Everybody has a favorite photo (or two or three or more) they’ve captured in a national park, right? I certainly have mine. Today’s edition of the National Parks Traveler has published what was officially supposed to be my first Photography in the National Parks column for 2022 (but it got superseded by my Fort Clatsop article). Anyway, today’s article is a look back at my 10 fave images from 2021.
To read the photo column, see my other nine favorite photos, why I like them and how I got each shot, click on the image above.
This image, captured just at the beginning of sunrise on a frosty, snowy morning in Mount Rainier National Park, is one of those 10 favorites. For me, it was a culmination of trying to get just the right sunrise composition of this spot overlooking Tipsoo Lake, over which “The Mountain” towers. Sunrises are, of course, always gorgeous here, but they can often look waaaay oversaturated. In truth, that’s *exactly* the way sunrise looks, for maybe a minute, before the sunrlight then turns white on the snowcapped mountain. The colors for that one moment almost scream at the eye. So, for this shot, I waited for the perfect moment to photograph the composition just as the sun kissed the top of the mountain, leaving the rest of the scene looking cold in the blue/purple shadows of the morning.
Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.
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True or false: you can tell a bison’s mood by looking at its tail. That’s one of the questions in my latest National Parks Quiz and Trivia piece published in today’s edition of the National Parks Traveler. And no, I’m not going to tell you the answer. You’ll have to click on the link and take the quiz yourself (ok, ok, answers are at the bottom of the quiz, but really, see how much you know about the units in the National Park System before peeking at the answers).
To take the quiz and read the trivia, click on the image above.
As for this image, it was captured during my autumn 2019 visit to this national park. I was driving along the park road heading toward the turnoff to West Yellowstone and I saw this lone bison standing in a field of golden grass. I pulled off onto a wide shoulder to get the photo before continuing on to my destination of Fountain Flat Drive (where I ultimately dropped camera and lens and broke the teleconverter but thankfully, not the camera or lens ).
Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.
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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?).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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Winter has many faces in a national park. It might be snowing, it might not. It might be freezing cold, it might be balmy t-shirt weather. My latest photo column has been published in the National Parks Traveler and it’s all about capturing the many faces of winter. If you are planning a winter trip to a national park unit, you should check out the article.
To read the article, click on any of the images above.
Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.
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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.
It’s #FunFactFriday ! I have always liked ravens. I like crows too, but ravens more. So, here’s a few interesting facts about ravens. These birds are super smart and very curious. They are also quite acrobatic when flying, turning somersaults mid-air. They’ve got a vocabulary of about 30 calls (including flight calls, hunger calls, and danger calls) in addition to non-vocal communication (like snapping their beaks). Once mated, it’s for life, and they usually nest in the same location year after year.
You can tell the difference between ravens and crows in that (among other things), ravens are larger, have uneven tail feathers (which you can see when they fan them out) and have curvier beaks. Ravens usually travel in pairs while crows travel in larger groups (called “murders” as in a murder of crows).
When I stayed for a couple of days at the North Cascades Institute back in 2019, they talked about a pair of ravens they’d named Bonnie and Clyde. These ravens could unzip backpacks in their efforts to get at hikers’ food. I believe I actually met this pair one day while photographing at the Diablo Lake Overlook. They had landed on the fence railing and were eyeing my camera pack, then hopped down next to the pack. I had a feeling they were trying to figure out where the zippers were, so I had to shoo them away.
The one raven with its mouth open in the top photo is doing something you’ll see other birds doing: it’s called gular (goo-lur) fluttering and they do it to cool down on a hot day since they cannot sweat like humans do.
Oh, and while I am on the subject of fun facts, my latest quiz and trivia piece has been published in the National Parks Traveler. It’s all about “August notables.” To read the article, click on either of the images above.
“National Park Service officials on Monday directed that all visitors, employees, and contractors entering NPS buildings and in crowded areas of parks must wear a face mask, regardless of their vaccination status.”
And I say GOOD! I have absolutely no problem whatsoever wearing a piece of cloth over my mouth and nose inside a building. It protects me, it protects others. It doesn’t infringe on my freedom and I don’t feel one bit whiny about it. The Delta variant aint goin’ away. So, when you visit a national park and want to go into one of the park buildings, then take and wear a mask …. or don’t go in at all.
Ok, I’ll admit the image above is nothing to write home about, but I posted this because one of the quiz questions is about the Weeping Wall in my latest quiz and trivia piece published in today’s edition of the National Parks Traveler. It’s all about waterfalls in the national parks. Click on the link to test your knowledge about these sometimes-ephemeral, always beautiful cascades of water you might spy just off the side of the road or along the trail in a national park.
To take the quiz and read the trivia, just click on the image above.
Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.
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In today’s edition of the National Parks Traveler is an article about mandatory masking within buildings in national parks that are ‘”(I)n areas of substantial or high community transmission” of the Covid virus.’ This is regardless of whether you are vaccinated or not.
A number of parks have already announced this on their Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts (North Cascades, Glacier, Mount Rainier, Yosemite, Yellowstone, etc.). If you are planning a trip to a national park anytime soon, then you might want to check first to see if you need to bring a mask.
It’s not a political thing, folks. It’s a health matter. I and my family are fully vaccinated but you can bet I’ll be bringing my cool masks that my sister made along with me on forthcoming visits to a couple of national parks (provided nothing unforeseen occurs – like what happened with my recent eye surgery).
Stay safe, play it safe, keep others safe. It aint over yet, folks. The sooner you get vaccinated, the sooner those variants go away or are kept from forming (I’m lookin’ at you, Delta and Lambda variants).
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