Tag Archives: Washington

Revisiting A Favorite Spot In A National Park

Myrtle Falls, Mount Rainier National Park, 9/30/2020
Myrtle Falls, Mount Rainier National Park, 9/23/2021
Myrtle Falls, Mount Rainier National Park, 9/6/2016

I know I’ve written this before, and I tend to hammer it in to the readers of my photo column on the National Parks Traveler. But, I’m not going to stop hammering it in, so here we go again: it’s always a great idea to revisit and rephotograph a favorite national park spot, because – depending upon the season, time of day, and weather – things can look quite different from the last time you visited. If you are using a newer/different camera, the level of detail can look quite different, as well.

Take these shots of Myrtle Falls in the Paradise area of Mount Rainier National Park (Washington state). Each of the three photos were actually captured in September, from late summer to autumn, and during the morning (I didn’t realize they were all captured in September until I looked at the file info). However, these images were photographed in different years (2016, 2020, 2021) and under different weather conditions. Makes quite a difference, doesn’t it?

The first image shows a sort of veiled mountain view that I photographed with my Sony a7riv. Smoke from a wildfire had wafted in that morning, when the previous morning was crystal clear. The second image is the most recent, captured the day after official autumn and conditions were perfect for a clear photo of everything and was photographed with my Fujifilm GFX100. The last photo was taken during a rainy day when The Mountain was completely hidden from view by fog/mist/low-hanging clouds, so I focused on the waterfall rather than the gray background with my Canon 5DSR. And the really nice thing is that during each of those photo sessions, I had the place all to myself (I may forget what I ate for breakfast the other day, but stuff like that, I tend to remember). Most people up there at that time of year tend to want to sleep in, I guess.

Anyway, look at these images and compare them to one another, then take my advice and revisit your favorite spots for more photos.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Canon, Fujifilm GFX 100, Mount Rainier National Park, National Parks, Photography, Sony Alpha a7r IV

A Matter Of Photographic Perspective

After an over-two-month hiatus due to various issues including eye surgery, I managed to make it out for a day hike in Mount Rainier National Park. I’d been checking the weather reports, and thought that “mostly sunny” meant it would be a relatively clear day during which to see “The Mountain.” As luck would have it, the only time Mount Rainier was actually visible was during that time I was hotfooting it to the restroom because I’d had too much coffee to get me going that morning. Thereafter, the mist/cloud cover shrouded everything in a veil of milky white and totally hid the mountain. It didn’t stop me from getting a little much-needed exercise and capturing a slew of leading line trail shots, but it did keep me from giving my new camera and a new lens a workout.

While I was hiking and photographing, I came upon the scene in the two images above. I thought it might be interesting to talk a little about photographic perspective. The first image has more of the trail in it than the second image. Which one do you like better? There’s no right or wrong answer here – it’s all a matter of your own perspective. But, you can see how an image may look slightly different, don’t you, depending on the position of the lens? It’s something to consider when you, yourself, are out there with your camera. Lens placement can make the same scene look slightly or quite a bit different. And, you can really see this change if you happen to be using a wide-angle lens, like a 14mm or a 16-35mm. This image was made with what you’d call a standard zoom: 24 – 105mm. And no, it wasn’t cropped. I simply zoomed the lens in a little bit to cut off some of the trail.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Mount Rainier National Park, National Parks, Photography

National Parks Traveler Checklist: Mount Rainier National Park (Washington)

The National Parks Traveler has published my latest Checklist. This one offers tips and suggestions for things to see and do while visiting Mount Rainier National Park, in Washington state. To read the article, just click on the image.

This image above was captured back in the autumn of 2018. I’d moved to central Washington three months earlier and wanted to get out and explore the park. I’ve visited Mount Rainier a number of times, but this was the first time since moving to the state.

