Tag Archives: where the trails take you

Steps Up The Trail

A leading line shot, Flood of Fire Trail, Foree Area, Sheep Rock Unit, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument

It’s Saturday, folks! Or does it matter? For the past year, the days have all run together and I’m glad I have a calendar (a real paper one, no less) to which I can refer and find out what day it actually is ;).

This photo is looking up the very short .4-mile round trip Flood of Fire Trail in the Foree Area of the Sheep Rock Unit of John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, in Oregon. It was the last trip I made pre-pandemic, before things shut down. Not the last trip I made during the entire year, mind you, but the last regular trip I made prior to Covid.

Anyway, if you are ever looking for a nice little road trip to make, a trip to any of the three units within this national monument will allow you to stretch your legs, since the few trails in each of the units are short. I really wish there were more, longer trails, but I have a feeling that perhaps, national monuments don’t get quite the love (or money) that national parks get. Then again, national monuments probably don’t get the visitor headaches that national parks get – or do they?

Last year, I saw a post, either on Facebook or Instagram, by this national monument asking that people park responsibily in the Painted Hills Unit. Apparently there was a crowding issue, brought on by people wanting to get out and away from Covid for a little bit. Many of those people were probably the kind who are only accustomed to water parks or theme parks, and a trip to an actual, outdoor, in-the-wild-type park unit is a new experience for them – an experience for which they don’t know how to practice the Leave No Trace etiquette.

But, I digress. Central Oregon is a place of winding roads, slower driving (so as not to hit the cattle ranging freely), stunning geology, awesome landscapes for your camera, but few large towns or gas stations. If you prepare accordingly, it’s a great excuse for a road trip.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, National Parks, Oregon, Photography, Sony Alpha a7r IV, Travel

Fun Fact Friday 3-12-2021

Velvet Landscape, Painted Hills Unit
Folds Of Velvet – A Telephoto Landscape

Here;s a wide-angle and a telephoto shot of the same area in the Painted Hills Unit of John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, located in east-central Oregon. The telephoto image focuses more on those beautiful folds of maroon and olive hills, which was the objective with the telephoto shot. This is also to prove you can get some really nice telephoto landscapes, too. Telephotos are not just for wildlife, birds, and sports.

It’s #FunFactFriday , so here’s some interesting facts about this national monument located in Oregon. There are three units in this national monument, and each unit is about an hour’s drive from any other of the two units (the roads are winding so it’s important to drive the actual speed limit). The monument, as a whole, contains fossils of plants and animals that date back as far as 44 million years. The varigated colors of the hills denote periods of climate change, between wetter and drier periods. The darker colors of the hills represent wetter atmospheres, in which water oxidized (rusted) the iron minerals within the soils.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, National Parks, Oregon, Photography, telephoto lens, Travel

National Parks Quiz And Trivia #26 – Superlatives

A Lakeside View, Crater Lake National Park (Oregon)

Crater Lake National Park is one of the parks mentioned in my latest National Parks Quiz And Trivia piece, published in today’s edition of the National Parks Traveler. Jumpstart your Monday with a test to see how much you know about the national parks – you might even learn something you didn’t know!

To look at the quiz and trivia piece, click on the image above.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Crater Lake National Park, National Parks, National Parks Quiz, National Parks Traveler, Oregon, Photography

Snowfall Over The Lower Falls

An Autumn Snowstorm Over The Lower Falls, Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming)

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? 😉

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under autumn, National Parks, Photography, Seasons, waterfalls, Yellowstone National Park

Waterfall Wednesday 2-24-2021

Kepler Cascades, Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming)

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!

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under National Parks, Photography, Waterfall Wednesday, waterfalls, Yellowstone National Park

National Parks Photography And The Art Of Patience

Got Milk?

The National Parks Traveler has published my latest photography article. This month’s column is about photography and the art of patience. If you are interested in reading the article, then click on the image above.

As for this particular image, this was the reward for me and the rest of the crew on a photo tour of Lake Clark National Park and Preserve, in Alaska. If it wasn’t for this mother bear and her cubs appearing throughout our stay there, we would not have seen much in the way of Alaskan brown bear action, at all, during our stay. Having the privilege of watching her nurse her cubs was the reward for sticking around with the three of them instead of moving on to someplace new to look for other bear action.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under bears, Lake Clark National Park and Preserve, National Parks, National Parks Traveler, Photography, Photography In The National Parks, wildlife

Truth And Honesty In Photography

The View From Emmons Vista, Sunrise Area of Mount Rainier National Park
The View From Glacier Overlook, Sunrise Area, Mount Rainier National Park

Yesterday, I happened to look at the National Parks Traveler’s Facebook post about my latest article on glaciers, titled “Searching For Glaciers In National Parks.” There were 5 comments for that post, one of which (a guy) accused me by name of photoshopping lakes in the two images above. Two or three others (guys) were all quick to enforce this guy’s comment that yeah, they could see it themselves. I’d photoshopped that lake into a photo. Insert exaggerated eyeroll.

I replied to that guy (who claims he knows Mount Rainier intimately, so that’s why he would see I’d photoshopped lakes into these images) that if he looked closer at the top first image, he’d see that’s not a lake but a large shadowed area since the image was captured shortly after sunrise. He’d also see the squiggly line of the river running through that shadowed area.

