Category Archives: Utah

Extra! Extra! Read All About It!

Newspaper Rock From A Distance CROPNewspaper RockNewspaper Rock PetroglyphsNewspaper Rock PetroglyphsBecky At Newspaper Rock

If you happen to be traveling to the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park, in Utah, along Hwy 211 after turning off of State Hwy 191, you’ll probably pass right by this parking area (with restroom) and a very short path leading to this amazing rock panel crammed with petroglyphs in a fenced-off, quiet sheltered area. Don’t pass by this place. It’s really cool!

This spot records about 2,000 years of human activity from B.C. to A.D. 1300. I can’t find out who actually discovered this spot to make it into an archaeological site, and nobody really knows what all the petroglyphs mean. Do they represent magical symbols, map symbols, calendar events or just doodles? I noticed some current graffiti on the panel (even though the area is fenced off), and I have to tell you, the current graffiti is not half as imaginative or pretty as the ancient stuff. Just sayin’. There’s a reason this archeological site is fenced off.

I had to do a little internet searching, but it has been called a state historical monument that apparently was once part of Bears Ears National Monument, but it’s now been chopped off and is part of the Indian Creek National Monument (according to visitutah.com), located 15 miles west of U.S. Highway 191 (about 60 miles south of Moab).

What’s the difference between petroglyphs and pictographs? Well, petroglyphs are actually carved into the rock, while pictographs are painted on rock. These petroglyphs were etched into the dark rock coating called “desert varnish” to expose the light, buff-colored rock beneath. You can tell the older petroglyphs from the others because they are dark and covered with a bit of desert varnish, again.

It never ceases to amaze me how this particular rock panel was discovered among the vast and imposing mesas, buttes and canyons. If you stand on the road, you can see the panel in the distance, but only if you are really looking for it

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under 24-105mm, 5DS, 5DSR, Canon, Canon Lens, Equipment, Photography, Travel, Utah, Utah

Within And Beyond National Park Boundaries

The View Framed By Mesa Arch

The view beyond Mesa Arch in Canyonlands National Park, Utah

This morning’s “Featured Story” in the National Parks Traveler deals with an interview I held with Kate Cannon, superintendent of the Southeast Utah Group.  I spoke with Superintendent Cannon during the first week of January while I was in Utah, photographing in both Arches and Canyonlands National Parks.

To read the article, click on the photo to be taken to the site.

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under 5DS, 5DSR, Arches National Park, Canon, Canon Lens, Canyonlands National Park, Equipment, Holidays, National Parks, National Parks Traveler, New Year, Photography, Travel, Utah

My 15 Favorite Images of 2013

I noticed a number of photographers posting their favorite images taken over 2013 and thought I would do the same. I decided to choose 15 images and provide some commentary about the photo.  It was a difficult choice, believe me.

These are in no particular order.

To see a higher-res rendition, just click on the photo and you will be taken to the spot where that particular photo resides on my photography website. You can order most of them for yourself, as a print in all sorts of mediums, or a coffee mug or within a 2014 calendar or photo journal creation of mine. And I even have a 30% discount on orders $30 or over on my website right now through the end of January 2014.

Chisos Mountain Evening

1. Evening in the Chisos Mountains, Big Bend National Park, Texas

I was getting a little anxious to arrive at the Chisos Mountain Lodge before it got dark (easier to find my way to my room in the daylight), but I passed this particular spot and knew I needed to turn around, park the car alongside the empty road and capture this mountain-backlit image with the wispy clouds and the century plant anchoring the foreground.

They Know The Words

2. They Know All the Words to Her Song, Evening Pirate Pub Sing at the Sea Devil Tavern, Texas Renaissance Festival

Low-light images are difficult to capture well, even at the best of times. This was an image captured  with no flash, using my trusty Canon 1-DX.  Note the people around the singer, raising their mugs to her and singing along with her. Total groupies at a Renaissance rock concert as they sing along with their favorite pirates. She and her husband (for real) “Captain Basil Drake” are huge favorites out at the festival.

Helping With The Jewelry

3. Helping the Bride with the Finishing Touches

One of my favorites of all the wedding photos I took of Maegan that day (and I have a lot of favorites from that day, believe me). The natural side lighting highlighted the bride’s excited, expectant look as she stood there while the ladies in her bridal party arranged her necklace. The looks given to her by the other ladies, in addition to each of their actions (look at the hands) make this a memorable moment for me (and I hope for the bride).

