PNP Newsletter #9: Bear Safety

January 21, 2016

Bear Safety

National Geographic, food safety …

Though I’m a big fan of the work National Geographic does, I had not subscribed (er, been a member?) since the late 1990s. But this fall I once again sent them money, in exchange for receiving the 12 issues they will publish in 2016. Why now? Because every one of those issues will contain features about the U.S. national parks.

The project kicked off with the January issue (of course), with a beautiful day-to-night cover photo of Yosemite by Stephen Wilkes. I can’t wait to see the other 11 issues!

Photographers might also want to check out National Geographic‘s online portal of national-park topics, titled “Power of the Parks.” The page includes exclusive features, news, travel guides, photos, videos, educational resources and more. The page also links to Geographic‘s “National Parks” iTunes app, which has location-specific photo tips written by NG photographers.

Okay, on to this week’s question, which is about managing your food supply in an area with a bear population. Did you know that bears are such a conspicuous resident of the national parks that the Park Service’s website has a page dedicated solely to them? See NPS’gov’s “Bears.”

Onward…

This Week’s Question

Grizzlies, Lake Clark National Park & Preserve. NPS Photo/K. Jalone.

Q.  I saw you do a lecture at B&H Photo last year and you talked about getting food at the beginning of a national park trip and keeping it in the car with you. How do you do that without worrying about bears breaking into the car to get the food? — Hanlon S., Greenwich, CT

A. On YouTube, you can see a video of a bear doing exactly that at Great Smoky Mountains National Park, right in the Clingmans Dome parking lot!

Any time I go to a national park, I review its website to read the area-specific regulations and best practices for bears. From park to park, the rules and suggestions differ. Many of those warnings involve a bottom-line goal of not providing food for the bears, whether from your stash or from your body.

For example:

  • At Glacier Bay National Park, you’re asked to cook only below the high tide line, to eat and to clean cooking gear 100 yards from both your tent and food storage area, and to store provisions only in portable bear-resistant food containers.
  • At Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, you’re asked to place food in metal storage boxes stationed in campgrounds and elsewhere, and to even remove child car-seats (which pretty much always smell like old food) from vehicles overnight.
  • At Rocky Mountain National Park, you’re asked to keep food in either an enclosed vehicle or in a storage locker, and if in the backcountry, to keep food in a backpack that you never leave unattended.
  • At Dry Tortugas, you’re fine. No bears.

I buy food in sealed containers, and once opened, I store the uneaten portions in Ziploc bags. All of this is stowed in an airtight cooler, in the trunk of the vehicle. I should note that this is my baseline strategy—I amend it according to local guidelines and issues.

 

Subscribe & Follow

Would you like to receive the Photographing National Parks weekly newsletter in your email? Subscribe today!

Submit a Question: Submit
Follow Me on Facebook: PhotographingNationalParks
Follow Me on Twitter: @PhotoNatPark
Follow Me on Instagram: PhotographingNationalParks

Read More...

PNP Newsletter #8: Death Valley Food

January 13, 2016

Death Valley Food

Plus, fee-free days and Picture-Perfect Places

It’s almost here! The National Park Service’s first fee-free day of 2016 is this Monday, January 18, in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Admission will be gratis to all national parks, national monuments, national recreation areas, national seashores, etc. For a complete list of all such dates in 2016, see the NPS article “Free Entrance Days in the National Parks.”

Speaking of national parks (when am I not?), today I published the first in a new series of articles on PhotographingNationalParks.com called “Picture-Perfect Places.” Each entry will feature a location in the national parks that’s great for photography.

These articles may be submitted by any photographer of any level—the only requirement is a love of the national parks and a desire to share some of that passion. (Have one you’d like to share? Submit it today!)

To get that ball rolling, the first Picture-Perfect Place is by me, and it’s about Mahogany Hammock in Everglades National Parka great spot to find and photograph barred owls..

Onward…

This Week’s Question

Q.  You mentioned you were going to Death Valley National Park, which I’m planning to visit in the spring. (Hoping for wildflowers!!!) I’ve heard the food available in the park is terrible. Seeing as you were just there, just curious: What’s your experience with food? Or do you not even bother with park restaurants? — S. Sullivan, Texas

A. I’ve heard that, too, from multiple sources. I can tell you that the night I arrived at the park, I had an unforgettable dinner. Unfortunately, it was unforgettable for the wrong reasons.

I definitely understand the criticisms I’ve heard of the food there, but I think the bad thoughts have more to do with prices, not necessarily the quality. It’s just not of the quality that most people would associate with that cost. For example, if my first night’s dry fried chicken had cost $8 and not $18, I would have shrugged it off more easily.

However, there is at least one notable exception: The restaurant at the Inn at Furnace Creek serves an excellent breakfast. Yes, it’s a tad pricey (about $20 per person for meal and coffee—which, actually, isn’t all that expensive at a good hotel), but the quality certainly supported the price. I particularly liked the eggs Benedict with chili-lime Hollandaise, and the apple-bacon omelet. If I remember correctly, those were listed at $17 and $14, sans coffee.

I can’t speak for lunch and dinner at the Inn, as I’m generally out shooting at those times. Breakfast—or, really, brunch—tends to be the only time I sit down and pay someone to feed me. The break gives me a chance to review notes and to make plans for the rest of the day. I also can’t speak for some of the other restaurants in the park, because I tried only those two.

