Scenes we may not be able to shoot anymore…..

5 months, 2 weeks ago 18
Posted in: Uncategorized

Well maybe we can, but it is going to get a lot harder! The advent of the smart phone, social media and bus travel companies have all conspired to change our world of field photography.

From the top; Sunrise from Sunset Point in Bryce Canyon N.P. has become crowded beyond belief, The Navajo Nation has just closed ther photo tours, (use of tripods), to Upper Antelope Slot Canyon, Lower will be next!!! If you decide to shoot a sunrise at Schwabacher’s Landing in Grand Tetons National Park, be prepared to share the experience with 200 of your new “close” friends!

At Wormsloe State Park in Savannah GA they have placed white fences along the Spanish Oaks, imagine that shot!!!! Do I even need to talk about the crowds at Mesa Arch in Canyonpands N.P., well, just one example, last Christmas morning there were over 200 shooters in the space that could only handle 12 to get this shot!!! Arches is still doable, but it is getting so crowded they are considering establishing a shuttle system!

The Palouse has always been a great place to shoot but unfortunately because of the behavior of some workshop leaders and groups the owners of many farms are restricting access, it’s a shame and something our community needs to accept responsibility for. The truck above was moved to prevent photographers from coming on their property, used to be fine!

Going up on Cadillac Mountain for a sunrise used to be a great experience, no longer, the crowds are so bad that the park rangers block the road, to the top, as soon as the parking lot is full. If you happen to be there, you get the pleasure of shooting a scene with 300 hundred folks in the foreground.

I took a group to North Window and Turret Arch in Arches N.P. and 10 minutes before sunrise, a bus load of vistors from China arrived, fortunately they didn’t get to North Window until my folks got their shots, but only by a few minutes, could have ended differently!

I could go on, but you already know this yourself. So what are we to do???

  1. Find some new places to shoot! How many of you have been to the Great Smoky Mountains, or the Badlands, maybe you could try Capital Reef, (yes, I lead workshops to all these places, what a coincidence). There are many more, do some research, may I suggest Photograph America Newsletter!

2. Maybe we need to make sure our behavior in the field will never cause the next group to not be welcome!

3. Consider expanding your shooting list, take up Americana, and maybe people or street photography, travel might be fun too and most great small towns don’t require a permit to shoot photographs, this is starting actually sound like fun!

Folks, things change, they always have and always will, lets learn to think on our feet and make a new plan, we can do it, I know we can!


the pilgrim

18 Responses

  1. JackGraham says:

    Well said….from people illegally flying drones, lots of tire tracks where they shouldn’t be, etc. around here there’s a wave of vandalism happening as well. I am great full for having had these places to myself in their pristine state. it’s up to the current generation to defend their legacy and to call out bad behavior. As for overcrowding not much we can do about that and I bet it gets worse. I suggest going to these places in off season if you really want to see them. I was in OLYMPIC NP yesterday and didn’t.t see 3 or 4 cars all day on the off highway roads.

  2. Bill Fortney says:

    You’re exactly right, we have to find a way to rediscover these treasures, often the answer will be to find them in a season we haven’t experienced them in! I’m thankful that I experienced them in great fellowship with you, it made even the dreary days rewarding!

  3. I’ve never been to any of these places and it seems I never will if others destroy it. So much for the bucket list.

  4. Joshua Boldt says:

    Badlands and Black Hills are some of my favorite places in the world. Luckily I only live a couple hours away! 🙂

  5. Mike E says:

    A very large part of me says that attendance at these high volume parks should continue to be actively pushed. Two reasons, it will help the other less popular sites remain less crowded, and the folks that aren’t really serious about nature photography will eventually tire of the congested conditions and we can get our top parks back…..

    And, yes I realize that this is not a friendly oriented view, and might even be a bit rude and focused on my own photographic satisfaction … unfortunately I don’t think I have enough time left of earth to see this work through to the solutions I desire…..

    But, I still think this would do very well for my grandkids…. at least it is a more pleasant option than our current course and speed is predicting,…..