Snow Day At Park Avenue

4. Park Avenue Snow Day, Arches National Park, Utah

It was a magical morning. I awoke at about 2AM to peer out of my hotel room window and see huge, feathery snowflakes falling to the ground. Talk about excited! There’s something about red rock and white snow. There’s also something about being one of the first people (actually, I think I was the second person) to enter the park and to get to a spot at which nobody else has yet arrived. That was Park Avenue. Those footprints you see in the photo are mine. A total of about 5 inches or so piled up that morning. By late afternoon, it had almost completely melted, and by the next day, only the shadowed areas of the park still sported snow on the ground.

Ruffling Feathers

5. Plucking at the Head Feathers

This was the first time ever, in all 8 years of photographing the little ruby-throated hummingbirds, that I had ever witnessed such aggressive (and oftentimes amusing) behavior as exhibited by these territorial little birdies as they vied for perching space on one of the three feeders my 88-year old mother and I set out for the hummers as they stopped for a month-long break during their annual fall migration further south into Central America and Mexico. This just goes to show what going out every morning and/or evening to photograph the hummingbirds during their September sojourn can bestow wonderful images upon the patient photographer using a telephoto lens, fast camera, and flash.

Quite A Mouthful

6. Quite A Mouthful: Ibis with Crayfish (aka Crawfish), Brazos Bend State Park, Texas

A few months prior to my Katmai NP trip in July 2013, for which I had reserved a Canon 500mm prime lens, I rented this same lens for a weekend in order to get a feel for the lens so I wouldn’t be totally clueless and clumsy during the Alaska vacation. I lugged that lens out to Brazos Bend State Park, where I knew there would be a good chance of birdlife and I also knew the birds are a little more habituated (and less skittish) to humans there than at the national wildlife refuge. There is a particular spot where the birds (and alligators) like to congregate at 40-Acre Lake and I parked myself, tripod, and lens right at that spot. My entire goal that year had been to capture a sizeable tasty morsel in a bird’s mouth, and with this shot, I nailed my goal.

A Golden Burst

7. Sunrise at the Refuge, Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge, Texas

Ah yes, I love getting sunrise shots. It helps that I am a morning person. And some of the best sunrises I’ve seen in the refuge are across and to the south of the gravel auto tour road alongside Olney Pond and Cross Trails Pond. The trick here is to getting a decent sunrise shot without having your entire composition filled with sun flare spots – and that’s difficult to do if you eschew a lens hood in order to make use of your polarizer filter and grad neutral density filter. These two filters allow you to use a slow shutter speed or wider-open aperture (unless you are aiming for a starburst effect) to keep the foreground lighter and not blow out the horizon. They also help with making the clouds (if there are any) more dramatic and with adding some color saturation as well.

Portrait

8. Portrait of a Brown Bear, Katmai National Park and Preserve, Alaska

This place is totally amazing. I had never in my entire life ever thought I would be viewing such incredible creatures as these 700+ lb brown bears….in Alaska…with a 500mm prime lens (rented). My favorite thing to do was create portraits of the bears.  Sometimes the 500mm lens did a perfect job on its own, and at other times, I did a little cropping to focus the eyes more on the bear’s face. When you first look at all the bears, they sort of look alike. But even after just a couple of hours in their presence, you can begin to suss out differences in appearance, facial expressions, and little quirky movements they have when fishing the Brooks River or looking for berries. I could see that each bear has its own personality and I tried to capture that with my portrait shots. This is one of my favorites. And it’s quite cropped, actually. This bear had been standing out in the river rapids, just below Brooks Falls. It turned away to warily look behind it before resuming its steady watchfulness of the rapids with the intention of catching dinner.

Above Alaska

9. Alaska From Above

I had the best time during my one-day bear-viewing trip to Lake Clark National Park; probably because I thoroughly enjoyed the 5-seater plane flight to the park. The windows were clean enough that I captured a number of aerial images of the Alaskan landscape. This is one of my favorites because of the landscape itself, the colors, and the lighting. This image also brings back the feelings of excitement and wonder I experienced as I viewed this remote Alaskan land. Plus, I was pretty darned pleased with my attempt at in-plane photography, since I don’t attempt this sort of thing very often. The key is to use a wide-angle lens and to put the lens as close to the window as possible without touching the vibrating plane glass. It also helps (tremendously) to have a camera with a fast frame-per-second capture – especially if your lens does not have IS (or VR or any of the other acronyms for image stabilization). I did not use a polarizing filter for this photo (or any of the other aerial images) because sometimes a polarizing filter can do wonky things to photography through an airplane window).

