Tag Archives: where the trails take you

Fun Fact Friday August 20, 2021

Cooling down on a hot day in Petrified Forest National Park (Arizona)
Just a pair of ravens chilling out on a snowy winter day in Canyonlands National Park (Utah)

It’s #FunFactFriday ! I have always liked ravens. I like crows too, but ravens more. So, here’s a few interesting facts about ravens. These birds are super smart and very curious. They are also quite acrobatic when flying, turning somersaults mid-air. They’ve got a vocabulary of about 30 calls (including flight calls, hunger calls, and danger calls) in addition to non-vocal communication (like snapping their beaks). Once mated, it’s for life, and they usually nest in the same location year after year.

You can tell the difference between ravens and crows in that (among other things), ravens are larger, have uneven tail feathers (which you can see when they fan them out) and have curvier beaks. Ravens usually travel in pairs while crows travel in larger groups (called “murders” as in a murder of crows).

When I stayed for a couple of days at the North Cascades Institute back in 2019, they talked about a pair of ravens they’d named Bonnie and Clyde. These ravens could unzip backpacks in their efforts to get at hikers’ food. I believe I actually met this pair one day while photographing at the Diablo Lake Overlook. They had landed on the fence railing and were eyeing my camera pack, then hopped down next to the pack. I had a feeling they were trying to figure out where the zippers were, so I had to shoo them away.

The one raven with its mouth open in the top photo is doing something you’ll see other birds doing: it’s called gular (goo-lur) fluttering and they do it to cool down on a hot day since they cannot sweat like humans do.

Oh, and while I am on the subject of fun facts, my latest quiz and trivia piece has been published in the National Parks Traveler. It’s all about “August notables.” To read the article, click on either of the images above.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

Comments Off on Fun Fact Friday August 20, 2021

Filed under birds, Fun Fact Friday, National Parks, National Parks Quiz, National Parks Traveler, nature, Photography

It’s Trivia Tuesday, August 10, 2021

A keyhole kiva at Coyote Village, within the Far View Complex of ruins at Mesa Verde National Park (Colorado)

It’s Trivia Tuesday ! Did you know that the Ancestral Pueblo people were living in ruins in what is now Mesa Verde National Park for some 300 years prior to building the famous cliff dwellings? The Far View Complex was the most densely populated area within what is now the park, from A.D. 900 to A.D. 1300. The Far View Complex included almost 50 villages, including Coyote Village, where this photo of a keyhole kiva was taken. Kivas, fyi, were specialized rooms (round, rectangular, or keyhole) where special rites and other meetings were held.

And now you know!

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

Comments Off on It’s Trivia Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Filed under Colorado, Mesa Verde National Park, National Parks, Photography, Travel, Trivia Tuesday

Some Very Quick Thoughts On The Fujifilm GFX 100S

A Trail And The Mountain, Sunrise Area, Mount Rainier National Park (Washington state)

I don’t know how many of you out there are still on a waiting list for a Fujifilm GFX 100S. I had to wait 5 months for mine and I only lucked out because I started looking at camera store websites other than the Big Two (BH Photo and Adorama). I can honestly say that, if you are a landscape photographer, the wait is worth it. The resolution is phenomenal and Fujifilm has not only actually brought a medium format camera down to the price of a high-end SLR like Sony, Canon, or Nikon, but at about the same size, too!

So, not too long ago, I spent a couple of days with my cameras up at Mount Rainier National Park. My main reason – aside from getting out and about – was to give my Fujifilm GFX 100S more of a workout. It wasn’t a complete workout because I didn’t try to get any night shots (the moon was out, making the sky too bright for decent star pics – that plus I was too tired from a full day of hiking), but it was enough for me to give a few more thoughts on this camera as well as the Fujifilm GFX 100.

Sunrise at the Sunrise Area, Mount Rainier National Park (Washington state)

1. The level of detail is simply amazing. I find, though, that I must add more saturation to the image when working with it on the computer. Sure, I could switch the film simulation from Provia/Standard to Velvia/Vivid, but that’s just a bit too vivid for me. That, plus it appears – on the LCD anyway – that some of the finer detail seen in the Provia/Standard setting is removed, or covered over, with that large boost of saturated color in the Velvia setting. I tend to apply saturation judiciously and thus prefer using Photoshop, where I feel I have a little more control.

