Tag Archives: night photography

“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

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

Happy Monday! Sunrise Over Mt. Rainier

Sunrise At Tipsoo Lake

The Mountain in the morning, Mount Rainier National Park, WA

Sunrise colors are fleeting, so I was happy to have made it to Tipsoo Lake, in Mount Rainier National Park, just in time to set up camera and tripod to capture several shots of those gorgeous, saturated colors, before they disappeared.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.



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Filed under 5DSR, autumn, Canon, Mt. Rainier National Park, Photography, Seasons, sunrise, Travel, Washington State

Focus on More than Just the Mountain

Christine Falls

The National Parks Traveler published my latest photography article.  This month’s article deals with focusing on more than just “The Mountain” in Mount Rainier National Park.  Click on the photo above to be taken to the article.




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Filed under Mt. Rainier National Park, National Parks Traveler, Photography

Happy New Year, London – It’s 2016!

Happy New Year From London

My last post described my New Year’s Eve experience in London.  This post shows you the results.  The fireworks display lasted around 11 minutes. I used my Canon 1DX and 16-35mm f/4L IS lens, set the ISO to 5000, shutter to 1/50 of a second, aperture was f/4 and I just left it at that for these photos.  I had to use some noiseware (Imagenomic) reduction software during the editing phase.

Happy New Year London 2-15-2016Happy New Year UK 2016Happy New Year UK 2016Happy New Year UK 2016Happy New Year UK 2016Happy New Year Longon 2-15-2016Happy New Year UK 2016Happy New Year London 2-15-2016Happy New Year London 2-15-2016Happy New Year London 2-15-2016Happy New Year London 2-15-2016Happy New Year London 2016Happy New Year London 2016Happy New Year London 2016Happy New Year London 2-15-2016

Some of these images bring to mind an abstract painting.  All of these images bring to mind an incredible event.



Filed under 1DX, Canon, Canon Lens, holiday, London, New Year, Night Photography, Photography, Travel, Travel and Photography, Vacation

Tour Eiffel: Variations On A Theme

Becky In Paris

For almost 20 years, I’ve wanted to go to Paris to see the Eiffel Tower.  Nothing else – all I wanted to do was just see in person that iconic landmark.  While staying in London, I knew I would be so close to Paris that I might as well just book a seat on the Eurostar and hop over to France for a couple of days.  Below are variations on a theme, from sunrise to sunset over the course of 2 days (actually, just a day-and-a-half, not counting the travel time from London to Paris).

Sunrise In ParisSunrise At The TrocaderoEnjoying The View At The TrocaderoTour EiffelMorning Light On The Eiffel TowerThe Crowd Under The TowerThe Eiffel Tower And The Trocadero BeyondThat Which Makes The Eiffel TowerThe UnderbellyA Morning Walk Along The SeineTour Eiffel At DuskTour Eiffel At NightEiffel Tower Theme 3Eiffel Tower Theme 2Eiffel Tower Theme 1Sparkling Tour EiffelSparkly Tour EiffelEiffel Tower Theme 4Night View From My Paris RoomBecky And The Eiffel Tower At Night

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Filed under Night Photography, Paris, Photography, Travel

Of Dark Skies and Starry Nights

Moonlight Over The Window

The National Parks Traveler has published my latest article to their site.  Click on the photo to be taken to the article.  A word of warning, though.  My night sky photos look a little darker in the article than they do on my computer, so keep that in mind if you check out the article.

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Filed under Big Bend National Park, National Parks, National Parks Traveler, Travel and Photography

Starry Skies Over Big Bend National Park, Texas

Los Portales Morning

Los Portales Morning, Gage Hotel, Marathon Texas

My first vacation of the year was the last week of  April 2014.  I drove 13 hours from my home in southeast Texas all the way over to southwest Texas to Big Bend National Park…in one day.  I wasn’t able to get a room in the Chisos Mountains Lodge for Saturday the 26th, so I instead stayed in the beautiful Gage Hotel in Marathon, about 60-some miles north of the park.

One of the main reasons I timed my trip for late April was because of the new moon.  When I visited Big Bend back in December 2013, there was a gibbous moon, the light of which blocked out the wonderful stars and purple-white line of the Milky Way.  For this trip, though, the stars out-performed themselves.

Casa Grande Morning

Starry skies over Casa Grande

Chihuahuan Desert Starry Sky

Stars and the Milky Way over the Chihuahuan Desert

Starry Morning on Basin Road

Stars and the Milky Way along Basin Road, toward the Chisos Mountains

I used three different cameras for these shots:  my Canon 5D Mk III, Canon 1DX, and a rented Nikon D800.  For the Canons, I used two lenses:  24-70 and 16-35; for the Nikon I used a rented 24-70.  The ISO was 3200, f-stop was 3.2 and I varied the shutter speed between 20-30 seconds.  I had to use manual focus because of the lack of light for autofocus.  The images were all taken between 2-3AM.

