Tag Archives: telephoto lens

Before And After – An Ode To Photo Editing And Photoshop

The “Before” shot of the Bryce Amphitheater detail at Bryce Point in Bryce Canyon National Park (Utah)
The “After” shot of the same scene at Bryce Point in Bryce Canyon National Park (Utah)

Ok, this is not so much of an “ode” but it is an appreciation of what photo editing can bring out in a composition. Whether you believe it or not, and whether you even like it or not – most images really do need some sort of editing done to them after downloading them to your computer. Digital and mirrorless cameras capture all the detail of a scene, but they don’t necessarily present it quite like we saw it. Our eyes – our wonderful, delicate eyes – are still the best at defining detail within the light and shadow of a landscape. To get that image to match what our eyes have seen (and the memory recorded in our heads), some editing using a favorite piece of software, like Lightroom or Photoshop or some other program is really necessary.

It was my first-ever visit to this particular national park. An April birthday gift I gave to myself several years ago – that, plus one of the last paid vacations I’d be able to get out of the company before my subsequent retirement and out-of-state move some three months after this shot was captured. I wanted to photograph the detail of the amphitheater wall, so I used my Canon 100-400mm lens for a “telephoto landscape.” Unfortunately, I didn’t pay much attention to the camera settings, and the resulting image was washed out, a little overexposed, and downright “blah.”

Recently, I’ve been brushing up on my editing skills, learning all sorts of cool stuff through the video tutorials purchased from one of my favorite photographers, Sean Bagshaw. I wanted to test my newly-learned skills and returned to this image. The result is not half bad, imo.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Bryce Canyon National Park, National Parks, Photo Editing, Photography, Utah

Fun Fact Friday, 3-5-2021

Chief Mountain

It’s #FunFactFriday ! Meet Chief Mountain. Half of it is in the eastern portion of Glacier National Park, and half of it is in the Blackfeet Reservation. Named Ninaistako by the Blackfeet, it’s a place of sacred ritual and ceremony going back thousands of years.

According to the National Park Service’s Geodiversity Atlas for Glacier National Park, it’s also a premier example of a klippe: “a geologic term for the erosional remnant of older rocks in a thrust sheet completely detached from comparably aged rocks trailing behind. Like the Lewis Overthrust itself, Chief Mountain is considered one of the world’s outstanding examples of a klippe; its images grace the pages of many geologic textbooks.” Come to think of it, I believe I *have* seen this mountain in one of my geology textbooks.

Back in 2017, when I told my editor I was heading into Glacier National Park, he asked me for images of Chief Mountain to go with a National Parks Traveler article about bison, I think. On the day I traveled over to this area, it was really hazy with smoke from the Sprague Fire over on the west side of the park. So getting a clear image was impossible – on that day, at least – and took a little bit of editing and Adobe Lightroom’s dehaze slider to bring forth any details.Veiled with wildfire smoke or not, Chief Mountain is an impressive site.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Glacier National Park MT, Montana, National Parks, Photography, Travel

Biscuit Basin Landscape

Biscuit Basin

During my road trip move from TX to central WA, I made Yellowstone National Park one of my stops along the way. Of course, it was summertime, probably the worst time in the world to visit that particular park. I couldn’t find a parking space at Upper Geyser Basin (and those of you who have gone there know how big that parking lot is) so, disgruntled, I drove on toward Gardiner, my hotel stay for the night. On the way, I saw the turnoff to Biscuit Basin and decided to try my luck there. A car was backing out of a small parking space so I quickly squeezed my own little car in. The landscape in this show was one of the first sights that greeted my eyes as I headed toward the boardwalk. The geology of Yellowstone never fails to amaze me.

I’m heading back there this fall and can’t wait!

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.



Filed under 1DX Mk II, Canon, Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM, Canon Lens, Geology, National Parks, Photography, Seasons, summer, telephoto lens, Travel, Wyoming, Yellowstone National Park

Honey Bees On The Thistle Flower

Bees On The Thistle

We were waiting for my oldest nephew to arrive from the airport, and I took my camera out into the backyard to photograph the bees on a large thistle bush. This bush is not like the weedy thistles you see sprouting from pavement cracks – it’s more like something a home-and-garden store would sell for a decorative yard plant. The bush is quite large and the spheres are golf-ball sized and covered with lavender flowerets. The honey bees absolutely love them.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under 5DS, Canon, Canon 70-200mm, Canon Lens, flowers, insects, Life, nature, Photography

Dusky Grouse On Display

Dusky Grouse On Display

Dusky Grouse On Display, Signal Mountain Summit, Grand Teton National Park

Actually, I almost named this “Dusky Grouse On The Run,” since it was moving at a brisk clip alongside the road down from Signal Mountain in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming. Sometimes, that’s how I used to feel when I was getting ready to go to work in the pre-dawn hours.

