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The Best Idea We Ever Had

Olympic National Park

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Olympic National Park

Ruby's Beach in Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park is a great example of the diversity our national parks have to offer. It has coastal regions, like this shot of Ruby's Beach, rain forest and mountain regions.

My favorite part of our visit was to the beaches. The rock formations jutting out of the Pacific made for great pictures. If you are going to be in Olympic National Park for a longer period of time check the tide charts to see what the best day is to visit at sunset. At one beach we went to the tide was coming in at sunset and took away a few compositions I liked, but we were only there for two days so I didn't have much of a choice to go another day.

Some other places in the park that should definitely be visited are the Hoh Rain Forest and Hurricane Ridge.

A corroding grill over a fire pit

A corroding grill over a fire pit

There were not a lot of closures in Olympic National Park, but we saw the effects of budget cuts in different ways. The effect of the over $10 billion maintenance backlog could be seen right in our own campsite. The grill on our fire pit was very corroded and in need of replacement. I certainly would not want to cook on a bunch of rust and corrosion.  

This would normally be a place to dump waste water or clean dishes, but it now sits with construction unfinished.

This would normally be a place to dump waste water or clean dishes, but it now sits with construction unfinished.

Second Beach in Olympic National Park

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Glacier National Park

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Glacier National Park

St. Mary Falls

Glacier National Park was one of the highlights of the trip and I can't wait to go back there. The mountains and valleys are incredible. We also saw a lot of wildlife in the pre-dawn hours. If you visit Glacier National Park, I would go in early July when the Going to the Sun Road will be completely open.

Originally, the Going to the Sun Road was going to be plowed late this year to save money, but once again through private donations from the community this was avoided. In many of the parks we visited the surrounding community felt that they had to pay to keep things open or the economic impacts on their community would be too great. 

 

According to the NPS website over 90% of roads in the national parks are in poor or seriously deficient condition.

One of the biggest ways we saw Glacier impacted by budget cuts was on their roads. The main road was in good condition, but many of the side roads were filled with damaged sections. This is part of the almost $11 billion maintenance backlog that has been growing drastically over the last decade.

If you have never been to Glacier make plans to go, it is simply a magical place. Don't forget to take your passport so you can see the Canadian side of the park. 

 

St. Mary Lake

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How to get a sunburst in your images

Sunburst at Sunset in the Tetons

ISO 100   f/18  1/10

I have had a few people ask how I get this sunburst effect in my pictures. It's really a pretty simple technique. If you use a very small aperture, something like f/16 or higher usually you can create this effect.

The thing you have to be careful of is metering your exposure. If you use evaluative metering, this means the camera will take an overall average of the light in the scene to pick the exposure, the camera will usually over expose the image. When I'm trying to do this I will usually use spot metering or shoot in manual mode and then bracket the exposures. 

One other thing to keep in mind is that if you are trying to do this just as the sun dips below the horizon or just as it comes up you will have very little time to get your shot. So go out and practice so you can get the technique down. 

If you get some great results I'd love to see them. Post a link in the comments. 

 

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Grand Teton National Park

Schwabacher Landing

Grand Teton National Park is one of my favorite places on earth. There are so many opportunities to take amazing pictures, whether it be of the iconic landscape or the plentiful wildlife. Last year on my visit to Grand Teton National Park I wanted to capture a great image of the Snake River Overlook and follow in the footsteps of Ansel Adams. This year the Tetons would be the start of a 16 day journey to 8 national parks to help preserve the national parks for future generations. So again, I felt a little like I was following Ansel Adams in a small way. He was commissioned just before the United States' entry into WWII to capture images of our national parks for the Department of the Interior. I would be showing why the national parks are worth protecting and how the parks are being affected by budget cuts.

Originally, Grand Teton National Park was going to have to close many of it's visitor's centers, but generous one time grants from local groups allowed for the centers to stay open. There still are closures in the park this year and reduced ranger programs. 

The road to Schwabacher Landing has been closed for the season.

Campfire ranger programs have been cancelled for the 2013 year. This amphitheater will remain empty this year.

The Flagg Ranch Information Station was shut down this year. This station was the first place to get park information when coming from Yellowstone.

Near Schwabacher Landing

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Zion National Park

Orderville Canyon in Zion National Park

Zion is one of my favorite places in the world. This was my first trip down one of its famous slot canyons. When going down a slot canyon it is very important that you have the technical skill for the specific canyon you will be going down.

Orderville was gorgeous. The way water carves the canyon walls is simply incredible. When photographing slot canyons it helps to have the sun high in the sky so it will bounce off the canyon walls and provide a nice glow.

For this image a used a CPL filter and got nice and close to the water cascading over the rocks. I kept my tripod high enough so that you could see some of the water's path. This helped to creat more depth to the image.

Zion Canyon Museum

Because Zion is such a large park it has been able to keep the impacts of budget cuts relatively low, but budget cut impacts are not absent from Zion. The Zion Canyon Museum had to shorten its summer hours to cut costs. These shorter hours will make it so fewer people will receive further education about Zion.

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