Tag Archives: Yosemite

Happy New Year 2022! A Year In Review Of My Photographic Travels

High tide and harsh light, but a beautiful image, nonetheless – a metaphore for 2022, perhaps?

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?).

A late-afternoon view of Mount St. Helens

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.

The view at Glacier Overlook in the Sunrise area of Mount Rainier National Park (Washington state)

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.

A smoky sunrise at Tunnel View, Yosemite National Park (California)

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.

Hiking the Bristlecone Grove Trail in Great Basin National Park (Nevada)
A room full of speleothems in Lehman Caves, Great Basin National Park (Nevada)

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.

The colors of Paradise, Mount Rainier National Park (Washington state)
A frosty morning at Tipsoo Lake, Mount Rainier National Park (Washington state)

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.

A trail toward Horsethief Butte, Columbia Hills Historical State Park, Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail
The Beacon Rock, Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail
High tides and a ship around the corner, Cape Disappointment State Park, Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail

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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Where The Trails Take You Photography 2022 Calendars For Sale

The Covid Pandemic and emergency eye surgery put a bit of a damper on my travel, but not on my photography. I managed to visit three national parks this year (Yosemite, Mount Rainier, and Great Basin) and capture some awesome shots. So…

… It’s that time of year again, when I shamelessly self-promote through the 12-month wall calendars I create for each year. Here are three of four (fourth awaits review) calendars I have for sale via Zazzle.com. Right now, you can get 15% off your order with the promotion code ZFALLPARTIES.

I order these calendars for myself and my family, so I can attest to the quality of these items. Sure, digital junkies (like one of my twin nephews) will scoff at a paper *anything*, much less a paper calendar, but these come in pretty handy for writing reminders, and special dates and events that I can just reach over, look at, and mark off as needed. Guess I’m old-school, but these calendars are still pretty cool and look nice on the wall at home or at the office.

https://www.zazzle.com/store/rebecca_latson_photo to get to my Zazzle Store or, click on each photo to look at each calendar and its months, separately.

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Filed under Calendars, Great Basin National Park, Mount Rainier National Park, National Parks, Photography, Yosemite National Park

Photography in The National Parks: Yosemite Tried, True, and New

Yosemite Valley Landscape, Yosemite National Park (California)

The National Parks Traveler has published my latest photography column. This month’s column is all about capturing iconic as well as new perspectives of this particular national park. To read the article, click on the image above.

As for this image: I drove into Yosemite Valley several times during my week’s stay in the park. Every time, I’d pass by this one spot along the road – a small pullout large enough for a vehicle, right next to the rocky banks of the Merced River, which was a trickle of its former self. So finally, I stopped, took out my camera and tripod, and gingerly picked my way to a spot to photograph forest, river, and El Capitan (I believe that’s El Cap) all beneath a blue sky with wispy clouds.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Traveler’s Checklist To Yosemite National Park

A Boardwalk Leading Line Across Cook’s Meadow, Yosemite National Park (California)

Whew! I’m finally back from a 2-week trip to Yosemite and Great Basin national parks! It was a great trip, although I am now totally sick of so much driving. I captured great photos and have plenty of material for articles for the National Parks Traveler. As a matter of fact, the first article is the Traveler’s Checklist for Yosemite National Park, published in today’s edition of the Traveler. Whether it’s your first or your fourth trip, there might be something in the checklist that piques your interest.

To read the article, click on the photo above.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Tiny Climbers Scaling The Granite At El Capitan

I spy with my little eye left of center the two teeny tiny climbers – Captured at 100mm focal length
Can you see the climbers now? See the guy in the orange shirt – left of center – 93% crop of the original image above

I think rock climbers (and mountain climbers, too) are CRAZY! Of course, this is coming from someone who has more than a healthy respect (read fear) of great heights and gets a little vertigo just looking at photos of such things as people hiking Angels Landing in Zion National Park.

That said, one of the things I wanted to do while visiting Yosemite Valley in Yosemite National Park was try to first spot, then photograph, climbers hanging from the sheer granite wall of the famous El Capitan. I’d already googled where good places to stand and watch for climbers would be, and one of the best places is actually right across the road from El Cap. I remember first driving by that spot and wondering what the heck people were doing pointing their smartphones way up in the air. And then, I realized, they were trying to get photos of the climbers on the wall (duh, Becky).

So yesterday afternoon, while driving through the valley, I parked along the road (at a nice, wide, long parking area all along that road) brought out my 100-400mm lens, and started scanning the sheer walls. With a little pointing from others nearby, I finally found these two guys (thank you, climber, for wearing that bright orange shirt). Took me awhile to suss them out, though, because I am not kidding when I tell you the climbers are so tiny against the sheer grandeur of El Cap’s cliff wall. These photos hopefully give you an idea. The first photo is the original captured at a focal length of 100mm. Can you spot them hanging from the cliff wall? They are just a tad left of center.The second photo is a 93% crop of the first, so you can see them a little better (the orange shirt helps). Even with that crop, they still look tiny against the granite elements. I have other photos taken at a focal length of 400mm, but think this original and crop make a better point of humans conquering the elements – in this case, conqering the granite height of a famous landmark in the park.

Oh, FYI – I was curious as to how climbers get back down, once they’ve made it to the top. They can rappel back down, but also, there are trails that take them back down to the famous Camp 4, which is considered the “climbers’ camp.”

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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