Tag Archives: where the trails take you

Alien Crash Site? Or Just A Little Hot Spring At Upper Geyser Basin?

This is just a close shot of a very small hot spring (maybe 3 feet in diameter, including the melted ground around it) I saw while walking on the boardwalks at Upper Geyser Basin in Yellowstone National Park one freezing February morning. It was a pretty thing, all bright and distinct against the white snow, and it reminded me of a favorite old 1950’s sci fi movie I watch all the time on my iPad when traveling (I listen to movies while editing photos). Anybody ever seen “The Thing From Another World?” Not the one with Kurt Russell, but the 1951 black-and-white version? To me, that’s a classic. The timing and overlapping of the dialog, the whole black-and-white scenario. I love it. Oh, the special effects are laughable, but I still like it way better than the 1982 film. Maybe it’s an age thing, but to me, the old movies are classics and always will be.

Anyway, where is this going, you may ask? Well, in the 1951 version, at one point, the plane with the scientists and the Airforce personnel are flying over the alien’s frozen-over crash spot, and it looks exactly like this little hot spring’s configuration right here. As a matter of fact, when I spotted this thermal spring, it was the first thing that popped into my head.

So, sometimes, you may photograph the things you see because they remind you of something else, right?

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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

Trivia Tuesday And Photography In The National Parks: Traveling Along The Lewis And Clark National Historic Trail – Part 2

Looking up at Beacon Rock
Going up the switchbacks on the Beacon Rock Trail
Savoring a view of the Columbia River landscape while hiking up Beacon Rock

It’s #TriviaTuesday ! How many of you have ever hiked up Beacon Rock at Beacon Rock State Park in Washington state? It’s a park found right along the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail on the Washington side of the Columbia River. The park is centered around an eroded volcanic plug of a volcano that erupted about 57,000 years ago and where Captain William Clark first noticed the tidal influence of the Pacific Ocean (although it’s not really very noticeable now).

Beacon Rock and what you can see and photograph is the subject of my continuing photo column about traveling the Washington side of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, which has been published in today’s edition of the National Parks Traveler.

To read the article, click on any one of the images above.

I never thought I’d be writing and photographing something for the Traveler about this state park because – well – state vs. national park, right? But I should know better. State parks work together with national parks quite often. Just think about Redwood National and State Parks in California.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under National Parks Traveler, Photography, Photography In The National Parks, State Parks, Washington State

Same Park, Same Spot, Different Season, Different Camera

A 2022 winter morning view of the landscape between Hellroaring Trailhead and Tower-Roosevelt Junction in Yellowstone National Park
A 2018 summer view of the landscape between Hellroaring Trailhead and Tower-Roosevelt Junction in Yellowstone National Park

Yeah, yeah, I know – another one of those posts? Well, why not! Besides, I happened to be in the same spots (deliberately) in Yellowstone so I could capture similar shots. Granted, the cameras are different and the focal distance is different, too. With the winter shot, I used a focal length analogous to 48mm, and with the summer shot, I used a focal length of 70mm, so there’s a slight difference in the amount of landscape you are seeing. I tried cropping the winter shot so that it was a little bit closer to the view of the summer shot.

This may be a similar shot, but with the weather conditions / season you can see how visiting the same spot can yield different results to make it look almost like a completely different landscape.

This location is going downhill on what is known as the Grand Loop Road in Yellowstone National Park. It’s between Hellroaring Trailhead and Tower-Roosevelt Junction. Since it’s Fun Fact Friday when I post this, here’s a bit of trivia for you:

During the summer and warmer days, in general, there are more water molecules in the air. During the winter (cold temps aside), there are far fewer water molecules, which is why it generally feels much drier, your hands and lips get chapped easier, and your photos are much clearer. Aside from the differences in camera resolution, this is why the winter shot here seems to be “crisper” than the summer shot, which appears softer due (at least in part) to the sort of “smoggy” morning with all those steam and summer water molecules in the air.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Fun Fact Friday, National Parks, Photography, Seasons, Yellowstone National Park

Photography In The National Parks: Yellowstone In Winter

Paw Prints On The Shallow Terrace Surface At Midway Basin, Yellowstone National Park

The National Parks Traveler has published my latest photo column. It’s all about photographing Yellowstone National Park in winter. If you are planning a winter trip to this national park, yourself and are taking your camera, or if you just want to look at pretty winter photos of this park, then click on the image above to be taken to the article.