(Incidentally, my favorite spot for breakfast/brunch in the park system is the restaurant at Mabry Mill on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Great quality combined with more-than-reasonable prices. I spoke with the owner a couple of years ago, and that combination of quality and price is exactly their goal.)

By the way, that’s a great idea to visit Death Valley this spring for wildflowers. The floods the park experienced last fall were precisely the kind of weather event that usually precedes a spring bloom in the desert.

One more thing I’ll mention: The reason I was in Death Valley last month was to plan and scout a night-photography workshop that I’ll be leading with Lance Keimig from November 15-19. Lance is one of the best in the genre, so this should be a fun one! More information can be found at NationalParksAtNight.com.

 

Subscribe & Follow

Would you like to receive the Photographing National Parks weekly newsletter in your email? Subscribe today!

Submit a Question: Submit
Follow Me on Facebook: PhotographingNationalParks
Follow Me on Twitter: @PhotoNatPark
Follow Me on Instagram: PhotographingNationalParks

Read More...

Picture-Perfect Places: Mahogany Hammock, Everglades

January 13, 2016

Barred Owl, Mahogany Hammock, Everglades

Barred Owl, Mahogany Hammock, Everglades

Picture-Perfect Places

Mahogany Hammock, Everglades

by Chris Nicholson

The Photographer

Chris Nicholson. I’m the author of Photographing National Parks, and I lead workshops with the National Parks at Night program.

The Picture Perfect Place

Mahogany Hammock, Everglades National Park

What’s There To Photograph

Though the hammock (a dense stand of hardwoods in the otherwise marshlike environment of the Everglades) is beautiful as a “forest” subject, the primary attraction here is the barred owls. Go at the right time, and you’re almost guaranteed to find some to photograph. Other birds that frequent the spot (primarily in morning) are Cape Sable seaside sparrows (in spring), bald eagles and warblers. You can also do some nice work that includes the boardwalk winding through the trees.

When To Go

The best time of year to find owls is from mid-winter to early summer. The best time of day is usually late afternoon (preferably in overcast conditions, for better under-canopy photography) and during early blue hour, when the owls are more likely to be active and there’s still enough light to shoot.

Why I Love This Place

First, it offers a different photo opportunity than the rest of the Everglades, which is mostly about water, wading birds and alligators. Second, I love the idea of photographing owls, but am generally not patient enough to spend days “hunting” for wildlife. That’s not to imply that you can just walk into the hammock, point your camera in any direction and find an owl to photograph. But it’s nice to know where a concentrated population of an animal exists to improve the chances of finding a subject. Third, it’s beautiful and quiet—kind of an oasis of shade in otherwise exposed and primitive environment.

How To Get There

It’s not difficult to get to, nor hard to find; in fact, it’s on the official Everglades park map. From the main entrance station (near Homestead, Florida), drive about 19.5 miles on the park road, then turn right toward Mahogany Hammock. From there it’s a short drive to a parking lot, then a short walk to the half-mile boardwalk loop trail through the hammock.

Google Map Link: Mahogany Hammock
Park Website: www.nps.gov/ever


Would you like to share a Picture-Perfect Place? Submit one here today!

Like this article?

If you like this article and would enjoy hearing about new Photographing National Parks content via email, then click here to subscribe to the weekly newsletter. Also, please consider sharing this article via the social media links below.

Read More...

PNP Newsletter #7: Traveling With a Non-Photographer

January 6, 2016

Traveling with a non-photographer

New year, new content, new question

Welcome to 2016!

This week’s question is a fun topic (depending on your experience and point of view): doing photography while traveling with a non-photographer, particularly a family member.

I actually dabbled in this over the holidays. My wife and daughter and I traveled up and down the east coast of the U.S. for 16 days visiting family. Along the way we made brief but enjoyable stops at the Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge in Florida, and the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia. We also waved at Shenandoah National Park as we drove by on Route 81.

If you are interested in following these or other national parks on social media, you know how tedious finding their accounts can be. To help matters, I have compiled and published an article that lists the website, Facebook page, Twitter feed and Instagram account of every national park, plus a few other associated sites and organizations. You can see and reference this any time at this link: “National Parks Online.”

More articles and content will be coming soon. Stay tuned!

Onward…

This Week’s Question

Maurice Bathhouse, Hot Springs National Park. NPS Photo.

Maurice Bathhouse, Hot Springs National Park. NPS Photo.

Q.  Next year my lovely wife and I want to visit some parks. I have to deal with the fact that I like to photograph, while my wife does not but has some (not borderless) patience. Do you have some tips, a thinking direction how to solve this problem? — Stefan de Jong, Netherlands

A. Yeah, this is a pretty common issue, regardless of the gender of whomever is the photographer and whomever is the mildly interested significant other.

In general, I don’t do photo travel with anyone who isn’t a photographer. I have found that no matter how much the person loves or likes me, or how interested she or he is in my work or friendship, the photographer’s process is just too tedious to hold a non-photographer’s attention. These people mean well. “Oh, it will be so intriguing to see how you work!” And they genuinely believe that. The problem is, they’re wrong. It’s not interesting to watch us work, particularly at those times when we might spend a few hours just sitting there waiting for the light to move.

