True or false: you can tell a bison’s mood by looking at its tail. That’s one of the questions in my latest National Parks Quiz and Trivia piece published in today’s edition of the National Parks Traveler. And no, I’m not going to tell you the answer. You’ll have to click on the link and take the quiz yourself (ok, ok, answers are at the bottom of the quiz, but really, see how much you know about the units in the National Park System before peeking at the answers).
To take the quiz and read the trivia, click on the image above.
As for this image, it was captured during my autumn 2019 visit to this national park. I was driving along the park road heading toward the turnoff to West Yellowstone and I saw this lone bison standing in a field of golden grass. I pulled off onto a wide shoulder to get the photo before continuing on to my destination of Fountain Flat Drive (where I ultimately dropped camera and lens and broke the teleconverter but thankfully, not the camera or lens ).
Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.
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Hey,it’s #FunFactFriday ! If you’ve ever visited any of the view areas along the lower falls of the Yellowstone River in Yellowstone National Park, then you’ve probably noticed a green streek of water at the top of the waterfall.
As you know, the water from the riverbed, when it falls over the edge of the cliff, becomes a mixture of spray and turbulence, much like when water flows over a shallow, rocky portion of a riverbed, streambed, or creekbed. So, there’s a notch in the Yellowstone riverbed, right at the lip of the falls, extending down a little bit past the edge. This notch allows for a short, deeper flow of the riverwater to maintain its beautiful, clear green color before ultimately changing to spray / turbulance as it falls over and then outward from the cliff edge.
I will be the first to admit, visiting forts or other historical parks was never on my top things to do with my cameras. But, after a visit to this very small fort at Lewis and Clark National Historical Park in Oregon, where Lewis, Clark, and their Corps of Discovery spent a monotonous winter, I have changed my mind.
It’s one thing to read about forts and such, but it’s another thing completely to actually be standing there in the footsteps of history, exploring the nooks and crannies of what he/she/they built so many decades / centuries ago. You get a feel for what it was like to live in a place like this, out in the forest of the Pacific Northwest, near a river, during a wet, cold, dreary winter.
I included a visit to this national historical park during my photo trip along the Pacific Northwest portion of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, and my resulting article has been published in today’s edition of the National Parks Traveler. If you ever have a chance to explore a historic(al) site like a fort or home or battlefield, I urge you to take the time to do so, and try to imagine what life must have been like in that spot so long ago.
To read the article, just click on the image at the top of this post.
Ever heard of a man named John Colter? He was a “skilled hunter and scout” who joined the Corps of Discovery and explored with Lewis and Clark and their members all the way to the Pacific Coast. As he headed back to St. Louis with the rest of the explorers, he joined up with some other trappers and set back out north and west. Sometime in 1807, Colter headed out by himself on his own 500-mile journey, where he became the first European-American to set eyes on the Tetons and the Yellowstone region.
Ok, in my best Rod Serling voice: “Imagine, if you will, a land where the air is filled with the smell of rotten eggs, ‘the ground is soft, but warm, beneath your aching feet, and all around you are jets of steaming water and pools of colorful splendor.'” How many people do you think believed Colter when he told them tales of what he saw and experienced? Not too many. They joked about “Colter’s Hell.”
You can read a short synopsis about John Colter and his expedition into Yellowstone country in an edition of the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory’s Caldera Chronicles by clicking on the image above.
As for this image, I was wandering through my Yellowstone photo archives and came across an image that made me think of Colter’s Hell. There are two people, making great scale and reference, walking the boardwalk amid the chilly autumn morning steam issuing from vents, geysers, and hot springs in the Upper Geyser Basin of Yellowstone National Park.
Every photographer I have been seeing on my Facebook photography page has been running some sort of “year in review” post. I hate those reviews, so here I am, doing one of my own (insert wink emoji here).
The font for the “Happy New Year 2022” is small, in keeping with the way things were and might become. The year is young, you know, and I’m not even going to be cautiously optimistic about anything at this point in time. 2022 has just started and we are still in the pandemic morass we’ve been in for the past couple of years (or has it been three years?).
I didn’t do much traveling during the first half of 2021, although I still had plenty of material to keep up my photo columns for the National Parks Traveler. I did take a short, 2-day trip to photograph in Mount St. Helens Volcanic National Monument in May, but my pandemic travels didn’t really begin until August. I’d originally planned on a Sequoia / Yosemite national parks trip in late June, only to be sidelined by a torn retina requiring surgery that took a month to heal. Luckily for me, I am retired from my corporate job so it’s easy for me to reschedule … providing there is lodging available near or within the parks at which I want to visit.