Chugach Mountain Reflection

10. A Morning View of the Chugach Mountains, Alaska

I had just enough time that Sunday to make a morning sightseeing trip north of Anchorage before having to return the rental SUV and get ready to meet up with the rest of my fellow Katmai photo tour members.  My intention was to drive up to Hatcher Pass.  I noticed this scene to the right of the highway and passed right by it.  All the while, I thought to myself that I really ought to turn around and capture the view before heading on.  Surely I had enough time for that.  So, I turned around and captured the view.

Icy Morning Glow

11. Icy Morning Glow, Arches National Park, Utah

By now, you can see that I have a number of favorites from this February visit to Arches. This image was sort of an afterthought. I’d driven to my favorite viewing area within the park: La Sal Mountains Viewpoint. When I realized the sunrise was going to be a bust, I turned to head back to the rental vehicle. I happened to look down to the slickrock ground and noticed several shallow potholes filled with clear water that had frozen during the night. The creative part of my brain kicked in and I captured this scene.

On Top Of The World

12. On Top of the World at Delicate Arch, Arches National Park, Utah

Favorite photos don’t have to be people-less. I love this image not only because it proves I made it up the steep, sometimes ice-coated hike to such an iconic feature as Delicate Arch, but it also shows that I had that entire place all to myself! Now that was an awesome feeling! So I set up camera and tripod, then tripped the shutter with my wireless remote to capture exactly how I felt and where I was. Plus, the photo gives a pretty good scale and sense of reference.

Sunset Over The Chisos Mountains

13. Sunset Over the Chisos Mountains and Chihuahuan Desert, Big Bend National Park, Texas

I shot this image prior to capturing the image at the very top of this post. I was trying to get to the Chisos Mountain Lodge before it got dark. I’d gassed up at the small Panther Junction station and was heading toward Basin Drive when I looked to my left to see this amazing scene. Naturally I had to get a photo, so I pulled into a small turnout, grabbed camera, tripod and grad ND filter, then hoofed it across the road to get this photo. It was a little tricky to capture with as little flare spots as I got because I was not using a lens hood. You see, my grad ND filter is a 4×6 and I don’t use a filter holder; instead I just hand-hold it against the camera lens. Makes it easier and quicker to move the filter up and down.

Maine Autumn Landscape

14. An Autumn Scene on Mount Desert Island, Maine

I’d had the good fortune and the misfortune to visit this part of Maine during the government shutdown. This meant I would not have access to all the places I wanted to see in Acadia National Park, which bummed me out and really cemented my utter disdain over congress. Nonetheless, I managed to capture some beautiful images of Maine during autumn. I had just turned off the road from Bass Harbor and was heading toward Bar Harbor when I looked to my right and saw this autumnal marsh scene with this wonderful tree in the foreground.

DHP Visitor Center View

15. The Visitor Center View at Dead Horse State Park, Utah

Ok, we know people who travel to this place, – a hop and a skip from both Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park – generally photograph that iconic scene of the canyon looming over the river oxbow. But, there are other incredible scenes to be photographed in this state park, and this view right next to the visitor center is one such area.   The short rock wall provided an excellent frame to the expansive landscape beyond.

So, there you have it:  my 15 favorites (actually, I have about 20+ favorites, but this is a long-enough post.

Becky And Three Gossips

Here’s to 15 more favorites taken from the photographic possibilities I hope to experience in 2014!

4 Comments

Filed under aerial photography, Alaska, Arches National Park, bears, Big Bend, Brazoria NWR, Katmai National Park, National Parks, Photography, Texas, Travel, Travel and Photography, Utah, wedding, wildlife, Wildlife Refuge

Becky’s 2013 Photographic Review

Becky At The Window Overlook

While perusing several other blogs which I follow, I noted one of the photographic bloggers was preparing a year in review post.  I decided to do the same.

Going through all of my photos taken over the course of year gave me pause in which I realized that I had a really good year.  Oh, of course I had ups and downs, but all in all, I had a great deal more ups than downs.

In February, I traveled to Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, and Dead Horse State Park – all in Utah.  This was my first winter trip in many years (most of my trips are mainly during the late summer or fall seasons).  During that time, I hiked up to Delicate Arch and had the entire area all to myself for a good 30+ minutes, and was also fortunate enough on the previous day to witness a magical snow fall in an otherwise arid region.

On Top Of The World

Steps Up To North Window

In early April, I had the pleasure of conducting a portfolio photo session for  a stunningly beautiful belly dancer.

Zaras Veils

And in late April, I photographed the wedding of a former co-worker and her musician fiancee (who now has a jazz CD out on iTunes).  The weather was perfect, the bride was stunning, the wedding went off without a hitch, and the day couldn’t have been better – we all had a great time.