But avoiding layperson companionship isn’t always possible, especially if the trip is not solely for photography, but is rather primarily a family or friendly vacation. In those cases, how we squeeze in some productive photo opportunities is a great question.

Also, it’s one that affects every level of serious photographer. Right before the holidays I attended a presentation by National Geographic photographer Lester Picker, and even he (a Nat Geo photographer!!!) talked about having to deal with this. His solution is to dedicate one or two whole days of the itinerary to photography, days during which his family knows they’re on their own. Then he can focus on all the intricacies of carrying out a successful shoot without boring anyone.

I can suggest two other strategies that I find effective:

1) Half of my photography is done at a time of day  when normal people aren’t functioning much anyway—i.e., very early morning. So I can almost always get out alone before sunrise, shoot for a few hours, then meet others for a late breakfast. (Admittedly, that strategy doesn’t usually work well at the end of the day.)

2) Go someplace that is interesting to the non-photographer, too, so that he or she also has something to do.

For example, I have a friend who likes to write poetry in a journal while sitting in nature; he and I could probably travel together effectively. I have another friend who likes hiking, even alone; we, also, could likely travel well together. My wife likes rustic lodges and drinking wine by a fireplace, so she would probably be content at Grand Teton’s Jackson Lake Lodge while I shot Willow Flats, or at Yellowstone’s Old Faithful Inn while I shot the surrounding geysers and hot springs.

And some of the national parks have a lot of activities with wide appeal. For example, a non-photographer companion might enjoy relaxing in the bathhouses at Hot Springs National Park, or taking a scenic train ride in Cuyahoga Valley National Park, or attending a history-themed ranger program at pretty much any national park—all while you’re out shooting for a few hours.

 

Subscribe & Follow

Would you like to receive the Photographing National Parks weekly newsletter in your email? Subscribe today!

Submit a Question: Submit
Follow Me on Facebook: PhotographingNationalParks
Follow Me on Twitter: @PhotoNatPark
Follow Me on Instagram: PhotographingNationalParks

Read More...

National Parks Online

January 1, 2016

National Parks Online

Almost all the national parks maintain a presence in almost all the most popular corners of the web, making it easy for those who love exploring these special places to maintain a relationship of just one degree of separation. Here is, as far as I know, the only comprehensive list of where to connect with all these online presences.

Below you can find a rundown of every U.S. national park along with links to its website, Facebook page, Instagram account, Twitter feed and YouTube channel. Not every park has an account on all the mentioned services, but every park does have a presence on at least one major social media platform.

Also, this is not a one-time-and-done compilation; I will keep this list updated. If you hear of a park opening a new social media account that is not yet represented here, please let me know and I will update the list promptly.

Also, if you’re interested in following all of the national parks on Twitter in one stroke, please see my National Parks Twitter List.


National Parks

Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park

Maine
www.nps.gov/acad
Facebook: facebook.com/acadianationalPark
Instagram: acadianps
Twitter: @AcadiaNPS
YouTube: AcadiaNPS

American Samoa, National Park of

American Samoa Territory
www.nps.gov/npsa
Facebook: facebook.com/pages/National-Park-of-American-Samoa/118648148187878
Instagram: np_american_samoa
Twitter: @Amer_SamoaNPS

Arches National Park

Utah
www.nps.gov/arch
Facebook: facebook.com/ArchesNationalPark
Instagram: archesnps
Twitter: @ArchesNPS
YouTube: ArchesNPS

Badlands National Park

South Dakota
www.nps.gov/badl
Facebook: facebook.com/BadlandsNPS
Instagram: badlandsnps
Twitter: @BadlandsNPS
YouTube: BadlandsNPS

Big Bend National Park

Texas
www.nps.gov/bibe
Facebook: facebook.com/pages/Big-Bend-National-Park/347386711974238
Instagram: bigbendnps
Twitter: @BigBendNPS

Biscayne National Park

Florida
www.nps.gov/bisc
Facebook: facebook.com/BiscayneNPS
Instagram: biscaynenps
Twitter: @BiscayneNPS

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Colorado
www.nps.gov/blca
Facebook: facebook.com/blackcanyonnps
Instagram: blackcanyonnps
Twitter: @BlackCanyonNPS
YouTube: BlackCanyonNPS

Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park

Utah
www.nps.gov/brca
Facebook: facebook.com/pages/Bryce-Canyon-National-Park/135810953213265
Instagram: brycecanyonnps
Twitter: @BryceCanyonNPS

Canyonlands National Park

Utah
www.nps.gov/cany
Facebook: facebook.com/CanyonlandsNPS
Twitter: @CanyonlandsNPS
YouTube: CanyonlandsNPS

Capitol Reef National Park

Utah
www.nps.gov/care
Facebook: facebook.com/CapitolReefNPS
Instagram: capitolreefnps
Twitter: @CapitolReefNPS

Carlsbad Caverns National Park

New Mexico
www.nps.gov/cave
Facebook: facebook.com/pages/Carlsbad-Caverns-National-Park/270383569687673
Twitter: @CavernsNPS

Channel Islands National Park

California
www.nps.gov/chis
Facebook: facebook.com/channelislandsnps
Instagram: channelislandsnps
Twitter: @CHISNPS
YouTube: channelislandsnps

Congaree National Park

South Carolina
www.nps.gov/cong
Facebook: facebook.com/CongareeNP
Instagram: congareenps
Twitter: @CongareeNPS

