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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

25 Top Locations For Nature Photography

The pros of OP share some of their favorite locations from around the world

Labels: Locations

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Oxbow Bend, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming (Mark Lissick)
Oxbow Bend on the Snake River in the Grand Tetons is a setting that works photographically at almost anytime of day, but is even more special during dawn and evening hours. The area produces a dramatic palette of new options, thanks to the reflecting waters of the Snake River, nearby Mount Moran and the Teton Range, changing colors, the presence of moose and elk, and even smoke from occasional forest fires.

As OP turns 25, we have chosen to connect with some of the pros who have made the magazine great over the past two and a half decades to discover some of their all-time favorite locations. To be sure, there are plenty of the iconic spots you might expect—Yosemite, Glacier, the Grand Canyon, Acadia and others. There are also some lesser-known places like Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in Maryland, Minnesota’s Gooseberry Falls State Park and the Lake Mead Recreation Area near Las Vegas. And we received a few locations from outside North America, like Torres del Paine National Park in Chile and India’s Bandhavgarh National Park. Did we get every outstanding destination for nature photography in the world? Not by a long shot. We set out to give our readers a selection of special places from the pros who make OP unique. We hope you enjoy seeing some of their favorite spots.

Denali National Park, Alaska (George Lepp)
The grandscape of Mount McKinley from Wonder Lake is reason enough to go there. Access is tough, with options being buses and lodges at the end of the 90-mile Park Road. With few exceptions, private vehicles aren’t allowed past Mile 15. I occasionally work as a photo resource person at Camp Denali in the Kantishna Hills. This lodge has unlimited access to the road, and the staff is great. The Park Road can bring you close to moose, wolves, grizzly bears and caribou, as well as the beauty of the tundra. I would recommend going in late August or early September when the animals are in prime condition and the tundra has taken on its scarlet and purple fall color.

Central Tower Of Paine, Torres del Paine National Park, Chile (Bill Hatcher)
The Torres can be described in a single word: wild. A remarkable quality of the Torres region is that this incredibly rugged landscape of granite towers, glaciers, lakes and rivers is so easily accessed by way of the Paine Hiking Circuit—probably one of the most scenic hiking trails in the world. My favorite place along this trail is the side hike to view the Central Tower of Paine. This photo is taken from the climber’s bivy cave looking up at Torres del Paine.

Glacier National Park, Montana (James Kay)
The huge mountains and deep valleys of Glacier National Park are essentially the southern extension of the Canadian Rockies. As I write this, I’m unpacking from a two-week trip to Glacier, where I scrambled up Matterhorn-like summits and watched grizzlies digging through talus slopes to feed on their usual August diet of moths. With massive glacier-scooped lakes fringing its perimeter and with goats, sheep and grizzly bears in relative abundance, Glacier is a photographer’s paradise. There’s no place like it in the Lower 48.

Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, Virginia (Jim Clark)
Considered a crown jewel of the National Wildlife Refuge System, this enclave of isolated beaches, coastal marshes and forests offers a unique experience for the nature photographer. The refuge plays host to thousands of snow geese during the fall and winter, and the spring is busy with returning shorebirds and wading birds. Located next to the refuge is the Assateague Island National Seashore, which provides amazing opportunities to photograph the true essence of a coastal barrier island.

Baja Peninsula, Mexico (James Kay)
I’ve always been drawn to desert landscapes for their stark, surreal beauty and rich, warm light. In my experience, these elements reach a climax in the Sonoran Desert environment of the Baja Peninsula. What sets Baja apart from most other desert environments is the rather unique juxtaposition of desert and sea. This combination provides a subject-rich destination for photography. The cervezas are good, too.


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