Anyway, I couldn’t believe my good luck that morning, at the summit of Signal Mountain. I’d already captured numerous images of the female dusky grouse, and was feeling pretty lucky about it as I began the slow drive down the road back to the main park highway (the speed limit is either 15 mph or 20 mph). I happened to turn my head to the side and see this fanned out set of feathers. I stopped the car (nobody was in front of or behind me) and looked closer and realized I was watching a male on display. So I grabbed my camera with the 100-400mm lens (with the 1.4x extender on) on the seat beside me and proceeded to get some wonderful images of this beautiful bird, about the size of a chicken. Serendipity plays a large role in photography.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.




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Filed under birds, Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM, Canon Lens, Grand Teton National Park, National Parks, nature, Photography, Seasons, summer, telephoto lens, Travel, Wyoming

Nowhere To Grow But Up!

Some Ponderosa Pines Precarious Perch Atop A Hoodoo In Aqua Cany

During my April visit to Bryce Canyon National Park, I used my 100-400mm lens extensively to zoom in on features of the park that might otherwise be missed or, at the very least, little noticed in the broader scheme of things. Seeing all the ways the tree life adapted in order to continue growing never ceased to amaze me – especially since the process of erosion is a constant, ongoing process and what I see now may be gone thereafter.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Bryce Canyon National Park, Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM, Canon Lens, Photography, telephoto lens, Travel

Blue Iris

Blue Iris

Because there can be only one …. Does anybody remember that show or am I dating myself … again? In this case, there was only a single blue iris growing in my sister and bro-in-law’s yard. At the time I didn’t think much beyond how beautiful it was (and how lonely it must have been), but later on, I realized it was summer and this iris was apparently trying to be a rebel, because iris usually just bloom in the spring, don’t they? Here it was in July.

This image was captured with a 100-400mm telephoto on my Canon 1DX. I left the macro lens at home (despite my “kitchen sink” attitude where I like to try and pack every bit of gear I have with me). The 1DX was set to track and focus on movement (flowers swaying in the breeze) and it has a fast enough fps speed that I applied the burst method (aka “spray and pray” to get clear shots of the flowers, not only in a Yakima neighborhood but also in Mount Rainier National Park.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.


Filed under 1DX, Canon, Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM, Canon Lens, flowers

Brazos Bend State Park, Texas (Eliminating the Stir Crazies and Testing A Telephoto)

Normally, I like to stay home and go nowhere during my weekends and days off (when I don’t have a plane ticket to someplace out West, that is), because I commute 84 miles round trip to and from work every single day.  It gets old and I’ve been doing this for a little short of 14 years.  However, after an extended series of weekends at home, I began to get a little stir-crazy with cabin fever and needed to get out and about somewhere with my camera.  So this past Saturday (Jan 28), I took my cameras and a couple of lenses (including a rented Canon 70-300mmL IS lens) and hit the road to Brazos Bend State Park.

I used to joke “if you’ve seen one alligator, you’ve seen them all”, but I don’t really mean it.  This little photographic oasis out in the middle of nowhere is a wealth of photo ops – particularly of the winged kind.  Herons, birds of prey, moorhens, grebes, ibis, egrets – they all make this place their home (or at least, their stopover).  Deer, armadillos, snakes (poisonous and non-) also make their home in this park.

I don’t have much experience, really, with bird photography (or any wildlife photography, actually), but I’ve been looking at a number of birders who post their photos on Flickr, and I also had the pleasure of traveling with a bird photographer during my 2011 Ireland trip.  So I figured I should probably work on my photo techniques pertaining to wildlife.

During the winter months at the park, the birdlife is not as varied as it is during spring and summer.  And the alligators don’t really come out unless it’s a warm day.  So I have decided I should make at least three more trips out to the park: spring, summer, and autumn, and blog about the differences I see during each of the seasons.  This post is the Winter post.

I left my home at about 6:15AM and arrived at the park a few minutes prior to 7AM.  The park doesn’t open until 7AM on Saturdays, so I just sat in the car outside of the entrance and listened to all the birdsong, including the deep hooting of a nearby owl.  After paying my $7 entry fee, I headed down the road at 30mph, stopping along the way to allow some deer to cross.  This image was taken looking outside of my windshield.  Not the sharpest of images, but I didn’t yet have the correct camera settings and was in a hurry to get the shot before the deer scampered away (yes, I had stopped and the emergency brake was on – no photographing while driving for this kid).

My first stop was at Creekfield Lake, across from the visitor center.  Aside from the crows, my first wild fowl view was of what I call the “Buzzard Tree”.  Buzzards (aka vultures) are not a pretty bird, but their wingspans and appearance in the air certainly are impressive.

Creekfield Lake is a small lake but has the prettiest scenery around it, I think.  Although the day was forcasted to be clear, sunny, and in the upper 60’s, that morning at 7AM, it was overcast, very windy, and downright chilly.  I was pretty tickled because cloud cover always makes for interesting scenery shots.

Note the leading line of the trail and the fact that I used the rule-of-thirds for placement (ahem).

