer and smartphones. I guess I’m old school, because I (and my sister, at least) still use calendars onto which we write everything. Plus, we love the beautiful scenes for each month.

So, here, for 2021, are four 12-month wall calendars filled with gorgeous images (at least, I think so) captured at three national parks, one national monument, and one national recreation area this year. I ended up safely traveling around to more places than I imagined I would this year, and four of those five places were new to me.

To see my storefront, use the link here. https://www.zazzle.com/redwood_national_and_state_parks_2021_calendar-158184821262320137

Or, to look at each calendar separately, click on each of the images above.

You can get 25% off today using the code TUESDAYGIFTS. The code ends today, but I’m pretty sure Zazzle will have some sort of discount code for tomorrow.

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Filed under Calendars, Crater Lake National Park, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Mount Rainier National Park, National Monuments, National Parks, Photography, Redwood National and State Parks, Whiskeytown National Recreation Area

Wildfire Smoke Affects More Than Just Your Ability To View A National Park Landscape

Tipsoo Lake in Mount Rainier National Park on a clear day versus a wildfire smoke-filled day

I know, I’ve been pretty remiss about posting to this site. I have good intentions and then I get either lazy or sidetracked.

Putting that aside, I recently visited Mount Rainier National Park during the week the smoke rolled in from the wildfires in California and Oregon. I didn’t realize this until after I got there, since the weather reports were calling for clear, sunny skies and I wanted to get out along Stevens Canyon Road and the Nisqually-Paradise Corridor to photograph and video some scenes. My plan changed a bit, as you can see.

When I returned home, I had questions about what might and might not be impacted by all this smoke (aside from being able to photograph a landscape), so I did some quick research, wrote an article, and the National Parks Traveler published it today.

To read that article, click on either image above or below.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

Viewing the Nisqually River from the bridge over the river on a clear day versus a smoky day

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Filed under climate change, Mount Rainier National Park, Mt. Rainier National Park, National Parks, National Parks Traveler, Photography, Travel and Photography

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

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

If You Must Get Out On Memorial Day Weekend ….

Looking through the window at Balcony House, Mesa Verde National Park

If you really must get out this Memorial Day weekend, then it’s worth a check with the National Parks Traveler to see which parks are open and how much of those parks are accessible. Mesa Verde National Park will open this Sunday, but the cliff dwellings will not be accessible. That said, other parts of the park will be accessible.

To find out what national park units are open, click on the image above.

I’ve only visited Mesa Verde once, but it was a cool trip and I did lots of stuff while there. I took most of the guided cliff dwelling tours (like the one pictured here, of Balcony House) and a guided backcountry tour to Mug House (also very cool) as well as a twilight tour of Cliff Palace. I checked out the ruins on the ground, too, in addition to those above the ground. The scenery is stark and beautiful. The sunrises are gorgeous – especially at Park Point Overlook. I stayed at Far View Lodge, which was very nice … except for the part about finding a black widow spider on the bathroom wall – that shook me a little bit. All in all, it was a great trip and one I recommend if you are interested in learning about the culture and architecture of an ancient people.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Canon, Memorial Day, Mesa Verde National Park, National Parks, National Parks Traveler, Photography, Travel

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

3 Days In John Day Fossil Beds National Monument

Painted Hills On An Overcast Day 3

So, what can you do and see in John Day Fossil Beds National Monument in Oregon, if you only have 3 days? Plenty! Check out my latest article published in the National Parks Traveler.

To read the article, click on the image above.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

 

 

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Filed under Canon, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, National Monuments, National Parks, National Parks Traveler, Oregon, Photography, Photography In The National Parks, Travel

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

Angular Unconformity Along OR Hwy 207 To Mitchell

Angular Unconformity

I love geology. I went to school to study it. So when I travel, I like to read about the geology of the places I visit and the roads I travel. In hindsight, I wish, now, that I’d have bought and looked through the Roadside Geology of Oregon, by Marli B. Miller *before* rather than after I’d driven to John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. At least, then, I would have been able to follow the mile markers and understood what I was seeing.

Anyway, I’d stopped here because I happened to turn my head to look at the scenery right when my car was passing by these awesomly-colored outcroppings. Turns out, my inner geology radar must have been working intuitively. What you see here is called an angular “unconformity.” An angular unconformity is – in easy terms – when you see tilted beds (the green and reddish outcropping of beds) overlain by straight beds (the red-brown lines of columnar basalts you see above. It shows there is a gap in the geologic time record. So, if you are following a series of formations along a geographic distance, you might suddenly see that one formation or sediment layer of that formation is totally missing from the order of deposition, and all you see is this contact line dividing angular tilting beds from straight layers above. Any of this make sense? If not, then just admire the pretty landscape.

This image was captured using my new Sony Alpha a7r IV and 24-105mm lens. I am loving this camera!

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Geology, HDR, Landscape, Oregon, Photography, Sony Alpha a7r IV, Travel

It’s Take A Trail Thursday

The View Along The Story In Stone TrailThe Leaf Hill TrailThe View UptrailThe Path To The PalisadesWhere Will That Boardwalk Take You

Ok, so how about instead of Throwback Thursday, let’s make it “Take A Trail Thursday.”

Can you guess which trails these are? Hint: they are all from a national monument in Oregon.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Landscape, National Parks, Oregon, Photography, Travel