In the second image, there actually, truly, really is a lovely glacier-fed turquoise-blue lake there below the mountain. You can see it if you hike to Glacier Overlook in the Sunrise Area. If you go to Flickr.com and type the words “Glacier Overlook Mount Rainier” into Flickr’s search field, you’ll pull up all sorts of images – many of that same area, where you’ll see the lake there.

I stand by my photography, and so does the Traveler. I’m a pretty damned good photographer (yes, I’m tooting my own horn here), and I have no need to do something stupid like photoshop into an image something that wasn’t originally there. I don’t want my street cred ruined. If I ever did change my original image in any way – like clone out (remove) something, like a tracking collar from wildlife, then I would definitely indicate that. An honest photographer will do that.

Here’s another example for you. How many of you have seen awesome star images of the Watchman over the Virgin River in Zion National Park? You can see so clearly the mountain and the river and these amazing stars overhead. I’m here to tell you that what you are looking at is a blended image. One (or more) image(s) was/were captured of the mountain and river at an earlier time, when there was more sunlight, and then blended with the dark, starry image. Go back to Flickr.com and type in the words “night photography zion utah” and see what pulls up. Then, see how many photographers will actually tell you whether or not that star shot is a blended one. Does it make the image less lovely? No, it’s still beautiful, but the photographer should, at least, indicate that the image is a composite of one or more shots taken at different times of the day. The really good photographers do that (well, at least one of them that I happen to admire who is honest about his shots). The image below is what the place actually looks like at 2 a.m. on a February morning, when the atmospheric conditions are at their clearest.

A Starry Winter Sky Over The Watchman, Zion National Park

To that guy’s credit, he did apologize, once I replied to his comment, defending my images, he did take a look at them on a bigger monitor (I get the gist he was bragging he has a 30-inch monitor, so what, he’s a better photographer than I? I dunno.) and realized that yes, I was right about my images and no, I had not photoshopped anything into my already beautiful images (the “beautiful images” part are my words, not his). He then went on to tell me how he was intimately familiar with Mount Rainier because yadda yadda yadda. At least he apologized, so that’s something.

Another photographer with whom I am acquainted once noted that, if you are photographing for journalistic work, then you should be honest and leave your image as-is. If you are photographing for fine art purposes, then knock yourself out. I agree, to a point. Yes, you should absolutely be honest with those journalistic images. Since my imagery is used for the National Parks Traveler, you can sure bet that I not only use my best images, but I also don’t photoshop anything into or out of them. I do sharpen and use other editing tools to bring out the texture or add more color saturation or more brightness. Standard stuff. The camera captures the data, but sometimes, you have to pull the data details out with a little editing tool help.

As for fine art imagery, it’s the same thing. I’m not going to add that new sky feature Photoshop now has, where you can add a beautiful sky to your images in case the sky in your photo was blah on the day you captured the photo (as you can tell, I’m not a fan of something like that). If I photograph a beautiful close-up of wildlife, then I probably would remove the tracking collar, and would indicate I’d done that, in addition to saying the close-up was made with a telephoto lens.

It’s all about honesty and truth, and photographers who adhere to that policy fare much better than those that do not, in the end. So, if someone challenges you or accuses you of doing something fake to your image when you know you did not, you should stand up and fight back. You’ll still have plenty of naysayers just because they think they know better and are jerks about it – can’t fix that, unfortunately, but you’ll have championed your images and your talent as a photographer. Don’t stay silent and let the dickheads think they are right.

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Waterfall Wednesday

A Little Waterfall Along Baring Creek, Glacier National Park (Montana)

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.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Glacier National Park MT, National Parks, Photography, Waterfall Wednesday, Waterfalls

Searching For Glaciers In The National Park System

Athabasca Glacier, Jasper National Park, Canada

A few weeks ago, my editor asked me to write an article about being able to see glaciers in national parks. So, I did. It’s been published in today’s edition of the National Parks Traveler. Click on the image to read the article.

As for the image, this is one of the first things you see when you cross the border from Banff National Park into Jasper National Park. You can even buy a ticket to go on a sort of bus kitted out with big honkin’ snow tires and ride out to, and walk onto, the glacier. My parents did it decades ago, and I wish I would have done the same thing, in retrospect. Maybe someday, when Canada lets us back in, I’ll take a little drive back into Jasper National Park and walk on that glacier.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Geology, glaciers, National Parks, National Parks Traveler, Photography, Travel

National Parks Quiz and Trivia #24

Evening Blues And Greens, Lake Clark National Park And Preserve

After I published that food photo post, I remembered my latest national parks quiz and trivia piece #24 had been published in the National Parks Traveler a couple of days ago.

The image was captured back in 2014 during an organized photo tour I’d taken to Lake Clark National Park and Preserve, ostensibly to photograph the Alaskan brown bears. Turns out, while we got bear photos (thank goodness a mom and her two cubs were around the entire time we were there), we also captured landscape images during those times when no bears were available for their Demille close-ups (has anybody ever watched “Sunset Boulevard”?).

Click on the image above to go see how much you really know about national parks, and learn some stuff, too. I find with every quiz piece I create, I realize just how much I don’t know about national parks, and how much I really do learn.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under National Parks Quiz, National Parks Traveler, Photography