Crater Lake National Park

Oregon
www.nps.gov/crla
Facebook: facebook.com/pages/Crater-Lake-National-Park/137127376328525
Twitter: @CraterLakeNPS

Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Ohio
www.nps.gov/cuva
Facebook: facebook.com/CuyahogaValleyNationalPark
Instagram: cuyahogavalleynps

Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park

www.nps.gov/deva
Facebook: facebook.com/DeathValleyNP
Instagram: deathvalleynps
Twitter: @DeathValleyNPS

Denali National Park

Alaska
www.nps.gov/dena
Facebook: facebook.com/DenaliNPS
Instagram: denalinps
Twitter: @DenaliNPS
YouTube: DenaliNPS

Dry Tortugas National Park

Florida
www.nps.gov/drto
Facebook: facebook.com/drytortugasNPS
Instagram: drytortugasnps
Twitter: @DryTortugasNPS
YouTube: Dry Tortugas National Park

Everglades National Park

Florida
www.nps.gov/ever
Facebook: facebook.com/EvergladesNationalPark
Instagram: evergladesnps
Twitter: @EvergladesNPS
YouTube: EvergladesNPS’s channel

Gates of the Arctic National Park

Alaska
www.nps.gov/gaar
Facebook: facebook.com/GatesOfTheArcticNPS
Twitter: @GatesArcticNPS
YouTube: GatesOfTheArcticNPS

Glacier National Park

Montana
www.nps.gov/glac
Facebook: facebook.com/GlacierNPS
Instagram: glaciernps
Twitter: @GlacierNPS
YouTube: GlacierNPS

Glacier Bay National Park

Alaska
www.nps.gov/glba
Facebook: facebook.com/GlacierBayNationalPark
Twitter: @GlacierBayNPS
YouTube: GlacierBayNPS

Grand Canyon National Park

Arizona
www.nps.gov/grca
Facebook: facebook.com/GrandCanyonNationalPark
Instagram: grandcanyonnps
Twitter: @GrandCanyonNPS
YouTube: GrandCanyonNPS

Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton National Park

Wyoming
www.nps.gov/grte
Facebook: facebook.com/GrandTetonNPS
Instagram: grandtetonnps
Twitter: @GrandTetonNPS
YouTube: GrandTetonNPS

Great Basin National Park

Nevada
www.nps.gov/grba
Facebook: facebook.com/GreatBasinNPS
Instagram: greatbasinnps
Twitter: @GreatBasinNPS
YouTube: Great Basin National Park

Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve

Colorado
www.nps.gov/grsa
Facebook: facebook.com/greatsanddunesnpp
YouTube: Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

North Carolina and Tennessee
www.nps.gov/grsm
Facebook: facebook.com/GreatSmokyMountainsNPS
Instagram: greatsmokynps
Twitter: @GreatSmokyNPS
YouTube: GreatSmokyMountains (unofficial but endorsed)

Guadalupe Mountains National Park

Texas
www.nps.gov/gumo
Facebook: facebook.com/guadalupe.mountains
Instagram: guadalupemountainsnps
Twitter: @GuadalupeMtnsNP

Haleakala National Park

Hawaii
www.nps.gov/hale
Facebook: facebook.com/pages/Haleakala-National-Park/348662787511
Twitter: @HaleakalaNPS

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Hawaii
www.nps.gov/havo
Facebook: facebook.com/pages/Hawaii-Volcanoes-National-Park/
Instagram: hawaiivolcanoesnps
Twitter: @HawaiiNPS
YouTube: Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park

Hot Springs National Park

Arkansas
www.nps.gov/hosp
Facebook: facebook.com/pages/Hot-Springs-National-Park/111261278928912

Isle Royale National Park

Michigan
www.nps.gov/isro
Facebook: facebook.com/pages/Isle-Royale-National-Park/127161610664143
Instagram: isleroyalenps

Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park

California
www.nps.gov/jotr
Facebook: facebook.com/joshuatreenp
Instagram: joshuatreenps
Twitter: @JoshuaTreeNP
YouTube: JoshuaTreeNPS

Katmai National Park & Preserve

Alaska
www.nps.gov/katm
Facebook: facebook.com/pages/Katmai-National-Park-Preserve/146794702012003
Instagram: katmainps
Twitter: @KatmaiNPS
YouTube: Katmai National Park and Preserve

Kenai Fjords National Park

Alaska
www.nps.gov/kefj
Facebook: facebook.com/KenaiFjordsNationalPark
Instagram: kenaifjordsnps
Twitter: @KenaiFjordsNPS
YouTube: KEFJ NPS

Kings Canyon National Park

California
www.nps.gov/seki
Facebook: facebook.com/pages/Sequoia-and-Kings-Canyon-National-Parks/145808212106571
Instagram: sequoia_kingscanyon_np
Twitter: @SequoiaKingsNPS

Kobuk Valley National Park

Alaska
www.nps.gov/kova
Facebook: facebook.com/KobukValleyNPS
Twitter: @KobukValleyNPS

Lake Clark National Park

Alaska
www.nps.gov/lacl
Facebook: facebook.com/LakeClarkNPS
Instagram: lakeclarknps
Twitter: @LakeClarkNPS

