There are a gazillion images of Yellowstone National Park’s Lower Falls, but I posted this one to talk about capturing snowfall in an image.
There’s this sort of Goldilocks and the Three Bears choice when capturing a decent snowfall image, imo: too slow of a shutter speed means you’ll get white streaks (unless that’s what you want), too fast of a shutter speed means you’ll barely see any snow at all, and just the right shutter speed means you’ll see little white dots or flakes of snow, like you probably originally wanted.
In this shot, I’d just hiked down a steep, zig zag trail to reach the brink of the Lower Falls. There was nobody else there because the snow was beginning to come down hard. It wasn’t a beautiful, feathery-flake kind of snow. It was more like almost-but-not-quite freezing rain, so the snow flakes were small but numerous, and were beginning to fog up the scene a little. I got this shot, cropped it to get rid of all the melted snow droplets on the lens filter front, then began the steep hike back up to the top of the trail. It was snowing so heavily by then that I could barely make out the waterfall.
The Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River is quite impressive, however you manage to see it. I didn’t realize at the time, that there were quite a few more trails to different viewpoints. The next time I visit this park, you can sure bet I’ll ferret out all those other viewpoints. One can never have too many shots of this waterfall, right? 😉
It’s Waterfall Wednesday! So here’s a little falls courtesy of Yellowstone National Park. Kepler Cascades is a 150-foot tall, multi-tiered waterfall just off the roadside along Hwy 89, south of the Old Faithful complex. It’s not visited much, probably because most people are zoned in on reaching Old Faithful and surrounding environs. If you look on Flickr.com, though, you’ll see a ton of Kepler Cascades pics more or less the same as what I have here (so I guess I’m not that original, although I can claim I took this particular photo, so it’s *mine*).
As a side story, I had returned to my rental vehicle after photographing the cascades and continued driving for some miles when the low-tire light came on. That made me a little nervous, but I remembered seeing a small gas station right outside of the lodge area of Old Faithful, so I turned the SUV around and started heading back. I was worried something would happen before making it to the gas station, so I was quite relieved when I saw the sign for Kepler Cascades, because I knew I was nearing my destination. As it was, I had to purchase an old-fashioned (i.e. non-digital) tire gauge and valve caps because I’d forgotten to pack both of them into my luggage. Must have been mercury retrograde or something, because usually I remember to pack my own tire gauge and valve caps just in case something like this occurs. Car rental companies are not the best with upkeep, unfortunately.
Now I have my own travel wagon that I keep maintained, with tire gauge and valve caps always in it for my photo travels. Hah, car rental companies!
It’s Waterfall Wednesday, so how about a little waterfall along the cold, turquoise-tinted water of Baring Creek, flowing beneath the arched bridge on Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park.
I last visited this park in 2017, when I captured the image above. No, it’s not Baring Falls – that one is much larger and further down the trail. I don’t really know why I didn’t hike the entire trail to the waterfall, but I didn’t. Next time I am in Glacier, I’ll hike down to get a different waterfall composition for a future Waterfall Wednesday.
Did you know the North Cascades was so named after its numerous cascading waterfalls, including Rainbow Falls, pictured here, located within the Lake Chelan National Recreation Area portion of the North Cascades National Park Complex? This two-tiered waterfall is a total of 390 feet tall and is one of those must-sees whenever one visits the small community of Stehekin, located about 5 miles, give or take, from the waterfall.
You can learn more North Cascades trivia, and also test your North Cascades knowledge with the latest quiz and trivia piece I penned for the National Parks Traveler.
To take the quiz and learn more about the North Cascades National Park Complex, just click on the image above.
It’s #WaterfallWednesday ! So here’s a bevvy of waterfalls, and if you click on each photo, you’ll read an interesting fact or two about each.