I’ll have to wait on visiting this park or any other for a while. I even had to cancel (and in part reschedule) plans I had to visit three national parks in California. Two days prior to the trip, my left eye suddenly became so veiled that I couldn’t see a thing out of it. Talk about scary! As such, I returned home yesterday from eye surgery this past Monday (June 14). Thankfully, no detached retina, but I did have retinal tears that needed to be lasered back into place and some filmy hemmorrhaging that needed to be removed. I can see again, for which I am thankful, but for the next 2-3 weeks must behave like a bump on a log. No stress, strain, no lifting anything heavier than 10 lbs, no bending over, no housework, no nothing. Although I’m used to being busy, I can certainly behave in order to keep my newfound eyesight. Photographer or not, the eye is a delicate and wondrous instrument and should never be taken for granted.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Mt. Rainier National Park, National Parks, National Parks Traveler, Photography, Traveler's Checklist, Washington State

It’s Trivia Tuesday, June 8th, 2021

The Rosy Glow Of Sunrise, Mount Rainier National Park (Washington)

It’s Trivia Tuesday, so here’s a little bit of trivia about “The Mountain.” Mount Rainier is an “episodically active” volcano and the most-glaciated peak in the Lower 48. The indigenous people named this mountain Tahoma or Tacoma, but it’s present-day moniker was bestowed upon it by one Captain George Vancouver, after sailing into Puget Sound in 1792. He named it after his buddy Peter Rainier. Mount Rainier National Park is America’s fifth national park.

Looking at this image might cause you to think I’ve deliberately oversaturated it. Nope. I can honestly tell you that for 20+ seconds, the sunrise colors are indeed this saturated. You have to work quickly to catch the scene, because as quickly as the colors appear, they disappear and are replaced by regular sunlight which turns the snow on the peak blindingly white and risks overexposure of a photo.

See that tiny person standing at the edge of Tipsoo Lake, in the lower center-ish portion of the shot next to the tree? That gives you an idea of the majesty of the landscape: One Big Mountain, One Teeny Person.

This sunrise shot was captured one fine autumn morning, a few months after I’d moved from Texas to Washington state. It’s early summer as I post this photo, and if you were to go there now, the lake would be mostly covered still in ice and snow.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Mount Rainier National Park, National Parks, Photography, sunrise, Washington State

The 41st Anniversary Of A Very Explosive Event

The landscape from Loowit View Area

“Vancouver! Vancouver! This is it!”

41 years ago, those words were shouted by geologist Dr. David Johnston as Mt. St. Helens erupted, blasting away everything around it. Dr. Johnston had been standing in the area where the Johnston Ridge Observatory now sits, in commemoration of his dedication to monitoring the mountain and the explosion which took his life.

Today – May 18, 2021 – marks the 41st anniversary of the eruption of Mt. St. Helens in Washington state. I was in my senior year of high school in Kentucky when the mountain exploded, and my sister in Yakima called us to tell us it had gotten so dark outside (in the middle of the day), that all the streetlights had turned on. And the ash floated down, covering everything. Thankfully, the house she lived in at the time had a garage, so their cars were safe from the damages wrought by the ash (which was, essentially, teeny tiny bits of volcanic glass mixed with dirt and other stuff). It would take me 10 more years before I visited Mt. St. Helens, myself.

Even after 41 years and all sorts of new growth, the remains of that eruption are still very visible and tell the story of the explosive power of the volcanoes here in this part of the Pacific Northwest.

In an upcoming post, I’ll tell you about my most recent visit to this national volcanic monument.

To read an article about the eruption, click on the image above.

To see incredible images of the eruption and it’s aftermath, click this link: https://historycollection.com/living-nightmare-mount-st-helen-eruption-uncovered-unbelievable-photos/

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, Photography, Washington State

Mt. St. Helens And The Fujifilm GFX 100

A Late Afternoon View From The Loowit View Area, Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument (Washington)

May marks the 41st anniversary of the eruption of Mt. St. Helens (May 18, 1980). I first visited this volcano about 10 years after its eruption. The devastation was obvious. It would be 30 years before seeing this area again. While there has been much growth in the area (including stands of trees planted 3-6 years after the eruption), the devastation is still obvious.

