Tag Archives: Mount Rainier

Lahars (Mudflows) Can’t Be Predicted, But They Can Be Simulated

A View Of Mount Rainier From Seattle’s Elliott Bay

Lahars (mudflows) can’t be predicted but they can be simulated using a special computer application. My latest contribution to the National Parks Traveler is all about this subject, so check out the article by clicking on the image above.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Geology, Mount Rainier National Park, National Parks, National Parks Traveler

It’s International Dark Sky Week April 22 – 30, 2022

A busy summer night at the Sunrise visitor center parking lot in Mount Rainier National Park
Stars and wispy clouds over Casa Grande in Big Bend National Park
Moonlight over the Window in Big Bend National Park

It’s International Dark Sky Week, April 22 – 30, 2022. How many of you have ever visited a unit within the National Park System and viewed the starry sky overhead? I admit I am an early-to-bed kind of gal, but when visiting a national park, I do try to stay up late at least one clear night to try and photograph the night sky.

If you go over to the National Parks Traveler and run a search using the key words “night sky,” you can pull up all sorts of articles. To see what you can pull up on a search, click on any of the images above.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Big Bend National Park, Mount Rainier National Park, National Parks, Night Photography, Photography

Editing Photos: The Data Is There

The unedited version of Mount Rainier towering over Reflection Lakes, Mount Rainier National Park
The edited version of Mount Rainier towering over Reflection Lakes, Mount Rainier National Park

Ok, before I get into the details of these images, I have to get this off my chest: Facebook sucks! I have a FB photography page Where The Trails Take You Photography, LLC . I posted these two images and an explanation that I will repost here. For whatever reason, FB decided that the post and photos “violated community standards” and my photo page has thus been restricted for 29 days. I’m not certain where those photos and post involve bullying, bigotry, abuse, and all the other things that really do violate FB’s community standards, but they decided this post did just that. I’ve filed an appeal explaining all of this. They may just get pissy and keep me restricted. Hell, I might even have my photo page deleted by them. No huge loss, although I do have over 7,000 people liking that page but who probably never ever even look at my images – once they like a page, they go on about their business because FB’s algorithms – plus the fact that I don’t shell out money to “boost” my posts – keep followers from seeing many if not most of my posts. Sigh.

Anyway, about these two images. It’s always been my belief that every photo you capture can stand to use a little editing tweak here and there – sometimes quite a bit of editing, if you have sensor spots you need to clone out and blown out highlights to fix, etc. The camera captures all of the data within a scene, but sometimes it needs to be teased out to bring forth the scene as you saw it.

The unedited version looks a little muddy and dull and blah. The overall scene is not very bright and the colors need more than a little saturating. Maybe my settings were wrong to begin with. Who knows! I remedied the situation in the edited version, which looks much better, don’t you think?

So, here’s the takeaway:

Don’t delete images that look too dark, too light, too blah. Your camera captured all the data and you just need to spend a little time bringing forth those hidden details. I spent maybe 5-7 minutes working on the edited version. No need to spend an hour or longer (like some photographers tell their audience they do). If you spend that much time on each image, no wonder you don’t like editing your photos! The only reason you may need to delete an image is if it is obviously blurred from camera shake or it was never in focus to begin with. Just save that image and come back to it later, after you’ve gotten more editing experience and learned new techniques.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Mount Rainier National Park, National Parks, Photography

Happy New Year 2022! A Year In Review Of My Photographic Travels

High tide and harsh light, but a beautiful image, nonetheless – a metaphore for 2022, perhaps?

Every photographer I have been seeing on my Facebook photography page has been running some sort of “year in review” post. I hate those reviews, so here I am, doing one of my own (insert wink emoji here).

The font for the “Happy New Year 2022” is small, in keeping with the way things were and might become. The year is young, you know, and I’m not even going to be cautiously optimistic about anything at this point in time. 2022 has just started and we are still in the pandemic morass we’ve been in for the past couple of years (or has it been three years?).

A late-afternoon view of Mount St. Helens

I didn’t do much traveling during the first half of 2021, although I still had plenty of material to keep up my photo columns for the National Parks Traveler. I did take a short, 2-day trip to photograph in Mount St. Helens Volcanic National Monument in May, but my pandemic travels didn’t really begin until August. I’d originally planned on a Sequoia / Yosemite national parks trip in late June, only to be sidelined by a torn retina requiring surgery that took a month to heal. Luckily for me, I am retired from my corporate job so it’s easy for me to reschedule … providing there is lodging available near or within the parks at which I want to visit.

The view at Glacier Overlook in the Sunrise area of Mount Rainier National Park (Washington state)

So, my first park trip was actually in late July, to the Sunrise area of Mount Rainier National Park. It was a sort of test trip for me. As I huffed and puffed up to Glacier Overlook, I was scared shitless of something happening to the eye that underwent surgery. Nothing occurred, but I now realize eyes are delicate instruments and I like to have both of them in working order for my photography.