The park’s most recent newsletter talks a lot about the starry skies in Big Bend, as well as the problem with light pollution elsewhere (which is why parks like Big Bend are so important).  Many nocturnal creatures guide their lives by the stars and even by the straight line of the Milky Way, believe it or not.

If you ever have a chance to visit this amazing, out-of-the-way park, try to go during a new moon so you, too, can see the starry expanse of the night sky.

Los Portales Morning2

The Milky Way over the Los Portales rooms of the Gage Hotel, Marathon, TX

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Filed under Big Bend, National Parks, Night Photography, Photography

Star Light, Star Bright on Mt. Desert Island, Maine

Pointing The Way To The Milky Way

During my first night sleeping in my Bass Harbor rental cottage, I awoke at about 2AM and looked up through the skylight windows above the bed.  I was not wearing my glasses and could see these bright little blobs against the black background of the night.  After clearing my vision with the application of glasses, I saw those “blobs” were brilliant twinkling stars.

I had never seen the stars so bright – definitely not in my part of southeast Texas.

So I made a note to set the alarm clock for 1AM each morning.  If I woke up and saw the stars through the skylight windows, then I would dress, grab camera and gear and drive over to the seawall (about 2 or 3 miles away) to set up tripod and work on my night photography.

The Road To The Night Sky

The road to the stars.  Looking back from whence I came.  I was pointing the camera toward the seawall side of the road.

A Sea Of Stars

A sea of stars.  That bright red light is a blinking buoy.

Early Morning Stars

Early morning stars.  The first night I took photos, they turned out horribly because I didn’t have the manual focus set correctly (and you need to focus manually).  So the one image with the Northern Lights in it failed to turn out.  On this night, I managed much better, but I think that yellow glow in the distance may be from one of the little towns and not the Northern Lights.  I think I missed my chance at that for the remainder of the week.

Next time…….

And for those of you interested in knowing how I achieved these photos:

  • I switched from auto focus to Manual Focus and made sure the focus was set to infinity – well, on my Canon lenses, that means I needed to set the focus line on the lens to a teeny bit before infinity.  When I rotated the focus ring allll the way over to (and beyond) infinity, the photo was horribly blurred, which is why I messed up the one shot I took with the Northern Lights in it (sigh).
  • I played around with ISO settings, which ranged anywhere from 3000 to 6400
  • I also played around with the shutter speed setting, which ranged from between 20 seconds to 30 seconds
  • The f-stop, I played around with too and it ranged from 2.8 to 3.2

And of course, this was all on a tripod.

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Filed under Maine, Night Photography, Photography, Star Photography, Travel

Company Party 2012

1216_Undersea Adventure

Every year, my company hosts its Employee Appreciation Party.  When I first started working there some 14 years ago, it was a Christmas party held in December.  But, as the company became more global (not everybody celebrates Christmas, you know), and realized that people make a lot of vacation plans during Dec/Jan, the whole party concept evolved and the date changed.

In the past, the annual party was celebrated at  a hotel venue.  This year, my company rented out an entire restaurant (and the grounds around it): The Downtown Aquarium Restaurant in Houston.


I didn’t attend the party last year, but this year’s venue sounded so intriguing, I naturally RSVP’d.  I filled out the little form, indicating I would not be bringing a guest….in retrospect, I should have said I’d be bringing my Canon 5D Mark II as a guest.

Note to you Pixel Peepers out there:  not all of these photos are – well – the best in the world – I’ve included them anyway ‘cause they still give you an idea of the event.

I ended up purchasing a large, black patent leather purse large enough to hold my camera and a single lens, so I brought along only my all-purpose 24-105mm lens.  It served me well, but I give this advice to you readers who are thinking of photographing aquarium images:  use a fast lens (f2.8 to f1.2).  And, if you can, use a tripod.  The largest f-stop on my 24-105 is 4, which means I bumped the ISO up and slowed down the shutter speed.  Yes, I had noise issues, and yes, I had motion issues.  Interior lighting was dim, and fish don’t pose  – they swim.  And, aquatic plant life moves with the currents.  I did the best I could.  I notice in Flickr that many aquarium photos were taken with a 50mm f1.4 lens.

The Aquarium is a three-story restaurant/aquarium with three floors of drinking, dining, and fish tanks.



When one gets tired of eating, drinking, and watching the scuba diver feed the fish (btw, that glass is 5 inches thick),

1173_Fish Feeding

1191_Stairs and Scuba Diver

1207_Diver in the tank

one can go back down to the first floor, exit the restaurant, and tour their “mini-aquarium” via a separate entrance.  Thanks to it being our company party, everything was free and  included admittance to the mini-aquarium, the white Bengal tiger enclosure, the rides – ferris wheel, carousel, train ride through the shark tanks, and some other crazy ride – and the arcade area.  On a regular day, everything at that place has a fee.

