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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

National Park Hot Spots Of The Pros

A selection of favorite places for photography in the national park system

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Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park.
Canon 50D, Canon 10-22mm zoom, ISO 400, 1⁄60 sec. at ƒ/5.6, Gitzo tripod
Dewitt Jones
Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park

Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park: There are a number of volcanoes in our national park system. In only one park, however, are those volcanoes active. As you watch the lava pour into the sea from the vent at Pu`u O`o, you feel as if you’re staring at the dawn of time.

The same is true as you walk the trails around the Halema`uma`u Crater. I stood there on the rim at sunrise just after a new vent had opened in the crater. A great shot, an even better experience. Seldom do we get to see the forces that build the planet up. Usually, as landscape photographers, we’re photographing the forces—storms, water, erosion, wind, ice—that tear it down. Here, however—raw earth, raw power, raw beauty.

An hour after I shot this photo, they closed the park as that giant plume, full of sulfur dioxide, settled over the area. This was raw nature, not an E-ticket ride at Disneyland. My eyes were burning, but my CF card was full of wonderful images.

Yosemite National Park, California. Canon 40D, Canon EF-S 10-22mm zoom, ISO 100, 3 sec. at ƒ/4, Gitzo tripod
Yosemite National Park: I’ve spent more time in Yosemite than any other park in the system. John Muir was right when he called the Yosemite Valley the “sanctum sanctorum of the Sierra.” Muir was also right when, in the high country of Tuolumne, he coined the phrase, “the range of light.” Tuolumne Meadows is one of the most magical places on the planet. It reminds me of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth in The Lord of the Rings [see Basic Jones, OP, October 2009].

The names of the peaks and the climbs of Tuolumne are a constant reminder of the magic of the place—Cathedral, Unicorn, The Hobbit Book. But it’s not just in the vistas that one finds magic. It’s everywhere. Spend a day along the Tuolumne River anywhere between the meadow and Waterwheel Falls, and you’ll see. A thousand little grottos to delight your eye and challenge your photographic skills. Perfection!

See more of Dewitt Jones’ photography at www.dewittjones.com.

David Muench
Sequoia National Park, California

Along with its neighbor, Kings Canyon National Park, Sequoia National Park is a jewel of the southern Sierra Nevada mountain range in California. Named for the groves of massive trees that grow there, Sequoia and Kings Canyon together have some of the most isolated and wild land in North America. Visitors who have never visited often are surprised to discover how much of the land is accessible only by foot (or on horseback). With so much backcountry, reaching pristine, unspoiled landscapes is easy, and the more self-sufficient you are as a hiker and camper, the deeper into the wild you can trek safely.

Among the most dramatic and beautiful natural features in Sequoia are the countless high mountain lakes. Serving as perfect reflecting pools when winds are calm, the lakes make for spectacular photography. With the craggy, granite peaks of the Sierra Nevada, the groves of ancient trees and the miles and miles of trails linking one alpine lake to another, it’s no wonder that photographers like David Muench have been exploring Sequoia National Park with their cameras since the park was founded. (An interesting fact about Sequoia: While most people know that Yellowstone was the first national park, the second wasn’t Yosemite or the Grand Canyon; it was Sequoia.)

See more of David Muench’s photography at www.muenchphotography.com.


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