A smoky sunrise at Tunnel View, Yosemite National Park (California)

I finally made it into California in mid-late August to visit Yosemite National Park for a week. I’d had to cancel my June reservations for Sequoia and couldn’t get any August lodging, so Sequoia was out (it was in the midst of peak summer season, after all). Area wildfires were in full swing, which meant smoky days inserted themselves in between clear days. Due to the season and ongoing drought, all the waterfalls were totally dried up, so you don’t see Bridalveil Fall in this Tunnel View image of Yosemite Valley. Nonetheless, I’m so glad I went. In all my years of photography, plus my 9 years of contributing images and articles for the Traveler, I’d never visited Yosemite until 2021.

Hiking the Bristlecone Grove Trail in Great Basin National Park (Nevada)
A room full of speleothems in Lehman Caves, Great Basin National Park (Nevada)

Directly from Yosemite, I drove six hours across the stark, isolated, lonely, amazing basin-and-range landscape of Nevada to spend three days at Great Basin National Park. Although it was a busy park, it was nowhere as busy or as crowded as Yosemite during that time of year, and it felt like a breath of fresh air. It seems to be a sort of overlooked national park and it’s definitely out in the middle of nowhere. The nearby town of Baker, NV, has a population of 58, so lodging is slim to none. I stayed in a motel-style room at the Hidden Canyon Retreat across state lines in Utah, accessed by a 7-mile gravel road off of the main highway. It truly is located in a hidden canyon and my room was wonderful, although the available wifi was pretty much non-existent and cell service was pretty spotty.

The colors of Paradise, Mount Rainier National Park (Washington state)
A frosty morning at Tipsoo Lake, Mount Rainier National Park (Washington state)

In late September and early October, I returned to Mount Rainier National Park for some autumn color photography. The September trip provided amazing color in the Paradise area of the park. The October trip was cold, frosty, and beautiful. Plus, I finally got the shots I wanted: sunrise over “The Mountain” framed by the autumn-hued huckleberry bushes, and a sunrise over Tipsoo Lake that didn’t look oversaturated. In truth, the colors of sunrise at Tipsoo Lake are always saturated, but one would think as they look at a sunrise photo that the photographer really overdid it, even though that’s not the case. So the frost and new snow helped me with some gorgeous, very chilly, sunrise imagery.

A trail toward Horsethief Butte, Columbia Hills Historical State Park, Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail
The Beacon Rock, Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail
High tides and a ship around the corner, Cape Disappointment State Park, Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail

As I was driving back home along WA State Route 14 from my May Mount St. Helens photo session, with a stop at Beacon Rock State Park to hike up that eroded volcanic plug, I kept noticing signs marking the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail. That piqued my interest enough to look it up once I returned to my laptop.

Again, in all those years of contributing articles and photos for the Traveler, I’ve really only focused on national parks. I’d started investigating national monuments around 2020, and certainly I’d never visited a national historical park or even thought to follow along a national historic trail. But once I decided to follow in the footsteps of Lewis and Clark in November and December, during their Pacific Northwest explorations of their 16-state, 4,900 trek from Pennsylvania to the Pacific Ocean, I was hooked. One of the most interesting things is how many state parks work in concert with the National Park System. If you visit the NPS.gov page for the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, and click on their State-By-State Guide, you’ll see all sorts of points of interest, some modern that the Corps of Discovery would never have encountered or even imagined, but much of it landscape just the way the 33-member expedition saw it.

From there, I penned three different photo columns all about this national historic trail, scheduled for publication this year in the Traveler. And I’m not finished. I’m going to change some of my current travel plans so I can continue exploring along the footsteps of Lewis and Clark (using cushy, 21st century things such as my Toyota 4Runner, my mirrorless digital cameras, fleece, Gore-Tex, and other accoutrements not available to the Lewis and Clark expedition) from eastern Washington into Idaho and Montana. As long as nothing unforeseen occurs to me or my family, that is.

Some of you may be interested in knowing how I travel during the pandemic. First of all, I am a total believer in science and the vaccine, so I have both Moderna vaccine shots plus the booster. In addition to that, wherever I travel, I do the same thing: drive not fly, take all my own food so I don’t have to eat out (the food is either canned, like Vienna sausage or tuna, or freeze-dried, like Mountain House-brand foods), take my own coffee, coffee maker, hot pot (to heat up those freeze-dried meals), and cream (for the coffee – real cream, not fake creamer), plenty of masks, plenty of hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes to wipe down my lodge rooms, and most importantly, I stay as far away from people as I possibly can. I’m not a people person to begin with, so that’s relatively easy unless it’s at a popular view area.

There you have it: my 2021 photo trips in a nutshell. Hopefully, 2022 will be just as fruitful regarding photography.

