Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Photo Spot Gear and Time Recommendations

A few days ago we rolled out another new feature on the site that will make your guides more useful to photographers visiting new locations for the first time: Now you can optionally add recommendations to each photo spot for what gear to bring and when in the day to go to catch the best light.

There are still open text fields to title the spot and leave any tips or advice, but now with these new toggle buttons it's as simple as clicking a few buttons and you're done. No typing required to leave useful recommendations.

Adding gear and time recommendations is a few clicks.

When a photographer views the spots in your guide, they'll see the gear and time recommendations you made in the spot "Details" section, below your "Getting the shot" advice (you did leave advice, didn't you?).
At the Palace of Fine Arts (from my "Left My Heart in San Francisco" guide), I recommend bringing a wide angle lens and tripod, and to check it out at night.

So what are you waiting for? Add in gear and time recommendations to your guides today! And if you have other feature requests, don't hesitate to ask!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Yellowstone Photo Spots

Thinking about our U.S. national parks always conjures up a certain warm, nostalgic, almost campy feeling in me. I'm not sure if it's the natural splendor of the locations, the freedom found in the outdoors, or just the thrill of travel, but they have a very special place in my heart. I love to visit these national treasures, and visit them as often as I can, happily feeding my love for landscape photography in these wondrous settings. Since this week is National Parks Week here in the United States (which by the way means free admission), I thought I'd write a bit about one of my most recent adventures at America's first national park, Yellowstone National Park. While I was there I did a lot of location scouting, and here are some of the best Yellowstone photo spots I found while there.

Grand Prismatic Spring
GPS: 44.5212492529, -110.838124752

Grand Prismatic Spring 

 This festival of color found at Grand Prismatic Spring is quite impressive, and unsurprisingly draws hordes of visitors. But while wandering around I noticed people climbing the hillside overlooking the chromatic pool. It took a bit of sleuthing, but I figured out that if you park at the next pull off just south of Grand Prismatic Spring, you can hike in toward the pool, then a strenuous climb up the side of the hill, until you're finally rewarded with an outstanding arial view of the color spectacle. Be warned though, that the trail up is steep and possibly not an official trail.

Fishing Cone Geyser at West Thumb Geyser Basin
GPS: 44.4175132092, -110.570665598

West Thumb Geyser Basin

There are a number of geysers packed into this small area of the park hugging the westernmost side of Yellowstone Lake. A few, like Fishing Cone Geyser, are actually in the lake, and make a wonderful foreground to a sunset photo of Yellowstone Lake.

Old Faithful

Well, I couldn't write about Yellowstone without mentioning Old Faithful, right? If you can time it right (and get lucky), you can catch some low orange sunset light in the steam from the eruption. Just be aware that, while it may be called Old Faithful, the eruption timings are still only guidelines and prone to be off by several minutes. If the eruption is just a bit late, it's possible that the sun will duck behind the surrounding terrain before the steam spews out. Regardless, the area is also a hotbed (literally) of geysers, and you could easily wander for a few hours around the other lesser known geothermal features. A particular favorite of mine was the Castle Geyser, a short walk from Old Faithful.

Artists' Paintpots
GPS: 44.6921490584, -110.737724304

Artists' Paintpots

The Artists' Paintpots area (and for that matter nearly everywhere I visited early in the day) was amazing in the early morning light. The cold frosty mornings, mixed with the heat from all the geothermal activity, created some incredible scenes. It's a short, level walk from the parking lot to this geyser basin.

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

If you find yourself tiring of geysers, head over to the canyon region of the park. Here you'll find sweeping vistas of the enormous 800-1200 foot deep Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, several waterfalls, and many great scenic overlooks to take it all in and relax at.

Mammouth Hot Springs Terraces
GPS: 44.9710374689, -110.704421997

Mammouth Hot Springs Terraces

On the far northwest side of the park, you can explore the Mammouth Hot Sprintgs Terraces, covered in stunning white, chalky mineral deposit cascades. Many of the terraces were dry at the time I went, but the overall effect of the terraces is still quite photogenic.

If you'd like to see more of my Yellowstone favorites, check out my Yellowstone National Park Photo Spots guide for all the spots I found while exploring the park. What were some of your favorite Yellowstone spots? I'd love to hear some of your recommendations in the comments!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Sharing Photo Spots: Past, Present, and Future

Guest post by Scott Wood

Scott Wood is an Olympia, WA based photographer who specializes in nature, landscape and severe weather photography, but dabbles in many other genres of photography also. Scott is an avid storm chaser and has been published both domestically and internationally. You can follow Scott from his website www.scottwoodphotography.com where there are links to his blog as well as all of his social media outlets.
The photographic world is a much different place than it was when I started shooting over 25 years ago. The closest thing we had to a "community" was a local camera club or hanging out around the counter of a local camera store. It was a completely analog world without the benefit of digital imaging technology, at least for the masses, and we certainly didn’t have the online world we now enjoy. While you might get one of the local photographers to share their “super secret” locations with you, if you were traveling out of of your general area, you were pretty much out of luck.

Now we live in the digital world, we are all connected through a multitude of social media services and we have exposure to more great photography than ever before, but more importantly we have the means to share the great locations we shoot at with more than the people in the local area.

Grand Falls, from Arizona photo guide
Grand Falls, by Scott Wood
from Arizona photo guide
I travel a far bit for my work, and while that is great for being able to shoot in a number of different areas, the downside is that I don’t always have the amount of free time that I would like to actually explore these new locations. I really need to be as efficient as possible and that means doing a good deal of online scouting before I arrive at my work destination. If I am only going to have an hour or two to shoot, I certainly don’t want to spend all of my time looking for that “iconic” location, that I know is out there, and miss getting “the shot” simply because I couldn’t find the right place to setup my tripod.

What is so appealing to be about ShutterGuides is that it lets me see an area through the eyes of a photographer who has actually experienced that location. I am not going to try and duplicate their work, but I will use their work to help me plan my photo safari when I am there.

I will continue to add to my existing guides, and blog about them in the near future, but I will also be creating new guides as I get images to share from different locations I shoot in. Since ShutterGuides is user content driven, I hope that everyone else will be motivated to setup a guide or two of their favorite shooting locations, it helps all of us in the long run.