As for this image here, it was taken during a snowcoach tour with four other people. Our first stop was at Midway Geyser Basin (where Grand Prismatic is located) and we had the entire place to ourselves. It was wonderful! During our walk along the snowy, mainly ice-encrusted boardwalk, we saw different hoof and paw prints on the milky white surface of the shallow terraces. This wide-angle shot shows a set of clearly-defined paw prints on the terrace and the steamy landscape in the distance. It’s actually one of my favorite shots from the entire trip.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under National Parks, National Parks Traveler, Photography, winter, Yellowstone National Park

National Parks Traveler Quiz And Trivia #47: Happy Birthday Yellowstone National Park

A winter view of a portion of Excelsior Geyser Crater at Midway Basin in Yellowstone National Park

Here’s a winter view of a portion of Excelsior Geyser Crater at Midway Basin in Yellowstone National Park. I couldn’t get the entire view through the particular lens I had on the camera that morning, and it would have been difficult to see anyway because of all the steam issuing from this geyser crater.

I posted this image because there is a question about Excelsior Geyser Crater on today’s quiz and trivia piece that I wrote for the National Parks Traveler. It’s all about Yellowstone National Park because March marks the 150th birthday for this world’s first national park.

How much do you really know about Yellowstone National Park? To take the quiz and read the trivia, click on the image above.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under National Parks Quiz, National Parks Traveler, Yellowstone National Park

Rime Ice – A Part Of The Bigger Landscape Picture At Yellowstone National Park

Part of a rime-iced little tree along a trail at Upper Geyser Basin in Yellowstone National Park
A rime-iced tree among many other rime-iced trees along the Fountain Paint Pots Nature Trail in Yellowstone National Park
Very thick rime ice on a tree branch near Beryl Spring, Yellowstone National Park

I find rime ice fascinating. I don’t see it very often where I live, except on rare occasions of freezing fog. I did see this quite a bit while in Yellowstone National Park this past February, so naturally, I photographed it as much as possible.

According to Wikipedia: rime ice is “a white ice that forms when the water droplets in fog freeze to the outer surfaces of objects. It is often seen on trees …”

In the case of the rime ice I saw on trees in Yellowstone, it was the result of heavy steam from geysers and hot springs freezing onto the nearby trees. It was, indeed, pure white in some areas, like at Beryl Spring, but in others, it took on a tinge of (IMO) whatever particulates were floating in the air from the geysers and hot springs. Sometimes it was a sort of pinkish tinge, and sometimes it was a yellowish tinge.

These images were captured at different areas of the park, and are nice reminders to look at the fine details of nature and not to forget to capture those small that interconnect to make up the Big Picture Landscape.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under National Parks, nature, Photography, Seasons, winter, Yellowstone National Park

Don’t Be Afraid To Fill The Frame

A wide-angle view of Canary Spring at Mammoth Terraces, Yellowstone National Park
A closer view of Canary Spring
Filling the frame with Canary Spring

Don’t ever be afraid to fill your frame with what you see through the camera’s viewfinder. This is Canary Spring, at Mammoth Hot Spring Terraces in Yellowstone National Park. I’ve visited this in the summer (very early in the morning before any of the crowds arrive), and can tell you how different the colors look then as opposed to now (a post on that to come later).

Anyway, here is a series of three shots, each one closer to the terraces of this hot spring. The first one is a wide-angle view captured early in the morning of my next-to-last-day in the park. I had a snowcoach tour later in the day to Norris Basin and wanted to spend the morning at the travertine terraces.

The other two shots are close-ups, each one filling the frame with more of the yellow and ochre shades of the travertine terraces. And to think, I once thought of this particular area as one of the most boring of the geothermal formations in the park. I don’t think that, now, of course.

My usual routine is to capture a wide-angle shot first, then to either use a telephoto lens to get a closer view, or I crop a part of the original shot later during the editing stage to get an image filling the frame.

On this morning, it was a rather gray day. It snowed off and on, and the area around Canary Spring exhibited a soft, painterly quality to it. I was the only one there. By the time I left on the snowcoach at around 12:30 later that day, the place was packed and looked like a zoo. Mornings and late evenings really are the best time to visit an iconic location, and the lighting is much better for photography then, as well.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under National Parks, Photography, Yellowstone National Park

Wildlife Was Made For Black-And-White

Bison In The Snow, Yellowstone National Park

To me, wildlife photography was made for black-and-white photography. Or maybe it’s vice versa: black-and-white photography was made for wildlife. Yes, I love seeing wildlife and its environment in all the wonderful original colors of that environment, but you can’t disagree that reactions and drama aren’t ratcheted up a notch when a color image of wildlife is converted to black-and-white.