Lassen Volcanic Park

California
www.nps.gov/lavo
Facebook: facebook.com/LassenNPS
Twitter: @LassenNPS

Mammoth Cave Park

Kentucky
www.nps.gov/maca
Facebook: facebook.com/pages/Mammoth-Cave-National-Park/147256545292904
Twitter: @MammothCaveNP
YouTube: Mammoth Cave National Park

Mesa Verde National Park

Colorado
www.nps.gov/meve
Facebook: facebook.com/mesaverdenps

Mount Rainier National Park

Mount Rainier National Park / NPS Photo

Washington
www.nps.gov/mora
Facebook: facebook.com/MountRainierNPS
Instagram: mountrainiernps
Twitter: @MountRainierNPS
YouTube: Mount Rainier National Park

North Cascades National Park

Washington
www.nps.gov/noca
Facebook: facebook.com/pages/North-Cascades-National-Park-Service-Complex/146566725372017
Instagram: ncascadesnps
Twitter: @NCascadesNPS

Olympic National Park

Washington
www.nps.gov/olym
Facebook: facebook.com/OlympicNPS
Instagram: olympicnationalpark
Twitter: @OlympicNP

Petrified Forest National Park

Arizona
www.nps.gov/pefo
Facebook: facebook.com/PetrifiedForestNPS
Instagram: petrifiedforestnps
Twitter: @PetrifiedNPS
YouTube: Petrified NPS

Pinnacles National Park

California
www.nps.gov/pinn
Facebook: facebook.com/pages/Pinnacles-National-Park/106787909380024
Instagram: pinnaclesnps
Twitter: @PinnaclesNPS

Redwood National & State Parks

California
www.nps.gov/redw
Facebook: facebook.com/RedwoodNPS
Instagram: redwoodnps
Twitter: @RedwoodNPS
YouTube: RedwoodNPS

Rocky Mountain National Park

Colorado
www.nps.gov/room
Facebook: facebook.com/RockyMountainNP
Instagram: rockynps
Twitter: @Rockymountainnp
YouTube: RockyNPS

Saguaro National Park

Arizona
www.nps.gov/sagu
Facebook: facebook.com/saguaronationalPark
Instagram: saguaronationalpark
Twitter: @SaguaroNPS

Sequoia National Park

California
www.nps.gov/seki
Facebook: facebook.com/pages/Sequoia-and-Kings-Canyon-National-Parks/145808212106571
Instagram: sequoia_kingscanyon_np
Twitter: @SequoiaKingsNPS

Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah National Park

Virginia
www.nps.gov/shen
Facebook: facebook.com/shenandoahnps
Instagram: shenandoahnps
Twitter: @ShenandoahNPS
YouTube: ShenandoahNPS

Theodore Roosevelt National Park

North Dakota
www.nps.gov/thro
Facebook: facebook.com/TheodoreRooseveltNationalPark
Instagram: theodorerooseveltnationalpark
Twitter: @TRooseveltNPS
YouTube: Theodore Roosevelt NP

Virgin Islands National Park

US Virgin Islands
www.nps.gov/viis
Facebook: facebook.com/pages/Virgin-Islands-National-Park/145862772109514

Voyageurs National Park

Minnesota
www.nps.gov/voya
Facebook: facebook.com/pages/Voyageurs-National-Park/152044704808454
Instagram: voyageursnps
Twitter: @VoyageursNPA (unofficial but endorsed)

Wind Cave National Park

South Dakota
www.nps.gov/wica
Facebook: facebook.com/pages/Wind-Cave-National-Park/127899503922510
YouTube: Wind Cave National Park

Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve

Alaska
www.nps.gov/wrst
Facebook: facebook.com/WrangellSt.EliasNPP
Instagram: wrangellstenps
Twitter: @WrangellStENPS

Yellowstone National Park

Wyoming
www.nps.gov/yell
Facebook: facebook.com/YellowstoneNPS
Instagram: yellowstonenps
Twitter: @YellowstoneNPS
YouTube: YellowstoneNPS

Yosemite National Park

California
www.nps.gov/yose
Facebook: facebook.com/YosemiteNPS
Instagram: yosemitenps
Twitter: @YosemiteNPS
YouTube: yosemitenationalpark

Zion National Park

Utah
www.nps.gov/zion
Facebook: facebook.com/zionnps
Instagram: zionnps
Twitter: @ZionNPS
YouTube: npszion

National Parkways

Blue Ridge Parkway

Blue Ridge Parkway

www.nps.gov/blri
Facebook: facebook.com/BlueRidgeNPS
Instagram: blueridgenps
Twitter: @BlueRidgeNPS
YouTube: BlueRidgeParkway NPS

George Washington Memorial Parkway

www.nps.gov/gwmp
Facebook: facebook.com/NPSGWMP?fref=ts
Twitter: @GWParkwayVA

John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Parkway

www.nps.gov/grte/jodr.htm

Natchez Trace Parkway

www.nps.gov/natr
Facebook: facebook.com/NatchezTraceParkwayNPS

National Park Organizations

National Park Foundation

www.nationalparks.org
Facebook: facebook.com/nationalpark
Instagram: goparks
Twitter: @GoParks
YoutTube: YourParks

National Park Service

www.nps.gov
Facebook: facebook.com/nationalparkservice
Instagram: nationalparkservice
Twitter: @NatlParkService
YouTube: NationalParkService

National Parks Conservation Association

www.npca.org
Facebook: facebook.com/NationalParks/?fref=ts
Instagram: npcapics
Twitter: @NPCA
YouTube: National Parks Conservation Association

 

Like this article?