I had recently purchased the Fujifilm GFX 100 and desparately wanted to get out to test this medium format camera. A return trip to Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument was just the ticket. It’s about 4 hours’ drive from where I live, and even leaving at 3 a.m. didn’t get me up there in time for sunrise shots. Once I arrived, I did spend all morning there and about an hour or two of late afternoon. I can tell you that early mornings (before 9 a.m.) and late afternoons (5 p.m. and after) are the best times for good lighting, because starting at 8 a.m., things start to get a little hazy and a blue cast to the atmosphere begins to settle in prior to harsh light for the remainder of the day. Doesn’t really matter, though, since this mountain (or what remains of a once conical, snowcapped mountain with an elevation of 9,677 ft [2,950m]) is picturesque nonetheless.

I only have two lenses for the GFX 100, and both of them are prime wide-angles (wide and wider). So the close up shots I achieved while there were captured with a different camera, about which I’ll write later.

The GFX 100 is easy to work with. It still takes a little hunting in the menu to find what I need, but as I wrote in a previous post, the menu is much easier to walk through than my Sony menus. The only thing I had a problem with was the auto power-off setting, and it wasn’t so much a problem as the fact that I assumed it would be like my Sony cameras, where I depress the button and the camera comes back to life. Not so with the GFX 100. I kept pressing the shutter button and nothing would happen. It wasn’t until I turned the camera button from the On position to Off and then back On again that the camera came to life. Needless to say, I changed the settings and the camera remains completely on now. I know it’s a drain on the battery life, but even with that, I was able to shoot through the entire day without needing to change to the spare batteries (the GFX 100 takes two batteries).

As long as you check the weather reports to pick out a decent day for visiting this national monument, May is a great time. I could count on two hands the number of people I encountered, and that was at a safe distance. Not many people were there early in the morning or late in the afternoon. It is a bit of a drive off of Interstate 5 (about an hour). There aren’t that many hiking trails around there, and Johnston Ridge Observatory is not open – well, the building is not open, nor are the restrooms, but you can still drive up there, park, and walk around. The nearest restrooms are accessed at the Coldwater Lake parking area, 8 miles away from the observatory. The main hiking trail (Boundary Trail) which starts at the observatory still has quite a bit of snow on it in places – deep enough for snowshoes. I had them in my vehicle but didn’t feel like putting them on and taking them off multiple times just to cross over the snowy parts. IMO, the two best view areas for really seeing this volcano are the Loowit View Area (the photo above was captured there) and Johnston Ridge Observatory area.

If you go visit, make sure you take a telephoto lens with you. I’d brought along my Sony 100-400mm lens but left it in the car and naturally, I came across a trio of mountain goats grazing around the observatory area. Sigh.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Fujifilm GFX 100, Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, Photography, Travel, Washington State

The Yin And Yang Of A Composition

Sunsets afterglow at Kalaloch Beach, Olympic National Park (Washington)

My latest photography column has been published in the National Parks Traveler. It’s about the yin and yang of a composition, Click the image above if you would like to read the article.

Sunrise at the seashore, Padre Island National Seashore (Texas)

My latest Traveler’s Checklist has also been published, and it has a beach theme like the image above, because it’s all about Padre Island National Seashore. To read that article, click on the image above.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under National Parks, National Parks Traveler, Padre Island National Seashore, Photography, Photography In The National Parks, Traveler's Checklist

The Difference In Elevation

The next time you visit a place that has some elevation difference, take a moment to observe the other differences due to that elevation difference. For instance, notice the differences in these images here? The lowland forest interior, captured at the entrance to Westside Road in Mount Rainier National Park, looks deep and dark and is filled with lush vegetation like ferns and devils club along with dead logs and moss on parts of the trees. Sunlight makes its way into the forest in spots. Whereas the forest along Trail of Shadows in the Longmire Historic District looks – well – clearer, with more space in between the trees, less moss, and a clearer forest floor. Yes, there’s vegetation there, too, but as you can see, not quite as thick. In part because it’s not quite as wet as it is in the lowland forest, plus the difference in elevation between the Nisqually entrance and Longmire creates a difference in temperatures, too. Observation is key to getting nice photos, rather than just a grabshot.