I hope all of you have a good start to the New Year. Time for me to go check on the traditional New Year’s Day dinner I’m cooking: Hoppin’ John (a stew of black-eye peas, onions, garlic, sausage and rice) and boiled cabbage.

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

Capturing The Color And Character Of Fall

The Beginning Of Sunrise At Paradise, Mount Rainier National Park (Washington)

The National Parks Traveler has published my latest photo column. This month, it’s all about capturing that last bit of autumn color before the monochrome palette of winter completely takes over.

To read the article, click on the image above.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under autumn, Mount Rainier National Park, National Parks, Photography, Seasons, Travel and Photography

Where The Trails Take You Photography 2022 Calendars For Sale

The Covid Pandemic and emergency eye surgery put a bit of a damper on my travel, but not on my photography. I managed to visit three national parks this year (Yosemite, Mount Rainier, and Great Basin) and capture some awesome shots. So…

… It’s that time of year again, when I shamelessly self-promote through the 12-month wall calendars I create for each year. Here are three of four (fourth awaits review) calendars I have for sale via Zazzle.com. Right now, you can get 15% off your order with the promotion code ZFALLPARTIES.

I order these calendars for myself and my family, so I can attest to the quality of these items. Sure, digital junkies (like one of my twin nephews) will scoff at a paper *anything*, much less a paper calendar, but these come in pretty handy for writing reminders, and special dates and events that I can just reach over, look at, and mark off as needed. Guess I’m old-school, but these calendars are still pretty cool and look nice on the wall at home or at the office.

https://www.zazzle.com/store/rebecca_latson_photo to get to my Zazzle Store or, click on each photo to look at each calendar and its months, separately.

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Filed under Calendars, Great Basin National Park, Mount Rainier National Park, National Parks, Photography, Yosemite National Park

Revisiting A Favorite Spot In A National Park

Myrtle Falls, Mount Rainier National Park, 9/30/2020
Myrtle Falls, Mount Rainier National Park, 9/23/2021
Myrtle Falls, Mount Rainier National Park, 9/6/2016

I know I’ve written this before, and I tend to hammer it in to the readers of my photo column on the National Parks Traveler. But, I’m not going to stop hammering it in, so here we go again: it’s always a great idea to revisit and rephotograph a favorite national park spot, because – depending upon the season, time of day, and weather – things can look quite different from the last time you visited. If you are using a newer/different camera, the level of detail can look quite different, as well.

Take these shots of Myrtle Falls in the Paradise area of Mount Rainier National Park (Washington state). Each of the three photos were actually captured in September, from late summer to autumn, and during the morning (I didn’t realize they were all captured in September until I looked at the file info). However, these images were photographed in different years (2016, 2020, 2021) and under different weather conditions. Makes quite a difference, doesn’t it?

The first image shows a sort of veiled mountain view that I photographed with my Sony a7riv. Smoke from a wildfire had wafted in that morning, when the previous morning was crystal clear. The second image is the most recent, captured the day after official autumn and conditions were perfect for a clear photo of everything and was photographed with my Fujifilm GFX100. The last photo was taken during a rainy day when The Mountain was completely hidden from view by fog/mist/low-hanging clouds, so I focused on the waterfall rather than the gray background with my Canon 5DSR. And the really nice thing is that during each of those photo sessions, I had the place all to myself (I may forget what I ate for breakfast the other day, but stuff like that, I tend to remember). Most people up there at that time of year tend to want to sleep in, I guess.

Anyway, look at these images and compare them to one another, then take my advice and revisit your favorite spots for more photos.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Canon, Fujifilm GFX 100, Mount Rainier National Park, National Parks, Photography, Sony Alpha a7r IV

It’s National Public Lands Day 2021!

Here’s a sunrise for your Saturday, folks. Today (Sept 25, 2021) is National Public Lands Day. Fees are waived at the national parks. It’s a great day to enjoy the outdoors and think about how you can help preserve a park’s environment for future visitors. It can be as simple as packing out what you pack in and picking up trash you see along the trail. I did that yesterday. I saw an occasional candy wrapper and even a discarded mask. I’d forgotten to bring a trash bag with me, but I still had other bags I could use for picking up and carrying trash. It’s good for one’s karma, you know. 😊

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under autumn, Mount Rainier National Park, National Parks, Photography, Seasons, sunrise

Some Very Quick Thoughts On The Fujifilm GFX 100S

A Trail And The Mountain, Sunrise Area, Mount Rainier National Park (Washington state)

I don’t know how many of you out there are still on a waiting list for a Fujifilm GFX 100S. I had to wait 5 months for mine and I only lucked out because I started looking at camera store websites other than the Big Two (BH Photo and Adorama). I can honestly say that, if you are a landscape photographer, the wait is worth it. The resolution is phenomenal and Fujifilm has not only actually brought a medium format camera down to the price of a high-end SLR like Sony, Canon, or Nikon, but at about the same size, too!

