Tag Archives: where the trails take you

Photography In The National Parks: Exploration Along The Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail

Dry Falls Vista

The National Parks Traveler has published my latest photo column. This month, it’s all about my day trip to Eastern Washington’s Dry Falls and Channeled Scablands landscape along the Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail.

To read the article, click on the image above.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Eastern Washington, Geology, Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail, National Parks Traveler, Photography, Travel, Washington State

National Parks Quiz And Trivia #49

Click on the image to go to the Traveler’s Quiz and Trivia #49

The National Parks Traveler has published my latest quiz and trivia piece. There’s plenty to learn about the 423 units within the National Park System. Just how much do you know? Click on the image and test your knowledge.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under National Parks, National Parks Quiz, National Parks Traveler

Don’t Throw Those Dud Photos Away Just Yet!

Looking Out Into The Evening – Original (Glacier National Park, Montana)

I was wandering through my Glacier National Park photo archives, looking for a particular shot, when I spied an original, unedited image I’d not touched. I remember exactly where I was when this shot was captured. I stood at the Wild Goose Island view area at St. Mary Lake, and turned to the side to photograph the scene there as the sunset afterglow turned the sky and clouds into a bright, fiery display.

You can tell that from this photo above, right?

It was the very first photo workshop I’d ever attended, back in 2008. I’d just purchased my first full frame camera: a Canon 5D with 12 huge, magnificent megapixels. I was still learning how to use it because I’d never heard the advice about knowing how to use your camera before you set off on a photo adventure. I pretty much knew zilch, to be honest (although I learned so much from that one workshop). Oh, I was not a newbie to photography; I’d photographed with SLR cameras since high school, but always using that Auto mode. I never really used the Manual mode in depth until I purchased that full framer. And, as you can see, I failed miserably at capturing that evening vista. The ISO was 100, shutter speed was 1/100 of a second, and the aperture was f/4 (although I think that was the widest aperture I could get with that particular lens, having never heard of a “fast lens” before). I can’t remember if the camera was on a tripod or not, although I might have been handholding it – the ostensible reason for using such a fast shutter speed.

You’ve read this from me before: the camera always has the data, it just needs to be brought forth with proper editing. Luckily, I had the presence of mind to not throw this original image away, which is surprising. Probably I just saw it, didn’t know how to work it, and just moved on to the next shot on the memory card. Hell, I was still trying to wrap myself around this new program called Adobe Elements – I had not even graduated to Adobe Photoshop yet.

Now, segue to 2022. I returned to the archives and picked up this original to start working on it for yucks and giggles.

Looking Out Into The Evening – Revised Image (Glacier National Park, Montana)

Quite the difference, huh?

Oh, I wouldn’t try to make a print out of this shot, because it’s still pretty grainy even after using noise reduction to the scene. But it definitely looks like the view I witnessed, with the fiery sky and the inner glow to the landscape as the evening settled in.

This, folks, is a great example of why you should NEVER immediately throw out a shot you think is a dud the first time you look at it. Unless it’s totally blurred or unfocused, there is always the chance that image can be rescued. It might take a few weeks or a few years or even a decade of learning new editing skills before you touch that “dud” image, but as you can see here, the beauty of that evening has been teased out for all to view.

Twelve megapixels back then was quite a feat. Now, I work with cameras possessing between 50 – 102 megapixels. Like editing skills, camera technology has come a long way in 14 years.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Glacier National Park MT, National Parks, Photography

Lahars (Mudflows) Can’t Be Predicted, But They Can Be Simulated

A View Of Mount Rainier From Seattle’s Elliott Bay

Lahars (mudflows) can’t be predicted but they can be simulated using a special computer application. My latest contribution to the National Parks Traveler is all about this subject, so check out the article by clicking on the image above.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Geology, Mount Rainier National Park, National Parks, National Parks Traveler

Fun Fact Friday, May 6, 2022

One Heck Of A North Rim View, Grand Canyon National Park (Arizona)

It’s Fun Fact Friday, and since the North Rim of the Grand Canyon is set to open this month, I thought I’d put a few fun facts out here about this part of Grand Canyon National Park:

The North Rim is 1,000 feet higher in elevation than the South Rim. That means it’s cooler, wetter, and there are far more trees – so many, in fact, that I found it difficult to get an unencumbered photo of the canyon landscape because of all the trees.

