Nature does a fine job at making her own Christmas tree, don’t you think? I photographed this lovely, snow-frosted evergreen along the side of the road in Mount Rainier National Park.
And, since it’s Fun Fact Friday as well as Christmas Day, here’s a little bit of Mount Rainier tree trivia for you: The trees in this park extend all the way up to over 6,000 feet along the mountain flanks (over 1,800 meters, more or less). Forests cover approximately 58% of this national park. And most of the trees here are evergreen conifers, meaning they have needles and they keep their needles on their branches year-round.
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.
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.
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.
While I was in Stehekin, WA, happily photographing away from cell and internet services, my latest Photography In The National Parks article was published in the National Parks Traveler. This article deals with the geometry of nature and how many of you may photograph a scene without really realizing you are doing it because you see and like the natural geometry of a landscape.
I have no idea what possessed me to look up at this particular juncture during my foray along the Grove of The Patriarchs Trail in Mount Rainier National Park. I think it might have been to see if I could spot the little bird that was singing so exuberantly. The moment my eyes lit upon this forked tree top and the spider web between the prongs, I immediately thought of Sauron’s searching eye in The Return Of The King.
I had reached the Washington Pass Overlook and was dying to get out to photograph the view and stretch my legs. So, I hefted a camera with a wide-angle lens and another camera with the 100-400mm lens both around my neck (I;m used to doing this from my past experience photographing weddings) and trod up the trail to the part of the view looking back down along the North Cascades Highway (opposite view from the previous posts). One of the first things that caught my eye, after taking in the view, was a little “knob” I saw on top of that second tree to your left. I couldn’t figure out if that was a tiny birdy or just a part of the tree, itself. When I looked through the telephoto lens, I saw that it was indeed a little bird. I have no idea what it is called (other than “bird”). Anybody know about birds in the West and Northwest?
Anyway, this is a good example of how being observant not only creates good photo ops, but also makes you a better photographer in general. I mean, how many other people standing up there even noticed there was this little bird waaaaay up on that tall tree?
When we go out into nature with our cameras, our attention is grabbed by geometry, whether we realize it or not. We are fascinated by patterns, lines, arcs, angles, circles and ellipses.
In this particular image, the first thing catching my attention on that rainy morning in Mount Rainier National Park were the tall trees standing at attention next to that somewhat-arc of a swiftly-flowing stream.
Layers of grass, trees, rock and mountains, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Whenever someone mentions Yellowstone National Park, you probably picture either Old Faithful or other geysers, colorful thermal springs like Grand Prismatic, or some type of wildlife, close up. What you may not think about are all the other landscapes, textures, colors and patterns that make up this huge national park.
While I was driving from Tower Junction over to Upper Geyser Basin, I looked over and saw the tall, bare trees first. After I parked, I took a longer look and saw all the colorful layers of trees, rocks, and distant rolling mountains. Yellowstone is huge, covering 3,472 square miles (2,221,766 acres). That area covers quite a bit of different landscapes, such as this one.
I can’t tell you how many times I have tried to capture a good image of this neat bird. I know, blackbirds are blackbirds are blackbirds (aka ordinary), but those chevrons of bright orange-red are quite the eye-grabber. And these birds have such a pretty song.
This photo was taken out at the Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge, here in southeast Texas, not too far from where I live. I had my Canon 1DX attached to the 500mm prime lens. Thanks for my efforts at losing weight and building up some arm strength, I was able to hand-hold the camera/lens combo (IS turned On) and grab some shots of this red-wing blackbird.
I finished every single one of my errands/chores yesterday so I could drive out to the Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge this morning to see what might be there: tall grass and reeds and cattails with lots of water but not much birdlife – at least, not in the area in which I found myself and nothing near to me and my 500mm lens. The clouds on this morning, however, were dark and fluffy and big and presaged the coming storms predicted for today. So I pulled out the other tripod and my Canon 5DSR with the 16-35mm f//4 IS lens, affixed a circular polarizer to it and used my grad ND filter to bring out the texture in the clouds.
Clouds are a photographer’s best friend. They add drama and character to an already lovely scene and can really spice up an otherwise ordinary or ho-hum scene. The thing about photographing awesome clouds, though, is that you also need a frame of reference or some scale. So don’t just photograph the clouds themselves. Your viewers won’t know whether this was a horizon-filling scene or just a small spot in the sky. Add some ground or buildings or *something* to the cloud scene.
All images on these posts are the exclusive property of Rebecca L. Latson and Where The Trails Take You Photography. Please respect my copyright and do not use these images on Pinterest, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, Snapchat or any other business, personal or social website, blog site, or other media without my written permission. Thank you.
You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org