My next birdlife view (and audio experience) was of the coots (the bird kind, not the old men kind).  Those birds are on every lake in this park.  During this time of the season, they outnumber the other birdlife around the lake.

So I walked around the paved .5-mile interpretative nature loop, stopping now and then to photograph the coots and the various vegetative life, of which there is a wealth in that park.

They call these stumps “cypress knees”

Tree fungus

Spanish moss drifts and lands everywhere (for those of you who have read my posts regarding “rules” of photography, you will note that I not only did not use the rule-of-thirds with this image, but I placed it smack dab in the center (as I have done with a number of other images in this post).  Hah!  So much for “rules”.

I was hoping to spot a heron or egret or duck, but I didn’t see any of that this early in the morning around this lake.  I figured it must be the time of year.  I did see a bright splash of red from the corner of my eye while walking and I spotted a couple of cardinals (or “redbirds” as the locals call them).

I also had the good fortune to see a little blue bird high up in the tree limbs – I was told that – like lady bugs – to see a bluebird means you will have good luck.

Having used my tripod only for the landscape shots of the lake, I realized it was going to be a bit of a hindrance for me.  I tend to photograph “on the fly”, using a tripod mainly for landscapes and preferring to handhold the camera and lens when it comes to capturing images of moving subjects.  These little cardinals, for instance, were constantly moving.  So I lay the tripod down and began to test the handholding IS capability of this Canon 70-300mmL lens.  I like it!  Combined with a full-frame camera, the clarity of the images is wonderful – even after  75-100% crop.  And it’s a light lens (compared to the 70-200 lens).  I have small, arthritic hands, so this lens was great.  I’d use it for weddings (I have an upcoming wedding shoot) except that the lowest aperture on this lens is 4.5; unless the wedding is held outdoors during the day, they are usually interior, low-light affairs calling for a lens with the capability of at least f2.8.

For almost all of my images, the ISO was set to 640.  I learned this trick from a Flickr contact.  I set the ISO relatively high so that I could get super-fast shutter speeds in the sunlight in order to freeze a bird’s movement.  My aperture was set to 6.3 and the shutter speeds varied from 1/500 to 1/2000.

After circling Creekfield Lake, I returned to the car and drove back toward the park entrance and 40 Acre Lake.  While I am of the opinion that Creekfield Lake has the prettiest scenery, I believe 40 Acre Lake has the best wildlife viewing opportunities.  I ended up visiting this place twice – once during the early morning hours, and then again between noon and 2PM.  Turns out my second visit was a good choice; by then, the temperature and sun were warm enough to elicit the American Alligators to come out and bask in the warmth (I didn’t see them earlier in the morning, when it was much cooler and windier).

40 Acre Lake has a 1.2-mile trail encircling the water with an observation tower at the northeast corner.

As I was walking around the trail, a couple of photographers passed by, each one carrying two of the biggest Canon lenses on tripods that I have ever seen in my life!  Good thing those men were large themselves, because it would take a large person to lug one of those things around.  For a split second, I had “lens envy”, but after the two men passed on, I happily went about the business of testing the “little” telephoto lens I had rented.

Again, I saw plenty of coots,

but I also saw ibis,

roseate spoonbills (here’s an example of the great crop capabilities of the camera/telephoto combo about which I wrote earlier in this post),

The original image:

The cropped image:

a snowy egret,

a blue heron,

Original – can you spot the heron?

Crop #1:

Crop #2:

Fishing for breakfast:

another cardinal,


a cormorant,

plenty of Spanish moss,

fish (boats are prohibited but it’s free to fish, so many people were out with their poles and tackle boxes that morning),

and of course, alligators (6 different ones along the shore).

I saw a number of these “gator wallows” (my term, but maybe that’s what they actually are called) along the shoreline.

And another original vs. 75% crop:

While perambulating around the path, I naturally climbed up the observation tower for some views:

To the West

To the East

To the North

To the South

And to the Southwest (all of these observation tower images exemplify another one of those “rules” of photography: perspective)

During my walk, I saw the effects this long Texas drought has wrought.  All along the non-lake sides, what once flowed with dark water and brilliant green pond scum was now a dry dusty green and brown.

As I continued along the trail back to the parking lot, I stopped to photograph some tree bark, thus bringing to mind another one of those “rules” I have written about:  pattern (and texture).

Another stop I made while in the park was to Hale Lake.   I didn’t stay long there, though, because I was beginning to poop out and feel the effects of my slightly sunburnt face.  I had a little trouble finding the lake (drove right past the trail) and hiked about half a mile out of my way before realizing my mistake.

Hale Lake is what I call an “oxbow” lake – a part of the Brazos River that was eventually cut off and bypassed in favor of an easier route for the river water to flow.

By 2PM, cars and crowds had multiplied exponentially – time for me to head home and process the photos.   I had a great day at the park.  Cabin fever and stir crazies are banished and I came away with some wonderful images.

Plus, I know now that Spring is just around the corner (in Texas, that is).

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Filed under birds, Brazos Bend State Park, nature, Parks, Photography, wildlife