If you are standing at the South Rim looking toward the North Rim, the distance (as the crow flies) is about 10 miles. If you choose to hike from the South Rim to the North Rim, the distance to get there is 21 miles. And if you want to drive from the south to the north, you’ll be taking the “scenic route” and it will take you about five hours to get to the North Rim.

Only about 10% of all visitors to this national park ever make it up to the North Rim, so it’s much less visited – although that doesn’t mean it won’t be crowded at times. Plus, there is only one lodge up there: Grand Canyon Lodge, and one campground (although there are other campgrounds outside the park boundary).

This image was captured at one of the two small view areas below the Grand Canyon Lodge. I spent a couple of days at the North Rim during my move from Texas to Washington state.

Click on the image above if you are interested in purchasing a print.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Fun Fact Friday, Grand Canyon National Park, National Parks, North Rim, Photography

Canada’s Most (And Least) Visited National Parks And Sites For 2021

A lovely spring morning at Lake Louise in Banff National Park, Canada

Back in 2016, I spent about a week visiting Canada’s Banff and Jasper national parks. I hadn’t visited in decades – not since I was a little girl maybe not quite nine years old (perhaps a little older, I can’t really remember) – we might have already moved to Kentucky when we went.

Anyway, spring is a beautiful time to see the rugged mountain landscapes, but be aware there is still plenty of snow up there to cover many of the trails.

And, speaking of Banff and Jasper national parks, today’s edition of the National Parks Traveler has an article about Canada’s most (and least) visited national parks and sites for 2021. If you are curious, or planning your own Canadian park trip, then check out that article.

To read the article, click on the image above.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Banff National Park, Canada, National Parks, Photography, Seasons, Spring, Travel

Editing Photos: The Data Is There

The unedited version of Mount Rainier towering over Reflection Lakes, Mount Rainier National Park
The edited version of Mount Rainier towering over Reflection Lakes, Mount Rainier National Park

Ok, before I get into the details of these images, I have to get this off my chest: Facebook sucks! I have a FB photography page Where The Trails Take You Photography, LLC . I posted these two images and an explanation that I will repost here. For whatever reason, FB decided that the post and photos “violated community standards” and my photo page has thus been restricted for 29 days. I’m not certain where those photos and post involve bullying, bigotry, abuse, and all the other things that really do violate FB’s community standards, but they decided this post did just that. I’ve filed an appeal explaining all of this. They may just get pissy and keep me restricted. Hell, I might even have my photo page deleted by them. No huge loss, although I do have over 7,000 people liking that page but who probably never ever even look at my images – once they like a page, they go on about their business because FB’s algorithms – plus the fact that I don’t shell out money to “boost” my posts – keep followers from seeing many if not most of my posts. Sigh.

Anyway, about these two images. It’s always been my belief that every photo you capture can stand to use a little editing tweak here and there – sometimes quite a bit of editing, if you have sensor spots you need to clone out and blown out highlights to fix, etc. The camera captures all of the data within a scene, but sometimes it needs to be teased out to bring forth the scene as you saw it.

The unedited version looks a little muddy and dull and blah. The overall scene is not very bright and the colors need more than a little saturating. Maybe my settings were wrong to begin with. Who knows! I remedied the situation in the edited version, which looks much better, don’t you think?

So, here’s the takeaway:

Don’t delete images that look too dark, too light, too blah. Your camera captured all the data and you just need to spend a little time bringing forth those hidden details. I spent maybe 5-7 minutes working on the edited version. No need to spend an hour or longer (like some photographers tell their audience they do). If you spend that much time on each image, no wonder you don’t like editing your photos! The only reason you may need to delete an image is if it is obviously blurred from camera shake or it was never in focus to begin with. Just save that image and come back to it later, after you’ve gotten more editing experience and learned new techniques.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Mount Rainier National Park, National Parks, Photography

Red Spouter Is A Great Example Of Cool Geology

Red Spouter fumerole at Fountain Paint Pots, Yellowstone National Park during summer 2018
A close-up view of Red Spouter as a fumerole during summer 2018
Red Spouter as a hot spring (or really wet mud pot – take your pick) in the winter (February) of 2022

Geology is such a cool science. I have degrees in geology (which meant, at the time, diddly squat in terms of getting a job, but it was a cool branch of science to study, anyway). Yellowstone National Park is a great place to see geology, past and present. Take Red Spouter, for example.