2. Learning the menu setup is like learning another language. I’m language-challenged, but I do know my rudimentary way around the Fujifilm, Sony Alpha, and Canon menu setups. The menu setup for this brand of camera is extensive, but easier to intuit than Sony’s menu settings. That said, it behooves one to do a marginal skim of the owner’s manual before heading out into the field. I didn’t do that and ended up spending 30+ minutes trying to work with a setting while out in the park, wasting some good lighting conditions. And, I know better than to do that! Jeesh.

3. Battery life sucks for air – especially with the GFX 100S. My intention was to use the GFX 100S for an entire day of shooting, but both the battery that came with the camera as well as the spare battery I’d purchased pooped out on me before midday. I’ve since ordered an extra couple of batteries on top of the two I have, and I went ahead and ordered a couple more batteries for the GFX 100, although it’s battery life seems to be a bit longer. I just don’t want to be caught out in the field empty handed when that once-in-a-lifetime composition comes along. Know what I mean?

4. Two-second timer. When the camera is on the tripod, I always use the 2-second timer. It eliminates that last bit of vibration from my finger touching the shutter button. With both the GFX100 and the GFX100S, there’s three parts to the timer. In the Shooting setting (the little camera icon in the menu), you can set the self-timer to 10 seconds, 2 seconds, or Off. Then, you need to tell the camera to remember that self- timer setting in order for that timer to remain in effect for the next image, or if you turn the camera off and then back on at a later time. Otherwise, the timer will only work for one shot. Then, you’ll have to go back in and tell the camera to use the timer again. You’ll also need to decide whether or not you want the self-timer lamp on. That’s the little light that turns on while the s elf-timer is in use. For night shots (which I haven’t tried yet), I’ll turn that lamp off.

That’s all I’ve got, for now. I’ll be taking the two cameras with me on a forthcoming 2-week trip to a couple of national parks I’ve never visited (fingers crossed I don’t have any further health issues – or car issues, for that matter). I’m not certain if I’ll be able to get any star shots due to the smoky skies from area wildfires, but if the sky is clear, then I’ll see how well these cameras do regarding night scenes.

Mid-morning At Reflection Lakes, Mount Rainier National Park (Washington state)

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

Comments Off on Some Very Quick Thoughts On The Fujifilm GFX 100S

Filed under Fujifilm GFX 100S, Mount Rainier National Park, National Parks, Photography, Photography In The National Parks, Travel and Photography, Washington State

Same Thing, Different Day

Bridge Over The Stream, Sunrise Area, Mount Rainier National Park (Washington state)

Same thing, different day, different camera, slightly different perspective. This is why it’s not only ok, but really a good idea to revisit favorite spots with your camera. Because, things can look slightly (or radically) different, depending upon the day, weather conditions, and season.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

Comments Off on Same Thing, Different Day

Filed under Mount Rainier National Park, National Parks, Photography

Fun Fact Photography!

The Secondary Phloem Of A Redwood Tree, Redwood National and State Parks (California)

Do you know what a secondary phloem is? I didn’t. But I saw this interesting site of the redwood tree’s parting of the outer bark to show the inner bark and took a photo of it. And, that’s what this month’s photography column I wrote for the National Parks Traveler is all about. I call it “Fun Fact Photography” and it’s facts about the subjects in some of the photos I’ve captured.

Have you ever seen something during a wander in a park about which you’d like to know more? All you have to do is snap a photo of it.

To read the article, click on the photo above.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

Comments Off on Fun Fact Photography!

Filed under National Parks, National Parks Traveler, Photography, Photography In The National Parks, Travel and Photography

National Parks Traveler Checklist For Yellowstone National Park

Black Growler Steam Vent and Ledge Geyser in Porcelain Basin, Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming)

Whether you’re visiting Yellowstone National Park for your first time or your fifth time, you should check out my latest Traveler Checklist published this morning in the National Parks Traveler. This list provides you with ideas and suggestions for things to see and do during a visit, when the best times are to see the park, and so much more.

