Tag Archives: photography

The Yin And Yang Of Castle Geyser In Yellowstone National Park

Back in 2021, I wrote an article for the National Parks Traveler about finding the yin and yang of an image.

To read that article, click on the image above.

In such images, you’ll see a sort of half-and-half of color, or light, or texture, or something else that engenders the thought of yin/yang: “two complimentary forces making up all aspects and phenomena of life.”

To be honest, I don’t always look for that. It just sort of comes up accidentally, so that when I edit the image on my computer, I only then notice those “two complimentary forces.” Seems that when I look for yin/yang, I don’t find it, but it pops up when I am least expecting it. Sort of like everything else in life, I suppose.

Anyway, it was a cold, very steamy winter morning walking along the snow-and-ice-covered boardwalk looking toward Castle Geyser. I was trying to suss out whether it had already erupted (possible), was in its eruptive stage (no), or was simply steaming heavily due to the frigid temp of the morning (most likely). It was past 9:00 a.m. Mountain Time. The sun had moved over to the right side of the image, out of the composition, shining a yellowish light onto the right side of the image, while the left side was still sort of in a blue shadow stage.

Moral of the story is that you can look and look for something – like yin/yang – and not find it until it pops up on its own, after the fact – like after you’ve pushed down on the shutter button.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Alien Crash Site? Or Just A Little Hot Spring At Upper Geyser Basin?

This is just a close shot of a very small hot spring (maybe 3 feet in diameter, including the melted ground around it) I saw while walking on the boardwalks at Upper Geyser Basin in Yellowstone National Park one freezing February morning. It was a pretty thing, all bright and distinct against the white snow, and it reminded me of a favorite old 1950’s sci fi movie I watch all the time on my iPad when traveling (I listen to movies while editing photos). Anybody ever seen “The Thing From Another World?” Not the one with Kurt Russell, but the 1951 black-and-white version? To me, that’s a classic. The timing and overlapping of the dialog, the whole black-and-white scenario. I love it. Oh, the special effects are laughable, but I still like it way better than the 1982 film. Maybe it’s an age thing, but to me, the old movies are classics and always will be.

Anyway, where is this going, you may ask? Well, in the 1951 version, at one point, the plane with the scientists and the Airforce personnel are flying over the alien’s frozen-over crash spot, and it looks exactly like this little hot spring’s configuration right here. As a matter of fact, when I spotted this thermal spring, it was the first thing that popped into my head.

So, sometimes, you may photograph the things you see because they remind you of something else, right?

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Geology, National Parks, Photography, Yellowstone National Park

A Good Photo Should Evoke An Emotion, Feeling, Or Memory

Cold And Windswept, Yellowstone National Park

I had driven along the length of the Lamar Valley, then the road curved and headed more northerly, toward Cooke City. I’d already stopped and photographed Soda Butte (you can see it way in the distance a little left of center of this image), but decided to pull over again for a more wide-angle landscape.

Now, this image is nothing spectacular, although I think it’s pretty enough, and I (of course) like it. This image is more of an example of how a photograph can (and should) evoke some sort of emotion, memory, or feeling. That’s the hallmark of a good image, actually. Doesn’t have to be stunning to do that. When I look at this shot, I feel downright cold because I remember just how cold it was that day. I see the dry powder snow blown across the road by the freezing wind that chapped my cold hands. The day had a blue cast to it because it wasn’t a very bright day. The sun was hidden above angry clouds that turned into a winter snow storm later in the evening. The mountains were blue because they usually look blue in winter photos, don’t they? This shot shows that it’s a frigid winter in Yellowstone.

Scene shot with a Sony a7riv (a7r4) and Sony 24-105mm lens.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under National Parks, Photography, Sony Alpha a7r IV, Yellowstone National Park

Trivia Tuesday And Photography In The National Parks: Traveling Along The Lewis And Clark National Historic Trail – Part 2

Looking up at Beacon Rock
Going up the switchbacks on the Beacon Rock Trail
Savoring a view of the Columbia River landscape while hiking up Beacon Rock

It’s #TriviaTuesday ! How many of you have ever hiked up Beacon Rock at Beacon Rock State Park in Washington state? It’s a park found right along the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail on the Washington side of the Columbia River. The park is centered around an eroded volcanic plug of a volcano that erupted about 57,000 years ago and where Captain William Clark first noticed the tidal influence of the Pacific Ocean (although it’s not really very noticeable now).