This image was captured during a winter in Zion National Park, in Utah, so the water is more of a trickle or a track, indicating it’s falling down the side of a hanging valley. According to the placard I read: “Side valleys began to form at the same time as the Virgin River Canyon. But, the main stream downcut faster than its tributaries, leaving them hanging high above the canyon floor. The mouths of hanging valleys are a likely place to look for waterfalls; they also indicate the river’s former level – a measure of the stream’s carving power.”
This image was captured after a bit of a sweaty trek for me, carrying a heavy camera pack (as per usual) and a heavy tripod, working hard to match the pace of my two new friends who insisted I hike with them to Fairy Falls in Yellowstone National Park, because of a bear frequenting the area. I enjoyed the hike more than the falls itself, because I had a pleasant time visiting with the very nice couple.
According to the NPS site page for this park: “Fairy Falls, 200 feet (61 m) high, is one of Yellowstone’s most spectacular waterfalls. From the trailhead, walk 1.6 miles (2.6 km) through a young lodgepole pine forest to the falls. You can continue 0.6 miles (0.97 km) to Spray and Imperial geysers, which adds 1.2 miles (1.9 km) to the hike.” I was too pooped to hike to the geysers, so I and the couple turned around after a short looksee at the falls. I saw that waterfall in October, so the falls wasn’t as “spectacular” in terms of water volume as it probably is during the late spring and early summer.
A waterfall that I *did* think was pretty spectacular was Gibbon Falls in Yellowstone National Park. There is a large parking lot for this next-to-the-road sight with several different vantage points you can walk to along a nice, wide, paved trail. If this is what the waterfall looked like during the autumn, I can only image how powerful it must look during times when the water volume is higher.
According to author Lee H. Whittlesey in his book Yellowstone Place Names: “Gibbon Falls is believed to drop over part of the wall of the Yellowstone Caldera, which is thought to be 640,000 years old.”
Marymere Falls in Olympic National Park, is reached via a very popular, less-than-2-mile hike on a trail that starts behind Storm King Ranger Station, a hop-and-a-skip from Lake Crescent Lodge. This long, narrow waterfall seemingly nestled within a bed of green ferns reminds me of a whiskey bottle, with a long, tall neck and a shorter, fuller, bottom. To get there, you cross a couple of neat log bridges then handle some steep stairs up to two different viewing areas.
If you ever have the opportunity to spend a few days in the remote community of Stehekin, Washington, located at the head of Lake Chelan in Lake Chelan National Recreation Area, then take a hike (after visiting the Stehekin Bakery) or take a bus ride to popular Rainbow Falls. The waterfall cascades 312 feet down to Rainbow Creek, and there are a couple of vantage points from which to view this misty falls – near the bottom of the falls and a short hike toward the middle portion of the falls. It’s one of the most popular stops for day trippers to Stehekin (aside from the bakery, that is) 😉
Courtesy of the little waterfall at Sunbeam Creek, just off the Stevens Canyon Road heading up toward Paradise at Mount Rainier National Park. As you can see, it’s good to return to the same scene during different seasons to photograph the changes. The first image was captured in July, which is analogous to spring in the upper elevations (hence the healthy water flow). The second image was captured in September. The summer might have been hot, resulting in less flow, and/or the high elevation from whence this creek originates might aleady have been freezing over. True summer, with warm, sunny weather, doesn’t often last very long in the mountains.
It’s Waterfall Wednesday! I took a quick look through all the photos I’ve posted and I didn’t see this one listed, so here it is. If I missed it and have posted it before, my apologies. I just lose track, sometimes.
Anyway, this is Gibbon Falls in Yellowstone National Park. Yellowstone has plenty of beautiful, photogenic falls, reached either by view area right off the road, or via a hike along a trail. Gibbon Falls has its own large parking lot and view areas (yes, multiple spots to view different angles of this beautiful waterfall).