If you like this article and would enjoy hearing about new Photographing National Parks content via email, then click here to subscribe to the weekly newsletter. Also, please consider sharing this article via the social media links below.

Read More...

PNP Newsletter #6: Breaking Into Magazines

December 23, 2015

Breaking into magazines

Happy Holidays; getting published …

Winter storm at Taggart Lake, Grand Teton National Park

Winter storm at Taggart Lake, Grand Teton National Park

First of all, Happy Holidays!

I’m traveling for the final two weeks of 2015. I’ll be spending about 15 straight days within a few hours’ drive from any of five national parks, and won’t be able to visit even one!

Alas, the time with my family is more than worth the trade, especially getting to see my 33-month-old daughter enjoying the first Christmas she actually “gets.” She’s loving every minute of her extended holiday.

I wish the same to you and yours.

Onward…

This Week’s Question

Q.  I have only been into photography a little over a year but have produced some really good stuff. People are always telling me that I should submit them for contests, or hang them in a gallery, or they could be postcards or calendars. So my question is, How does one get their photos out there to be published in a magazine? I can’t seem to be able to find the answer and since you have, I thought I would try asking. — Greg L., Houston

A. The best route is often to package something a magazine will value for its readership—i.e., a story.

As a former magazine editor, I can tell you this: The currency of magazine freelancers is ideas. The more ideas you can provide to your magazine clients, the “richer” you will be in terms of opportunities to be published. If you can generate a story idea based around your photography, that can be your best ticket to being published, especially with a publication you don’t have an established relationship with.

I’d suggest identifying your absolute strongest area of photography, looking at your best work in that area, and trying to conceive and then build a story around it. It could be an idea for a strong text-based feature, or a concept for a photo essay. Research the magazines that cover that topic, and study what sort of articles they run. Those are the kinds of ideas to pitch to them; they won’t stray far from their model, because they know what their readers want to see and read. (If you don’t write, then you could find a writer to work with you, and pitch stories as a team.)

Once you put together a professional pitch, be ready to have it ignored or rejected many times. Honestly, don’t take it personally, and don’t let it temper your ambition. Just keep re-sending it to other publications, perhaps tweaking it to suit each title’s editorial angle or niche.

For a great guide to publications that work with freelancers, check out the books Writers Market and Photographer’s Market. (The latter also has chapters and articles about getting photos published.)

If you’d prefer to just show your photos to an art director and try to get assignments, generally the best practice is to work regionally. Towns, counties and states often have magazines open to working with new talent. Send an email or a letter, or perhaps a professionally printed card, then follow up with a call and see if they’ll have a look at your work. Have a professional-looking website—they’ll likely just ask to see that rather than a physical portfolio.

I hope that helps. Good luck with your venture.

 

Subscribe & Follow

Would you like to receive the Photographing National Parks weekly newsletter in your email? Subscribe today!

Submit a Question: Submit
Follow Me on Facebook: PhotographingNationalParks
Follow Me on Twitter: @PhotoNatPark
Follow Me on Instagram: PhotographingNationalParks

Read More...

PNP Newsletter #5: Close to the Road in Yellowstone

December 17, 2015

Close to the road in Yellowstone

Easy-to-access spots in perhaps the best national park for photography

Good morning. And good news! I’ve just confirmed that I will be speaking at the “Out of Chicago” photography conference in New York City next October. I’ll pass along the details and a link as soon as they’re announced.

Also, please be advised that today is the last day I can take orders for a signed copy of my book to arrive before Christmas. Everything will be shipping first thing tomorrow morning, so if you’d like to order a signed Photographing National Parks as a gift, please do so today at the following link:

PhotographingNationalParks.com/purchase-a-signed-copy

I’m happy to inscribe anything you’d like—just mention it in the payment notes, and I’ll write it in the book!

And of course, if you need an unsigned copy at any point, you may order one at Amazon or via other online and brick-and-mortar booksellers.

Onward…

This Week’s Question

Grand Prismatic, Yellowstone

Q. We are planning on going to Yellowstone in September. I am walking-limited. One mile is pushing it. What do you recommend as “must do” away-from-the-road trails for me? Also, I watched a presentation you gave on YouTube—where is the secret spot that your brother told you about where you took the beautiful picture from above of the colorful spring/pond?Laura Engshun

A. Your question is a tough one. Must-see’s at Yellowstone? There’s a ton! With your one-mile limit in mind, I can say that you can still walk around a good number of the geothermal features, and they’re all the ones I would suggest to any photographer. In particular, I recommend the Norris Geyser Basin, Mammoth Hot Springs, the Upper Geyser Basin and the Fountain Paint Pot area. As a bonus, all of those have boardwalks, which makes for pretty easy walking.

For landscapes, I highly recommend the Lamar Valley, the drive through Dunraven Pass, the views of Grand Canyon of Yellowstone (particularly from Artist Point), and the Hayden Valley. Plenty of wildlife to see along the way, particularly bison. The Pelican Creek Trail is nice, as are the Wraith Falls Trail and Trout Lake Trail.

