Tag Archives: summer

National Parks Traveler Checklist: Great Basin National Park

A Mid-Morning View Of Stella Lake, Great Basin National Park (Nevada)

The National Parks Traveler has published my latest Checklist. This one’s for Great Basin National Park in Nevada. To read the article, click on the image above.

As for the image above, this was my first day and first hike in this national park. I’d driven up Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive and managed to snag a parking spot at a pullout across the narrow road from the actual Wheeler Peak Summit Trail parking lot, which was almost full (the parking lots are small in that park and they fill up quickly).

I knew I was not going to hike the 8-mile round trip up to and back down from Wheeler Peak summit – I wanted to, but didn’t feel I was in good enough shape nor as acclimatized for a hike up to 13,000 feet, even though my visit to Yosemite National Park the prior week helped some with that aspect. Instead, I opted for the 2.6-mile roundtrip hike to Stella Lake, which is accessed via the Wheeler Peak Summit Trail but with a 0.1-mile turnoff to the lake. It’s a beautiful hike through stands of quaking aspen, some of which sported leaves already turning gold. It is, however, a narrow, uneven, rocky trail and would be easy to take a fall if one is not watching their step. No, I didn’t fall, but one little girl I watched almost did, because she was wearing sneakers with no tread and not paying attention to the trail.

At this time of year, Stella Lake looks more like Stella “Pond.” You can even see a sort of “bathtub ring” of different colored grass and bits of driftwood around the lake to indicate a higher water level during an earlier part of the season.

The mountains you see behind you are Wheeler Peak, to the right, and Doso Doyabi (formerly Jeff Davis Peak), to the center.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Great Basin National Park, National Parks, National Parks Traveler, Nevada, Photography, Travel, Traveler's Checklist

Photography in The National Parks: Yosemite Tried, True, and New

Yosemite Valley Landscape, Yosemite National Park (California)

The National Parks Traveler has published my latest photography column. This month’s column is all about capturing iconic as well as new perspectives of this particular national park. To read the article, click on the image above.

As for this image: I drove into Yosemite Valley several times during my week’s stay in the park. Every time, I’d pass by this one spot along the road – a small pullout large enough for a vehicle, right next to the rocky banks of the Merced River, which was a trickle of its former self. So finally, I stopped, took out my camera and tripod, and gingerly picked my way to a spot to photograph forest, river, and El Capitan (I believe that’s El Cap) all beneath a blue sky with wispy clouds.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under National Parks, National Parks Traveler, Photography, Photography In The National Parks, Travel and Photography, Yosemite National Park

Nevada Basin And Range Landscape

A Long Ribbon Of Road From Ely To Great Basin National Park
A Hazy Summer Morning Over Wind Turbines And Nevada Valley And Mountain Landscape

I’d left Ely (pronounced Eee-lee), Nevada, around 6:30 a.m. for an hour’s drive to Great Basin National Park. I was about 30-ish miles south of Ely when I rounded a corner and started heading down into this wide, flat valley. The wind turbines, ribbon of road that looks like it goes way up into the mountains on the other side of the valley, and the sunlight highlighting the veil of haze captured my photographer’s eye and I just had to pull over and get a few photos.

In reality, that long road going up into the mountains is actually a dirt road on someone’s private property (lucky them). This paved road takes an almost sharp turn to the left and parallels the mountains before rounding the corner to the right.

And those wind turbines made a great geographic marker for me on the way from the park back toward Ely on the day I headed back home to Washington state. I’d left the Baker area at 2 a.m. so it was dark heading toward Ely. Distances are difficult to discern in the dark because you can’t see the landscape. However, when I saw the synchronous blinking red lights, I knew I was driving toward and past that small wind turbine farm and that Ely was closer than I thought.

Nevada has some amazing landscape and geology, and the roads are very good, but the stretches of road through the state are long and out in the middle of nowhere, seemingly far away from civilization (and gas stations).

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under leading lines, Nevada, Photography

Tiny Climbers Scaling The Granite At El Capitan

I spy with my little eye left of center the two teeny tiny climbers – Captured at 100mm focal length
Can you see the climbers now? See the guy in the orange shirt – left of center – 93% crop of the original image above

I think rock climbers (and mountain climbers, too) are CRAZY! Of course, this is coming from someone who has more than a healthy respect (read fear) of great heights and gets a little vertigo just looking at photos of such things as people hiking Angels Landing in Zion National Park.