Beacon Rock and what you can see and photograph is the subject of my continuing photo column about traveling the Washington side of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, which has been published in today’s edition of the National Parks Traveler.

To read the article, click on any one of the images above.

I never thought I’d be writing and photographing something for the Traveler about this state park because – well – state vs. national park, right? But I should know better. State parks work together with national parks quite often. Just think about Redwood National and State Parks in California.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under National Parks Traveler, Photography, Photography In The National Parks, State Parks, Washington State

Same Park, Same Spot, Different Season, Different Camera

A 2022 winter morning view of the landscape between Hellroaring Trailhead and Tower-Roosevelt Junction in Yellowstone National Park
A 2018 summer view of the landscape between Hellroaring Trailhead and Tower-Roosevelt Junction in Yellowstone National Park

Yeah, yeah, I know – another one of those posts? Well, why not! Besides, I happened to be in the same spots (deliberately) in Yellowstone so I could capture similar shots. Granted, the cameras are different and the focal distance is different, too. With the winter shot, I used a focal length analogous to 48mm, and with the summer shot, I used a focal length of 70mm, so there’s a slight difference in the amount of landscape you are seeing. I tried cropping the winter shot so that it was a little bit closer to the view of the summer shot.

This may be a similar shot, but with the weather conditions / season you can see how visiting the same spot can yield different results to make it look almost like a completely different landscape.

This location is going downhill on what is known as the Grand Loop Road in Yellowstone National Park. It’s between Hellroaring Trailhead and Tower-Roosevelt Junction. Since it’s Fun Fact Friday when I post this, here’s a bit of trivia for you:

During the summer and warmer days, in general, there are more water molecules in the air. During the winter (cold temps aside), there are far fewer water molecules, which is why it generally feels much drier, your hands and lips get chapped easier, and your photos are much clearer. Aside from the differences in camera resolution, this is why the winter shot here seems to be “crisper” than the summer shot, which appears softer due (at least in part) to the sort of “smoggy” morning with all those steam and summer water molecules in the air.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Fun Fact Friday, National Parks, Photography, Seasons, Yellowstone National Park

Photography In The National Parks: Yellowstone In Winter

Paw Prints On The Shallow Terrace Surface At Midway Basin, Yellowstone National Park

The National Parks Traveler has published my latest photo column. It’s all about photographing Yellowstone National Park in winter. If you are planning a winter trip to this national park, yourself and are taking your camera, or if you just want to look at pretty winter photos of this park, then click on the image above to be taken to the article.

As for this image here, it was taken during a snowcoach tour with four other people. Our first stop was at Midway Geyser Basin (where Grand Prismatic is located) and we had the entire place to ourselves. It was wonderful! During our walk along the snowy, mainly ice-encrusted boardwalk, we saw different hoof and paw prints on the milky white surface of the shallow terraces. This wide-angle shot shows a set of clearly-defined paw prints on the terrace and the steamy landscape in the distance. It’s actually one of my favorite shots from the entire trip.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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National Parks Traveler Quiz And Trivia #47: Happy Birthday Yellowstone National Park

A winter view of a portion of Excelsior Geyser Crater at Midway Basin in Yellowstone National Park

Here’s a winter view of a portion of Excelsior Geyser Crater at Midway Basin in Yellowstone National Park. I couldn’t get the entire view through the particular lens I had on the camera that morning, and it would have been difficult to see anyway because of all the steam issuing from this geyser crater.

I posted this image because there is a question about Excelsior Geyser Crater on today’s quiz and trivia piece that I wrote for the National Parks Traveler. It’s all about Yellowstone National Park because March marks the 150th birthday for this world’s first national park.

How much do you really know about Yellowstone National Park? To take the quiz and read the trivia, click on the image above.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Rime Ice – A Part Of The Bigger Landscape Picture At Yellowstone National Park

Part of a rime-iced little tree along a trail at Upper Geyser Basin in Yellowstone National Park
A rime-iced tree among many other rime-iced trees along the Fountain Paint Pots Nature Trail in Yellowstone National Park
Very thick rime ice on a tree branch near Beryl Spring, Yellowstone National Park

I find rime ice fascinating. I don’t see it very often where I live, except on rare occasions of freezing fog. I did see this quite a bit while in Yellowstone National Park this past February, so naturally, I photographed it as much as possible.