Peering Into The Lowland Forest At Westside Road, Mount Rainier National Park
Looking Into A Smoky Forest Along The Trail Of Shadows, Longmire Historic Districe, Mount Rainier National Park

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Forest, Mount Rainier National Park, Mt. Rainier National Park, National Parks, Photography, Sony Alpha a7r IV

Since My Crater Lake Visit In July

The Kiss Of Dawn, Tipsoo Lake, Mount Rainier National Park

I was trying to remember what I’d done/seen since my previous post about visiting Crater Lake National Park in July, and I had to go to my Facebook photography page to figure it all out.

Let’s see: I managed to visit Crater Lake just prior to all the stupid stuff people started doing there, like illegally hiking (slipping, sliding, rolling) down the very steep rim of Crater Lake to get to the shore (FYI there’s only one legal place to get down to the shore and that’s the Cleetwood Cove Trail). I also managed to visit prior to people defacating along the shoreline of the lake, flicking their cigarette butts into the lake, throwing underwear into the lake, and bringing their little paddle boards and other illegal watercraft to navigate the lake (illegal watercraft can have invasives like quagga mussels encrusted on their bottoms), all of which pollute the pristine waters of this amazingly blue lake that only gets its water from rain and snow and no sort of creek, stream, or river.

There’s a new kind of visitor to the national parks since the coronavirus pandemic: those people who are used to going to Wally World and waterparks and theme parks where there are restrooms and trash cans and food kiosks. These people don’t know how to conduct themselves in a national park, where there may not be those little conveniences. Unfortunately, there are not enough ranger staff to educate the ignorant, so environmental destruction has run wild in these places. While I think it’s great that more people discover the joys of being outside and exploring national parks, it would help if they visited the NPS.gov sites for these national parks to learn what they can and cannot do and can and cannot bring and at least care a little bit about keeping parks in good shape for future visits.

Since that Crater Lake visit, I’ve taken a short, mid-August trip to the Sunrise area of Mount Rainier National Park to fulfill a bucket list of goals such as photographing sunrise, sunset, and the Milky Way in that particular area of the park. I accomplished that and have written a photography article that should post late next week (Sept 4th) in the National Parks Traveler.

As for future plans, I am considering a trip in October to Redwoods National and State Parks to see (and photograph and report) if the California wildfires affected the redwoods there, but that remains up in the air at this point in time.

I still practice social distancing and wear a mask when out. Many people don’t do either, unfortunately. Until we have a valid, tested vaccine for Covid, I’ll continue doing that. Washington state has three face mask orders currently in place.

That’s pretty much it. In between writing photo articles and creating national parks quiz and trivia pieces for the Traveler, I help out around the house and yard and plan for future trips I may or may not take.

Stay safe out there, folks.

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Filed under coronavirus, covid-19, Crater Lake National Park, Mount Rainier National Park, Mt. Rainier National Park, National Parks, Photography, Travel

A Little Advice For You Photographers Out There

Sunrise over “The Mountain” at Tipsoo Lake, Mount Rainier National Park

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.

A fast-flowing stream on an overcast day, Mount Rainier National Park
A sunny day along the same stream in Mount Rainier National Park

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.

The view from Ricksecker Point on June 8th
The view from Ricksecker Point on June 18th

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.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Mount Rainier National Park, Mt. Rainier National Park, National Parks, Photography, Telling A Story, Travel, Washington State