Before August 1959, Red Spouter did not even exist. In its place was a small grassy hill in the Fountain Paint Pots area. Then, on August 17, 1959, the Hebgen Lake earthquake occurred about 25 miles northwest of Fountain Paint Pots with a magnitude of 7.3. It was quite a shaker and “rippled through Yellowstone,” creating Red Spouter.

The interesting thing about Red Spouter is, depending upon the season, it can be a hot spring, a mudpot, or a fumerole. Back in the summer of 2018, as I was moving from TX to central WA, I stopped for a brief visit to Yellowstone. At the time I explored the Fountain Paint Pots area, Red Spouter was a fumerole (steam vent). During my recent February 2022 visit, I toured the same area while on a snowcoach trip, and Red Spouter was a splashing, muddy red, hot spring (well, maybe you’d call it a mud pot, although it seemed really watery to me).

Why is this? Well, it all depends upon the water table just beneath the surface. If the water table is high, like when snow melts and in the spring, then it’s either a splashing hot spring or a bubbling mudpot. If the water table is low, which it can be during the height of a dry summer (and it’s pretty dry out in Yellowstone, anyway), then Red Spouter is a steam vent.

Geology is cool, and it’s even cooler when you can get nicely-composed photos of that geology, right?

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Geology, National Parks, Photography, Yellowstone National Park

National Parks Traveler Webinar: Exploring Overlooked Jewels

Sunrise at the Mather Overlook area, Great Basin National Park, Nevada

Ok, I’m not certain that Great Basin National Park in Nevada is an overlooked jewel or not, but I can tell you from personal experience that it is out in the middle of nowhere, and during my late summer visit, while the park was busy, the crowds were definitely fewer than, say, Yosemite or Yellowstone or any of the other of the most-visited park units back in 2021. The infrastructure at Great Basin is small, and the town of Baker has a population of about 98 people, so lodging there is pretty sparse. The closest town of any real size is Ely, Nevada, about 1-1/2 hours’ drive from the park. This national park is located in basin-and-range country, so getting there means your vehicle had best be in good shape, because a breakdown out there would definitely ruin your day.

That said, there are definitely other places within the National Park System with fewer summer crowds that can offer great park experiences, and the National Parks Traveler will be hosting a webinar on April 12, 2022, to discuss those park units.

To read more and register for the webinar, click on the image above.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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It’s Throwback Thursday!

It’s #ThrowbackThursday , so I thought I’d post an image captured by my father of Mom, my two sisters, and me in Grand Canyon National Park back in the early 1960’s. Note the cameras hanging around my sisters’ necks, my mother’s handbag, and me in my little dress – very fashionable for a national park visit back then. I must have been 2 or 3 years old at the time.

I’m trying to figure out what part of the park we were in for this shot, since it appears to be down by the river? I *know* good and well we did not hike all the way down there. Our fashion for the day precluded any boots with good tread and doesn’t look like we were carrying any water with us. Maybe this is just a stream and not the Colorado River.

I don’t remember anything at all about this trip. Of course, who does at that age – except for maybe an exceptional few who remember stuff at a very early age? Mom was scared half to death I might fall over the side of the canyon, so she usually kept a deathly-tight grip on my little hand and never once let me go near the edge to see the view. So I guess you could say my first *real* view of the Grand Canyon was when I visited it on my own back in 2009.

I’m awfully glad my parents loved to travel and loved the national parks. They passed that love of travel, photography, the parks, and being outdoors on to me.

Copyright John H. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under family, Grand Canyon National Park, National Parks, Photography