Bride Relaxing On The Chairs

Newly Wedded

In July, I flew to Alaska for the first time in my life, spending a week with Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris in Katmai National Park and Preserve.  There, I captured some fantastic photos of the awesome coastal brown bears as they fished for the salmon along the Brooks River.  Prior to the trip to Katmai, I spent a few days just tooleying around the Anchorage area in a rental car, further cementing my desire to return in August 2014.

Becky At Brooks Falls

Caught One

And I wasn’t finished with July travel.  Work required me to travel to London;  this time, it was via Business Class, which is a heck of a lot sweeter than economy, believe me.  In between work at the London office,  I managed to do things in that great city that I had not been able to accomplish during a visit two years prior (tour the National Gallery, ride on the London Eye at night and purchase a ticket to see Spamalot).

Becky At Trafalgar Square

At The Top Of The Eye

In October, I flew to Maine and spent a week on Mount Desert Island where I captured the gloriously-saturated colors of autumn.  Because this trip coincided with the  government shutdown, I investigated Acadia National Park via biplane rather than hiking.

Becky And The St. Augustine

Maine From Above

The Road To Cadillac Mountain

Starting on the 7th day of September, I helped my 88-year old mother hang 3 hummingbird feeders;  throughout the month, I had the wonderful privilege of photographing the beauty and antics of the ruby-throated hummingbirds that made their annual migration through my part of southeast Texas.  During those days and evenings of photography, I digitally captured hummingbird behavior that I had never witnessed before.

Becky And The Hummingbirds

Pulling The Head Feathers

In November (well, actually, that last day of November and the first day of December), I spent the weekend with my friends The Merchant Prince and his Lady Michelle, photographing their food & beverage venues and some crazy characters out at the Texas Renaissance Festival.

Christmas Becky

The Kings Feast Staff

Basil Drake and Fans

Gypsy Dance Theatre

In December, I managed to salvage enough vacation days for a 13-hour drive to Big Bend National Park, where I spent 4 full days in this incredible southwest Texas park.  I was so taken with this place that I will be making the long drive back in late April 2014 for a week’s stay.

I Made It

The Chisos Mountains And Chihuahuan Desert

Casa Grande and A Gibbous Moon

And, throughout the year when not traveling far and wide, I have visited and photographed the nearby Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge as well as Brazos Bend State Park.

A Golden Burst

Evening At Creekfield Lake1

Things have gone well, workwise.  My health has been good, as has the health of other members of my family.   I continue to contribute articles and photographs for the National Parks Traveler and my Facebook photography page has over 6000 Facebook Fans. Open-mouthed smile

Throughout the year, I got to do a lot of traveling and photography – the two things I love doing the most.  I guess I could have eschewed many of the trips and bought the big honkin’ prime lens that I’ve been lusting after for a couple of years now.  Instead, though, I chose to spend my discretionary income on traveling.  An old “rockhound” friend of my parents once told us “You can’t take your stuff with you but you can take your experiences with you”.  I totally believe that.  So, I opt for the travel experiences and thank my lucky stars for lensrentals.com Winking smile

Yes, there have been a few tough times, but not as many tough times as good times.  I’ve got a roof over my head, food in my tummy, a good job, and my family.  It’s been a really good year.

I look forward to next year and hope that it’s as good as this year has been.

Official Big Bend Fan

How has 2013 treated you?

3 Comments

Filed under Acadia National Park, Alaska, Arches National Park, Big Bend, Blogging, Katmai National Park, Life, Maine, National Parks, Parks, Photography, Texas, Travel, Utah, Vacation

Photography in the National Parks 2013 Tips and Tricks – A Compilation

Becky In The Canyon

Hi everybody!  This morning, I woke up to find that the website to which I contribute articles and photos published a compilation of all of the 2013 articles written by myself and the other contributing photographer.  There are photos and links to our complete articles for various photo tips, if you want to add to your existing knowledge base of photographic know-how.

Just click on the photo and you will be taken to the article.

And stay tuned for my Year in Review post with photos that I will publish this weekend.