This is the view from the 3rd floor balcony, location of their more formal dining area.

1135_Downtown Carnival


1148_Wheeled Vehicles

It was a chilly night, so these things emitted a lot of heat and were kinda neat, too.


This is a train ride (which I didn’t take and now wish I had) moving its passengers around the perimeter of the grounds and underneath the shark tanks, so that you can see sharks swimming around overhead.  Hindsight is 20-20; if I ever go there again, I’ll ride the train.


Following are photos taken within their mini-aquarium exhibits.  I found out later that part of that tour is devoted to snakes and spiders.  I didn’t see that particular exhibit becuase it was located in a room off to the side which escaped my notice. Too bad, because a tarantula photo might have been an interesting capture.

1003_Tropical Fish





Poison dart frogs.  The most dangerous things are usually the most beautiful.

1346_Poison Dart Frog ORIG

1346-2_Poison Dart Frog

Specifically for the party, the restaurant had set up various drink stations in rooms off to the sides of the aquarium tour route, and in other out-of-the-way locations.  I took this photo of stacked wine glasses along the aquarium route, across from the mock-Mayan (Aztec? Incan? Toltec?) aquatic ruins.  They wanted to make sure we founded good uses for our two drink tickets the company gave to us.





1431_Aquatic Silhouette

My friends and I wended our way to what I call the “aquatic petting zoo”, where we could pet the sting rays.  I thought that was totally cool!  Those rays were like dogs! As instructed, we used a single finger to stroke these creatures, and when we stopped, they would clamber up for more.  The docent told us stingrays are social creatures and gathered around where ever the humans were standing (of course, I’m sure it didn’t hurt that they probably associated humans with food provision).  Stingrays feel soft and sort of “gooshy”.


1439_Aquatic Petting Zoo


1444_Friendly Fellow

One of the highlights of this little self-tour was the white tiger enclosure.  Ok, I admit, I don’t like going to zoos because it drives me crazy to see large animals in small enclosures (although I’ve been told things have changed since I last visited a zoo).  It bugs me to think of these large, wonderful creatures being bored, either pacing back and forth or just sitting looking downcast.  So, it was with mixed feelings that I chose to visit the white tiger enclosure.  But, I really really wanted to see an animal that I would never otherwise have a chance to view.

I was pleasantly surprised at the size and look of the enclosure (remember, this is in a restaurant).  It was pretty spacious (there are other enclosures for the tigers away from the general public’s view), with things for the tigers to do (big balls, water, trees to climb in).


There is a seating area in front of the glass wall (for the protection of the humans, of course).

This is Reef.  He’s a Bengal white tiger, one of five of which the Aquarium takes care.  The speaker gave us some interesting facts and figures regarding these gorgeous big cats.  In the wild, they have a life span of about 10 years, while here in captivity, they can live up to 20 years – makes sense, as there are none of the survival stressors in captivity that the cats have out in the wild.

To me, they looked healthy, non-bored, and not nervous.  Reef, as a matter of fact, has no problem posing for his adoring human fans.  And I had a front row seat with a zoom lens and a full-frame camera.  So as you can see below, I had great fun capturing images of this gloriously beautiful guy.

1495-2_White Bengal Tiger

1495-3_White Bengal Tiger CROP

1495-White Bengal BW

1486-White Bengal Tiger BW

From the tiger enclosure, my friends and I wandered outside to the rides and arcade area.

1648_Downtown Ferris Wheel

1667_Downtown Ferris Wheel

1661_Downtown Ferris Wheel

1581_riding The Wheel

1678_Wild Ride


1627_Merry Go Round

Go fish!

1588_Go Fish

1596_Go Fish

After my friends and I parted ways, I stood in a verrrry long line waiting my turn for a photographer to capture a photo of me – we were promised a free 5×7.  After about 10 minutes of waiting, I decided I could do without the free photo.  My feet were killing me (damned heels ).

Happiness is a pair of white tiger house shoes.

1686_White Tiger Houseshoes

As I was hobbling toward the valet parking, ready to go home after 3-1/2 hours, I noticed a fellow employee wearing white tiger house shoes (I call ‘em slippers) with her party dress (photo above).   After snapping a photo of her clad feet, I asked her where she got those comfy-looking things.  She told me she was not too proud to be wearing these with her dress, and remarked that very few people could successfully carry off that look; she could, of course, and probably I could too, if I decided to purchase them at the gift store.

So I hot-footed it (oh yeah, my feet were on fire) over to the store and purchased a pair.   My feet thanked me profusely as I wandered around the restaurant’s lobby on my way out to valet parking.

I had a great time at the party and hope they use this same venue next year (because by then, I’ll have a faster lens, more comfortable shoes, and will visit those areas I neglected, in addition to re-visiting places I photographed this year).


Filed under Events, Photography