Waterfalls make great subjects for silky water shots, you know. Yes, some people like their water to “look like water”, as one fan told me, but others like that dream quality of smooth, silky water that a slow shutter speed gives you. The key to getting a shot like this, where the lighting for the composition is good and the highlights in the waterfall are not too very blown out (overexposed) is to use a tripod (required, really) and a neutral density (ND) filter. ND filters come in verying sizes, shades (densities) and prices. Some of the fancier (and super-expensive) ones, like the Singh-Ray brand, can be adjusted to various densities of darkness with a twist of the outer filter ring. The darkness of the filter allows you to use really slow shutter speeds while still capturing a well-exposed image. If you don’t have a ND filter (and every SLR photographer should have that filter in their gearbag), a circular polarizer (CPL) can do a decent job, too. To be honest, I can’t remember if I used a CPL or a ND filter for this shot. If you have both filters in your camera gear arsenal, then try experimenting with each one to see which result you like best.
I also shot at a focal length that would allow for a decent cutoff of the trees at the bottom of the shot. Taking your compositional details into consideration (rather than just getting a grab shot), can mean the difference between a good image and a great image. Think of it as akin to trying to figure out where to (figuratively) chop off the arms and legs of someone you are photographing. Sometimes you just don’t have enough room to get everything in your shot, so you need to make that cutoff somewhere. Rule of thumb on that is to NOT crop off at the joints so it doesn’t look like they’ve been amputated.
And that concludes our photo lesson for Wednesday, folks. You are halfway through the week!
Old Faithful during a summer sunrise, Yellowstone National Park
Old Faithful during a chilly, autumn sunrise, Yellowstone National Park
The lower falls of the Yellowstone River on an overcast, snowy day, Yellowstone National Park
The lower falls of the Yellowstone River during a freezing autumn sunrise, Yellowstone National Park
I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ll re-mention it in this post. It’s a great idea to take your camera and revisit a favorite site of yours during different seasons, times of day, and weather conditions. You’ll be surprised at how different your composition can look.
Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.
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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.
When I told people that I’d been to Katmai National Park and Preserve in Alaska, each and every one of them would give me a blank stare. Whereupon, I would ask them if they’d seen photos of the bears standing at the waterfall with their mouths open, catching the salmon jumping up the falls. Then, the light bulb would turn on for them. Everybody is familiar with these iconic images, even if they don’t know the exact location.
Unless there is a sow with cubs at one of the other viewing platforms, the Brooks Falls Platform is by far the busiest, most crowded, most popular platform. So busy, as a matter of fact, that there is a ranger there during peak hours, clipboard in hand, taking names and allowing 1 hour of viewing time before those names are called and people are asked to move to make room for others waiting their turn.
The photo above makes it look like there’s not many people at the platform, but I can tell you for a fact that when this image was taken, both lower and upper tiers were crowded cheek-by-jowl with photographers, their tripods and their supertelephoto lenses. It was only thanks to a couple of forbearing photographers that I was able to squeeze in to a spot between them with my own tripod and (rented) supertelephoto.
My first morning at the falls presented me with just one bear and no salmon jumping. So, I screwed my 4-stop ND filter onto the lens and got in a little “silky water” practice….handheld! You see, the tripod bore the 500mm lens, so rather than take time to change out camera/lens combos, I just steadied my camera and 100-400mm lens on the railing of the platform and successfully achieved some silky-water shots.
Silky water shots aside, I definitely acquired my most dramatic bear images here at this platform.
My current plans – barring any unforeseen circumstances – are to return to the park in 2014. I urge those of you who can, to travel to the wild, remotely beautiful state of Alaska and visit this park to see the bears for yourself. It’s an amazing opportunity to view these creatures closeup and in their own environment (well, as close up as the National Park Service allows – if you are a photographer, a telephoto lens sure helps).
Oh, and if you are interested in knowing the details of where I stayed while in the park, go to this link. If you want to know about my gear and also the best times for photography at Katmai, click on this link to go to the article I wrote for the National Parks Traveler website. And, while you are at it, go to the Traveler’s Facebook page and Like them.
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