Top Ten Places to Take Great Outdoor Photos!

The National Park Foundation and Olympus Encourage Amateur Photographers to Experience and Photograph America's Beauty at our National Parks and Public Lands

With cool breezes, colorful foliage and fewer crowds, The National Park Foundation reminds Americans that autumn and winter are a wonderful time to visit one of our nation's national parks, historic sites, forests and public lands! To kick off the fall/winter travel season, the National Park Foundation is releasing its annual 'Top 10' list, a photography guide highlighting the very best fall photo experiences in America's national parks and public lands.

With Americans beginning to plan their fall/winter trips, the "2008 Top Ten Parks and Public Lands Photo Tips" outlines 10 unique photography experiences that you can only find in America's parks and public lands. This list was developed by experts from The National Park Foundation and Olympus to serve as a travel and how-to guide for shutterbugs to share the experience of visiting national parks and recreation areas.

"You don't need to be a professional photographer to capture the excitement and beauty of America's federal lands," said Vin Cipolla, President and CEO of the National Park Foundation. "Whether you want to scale a mountain peak or simply relax on the beach, we encourage Americans to grab a camera, get out and visit our nation's treasured public lands and share the experience with all Americans."

The "Top Ten Parks and Public Lands Photo Tips" range from capturing the rich history of Abraham Lincoln's Birthplace to bird watching in the San Luis National Wildlife Refuge Complex. These tips invite amateur photographers to examine some of the hidden gems within the nation's diverse parks and public lands system.

This year, the National Park Foundation and the National Park Service teamed up with Olympus for the official "Share the Experience" photo contest. Amateur photographers are encouraged to enter their favorite photos taken in America's national parks and public lands. Winners are eligible for a variety of prizes, including Olympus camera kits and exciting trips to America's public lands. The "Share the Experience" photo contest benefits America's Federal Recreational Lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Reclamation, the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Forest Service.

Inge Johnsson, 2007 Share the Experience Photo Contest Grand Prize winner said, "I've never won anything as big as this photo contest and I am proud to share my experience at 'Nankoweap Ruins' with all of America! My photo was taken on a 12-day rafting trip, an unforgettable once-in-a-lifetime journey through one of the most fascinating and inspiring places in the natural world."


1. Autumn Sunrise

Acadia National Park, Maine

Famous for its foliage, Acadia National Park does not disappoint. Situated on the rugged coast of Maine, Acadia National Park contains more than 120 miles of historic hiking trails and is home to many plants and animals, and the tallest mountain on the U.S. Atlantic coast.

Each autumn, as the seasons change, the woodlands of Acadia transform into a diverse palate of color that defies the imagination. A scenic journey down the 27-mile Park Loop Road system offers outstanding views of the fall foliage, ocean shoreline and mountain silhouettes. It is no surprise that these picturesque settings are ones that park visitors want to capture with their camera.

OLYMPUS PHOTO TIP: When photographing landscapes, think about the horizon's position. The most interesting photos follow the "rule of thirds," which means always divide the subject into three sections. This can be done horizontally, vertically or diagonally. For a horizon, place it in the bottom third to capture the brilliant colors of a sunset sky, or place it in the top third to feature the park's breath-taking terrain.


2. Majestic Mountains
Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Established in 1929, and home to one of the most recognizable mountain landscapes in the world, Grand Teton National Park is 45 miles in length from north to south, 26 miles maximum width. Grand Teton is famous for its spectacular mountain scenery and wildlife.

Take a River Float Trip down the Snake River and see where the beauty of the Columbia River System including: Pacific Creek, Buffalo Fork and Gros Ventre River.

Olympus PHOTO TIP: Use your images to tell a story. Take a wide-angle or panorama shot to establish the setting. (For a panorama, try shooting segments of the mountain rather than the whole mountain at once. Your camera or software may have the ability to stitch images into one impressive panorama.) Then, use your zoom to get close, providing details of a specific scene. This could include wildlife, people, an intricate rock formation or anything that tells the story of your adventure.

While it's easy to use a wide-angle lens, try shooting segments of the mountain rather than the whole mountain at once.

3. Historic Treasure

Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site

See where one of America's most famous Presidents was born. The Abraham Lincoln Birthplace Unit demonstrates his humble beginnings with a symbolic birth cabin enshrined within a neo-classic Memorial Building. The Boyhood Home Unit at Knob Creek Farm was home to Lincoln during his formative years. Events in Kentucky helped mold a young boy into the man who became the nation's sixteenth President.

OLYMPUS PHOTO TIP: One of the best ways to capture a landmark is to include people in it. It not only brings the photo to life, it brings life to the photo. Ask a friend to stand in Lincoln's boyhood doorway and take a step into history.

4. Sparkling Lake

Crater Lake, OR

There is no other place on earth that combines a deep, pure lake, so blue in color than Crater Lake. Surrounded by cliffs reaching almost two thousand feet high, with two picturesque islands and a violent volcanic past, Crater Lake is truly a place of immeasurable beauty, and an outstanding outdoor laboratory and classroom. Located on the crest of the Cascade Mountain range in Southern Oregon, it lies inside a caldera, or volcanic basin, created when the 12,000 foot (3,660 meter) high Mount Mazama collapsed 7,700 years ago following a large eruption.

