Tag Archives: national parks

“Half The Park Is After Dark”

A starry sky and mirror-smooth Reflection Lake in Mount Rainier National Park (Washington)
A busy night at the Sunrise Area of Mount Rainier National Park (Washington)
Comet NEOWISE over Crater Lake National Park (Oregon)
Taking the road to the stars in Big Bend National Park (Texas)
A starry sky over the Watchman and Virgin River, Zion National Park (Utah)

“Half the Park is After Dark,” as the saying goes. This week is International Dark Skies Week, so here are a few images of some dark skies over Mount Rainier, Crater Lake, and Big Bend national parks. To read more about this week, click on any of the images above.

I don’t do much night photography, but that’s mainly because it’s hard for me to stay up past my bedtime. I’m not a “night owl” and never was. I’m an “early bird” and have no problem getting up at 3 a.m. to get to a spot for sunrise shots. I really do need to get more night shots of the parks I visit, and I’ll try to make that a mission. Another part of the problem, besides light pollution and staying up late, is that clear skies and moonless nights are the best circumstances in which to view and photograph the stars and Milky Way. Sometimes, I remember to time my trips during the week of a new moon, but oftentimes, I simply forget.

Night shots are a good way to work on your photography skills. To get a decent star image, though, you need to set your camera to Manual (not Auto or Program), put it on a tripod, increase the ISO to greater than 640, and experiment with different slow shutter speeds, anywhere from 10 seconds to greater. It’s also helpful to use a corded or wireless remote shutter release, or utilize the 2-second timer on your camera. That reduces blur from camera shake when your finder touches the shutter button.

It takes a little expertise with the editing software to really bring out that Milky Way and landscape. Some photographers blend anywhere from two to more images to get enough light on the landscape while keeping the dark sky dark. If they are honest, they will say what they did. But most photographers keep quiet. That’s why you will be amazed at seeing something like the night sky over the Watchman and Virgin River at Zion Park, where the landscape is beautifully lit. when in reality – as you can see from the image above, captured around 2 a.m. on a cold, clear February night – it is a a bit darker. Nonetheless, it doesn’t detract from the beauty of the shot.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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

Careless Visitors Gain Arches National Park An Ignoble Designation

New Year’s Eve Morning At Turret Arch, Arches National Park (Utah)

The National Parks Traveler has run a number of articles about graffiti in the national park units. I even wrote an op-ed for the Traveler regarding graffiti, and one commenter rightly said that the people who really need to see the articles are not the ones who read the Traveler, or probably even anything else regarding behavior and the Leave No Trace Principles in national parks, except how to make lodging reservations or how many miles away it is from where they live.

So, I thought I’d write this post and embed the link to the latest article about Arches in the image above, captured back in 2017 – a year before I retired from my day job and moved up to central Washington.

To read the article, click on the image above.

To read other articles published in the Traveler about graffiti in national parks, click on this link.

Feel free to pass this post with its links on to others. The more people that understand it’s NOT ok to leave graffiti in a national park, or otherwise trash a park unit with garbage, human waste, and pet waste, the less cleanup that will need to be done to the precious natural resources within a park unit.

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Filed under National Parks, National Parks Traveler

Searching For Glaciers In The National Park System

Athabasca Glacier, Jasper National Park, Canada

A few weeks ago, my editor asked me to write an article about being able to see glaciers in national parks. So, I did. It’s been published in today’s edition of the National Parks Traveler. Click on the image to read the article.

As for the image, this is one of the first things you see when you cross the border from Banff National Park into Jasper National Park. You can even buy a ticket to go on a sort of bus kitted out with big honkin’ snow tires and ride out to, and walk onto, the glacier. My parents did it decades ago, and I wish I would have done the same thing, in retrospect. Maybe someday, when Canada lets us back in, I’ll take a little drive back into Jasper National Park and walk on that glacier.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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

National Parks Quiz and Trivia #24

Evening Blues And Greens, Lake Clark National Park And Preserve

After I published that food photo post, I remembered my latest national parks quiz and trivia piece #24 had been published in the National Parks Traveler a couple of days ago.

The image was captured back in 2014 during an organized photo tour I’d taken to Lake Clark National Park and Preserve, ostensibly to photograph the Alaskan brown bears. Turns out, while we got bear photos (thank goodness a mom and her two cubs were around the entire time we were there), we also captured landscape images during those times when no bears were available for their Demille close-ups (has anybody ever watched “Sunset Boulevard”?).

