One Photographer and Nine Outdoor/Travel Writers Pick the Best Winter National Parks

Last Light on Long’s Peak and the Keyboard of the Winds, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado.

Each a winter I think about a photography trip to some U.S. national parks, some of which I haven’t been to before. I always need to narrow down my choices to fit the time I have for the trip. My search for information is what led to the advice in this article. After you read this article I recommend you also read the companion article: The Best National Parks to Photograph in Winter.

Originally posted January 17, 2017. Updated and re-posted January 3, 2018.

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The Best National Parks to Photograph in Winter

Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon

Winter provides some wonderful photo opportunities in our national parks. So if you haven’t gone into hibernation for the winter, here are the best national parks to go photograph this winter, grouped by state from the west to the east. There are a few bonus locations thrown in too. At the end I give you my “best of the best” list.

Posted January 17, 2017. Updated and re-posted January 3, 2018.

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Snowy Owl Photography: Solving A Photo Problem (And the Right Way to Exit Your Vehicle)

Snowy Owl, Photo Location 1

Snowy Owl, Photo Location P1

When I am traveling with my highly trained and high paid photographic assistant it is his job to remove trash barrels when they are in the way, cut down trees that spoil my view, run out into the meadow and scare off the cow elk that are in front of the bull elk I want to photograph, rip boards off of old barns that don’t look quite distressed enough, pull on the whiskers of a sleeping cougar to wake it up, and cut down utility lines that are obstructing a clear view of my subject. But he wasn’t with me on this trip due to sitting in jail over a minor incident in Yosemite. So I had a challenge on my hands that I had to solve myself.

I am kidding, of course. The prior paragraph was inspired by really crazy things a few photographers do but shouldn’t be doing.

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Snowy Owl Photography: Control the Background for Better Images

Snowy Owl, Photo Location 1

Snowy Owl, Photo Location P1

A simple change of background can turn a disappointing wildlife photo into a great one. Professional wildlife photographers think about backgrounds all the time and do everything they can to improve the background. Less experienced wildlife photographers are so excited to find an interesting creature that they give the background precious little thought.

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How to Find and Photograph Snowy Owls

Snowy Owl Sightings, January 2016

Snowy Owl Sightings, January 2016

Winter is your opportunity to photograph Snowy Owls. When it is cold enough and there is enough snow cover, snowy owl move down into the northern U.S. The colder it is the farther south they move. If conditions are right, don’t delay. If the winter turns warmer the snowy owls will head farther north.

This is the first in an ongoing series of articles on Snowy Owl photography. Originally posted January 25, 2016. Revised and re-posted Jan. 1, 2018.

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Snowy Owls in Colorado: Do it Now!

Snowy Owl sightings in the United States, December 2017.

Now is your chance to see and photograph snowy owls in Colorado. Don’t miss it. This is a rare opportunity. There was not a single snowy owl sighting reported in Colorado all of last winter. The map above shows snowy owl sightings for the month of December 2017. Snowy Owls like cold and snow. A 20 degree uptick in the temperature and the sightings could all end for this winter. Go now.

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Buyer’s Guide: Recommendations For The Best Photography Equipment, Software, Books, Magazines, DVDs, Online Photo Labs and More

I get lots of photo questions and many of them begin with “What is the best . . . .” They usually come from photographers or someone shopping for a photographer.

Here is my list of “best of the best” of articles recommending the best photo gear, software, books, DVDs, calendars, online photo labs, and a whole lot more.

Originally posted Nov. 1, 2017. Most recent update: Dec. 20, 2017.

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How to Photograph Christmas Lights with Your DSLR, ILC, or Smart Phone

Christmas Lights, iPhone Photo

Christmas Lights, iPhone Photo

The photo abilities of smart phones have improved dramatically in the last few years, especially in low light situations. Just point your camera phone at the lights and click the shutter. Exposure can be a bit iffy. If the photo looks too light or too dark and your phone will allow you to alter the exposure, take advantage of that feature.