That said, one of the things I wanted to do while visiting Yosemite Valley in Yosemite National Park was try to first spot, then photograph, climbers hanging from the sheer granite wall of the famous El Capitan. I’d already googled where good places to stand and watch for climbers would be, and one of the best places is actually right across the road from El Cap. I remember first driving by that spot and wondering what the heck people were doing pointing their smartphones way up in the air. And then, I realized, they were trying to get photos of the climbers on the wall (duh, Becky).

So yesterday afternoon, while driving through the valley, I parked along the road (at a nice, wide, long parking area all along that road) brought out my 100-400mm lens, and started scanning the sheer walls. With a little pointing from others nearby, I finally found these two guys (thank you, climber, for wearing that bright orange shirt). Took me awhile to suss them out, though, because I am not kidding when I tell you the climbers are so tiny against the sheer grandeur of El Cap’s cliff wall. These photos hopefully give you an idea. The first photo is the original captured at a focal length of 100mm. Can you spot them hanging from the cliff wall? They are just a tad left of center.The second photo is a 93% crop of the first, so you can see them a little better (the orange shirt helps). Even with that crop, they still look tiny against the granite elements. I have other photos taken at a focal length of 400mm, but think this original and crop make a better point of humans conquering the elements – in this case, conqering the granite height of a famous landmark in the park.

Oh, FYI – I was curious as to how climbers get back down, once they’ve made it to the top. They can rappel back down, but also, there are trails that take them back down to the famous Camp 4, which is considered the “climbers’ camp.”

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Yosemite National Park

The Sony A1 and 200-600mm Lens

A Bee On The Globe Thistle

Due to eye surgery a month ago, and inactivity prior to that, I haven’t really taken my cameras out, much. Now that the eye is so much better, I’m hoping to remedy that with a short trip to Mount Rainier National Park. If you’ve looked at my previous post, you’ll know I recently spent a morning out there. Still, though, I didn’t really give my cameras the kind of workout that I’d like.

So, this morning, for a short time, I took my Sony A1 and 200-600mm lens outside the house to photograph the bees that gather on the globe thistle bush next to our back gate. I already knew the bees loved those flowers, but had totally forgotten the flowers were actually in bloom. Although they are on the last legs of blooming, the bees still like to congregate there.

All the images you see here are hand-held. I much prefer that to placing that big honkin’ lens on a tripod because my range of movement is considerably lessened. Yes, I have a gimbal tripod head, but was too lazy to set it all up and lug it and the heavy lens out.

These images are also cropped anywhere from 33 percent to 67 percent of the original. Thanks to the Sony A1 and its 50 megapixels, I can still get a nice, clear image even after cropping.

I am a Manual Setting kind of gal. I learn more about my camera that way and feel like I have more control over exposure. ISO was 1250 because I wanted to make use of that fps since the bees are always on the move. Aperture was f/9, shutter speed was 640.

Climbing The “Tree” – Original – 68 percent crop
Climbing The “Tree” – Noiseware applied to the bokeh’d background

As you can see from this original versus the finished product, above, there was a bit of noise (grain) at ISO 1250. I used Imagenomic’s Noiseware noise control plug in for Photoshop to control the grain, and selectively used it for the background, since you don’t see the grain issue so much with the flowers or the bee.

This high-resolution camera with its great fps (frames per second) shutter speed is the kind with which you should use a memory card that processes the images fast. The card I had in the camera was rather slow, so I had to wait for the image buffer to finish it’s job before I could capture another round of images.

I’ll be taking this camera and lens with me on my trip to Mount Rainier and hope I see some birds or even – if I am really lucky – furry wildlife. We’ll see. I’ll get back to you.

