Last night I was in turmoil: I normally have to divide my time between watching The Biggest Loser and Warehouse 13 (I know this makes me seem kind of pathetic). The latter was a rerun, but I had a more pronounced problem: I am LOVING the Ken Burns miniseries on PBS The National Parks: America's Best Idea. I decided to go with that program, and I'm glad I did.
If I have one dream for the future, it's to see every National Park. I can't believe that I grew up in Maine and never went until I was dating Derick, but now I'm hooked. BK (Before Kids) we also visited Glacier and the Grand Tetons (hello, Jenny Lake!). We returned to Acadia with our boys last summer. The year before we went as a family to Yellowstone, and this year we went to Olympic. I can't describe enough how enriching it is to go to the parks, do without some of the "necessities" (TV, internet, and good luck getting a signal in Yellowstone--I dare the Verizon guy!), and immerse ourselves in ineffable beauty, as well as encounter more than a little fear (walking through the hot pots at Yellowstone with a 4-year-old with ADHD comes to mind). Our boys love to walk on rocks, climb trees, and wade in the water, skipping rocks if they can. I'm glad the parks afford such a chance.
Here's a few things I've learned about taking pictures in National Parks:
- Dress in bright clothes. I tell you, the photos will pop if you take a picture of a person in a bright shirt standing in the middle of nature.
- Take some pictures from behind. It's poignant to see someone looking at nature. Some of favorites have been these.
- Try some off-center shots. This is a fabulous way of adding context, especially comparing size--a person next to a hill or a vista, e.g.
- Don't worry about not getting a posed picture--candids may work better. After three years of trying to get the perfect family photo, I have given up. But I love my photos of the kids walking with dad, climbing trees, and doing all the other things they do.
- Personalize the iconic shot. Some vistas at the N.P.'s have been photographed again and again--but not by you and of your people. Getting a shot of your family near the iconic image--Old Faithful, the vista of Mt. Olympus--is more meaningful.
- Take pictures that tell the story of your experience there. My son (then three) was seriously grumpy walking around Yellowstone one day. My sister-in-law Mel saved the day by carrying him on her shoulders and pretending to drop him. I am so glad I have pictures of that, even though I never got a perfect shot of the hot pools at Mammoth.
- You may want to play with color-saturation when editing, and also lighting and contrast. Using Photoshop to do these two things greatly improved the quality of my photos without really altering the images too much. I usually increase the saturation to 20 or 25. I have to be careful with photos of me--my face tends to turn bright red--but in general, 20-25 increases the color enough.