I can say this for Yellowstone: As great as it is to get into the backcountry, there is so much to see within a short hike from the road. It’s a huge park with a lot of visual variety. Even without long hikes, you can spend a lot of time there without running out of photography subjects and inspiration. If I were you, I would go to a visitor center and talk to a ranger for a few minutes—explain your situation, and ask his or her advice about even more photographic places that are easy to hike to.

The spot my brother showed me is at Grand Prismatic. (The presentation Laura refers to is “Photographing National Parks,” which I delivered at the B&H Event Space in 2014.) The location is amazing, but impossible to photograph as a whole from ground level (though you can do plenty of other work).

For the spot my brother brought me to: If you park near Tire Pool, take the path across the bridge and keep heading toward Fairy Falls Trail. In about a quarter-mile or so, you pass between Grand Prismatic on your right and a high hill to your left. You have to climb to the top of that hill, through trees and over logs, and there is no trail or path. Of course, you’d have to decide if your limitation allows for that. I can tell you this, though: If you can get up there, the view is spectacular.

Please let me know how the trip goes!

Subscribe & Follow

Would you like to receive the Photographing National Parks weekly newsletter in your email? Subscribe today!

Submit a Question: Submit
Follow Me on Facebook: PhotographingNationalParks
Follow Me on Twitter: @PhotoNatPark
Follow Me on Instagram: PhotographingNationalParks

Read More...

PNP Newsletter #4: Shooting Outside the Box

December 10, 2015

Shooting outside the box

The less-photographed parks, books for the holidays, et al.

I just returned from a few days planning a workshop and photographing the southeast section of Death Valley National Park. I had a great time working in such a harsh but beautiful place, and aside from a few rather cold nights of camping, I still kinda miss being there!

Want to visit Death Valley for free? Or any other park? If planning a photography trip to a national park next year, you might be interested in the fee-free days, which the National Park Service just announced last week. There are 16 of them in 2016, including a stretch of nine for National Park Week and four to celebrate the NPS’s 100th birthday. You can find more info here: “Free Entrance Days in the National Parks.”

Signed books for the holidays

Lastly, with the holidays here, you might be interested in giving a photographer the gift of national-park secrets. If you’d like to order a signed copy of Photographing National Parks, please do so by Thursday, December 17, to give me time to get it in the mail before leaving town for Christmas. I’m happy to inscribe anything you’d like—just mention it in the payment notes, and I’ll write it in the book!

Onward…

This Week’s Question

Congaree National Park

Q. I feel like everyone shoots the same parks: Yellowstone, Yosemite, Acadia, etc., and I want to think outside the box. Which parks should I consider?Garry B., Utah

A.You could go far, you could go new, or you could go obscure.

The parks that take the most time to travel to are also usually the least visited, and subsequently the least photographed. Think National Park of American Samoa, or Alaska’s Gates of the Arctic. Both are beautiful but relatively unphotographed.

The second option is to think new. The newest parks generally have not yet developed a reputation as a major tourist stop nor as a major photography destination. In this category, think Pinnacles in California, which was named a national park only in 2013, or Great Sand Dunes in Colorado, named in 2004.

Along the same lines, you could get a jump on lands that might be named the next national park, photographing one (or more) before most other photographers are even aware of them. Colorado National Monument, Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve in Idaho, and the proposed Katahdin Woods and Waters National Park (currently private but accessible land in northern Maine), are the ones that seem to have the best chance of being named the 60th, 61st and 62nd national parks (though not necessarily in that order) in coming years.

Finally, you could look for parks that despite having low visitation numbers, are still relatively accessible. (i.e., the aforementioned Gates of the Arctic is less visited precisely because of how much work is involved in getting there—and staying there.) Among the least-visited yet very accessible parks:

  • North Cascades in Washington has relatively few visitors and little name recognition, but also has beautiful mountain scenery and is only a 2-hour drive from Seattle.
  • Great Basin in Nevada has an incredibly varied landscape and is only 4 to 4.5 hours from Salt Lake City or Las Vegas.
  • Congaree in South Carolina (pictured above) boasts a dynamic and sometimes primeval swamp-like environment, and is only half an hour from the capital city of Columbia.

All of them (plus more) are great photography destinations where you can easily spend a day without encountering even one other tripod.

Subscribe & Follow

Would you like to receive the Photographing National Parks weekly newsletter in your email? Subscribe today!

Submit a Question: Submit
Follow Me on Facebook: PhotographingNationalParks
Follow Me on Twitter: @PhotoNatPark
Follow Me on Instagram: PhotographingNationalParks

Read More...

PNP Newsletter #3: Geotracker Choice

December 1, 2015

Where and what did I shoot?

The best tool for geotagging images

As I’m writing this, I’m preparing for a quick trip (three and a half days) to Death Valley National Park. Leaving tomorrow morning!

The purpose of the trip is, primarily, to meet with night photographer Lance Keimig so we can work on planning our Night Photography Adventure Workshop in Death Valley, scheduled for November 15-19, 2016. Incidentally, I’m about halfway through reading Lance’s excellent book Night Photography and Light Painting—Finding Your Way In The Dark, which is one of the go-to tomes on the subject.

Though the trip will be relatively short, I’m looking forward to a little time photographing and exploring the largest national park in the contiguous United States. Photographing in such a large park—with many distant and diverse locations—is a perfect segue into this week’s question, which is about geotagging images.