So, not too long ago, I spent a couple of days with my cameras up at Mount Rainier National Park. My main reason – aside from getting out and about – was to give my Fujifilm GFX 100S more of a workout. It wasn’t a complete workout because I didn’t try to get any night shots (the moon was out, making the sky too bright for decent star pics – that plus I was too tired from a full day of hiking), but it was enough for me to give a few more thoughts on this camera as well as the Fujifilm GFX 100.

Sunrise at the Sunrise Area, Mount Rainier National Park (Washington state)

1. The level of detail is simply amazing. I find, though, that I must add more saturation to the image when working with it on the computer. Sure, I could switch the film simulation from Provia/Standard to Velvia/Vivid, but that’s just a bit too vivid for me. That, plus it appears – on the LCD anyway – that some of the finer detail seen in the Provia/Standard setting is removed, or covered over, with that large boost of saturated color in the Velvia setting. I tend to apply saturation judiciously and thus prefer using Photoshop, where I feel I have a little more control.

2. Learning the menu setup is like learning another language. I’m language-challenged, but I do know my rudimentary way around the Fujifilm, Sony Alpha, and Canon menu setups. The menu setup for this brand of camera is extensive, but easier to intuit than Sony’s menu settings. That said, it behooves one to do a marginal skim of the owner’s manual before heading out into the field. I didn’t do that and ended up spending 30+ minutes trying to work with a setting while out in the park, wasting some good lighting conditions. And, I know better than to do that! Jeesh.

3. Battery life sucks for air – especially with the GFX 100S. My intention was to use the GFX 100S for an entire day of shooting, but both the battery that came with the camera as well as the spare battery I’d purchased pooped out on me before midday. I’ve since ordered an extra couple of batteries on top of the two I have, and I went ahead and ordered a couple more batteries for the GFX 100, although it’s battery life seems to be a bit longer. I just don’t want to be caught out in the field empty handed when that once-in-a-lifetime composition comes along. Know what I mean?

4. Two-second timer. When the camera is on the tripod, I always use the 2-second timer. It eliminates that last bit of vibration from my finger touching the shutter button. With both the GFX100 and the GFX100S, there’s three parts to the timer. In the Shooting setting (the little camera icon in the menu), you can set the self-timer to 10 seconds, 2 seconds, or Off. Then, you need to tell the camera to remember that self- timer setting in order for that timer to remain in effect for the next image, or if you turn the camera off and then back on at a later time. Otherwise, the timer will only work for one shot. Then, you’ll have to go back in and tell the camera to use the timer again. You’ll also need to decide whether or not you want the self-timer lamp on. That’s the little light that turns on while the s elf-timer is in use. For night shots (which I haven’t tried yet), I’ll turn that lamp off.

That’s all I’ve got, for now. I’ll be taking the two cameras with me on a forthcoming 2-week trip to a couple of national parks I’ve never visited (fingers crossed I don’t have any further health issues – or car issues, for that matter). I’m not certain if I’ll be able to get any star shots due to the smoky skies from area wildfires, but if the sky is clear, then I’ll see how well these cameras do regarding night scenes.

Mid-morning At Reflection Lakes, Mount Rainier National Park (Washington state)

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Fujifilm GFX 100S, Mount Rainier National Park, National Parks, Photography, Photography In The National Parks, Travel and Photography, Washington State

A Matter Of Photographic Perspective

After an over-two-month hiatus due to various issues including eye surgery, I managed to make it out for a day hike in Mount Rainier National Park. I’d been checking the weather reports, and thought that “mostly sunny” meant it would be a relatively clear day during which to see “The Mountain.” As luck would have it, the only time Mount Rainier was actually visible was during that time I was hotfooting it to the restroom because I’d had too much coffee to get me going that morning. Thereafter, the mist/cloud cover shrouded everything in a veil of milky white and totally hid the mountain. It didn’t stop me from getting a little much-needed exercise and capturing a slew of leading line trail shots, but it did keep me from giving my new camera and a new lens a workout.

While I was hiking and photographing, I came upon the scene in the two images above. I thought it might be interesting to talk a little about photographic perspective. The first image has more of the trail in it than the second image. Which one do you like better? There’s no right or wrong answer here – it’s all a matter of your own perspective. But, you can see how an image may look slightly different, don’t you, depending on the position of the lens? It’s something to consider when you, yourself, are out there with your camera. Lens placement can make the same scene look slightly or quite a bit different. And, you can really see this change if you happen to be using a wide-angle lens, like a 14mm or a 16-35mm. This image was made with what you’d call a standard zoom: 24 – 105mm. And no, it wasn’t cropped. I simply zoomed the lens in a little bit to cut off some of the trail.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Mount Rainier National Park, National Parks, Photography