To read the Checklist, click on the image above.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

Comments Off on National Parks Traveler Checklist For Yellowstone National Park

Filed under National Parks, National Parks Traveler, Travel, Traveler's Checklist, Yellowstone National Park

The Sony A1 and 200-600mm Lens

A Bee On The Globe Thistle

Due to eye surgery a month ago, and inactivity prior to that, I haven’t really taken my cameras out, much. Now that the eye is so much better, I’m hoping to remedy that with a short trip to Mount Rainier National Park. If you’ve looked at my previous post, you’ll know I recently spent a morning out there. Still, though, I didn’t really give my cameras the kind of workout that I’d like.

So, this morning, for a short time, I took my Sony A1 and 200-600mm lens outside the house to photograph the bees that gather on the globe thistle bush next to our back gate. I already knew the bees loved those flowers, but had totally forgotten the flowers were actually in bloom. Although they are on the last legs of blooming, the bees still like to congregate there.

All the images you see here are hand-held. I much prefer that to placing that big honkin’ lens on a tripod because my range of movement is considerably lessened. Yes, I have a gimbal tripod head, but was too lazy to set it all up and lug it and the heavy lens out.

These images are also cropped anywhere from 33 percent to 67 percent of the original. Thanks to the Sony A1 and its 50 megapixels, I can still get a nice, clear image even after cropping.

I am a Manual Setting kind of gal. I learn more about my camera that way and feel like I have more control over exposure. ISO was 1250 because I wanted to make use of that fps since the bees are always on the move. Aperture was f/9, shutter speed was 640.

Climbing The “Tree” – Original – 68 percent crop
Climbing The “Tree” – Noiseware applied to the bokeh’d background

As you can see from this original versus the finished product, above, there was a bit of noise (grain) at ISO 1250. I used Imagenomic’s Noiseware noise control plug in for Photoshop to control the grain, and selectively used it for the background, since you don’t see the grain issue so much with the flowers or the bee.

This high-resolution camera with its great fps (frames per second) shutter speed is the kind with which you should use a memory card that processes the images fast. The card I had in the camera was rather slow, so I had to wait for the image buffer to finish it’s job before I could capture another round of images.

I’ll be taking this camera and lens with me on my trip to Mount Rainier and hope I see some birds or even – if I am really lucky – furry wildlife. We’ll see. I’ll get back to you.

Table For Two

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved

Comments Off on The Sony A1 and 200-600mm Lens

Filed under flowers, Photography, Sony a1, Sony mirrorless 200-600mm lens

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.

Comments Off on A Matter Of Photographic Perspective

Filed under Mount Rainier National Park, National Parks, Photography

The Lure Of The Leading Line

Or maybe I should have titled this post “The Lure Of The Trail.” Both are appropriate and actually meld into one another. I love leading lines – they are my favorite theme – and my favorite type of leading line is a trail. That trail leads the viewer’s eye deeper into the composition and onward to whatever adventure awaits. And trails within forests are my favorite, if for no other reason than the forest’s interior glow surrounded by green and brown shadows.

All of the images above were captured with my Sony Alpha 7riv and a 16-35mm lens during my 2020 October visit to Redwood National and State Parks. And all of these images were captured along one of the many trails in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park in northern California. The tops of the trees are veiled a little bit in mist, as this trip was during the height of all the wildfires in California. Smoke drifted in from everywhere.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

Comments Off on The Lure Of The Leading Line

Filed under California, forest, leading lines, National Parks, Photography, Redwood National and State Parks, Travel

It’s Trivia Tuesday, July 6, 2021

It’s Trivia Tuesday, folks! So are you looking at UFOs in the images above? Nah. But, if you ever visit Mount Rainier National Park in Washington state, you might see a lens-shaped cloud hovering over “The Mountain” or the Tatoosh Range. These are called lenticular clouds and they usually form when there’s a moist airflow over a mountain (although sometimes they form where there is no mountain). They look calm and stable, however they are anything but stable. Pilots like to avoid them as they make for one heck of a turbulent ride. “Lennies” also make for great photo ops, don’t you think?

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

Comments Off on It’s Trivia Tuesday, July 6, 2021

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