Table For Two

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved

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Filed under flowers, Photography, Sony a1, Sony mirrorless 200-600mm lens

Fun Fact Friday, April 30th, 2021

Here’s something interesting you might or might not have known about life in Denali National Park and Preserve, in Alaska. There are 39 species of mammals in the park, including the Big 5 (moose, caribou, Dall sheep, wolves, grizzly bears), and 139 species of birds. But, only one amphibian has managed to adapt to life under the harsh conditions of the park’s landscape. The wood frog can actually freeze itself solid during the winter! It’s heart stops, it doesn’t breathe, but there are cryptoprotectant chemicles that keep the frog’s cells alive, and when spring arrives, the frog thaws out and starts searching for a pond and a mate. Pretty cool, huh? (pun intended).

As for this image, it was captured during my 5-day stay at Camp Denali, located near the end of the one and only road through the park. There’s a little pond right outside of the main camp building called Nugget Pond, and on this particular day, I captured three different shots of it as the morning lightened up. The first shot you can see if you look at a previous post. This is the second shot, captured a little later during sunrise, and I’ll post the final shot later on.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Alaska, Denali National Park, Fun Fact Friday, National Parks, Photography, Travel

Tiger Lily

Tiger Lily (Lilium columbianum), Mount Rainier National Park (Washington)

“April showers bring May flowers.” While that might be the case in the lower elevations of the park, that’s not really so in the upper elevations. If you visit during mid-late July, however, you’ll see an explosion of wildflowers in the park, including the beautiful tiger lily.

As I was driving up the road from the Nisqually Entrance toward Paradise, one July a few years ago, I saw this patch of bright orange, strangely-shaped blooms. There was no place for me to stop along the narrow road, so I drove on, trying to figure out where I could park and then hike down to this patch. Luckily for me, a day later, while driving Stevens Canyon Road, I saw these flowers again, right next to a convenient pullout.The tiger lily plant, also known as the Columbia lily, can grow to a little under 4 feet in height, with a few or numerous orange blooms dotted with brownish spots. They are apparently lightly-scented, which I did not know, otherwise I would have bent down to sniff (and probably breathed in pollen and then gotten an allergy, so probably just as well I didn’t know this). Tiger lilys are just one of the many wildflowers you’ll see during a July visit to this national park.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under flowers, Mount Rainier National Park, National Parks, Photography

World Water Day 2021 … Yesterday

A Summer Sunset Over Kalaloch Beach, Olympic National Park (Washington)

I’m a day late in posting this – probably because I didn’t realize that March 22, 2021 was World Water Day. So, better late than never, I’m posting a water image the day after World Water Day.

We are a very lucky world to have so much life-giving water. It behooves us, as a species, to take better care of this precious resource. With climage change, I have a feeling that future battles will be fought over water.

As for this image, it was captured during a late August visit in 2019, and while there were people out there, there were not as many as I thought, given that it was summer. If you’ve never visited Olympic National Park, you should put it on your to-see bucket list. It’s a national park with a bit of everything: lush green temperate rainforests, ocean beaches, and rugged mountains.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under National Parks, Olympic National Park, Photography, Travel, Washington State

Falling In Love With The National Parks

A Minimalist View Along The Fairyland Canyon Loop Trail, Bryce Canyon National Park (Utah)

I just finished reading a very good opinion article in the NY Times, and thought I’d share it. The link is embedded in the photo above, so click on the image to be taken to the article.

As for this image: I’ve visited Bryce Canyon National Park twice in my life – both in 2018. My first time to see this geologically surreal place was in April 2018, and then again in July 2018, during my road trip move from TX to central WA. Each time, I ventured out on the Fairyland Canyon Loop Trail, but never completely hiked the 8 miles. I’d sure like to finish what I started, so maybe I’ll schedule a road trip back to this park in 2022.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Bryce Canyon National Park, National Parks, Photography, Travel, Utah

Photography In The National Parks: Getting Out There With My Cameras During The Coronavirus Pandemic

The view from the summit of Watchman Peak in Crater Lake National Park

It is possible to take a safe and enjoyable trip into a national park, if you prepare and use some precautions. I returned alive and well (it’s been 14 days since my return) to write how I did it and what I saw at Crater Lake National Park in Oregon.

To read the story published in the National Parks Traveler, click on the image above.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under coronavirus, covid-19, Crater Lake National Park, Equipment, health, Life, National Park Lodging, National Parks, National Parks Traveler, Oregon, Photography, summer, Travel, Travel and Photography