OLYMPUS PHOTO TIP: Scale and depth are key to show the expansiveness of our nation's lakes, vistas, mountains or craters. For scale, use something that's size is commonly known, such as a person, car or animal that provides perspective against a vast scene. Additionally, to demonstrate depth, place something close to and far away from the camera. For example, place a person on both sides of a lake or ravine to show it's true depth. The impact can be amazing!

5. Fall Foliage

Pisgah National Forest, NC

Consisting of the forest surrounding majestic Mt. Pisgah, the Pisgah National Forest is over a half mission acre. Formerly used for the production of water, timber and other natural resources by its former owner, the Vanderbilt Family, Pisgah National Forest (known as the "Land of Waterfalls") is today one of the nation's premiere destinations for hiking, cycling, fishing, hunting, and, of course, the viewing of fall foliage.

OLYMPUS PHOTO TIP: Fall colors pop best in early morning or early evening light. Try shooting at dawn and dusk for contrast.

6. Spectacular Birding

San Luis National Wildlife Refuge Complex, CA

The San Luis National Wildlife Refuge Complex -- composed of the San Luis National Wildlife Refuge, Merced National Wildlife Refuge, San Joaquin River National Wildlife Refuge and the Grasslands Wildlife Management Area -- consists of nearly 45,000 acres of wetlands, grasslands and riparian habitats, as well as over 90,000 acres of conservation easements on private lands for the protection and benefit of wildlife.

OLYMPUS PHOTO TIP: Taking wildlife photos requires patience and a powerful zoom. Animals move at will, so you must take time to examine your subject in its natural habitat before you snap your photo. Zooming in from far away helps you to easily change your composition and capture the shot without making distracting movements that could startle a majestic elk or lion. Don't forget to put your camera in the "action" mode! It's perfect for capturing the fast movements of wildlife, particularly birds.

7. A Reel Good Time

Fishing Ruedi Reservoir, CO

Situated in the beautiful Fryingpan River Valley, the Ruedi Reservoir offers a scenic area for some outstanding water and land based recreation activities. Also, due to its relatively high elevation, the water remains quite cold and the lake freezes over in the winter.

There are 4 campgrounds accommodating 81 campsites and 2 boat-launching ramps. Surface available for recreation includes 997 acres. Game fish species available include rainbow trout, brown trout, and mackinaw trout.

NOTE: Facilities are closed in winter due to ice and snow.

NOTE: The eastern part of the region is mountainous terrain with temperatures varying daily. The first snow happens in early October and the last usually happens in April.

OLYMPUS PHOTO TIP: Reflection shots are always interesting. Instead of taking a photo of the water, try taking a photo of the images reflecting in the water.

8. Awe-Inspiring Vistas

Hiking Trails of Shenandoah National Park, VA

Just 75 miles from our nation's capital lies one of the most majestic parks in the country. With over 500 miles of hiking trails, the Shenandoah National Park provides awe-inspiring vistas, challenging hikes, and an unparalleled historical experience. Visitors can check out the billion-year-old rocks in the Blue Ridge Mountains, or the land where the first traces of humans were recorded.

Fall is a magical time in Shenandoah National Park. Peak season is usually in late October. The fall colors start at the higher altitudes, and gradually move down the mountain to the lower elevations.

OLYMPUS PHOTO TIP: Experiment with the weather. While images taken on a sunny day can be brilliant, try taking pictures on a cloudy or rainy day. The dramatic colors in the sky will add to your portfolio.

9. Nature Trails

Canaveral National Seashore, FL

Whether you want to take a stroll down a hammock trail, hunt for seashells on the beach or go camping on one of its primitive island campsites, Canaveral National Seashore is the place for you. With flora between the sub-tropical and temperate climates, an amateur botanist will have their hands full examining Florida's native plant life. Or if your interest is history, Canaveral National Seashore has numerous Native American sites as well as more modern remnants of people's determination to live and prosper in this challenging environment.

OLYMPUS PHOTO TIP: Hiking along a trail is a great opportunity to capture macro or close-up shots of the natural beauty surrounding you. A flower or fossil can be the perfect subject for a detailed shot of your experience. Turn on the flash for a few images; that extra bit of light can really bring out the details!

10. Geological Wonder

Kasha Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument, NM

If you are looking for an outdoor laboratory, the Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument is the destination! Here you will have the opportunity to experience and observe the geologic processes that shape natural landscapes.

Pumice, ash, and tuff deposits left over from volcanic eruptions 6-7 million years ago left the tent-shaped rock formations you see today. The tent rock formations vary in height from a few feet to 90 feet.

As the result of uniform layering of volcanic material, bands of gray are interspersed with beige and pink-colored rock along the cliff face. Over time, wind and water cut into these deposits, creating canyons and arroyos, scooping holes in the rock, and contouring the ends of small, inward ravines into smooth semi-circles.