1 Comment

Filed under Acadia National Park, aerial photography, Alaska, Arches National Park, Big Bend, Colorado, Equipment, Glacier National Park MT, Grand Canyon National Park, Katmai National Park, Lake Clark National Park, Lessons, Maine, Mesa Verde National Park, Mt. Rainier National Park, National Parks, nature, Photography, Travel, Utah, Washington State

February in Arches National Park, Utah

The Walk To Park Avenue_U9A8035

The path toward Park Avenue

Ever since returning from my vacation in Arches NP, I’ve been swamped with day-job work as well as updating my Facebook photography page, uploading images to my photo website, working on a contract for a wedding and another one for a possible bellydance portfolio photo shoot, as well as writing a new article for the “Photography In the Parks” column on the National Parks Traveler website (which will show up in early March).  So forgive me for such a long absence.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

When I visited Arches National Park in 2012, it was only for about 3 days.  Not much time to actually take time to explore the park.  So as soon as I returned to Texas, I began planning an early 2013 re-visit to Arches for a longer period of time.

Here are a few thoughts for you photographers:

  • February is an awesome time to visit the park, if you can handle the cold temperatures. There are absolutely NO crowds – not even tour buses. That means you can explore popular spots like Balanced Rock, the Windows section, and Delicate Arch without having to clone people out of your images.  At times, I was the only person there (Balanced Rock and Delicate Arch) and it was an incredible feeling. Plus, it might snow in February like it did for me when I was there.

Becky and Balanced Rock

Becky and Balanced Rock

On Top Of The World

Delicate Arch All To Myself!

Turret Arch Vista

Snow Day in the Park!  Five inches of snow, actually.

  • As you are heading into the park, along the main paved road, everything on the left side of the road (the west side) is best photographed during the morning hours.

Salt Valley Sunrise

Salt Valley and the Devil’s Garden during Sunrise

  • Everything on the right side of the road (the east side) is best photographed during the afternoon and evening hours.

Balanced Rock In The Snow

Balanced Rock and the La Sal Mountains in the Afternoon

This is, of course, a general rule of thumb, not set in stone.

  • Visit a particular place more than once, at different times of the day. You will be surprised at how different your images look simply because of the time of day

La Sal Morning

The La Sal Mountain Viewpoint in the morning

Afternoon At The Same Scene

The La Sal Mountain Viewpoint in the afternoon

  • When you encounter one of those days during which you simply can’t get the landscape images you want, try concentrating a little more close-in; use your telephoto lens rather than your wide-angle lens.

One Little Tree CROP

One Little Tree in Park Avenue in the Afternoon (while everything else is totally in the shade at this time of day)

  • February is a bit of a sparse month for wildlife.  There are 50 Desert Bighorn Sheep living in this park, but I didn’t see a single one.  I did see 3 deer and a few ravens.  I did not see any reptiles, tarantulas, or scorpions.

Hello My Deers

Hello There, My Deers

February is a great month also for discounts on rental vehicles and deals on Moab hotel rooms.  It’s the slow time of year for them, so they LOVE having people visit in the winter (the Moab Brewery was practically empty the one time I went there for a yummy lunch of beer cheese soup and a Scorpion Pale Ale).  Make sure, though, you make your plane reservations and any other reservations ahead of time (I made my plane reservation to Grand Junction CO and car rental reservation 5 months ahead of time, then, when I arrived in Grand Junction, I actually upgraded to an SUV because Hertz offered me a sweet discount).

If you can’t find a room for a hotel you like on one website, either go to another website, or wait a few weeks and then try again.  I originally used Hotels.com to make a room reservation in Moab at a hotel other than the one I really wanted because Hotels.com couldn’t find a vacancy for that time period.  About three weeks prior to my departure date, I went onto the website of  my original hotel choice (Aarchway Inn) and found a room for a great deal (they actually put me in the very same room I’d stayed in before).  Perseverance pays off!

Yes, February is a great time to visit Arches National Park….and nearby Dead Horse Point State Park and Canyonlands National Park, as well.

I Made It - Again

1 Comment

Filed under Arches National Park, National Parks, Photography, Travel, Utah

Happy Valentine’s Day, Everybody!

Guess which national park I am at this week? Open-mouthed smile

Happy Valentines Day

I had the image for this photo in my head about two weeks prior to my trip to Arches National Park, Utah. After I figured out what I wanted to do, I went into MS Word and chose a heart from Clip Art to print on 11” x 17”. I then folded the paper up and packed it away for my Utah trip. I just *had* to make the hike up to Delicate Arch at some point in time during my stay in Moab, but the question was: when? If the weather remained below freezing and/or snowy during the day, I probably would not have attempted the hike because of any icy conditions on the slick rock. But, that one day that dawned crystal clear and the temps felt like spring, well, I *knew* that was the day. So I hiked to Delicate Arch with the paper heart folded into my camera backpack.

I Heart Arches NP

4 Comments

Filed under Arches National Park, Holidays, Humor, National Parks, Photography, Travel, Utah, Valentine's Day