So, my first park trip was actually in late July, to the Sunrise area of Mount Rainier National Park. It was a sort of test trip for me. As I huffed and puffed up to Glacier Overlook, I was scared shitless of something happening to the eye that underwent surgery. Nothing occurred, but I now realize eyes are delicate instruments and I like to have both of them in working order for my photography.
I finally made it into California in mid-late August to visit Yosemite National Park for a week. I’d had to cancel my June reservations for Sequoia and couldn’t get any August lodging, so Sequoia was out (it was in the midst of peak summer season, after all). Area wildfires were in full swing, which meant smoky days inserted themselves in between clear days. Due to the season and ongoing drought, all the waterfalls were totally dried up, so you don’t see Bridalveil Fall in this Tunnel View image of Yosemite Valley. Nonetheless, I’m so glad I went. In all my years of photography, plus my 9 years of contributing images and articles for the Traveler, I’d never visited Yosemite until 2021.
Directly from Yosemite, I drove six hours across the stark, isolated, lonely, amazing basin-and-range landscape of Nevada to spend three days at Great Basin National Park. Although it was a busy park, it was nowhere as busy or as crowded as Yosemite during that time of year, and it felt like a breath of fresh air. It seems to be a sort of overlooked national park and it’s definitely out in the middle of nowhere. The nearby town of Baker, NV, has a population of 58, so lodging is slim to none. I stayed in a motel-style room at the Hidden Canyon Retreat across state lines in Utah, accessed by a 7-mile gravel road off of the main highway. It truly is located in a hidden canyon and my room was wonderful, although the available wifi was pretty much non-existent and cell service was pretty spotty.
In late September and early October, I returned to Mount Rainier National Park for some autumn color photography. The September trip provided amazing color in the Paradise area of the park. The October trip was cold, frosty, and beautiful. Plus, I finally got the shots I wanted: sunrise over “The Mountain” framed by the autumn-hued huckleberry bushes, and a sunrise over Tipsoo Lake that didn’t look oversaturated. In truth, the colors of sunrise at Tipsoo Lake are always saturated, but one would think as they look at a sunrise photo that the photographer really overdid it, even though that’s not the case. So the frost and new snow helped me with some gorgeous, very chilly, sunrise imagery.
As I was driving back home along WA State Route 14 from my May Mount St. Helens photo session, with a stop at Beacon Rock State Park to hike up that eroded volcanic plug, I kept noticing signs marking the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail. That piqued my interest enough to look it up once I returned to my laptop.
Again, in all those years of contributing articles and photos for the Traveler, I’ve really only focused on national parks. I’d started investigating national monuments around 2020, and certainly I’d never visited a national historical park or even thought to follow along a national historic trail. But once I decided to follow in the footsteps of Lewis and Clark in November and December, during their Pacific Northwest explorations of their 16-state, 4,900 trek from Pennsylvania to the Pacific Ocean, I was hooked. One of the most interesting things is how many state parks work in concert with the National Park System. If you visit the NPS.gov page for the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, and click on their State-By-State Guide, you’ll see all sorts of points of interest, some modern that the Corps of Discovery would never have encountered or even imagined, but much of it landscape just the way the 33-member expedition saw it.
From there, I penned three different photo columns all about this national historic trail, scheduled for publication this year in the Traveler. And I’m not finished. I’m going to change some of my current travel plans so I can continue exploring along the footsteps of Lewis and Clark (using cushy, 21st century things such as my Toyota 4Runner, my mirrorless digital cameras, fleece, Gore-Tex, and other accoutrements not available to the Lewis and Clark expedition) from eastern Washington into Idaho and Montana. As long as nothing unforeseen occurs to me or my family, that is.
Some of you may be interested in knowing how I travel during the pandemic. First of all, I am a total believer in science and the vaccine, so I have both Moderna vaccine shots plus the booster. In addition to that, wherever I travel, I do the same thing: drive not fly, take all my own food so I don’t have to eat out (the food is either canned, like Vienna sausage or tuna, or freeze-dried, like Mountain House-brand foods), take my own coffee, coffee maker, hot pot (to heat up those freeze-dried meals), and cream (for the coffee – real cream, not fake creamer), plenty of masks, plenty of hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes to wipe down my lodge rooms, and most importantly, I stay as far away from people as I possibly can. I’m not a people person to begin with, so that’s relatively easy unless it’s at a popular view area.
There you have it: my 2021 photo trips in a nutshell. Hopefully, 2022 will be just as fruitful regarding photography.
I hope all of you have a good start to the New Year. Time for me to go check on the traditional New Year’s Day dinner I’m cooking: Hoppin’ John (a stew of black-eye peas, onions, garlic, sausage and rice) and boiled cabbage.