According to Wikipedia: rime ice is “a white ice that forms when the water droplets in fog freeze to the outer surfaces of objects. It is often seen on trees …”

In the case of the rime ice I saw on trees in Yellowstone, it was the result of heavy steam from geysers and hot springs freezing onto the nearby trees. It was, indeed, pure white in some areas, like at Beryl Spring, but in others, it took on a tinge of (IMO) whatever particulates were floating in the air from the geysers and hot springs. Sometimes it was a sort of pinkish tinge, and sometimes it was a yellowish tinge.

These images were captured at different areas of the park, and are nice reminders to look at the fine details of nature and not to forget to capture those small that interconnect to make up the Big Picture Landscape.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under National Parks, nature, Photography, Seasons, winter, Yellowstone National Park

Different Seasons, Same Location

A winter sunrise view of Canary Spring at Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone National Park
A summer sunrise view of Canary Spring, Yellowstone National Park

Ok, it’s Saturday, so here’s a 2-fer to go with the previous post.

From one of the National Park Service’s pages:

“Imagine you are here in the late 1800s, a time when yellow filamentous bacteria was prominent. What colors are present today?

This spring occasionally goes dormant for brief periods of time. Vibrant pinks and neons are sometimes seen.

A network of fractures and fissures form the plumbing system that allows hot water from underground to reach the surface at Mammoth Hot Springs. Small earthquakes may keep the plumbing open. The water comes from rain and snow falling on surrounding mountains and seeping deep into the earth where it is heated.

The volcanic heat source for Mammoth Hot Springs [in Yellowstone National Park] remains somewhat of a mystery. Scientists have proposed two sources: the large magma chamber underlying the Yellowstone Caldera or a smaller heat source closer to Mammoth.

For hundreds of years, Shoshone and Bannock people collected minerals from the Mammoth Hot Springs terraces for white paint.

Travertine terraces are formed from limestone (calcium carbonate). Water rises through the limestone, carrying high amounts of dissolved calcium carbonate. At the surface, carbon dioxide is released and calcium carbonate is deposited, forming travertine, the chalky white rock of the terraces. Due to the rapid rate of deposition, these features constantly and quickly change.”

The images you see here reflect Canary Spring seen during a winter 2022 sunrise and a summer 2018 sunrise. Aside from the colors and lighting, what other – if any – differences do you see? I saw some much brighter colors during the summer on the terraces of Canary Spring. Aside from anything else, I’ve noticed that colors during the winter seem to be much more muted and darker, as well. I saw this not only here at Canary Spring, but also at Morning Glory Pool and Doublet Pool at Upper Geyser Basin.

FYI, the winter image was captured with my Fujifilm GFX 100s and 23mm prime lens, and the summer image was captured with a Canon 5dsr and 24-70mm zoom lens.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under National Parks, Photography, Seasons, summer, winter, Yellowstone National Park

Don’t Be Afraid To Fill The Frame

A wide-angle view of Canary Spring at Mammoth Terraces, Yellowstone National Park
A closer view of Canary Spring
Filling the frame with Canary Spring

Don’t ever be afraid to fill your frame with what you see through the camera’s viewfinder. This is Canary Spring, at Mammoth Hot Spring Terraces in Yellowstone National Park. I’ve visited this in the summer (very early in the morning before any of the crowds arrive), and can tell you how different the colors look then as opposed to now (a post on that to come later).

Anyway, here is a series of three shots, each one closer to the terraces of this hot spring. The first one is a wide-angle view captured early in the morning of my next-to-last-day in the park. I had a snowcoach tour later in the day to Norris Basin and wanted to spend the morning at the travertine terraces.

The other two shots are close-ups, each one filling the frame with more of the yellow and ochre shades of the travertine terraces. And to think, I once thought of this particular area as one of the most boring of the geothermal formations in the park. I don’t think that, now, of course.

My usual routine is to capture a wide-angle shot first, then to either use a telephoto lens to get a closer view, or I crop a part of the original shot later during the editing stage to get an image filling the frame.

On this morning, it was a rather gray day. It snowed off and on, and the area around Canary Spring exhibited a soft, painterly quality to it. I was the only one there. By the time I left on the snowcoach at around 12:30 later that day, the place was packed and looked like a zoo. Mornings and late evenings really are the best time to visit an iconic location, and the lighting is much better for photography then, as well.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under National Parks, Photography, Yellowstone National Park