Onward…

This Week’s Question

Photo courtesy AMOD Technology

Photo courtesy AMOD Technology

Q. I saw you at a lecture in New York City, and you mentioned that the only geotracking device you really like is the AMOD AGL3080 (I wrote it down!). I was just curious why you prefer that to others.Scott H., New Jersey

A. A geotracker is one of my primary “secondary” gear items that I bring on shoots to the national parks. In the film days I was very lazy about taking notes while shooting, and subsequently spent hours upon hours at home trying to figure out where and what I’d photographed.

These days I use a geotracker and dump the tracklog data into Lightroom, then with the click of a button can see in Google Maps where an image was photographed. If I need more information, I can copy and paste the GPS coordinates into Google Earth. More time saved in post-production means more time back in the field—or with my family!

I went through trying and researching many models and styles of geotrackers before settling on the AMOD.

The reason I like this model is that it comes the closest to meeting all the standards I believe are necessary for the ideal tracker device:

  • It has good enough battery life to last more than one day, so in the morning I can turn it on, clip it to my bag or belt, and forget it till bedtime.
  • It’s plug-and-play on the computer. In other words, no third-party software is necessary to retrieve the data—the device just shows up as another hard drive.
  • It has enough memory to use it for weeks on end.
  • It operates independently of a camera, so I can use the data from this one device to tag images from every body I use on a trip (including a phone or iPad), while also not draining camera batteries.

In the spirit of offering a balanced opinion, I admit that one feature the AMOD doesn’t have is the ability to save the tracklog as a GPX file, which is a standard format and the only one that Lightroom can read. (Alternatively, I suppose that could be a Lightroom complaint instead—that the software can’t read the AMOD’s NMEA format, which is also an industry standard.) Still, other geotrackers I’ve tried are missing the more important features; this device is as close to ideal as I’ve found.

For more information about the AGL3080, see the GMOD website.

Subscribe & Follow

Would you like to receive the Photographing National Parks weekly newsletter in your email? Subscribe today!

Submit a Question: Submit
Follow Me on Facebook: PhotographingNationalParks
Follow Me on Twitter: @PhotoNatPark
Follow Me on Instagram: PhotographingNationalParks

Read More...

PNP Newsletter #2: 2WD or 4WD

November 25, 2015

On- and off-roading

Two wheels or four in our national parks?

Welcome to the second installment of the Photographing National Parks Newsletter. This week’s question is about what kind of car to drive when shooting a park. As much as I advocate getting off the road and onto the trail, at most of our parks a motor vehicle is the first line of travel, so the question can be an important one to consider.

Also of interest

Before we get to driving, I’d like to mention that I’ve recently been booked to speak at two events in 2016:

Both are great events that I’m excited to be part of. If you are attending either, please be sure to say hello!

Shooting starfish

Lastly, a new article has been posted to the website: Top 5 National Parks for Photographing Tide Pools.

Onward…

This Week’s Question

Backroad to Snake River, Grand Teton National Park, © 2012 Chris Nicholson

Q: In your book you touch on locomotion, but I was curious if you tend to err on the side of renting or if you own a vehicle that you use for a lot of your travels. Perhaps you can offer some advice as to what sort of vehicle would be best suited to photography and getting around on some more off-the-beaten-path areas?Michael Hitchner, Washington

A: What vehicle I use for traveling depends a lot on the particular park. It also depends on how far the park is from where I live—i.e., when shooting Acadia, Shenandoah or the Smokies, I always drive, because it takes me less than a day, and then I have my own car with me.

For years I drove a Jeep Wrangler, which was great for pretty much any driving situation I came across in a park, whether on pavement or primitive road. These days I’m driving a Lexus SUV. It’s not a Jeep, but it did surprisingly well when my GPS got me lost on old, muddy logging roads at the edge of Congaree National Park last spring.

The short answer is that I use the appropriate wheels for where I’m driving. For example, in Acadia or the Everglades, there’s no need for 4WD or ground clearance, so even a sedan is fine for getting around to trails heads, etc. I would argue the same for nearly all of Yellowstone, but Grand Teton has a few primitive roads I wouldn’t want to bring something less than a Jeep or sturdy pickup truck on. Canyonlands can be partially driven by sedan, but the best parts of the park need 4WD and ground clearance; same for Capitol Reef, and you could argue that for Death Valley too. And Wrangell-St. Elias demands 4WD—it would be foolhardy to drive into the park with a sedan.

Of course, 4WD vehicles cost more to rent, and to fuel, so that may play into the equation as well.

I suppose it’s analogous to camera gear. You buy/rent/bring what you need, and probably nothing more. No sense hauling a 600mm f/4 into Mt. Rainier if you’re just shooting summer wildflowers; likewise, no sense paying money to rent a 4WD just to drive the paved loop road in Hot Springs National Park.

Another point to consider is whether the car has locking trunk space. That’s pretty crucial if you want the option to to leave some gear behind while hiking. Another thing I liked about my old Jeep is that from the outside, you wouldn’t know it had any trunk space at all, but I could fit all my camera into it. Locked, hidden and completely inconspicuous. 

Subscribe & Follow

Would you like to receive the Photographing National Parks weekly newsletter in your email? Subscribe today!

Submit a Question: Submit
Follow Me on Facebook: PhotographingNationalParks
Follow Me on Twitter: @PhotoNatPark
Follow Me on Instagram: PhotographingNationalParks

Read More...