Take the bison in the snow, for instance. The day itself looked a little on the monochrome side, with the predominant colors being the brown-red coats of the bison herd on a snow-carpeted hillside. When converted to monochrome, textures, patterns, and the differences between light and dark really stand out in the absence of color.

Lone Coyote Just Off The Trail In Upper Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park

The shading of this beautiful lone coyote goes hand-in-hand with the lights, darks, and shadows in between when converted to black-and-white.

And the trumpeter swan below is a part of the icy image – rather than separate from its environment – when converted to monochrome.

Trumpeter swan on the Firehole River, Yellowstone National Park

My father – from whom I inherited a love of photography – only shot in black-and-white with his Mamiya twin lens film camera, scores of decades ago. He’d return from a day out hiking in Glacier National Park and go down to his basement darkroom to process the day’s shots.

Speaking of getting a monochrome image, IMO, it’s always best to go ahead and get the color version as your original, then make a copy and turn that copy into monochrome once you have returned to your computer. That way, you’ll always have the color shot in addition to the monochrome image. Sure, most cameras have in-camera settings to use for solely capturing black-and-white, but then you won’t have any original color shots unless you waste the time to change the menu setting from monochrome back to color. It’s a hassle, especially if you only have minutes before that elusive wildlife disappears or moves to a less-than-desirable background.

The next time you are out with your camera photographing the wildlife and birdlife, go ahead and get that shot in color, but when you return to your computer, make a copy of that shot and convert it to black-and-white and look at the differences.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Black & White, monochrome, Photography, Wildlife

Yellowstone At 150: Challenges Go More Than Crowd-Deep

Sunlight reflections and paw and hoof prints on the shallow terraces at Midway Basin

Today’s edition of the National Parks Traveler has a great Feature Story about the challenges and stresses facing Yellowstone National Park. No, I didn’t write it – it was penned by Traveler correspondent Rita Beamish. She’s a fantastic journalist and you should go on over and read the article. Just click on the image above to go to the article.

As for this image: I had joined five others for a snowcoach tour during my February stay in this national park. One of the places we stopped was Midway Basin, and we had the entire spot to ourselves and our driver/tour leader April was fantastic at teaching us about the various parts of the area as well as of the park, as a whole.

Here’s the thing about a visit to Midway Basin, no matter what time of year. You’re not going to see the overall stunning beauty of Grand Prismatic Spring like you do from the overlook on the hillside behind the spring (accessed by the Fairy Falls Trail, with a detour up to the overlook). What you *will* see are the various parts of the spring, as well as the other geothermal features in this particular geyser basin, each part of which has its own beauty.

The morning produced a sort of “watery” sunlight, trying to break through the cloud cover. It did so, in places, and one could see its reflection in the mirror-smooth water of the shallow terraces. One could also see the distinct little paw prints (can you spot them?) and the much larger hoof prints (thankfully, no boot prints here, that I could discern) on those shallow terraces. In the background was the steaming proof all around us of the underground geothermal machinery within the park.

Here’s a little bit of trivia for you: all the white stuff you see in the terraces and in the paw and hoof prints is *not* snow or ice. The water is too warm for that. What you are looking at is silica precipitated out of solution. Yellowstone’s geothermal waters are full of silica in solution, but once that water reaches the surface and flows away from the heat source toward the cooler portions of wherever it lands, that silica precipitates out. It tends to create milky appearances on the ground and within “cooler” hot springs, making them look sort of opal-ish.

Anyway, there is this beauty to Midway Basin that both has something to do with Grand Prismatic, and at the same time, does not. If you ever visit and can find a parking spot, it’s a worthwhile stop, even if you don’t see that areal view of color that you’d see in textbooks or at the Grand Prismatic Overlook.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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

National Parks Traveler Checklist: Yellowstone In The Winter

Taking a stroll along the boardwalks at Upper Geyser Basin
Following the tour leader in Porcelain Basin
Meeting up with one of the Yellowstone locals
Geyser gazing is a nice winter activity in Yellowstone

Thinking of a winter trip to Yellowstone National Park? There’s still time to go this year, but 2023 looks like a better option. Before you go, check out the latest Traveler Checklist I’ve written for the National Parks Traveler. It’s all about planning for your winter trip to this national park, getting there, where to stay and eat, and what to do once you’re there.

To read the Checklist, just click on any of the images above.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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