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I know many of you will be traveling, if you are not already doing so, solo or with others, to celebrate whatever holiday you observe that comes around this time of year. So, I thought I’d get this posted, in case any of you decide to try out your own Christmas/holiday-themed photography.
Every year, it’s a tradition for me to photograph the decorated tree and to capture the warm and cool beauty of the season where I live. If it snows outside, which it has lightly done on and off for a couple of days, then I like to capture an image of the scene, including the snowy ground and looking toward and then through the window of the house, where we set up the tree and holiday lights.
I capture images of the livingroom decorations, tree, and all the presents as seen during the day and at night. During the day, the light tends to be cooler and the tree lights a little frostier and maybe even not as well seen. There’s a light, airy feeling to the daylight shot. Night, though, is a completely different story. The colors are richly saturated on their own, but with the addition of the warm gold from the tungsten lamps and the sparkly lights of the tree. Everything looks so inviting.
I make it a point to go outside at night to capture the look of the tree and decorations through the large picture window. This scene above is a sort of yin/yang composition that I often create without even knowing it. There’s the cold blue-white light of the outside light, next to the warm, golden light of the house interior.
And of course, I capture the ornaments and decorations, their colors and their sparkle.
This year, I used my Fujifilm GFX 100 and GFX 100s cameras. The GFX100 has a 45-100mm lens attached, and the 100s has a prime 23mm lens attached. The 45-100mm is analogous to a 35mm 36-79mm lens and the 23mm lens is analogous to a 35mm wide-angle 17mm lens. The photo above, however, of the light-up little snowglobes, was captured with a Sony Alpha a7riv and 24-105mm lens.
I hope all of you have a safe, peaceful, and photographically fun holiday time. Never stop taking those pictures, because that’s how you improve and learn.
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This was the best photo I could get of this rafter (flock) of wild turkeys seen out at the Columbia Hills Natural Area Preserve. Unlike the rafter of turkeys I encountered back in 2018 at Zion National Park, this group of birds was pretty skittish and flew (yes, wild turkeys can fly) away from me, scattering all over the place almost too far for my camera’s lens to get a decent shot.
As I sit here during the still-dark morning hours, sipping my nice, hot coffee from freshly-ground beans with a dash (ok, more than just a dash) of good ole fattening cream, I think about what I am thankful for on this day (good coffee is one of those things). I am thankful for much, not just on this day, but every day. However, Thanksgiving, like Christmas, tends to laser-focus one’s attention more on whatever it is that a particular holiday espouses.
As a photographer, I am certainly thankful for the fact that at 60 years of age (mentally, I’m still 30, btw), I am healthy enough, still, to take my cameras out and digitally capture the beauty, wonder, and ecosystems within the landscapes of the places I visit. I’m also thankful that I have venues in which I can write about and share with you and others these landscapes and the things within them that I photograph. Heck, for that matter, I’m thankful that cameras have come such a long way from my first HP-brand 2 mp digital camera (purchased from Walmart somewhere around 1999) in technological developments to allow me to render sharp, clear, detailed moments frozen in time. I could go on and on about cameras and computers and such, but you get the gist here.
On a more personal note, I am so very thankful for a roof over my head, clothing, and good food. I’m thankful to have a little bit of family left; my sister and I may squabble on occasion, but it’s sure nice to be with her. I missed out on so much from previous years that I am thankful for the time I have with her now.
For those of you who celebrate Thanksgiving, have a good holiday. For those of you who do not celebrate or even have this holiday, then just stop a moment to count your blessings. Don’t ever take for granted the good things you have and the wonderful experiences you encounter. I sure don’t.
Rebecca Latson, Where The Trails Take You Photography, LLC
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Winter has many faces in a national park. It might be snowing, it might not. It might be freezing cold, it might be balmy t-shirt weather. My latest photo column has been published in the National Parks Traveler and it’s all about capturing the many faces of winter. If you are planning a winter trip to a national park unit, you should check out the article.
To read the article, click on any of the images above.
Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.
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The National Parks Traveler has published my latest photography column. This one is all about tips, techniques, and places to photograph within Great Basin National Park, in Nevada.
To read the article, click on the image above.
As for this image, I had started out on the narrow, winding Wheeler Peak Scenic Road at dark-thirty, probably an hour and a half or so before sunrise. It’s a good idea to get started along this road early, because you really, really need to drive slowling along the curvy and did I mention narrow (?) road with plenty to time to get to where you want to set up for sunrise. I placed my camera on a tripod as the light was beginning to glow a little above the horizon. That helped me with focusing on the distant scenery.
Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.
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All images on these posts are the exclusive property of Rebecca L. Latson and Where The Trails Take You Photography. Please respect my copyright and do not use these images on Pinterest, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, Snapchat or any other business, personal or social website, blog site, or other media without my written permission. Thank you.
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