Click on the image above to go see how much you really know about national parks, and learn some stuff, too. I find with every quiz piece I create, I realize just how much I don’t know about national parks, and how much I really do learn.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under National Parks Quiz, National Parks Traveler, Photography

My 10 Favorite Photos From 2020

Folds Of Velvet, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument (Oregon)

The National Parks Traveler has published my first photography article for the New Year. It’s a tradition I began some years ago, where I choose my 10 favorite shots from the previous year, why I like each shot, and how I captured each image.

To read the article, click on the image above.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under National Parks, National Parks Traveler, New Year, Photography, Photography In The National Parks

Photography in The National Parks: Winter Wonderlands

A snowy, freezing January along the shore of Lake McDonald, Glacier National Park (Montana)

If you’re thinking of getting out in the parks this winter with mask, hand sanitizer, and camera in hand, then you’ll want to read my annual winter photo column published in today’s edition of the National Parks Traveler. It might be a bit redundant if you read last year’s photo column, but a little winter photography refresher never hurts, right?

To read the article, click on the image above.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved

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Filed under Glacier National Park MT, National Parks, National Parks Traveler, Photography, Photography In The National Parks, Seasons, winter

Modern Graffiti Vs. Ancient Graffiti In A National Park: What’s The Difference?

Graffiti carved into a downed redwood tree sawed in half to clear the trail
Ancient petroglyphs carved into rock in Petrified Forest National Park

I maintain the National Parks Traveler’s Instagram account @national_parks_traveler. The other day, I posted a photo and commentary about Zion National Park’s continued problem with graffiti defacing parts of the park. Among all the commenters condemning the act, one Instagrammer asked why there was such a big deal about modern graffiti versus ancient graffiti, like Newspaper Rock in Petrified Forest National Park. The short answer I gave on Instagram was that back then, when Native Americans and pioneers and explorers carved, painted, or chiseled stuff onto rocks and living and dead trees, there was no National Park Service to protect the lands. Now, there is and modern graffiti, along with chopping down Joshua Trees driving ATVs over ecologically fragile ground is all illegal and considered vandalism. But I knew there had to be a deeper answer. The short answer I gave was sort of an “because I said so” thing. So, I penned a longer Op-Ed about modern versus ancient graffiti in a national park and it’s been published in today’s edition of the National Parks Traveler.

To read the article, click on either image above.

I hope the Instagrammer that asked that question in the first place reads the Op-Ed, becasue he’s the one who spurred me to think a little more deeply about the whole issue.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under National Parks, National Parks Traveler

Birdy, Birdy In The Sky

Brown Pelicans Flying Over Padre Island National Seashore, in Texas

The birds you see in national parks and other protected lands are part and parcel of these places, fleshing out the story of your visit. You don’t need to stake out a site for your tripod and use a mega-telephoto lens to capture great images of the birds.

This month’s photo column in the National Parks Traveler is all about bird photography with whatever camera/lens you happen to have on you during your hike or stop at a park overlook.

To read my article, click on the image above.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under birds, National Parks, National Parks Traveler, Photography

The Bald Eagle

After a presidential election, what better photo to post than the symbol of American democracy, the bald eagle. As I post this image, I am listening to National Parks Traveler podcast episode #91, about bald eagles in Chesapeake Bay and how populations in the national parks around the Bay have a bit of a better chance of survival. It’s a good podcast, if you feel like listening. It’s about 41 minutes long, and you can download it to listen to later.

To listen to the podcast, click on the image above.

This image was of a bald eagle taking off from a snag in the Brooks River in Katmai National Park, in Alaska was captured with my Canon 1DX and rented 500mm lens.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under 1DX, birds, Canon, Canon 500mm f/4L IS II, Canon Lens, Katmai National Park, National Parks, National Parks Traveler, Photography, Podcast

Halloween Quiz And Trivia

A lonely park road to Paradise in Mount Rainier National Park

National parks and protected lands are not immune from ghosts and ghouls and things that go bump in the night. There are all sorts of scary stories out there about spooky forests, dark park roads, haunted inns, and lonely gravesites. In honor of Halloween, I’ve created a National Parks Quiz and Trivia piece which the National Parks Traveler has published in today’s edition.

If you feel like testing your ghostly knowledge while learning something that might raise the hairs on the back of your neck, then click on the image above.

Levi H. Tower’s lone grave site, Whiskeytown National Recreation Area
The Old Faithful Inn on a cold, snowy night in Yellowstone National Park
A scene along the Trail of Shadows in Mount Rainier National Park

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!

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Filed under Halloween, National Parks, National Parks Quiz, National Parks Traveler, Photography