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Ansel Adams: A Documentary Film

This superbly done documentary inspires me as a photographer. There is something about Adams, his photography, his life, his struggles, his inner conflicts and how he dealt with them, his evident gifts, his determination, and his sense of commitment that speak to me.

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A High Quality, Compact RØDE VideoMic for Your DSLR (and Smart Phone)

RØDE VideoMicro in use at Acadia National Park.

It’s not a good thing when the mic on your DSLR is visible at the top of your videos. That’s the first thing I learned when I started doing research before buying a video mic. It is also not a good thing if the sound quality is disappointing. Fortunately, I found just the size I wanted with the quality I needed.

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My First Post At This Blog

Screen capture of my first post at this blog.

My first post at this photography blog was December 9, 2004, 13 years ago today. The first thing that jumps out at me is the photo could have been edited for a better color balance and exposure. But it was a start.

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The Best Scenic Photo Location Guides

Some of my favorite photo location guides.

Some of my favorite photo location guides.

“If you want to be a better photographer stand in front of more interesting stuff!” – Jim Richardson, National Geographic photographer.

A good scenic location guide can save you from wasting hours of precious time searching for the best spots at a new location. The best scenic locations guides are written by and for photographers. Photographers are much more in tune with what other photographers want to photograph. And for each location, photographers will tell you the best season of the year and the best time of day to get the best images. Some will give you additional photography advice for each location.

Posted December 8, 2017. Updated February 8, 2018.

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The Best Insurance for Your Photo Gear (and Photography Business)

Granite Ledges and Otter Cliff, Acadia National Park, Maine

Your camera falls down a mountainside and off a cliff. An unexpected wave drenches your valuable photo gear in salt water. Your photo backpack is stolen from your home, motel room, or trunk of your car. To add insult to injury, you learn your homeowner’s insurance will not replace the value of your damaged or stolen gear.

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Cassini’s Last Image of Saturn

Cassini’s last image of Saturn. Click for a larger version.

Two days before Cassini ended its 13 year mission at Saturn, it took a final set of 80 photos with its wide-angle camera. 42 of those photos were combined to create this image. It is a fitting goodbye to the ringed planet.

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Mastering Photoshop: Advanced Color Correction, Part Two

Photoshop Lab Color (2nd edition)

Photoshop Lab Color (2nd edition)

Everything you need to know about Dan Margulis is in Mastering Photoshop: Advanced Color Correction, Part One. After you have devoured the book I recommend in that article, you will know why you need to get Photoshop LAB Color: The Canyon Conundrum and Other Adventures in the Most Powerful Colorspace (2nd edition).

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Mastering Photoshop: Advanced Color Correction, Part One

If you want to master color in Photoshop, Dan Margulis is the best of the best. He is one of the first three persons to be named as a member of the Photoshop Hall of Fame. And the book to get is Professional Photoshop 6: The Classic Guide to Color Correction. It is well worth finding on the used market (which you can do via my photography store). What Margulis teaches you to do with color is amazing. The before and after images will make your jaw drop.

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Mastering Photoshop & Lightroom: Adobe Camera Raw (ACR)

The Digital Negative, 2nd edition

The Digital Negative, 2nd edition

If you shoot RAW camera files (and you should), this essential book should be at the top of your list. It is far and away the best of the best. You will be amazed at what you can get out of your RAW files. Your images will thank you.

A lot of the quality of your final image will be determined by what you do with your RAW files when you open them in Adobe Camera RAW (ACR) which comes with Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Photoshop Elements, and Adobe Lightroom.

Article posted Nov. 30, 2016. Revised and re-posted Nov. 27, 2017.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

“Freedom from Want” by Norman Rockwell

When I was growing up, we spent many a Thanksgiving and Christmas at Grandpa’s house. Thanksgiving was a much anticipated and happy time. We would often leave home on Wednesday afternoon after dad got home from work. It was a long 7 hour drive to Grandpa’s house in those pre-interstate highway days, so it would be really late by the time we arrived.

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