    Oh well, time to start going back through the old files and process some Upper & Lower Slot Canyon, Acadia, Tetons, and thanks to HLWS – Wormsloe, Arches, and Mesa Arch to see if I could do a better processing job with the latest tools…

    • admin says:

      You may well be right, but sadly, I like you, don”t have time to wait, but my blog entry later today will show a new idea, a rather interesting one, is on the way for me!!!!

  6. Sarah Marino says:

    Fortunately, it does not take much effort to get off the beaten path for photographers who do not like crowds. While I am sad that so many wonderful places are crowded, I would rather have those famous places concentrate the crowds rather than dispersing them more widely. On a related note, you might be interested in the Nature First movement, an effort to help nature photographers reduce their collective impact on the places we photograph. This group is trying to help address issues related to bad and unethical behavior, like in the Palouse as you cite in your post. I hope you will check out the effort and consider sharing it with your audience if initiative interests you.

  7. Chris says:

    I really wish that Antelope Canyon could stay open to the photography tours, even if they just cut down the number of tours and/or charged a much higher permit/tour fee to help control the number of people or even sectioned out certain days, for example, where only photography tours would be held, say during the week or in the off-season (winter time). Luckily (for now) some of the neighboring slot canyons are still open to these special photo tours so I guess one would probably want to get down there and shoot those while they still can (I suspect that those too will become inaccessible to photography-only tours in the near future for the same reason). Luckily, I’ve had the chance to visit some of the other places mentioned (like Arches NP, Mesa Arch, and others), so I guess a lesson here is if you have a chance to photograph one of these places, don’t pass it up. You might not have the chance again.

  8. It’s a combination of things but certainly times are not better. NPS has been increasingly photographer-unfriendly with new (and often undocumented) “rules” and there are people who make life more difficult for all of us. As for the tour buses, I have had mixed emotions. I have been at Emerald Lake in Yolo or in Yosemite (etc.) and found the quiet dawn punctuated by the cacophony of arriving busloads of tourists. Of course, they also paid to be there and have every right to be — that I do not dispute — but what is so painful is to see them jump off the bus in hordes, snap a quick picture and jump back on without any thought to whether they really SAW anything or appreciated it or even understood that with a little bit of patience they would have a better memory. Of course that attitude could also be seen as being a bit snooty on my part but it is meant to say that they often miss a lot and I feel sad for them spending beaucoup bucks to come here and get taken advantage of. Sometimes I will reach out to the visitors to welcome them and suggest shot possibilities.

    And, to be fair, sometimes I have done “hit and run” shots as well. I just returned from Iceland and Ireland. I was in Iceland the day after a bomb cyclone closed much of the country and winds were still horribly dangerous. I literally was able to shoot only three or four scenes in two days because of safety concerns but, when I got them into and out of Photoshop, Holy cabooses! And that came from understanding when the best light would make those shot possibilities viable.

    I also agree with Jack about off-season viewing. Sometimes people miss a lot. Yellowstone and the Tetons, for example, are often great over Memorial Day weekend when crowds are less and the babies are being born. Banff and Jasper can have some wonderful winter scenes (Yellowstone, too). Zion may be closed to all but bus traffic much of the year (yuk NPS) but one of the best shots — sunrise behind the museum — is unrestricted and seldom crowded. Then shoot over to Bryce Canyon for sunset and sunrise the next morning. Arson gutted much of the Columbia River Gorge but the Oregon coast is still viable (great shots at Hug Point south of Cannon Beach).

    And sometimes we need to be ambassadors as well as good stewards. When I have time I will make time to show kids what I do and how they can take better shots. One of the more interesting experiences was at Great Falls, Virginia when a group of young Islamic women (in full dress) congregated at the overlook. They had all kinds of questions about photography and I was happy to engage with them (and bridge some understanding gaps — for these late teens/young women it’s often difficult to be seen as a bit “freaky” so they are learning to be proactive and showing that just because they look different they are still good kids).

  9. Donna says:

    I agree that it is getting way out of hand at these iconic locations. And it is a shame. State parks remain to be treasures with some elbow room. And there are nooks and crannies in some of the bigger parks where you rarely see a soul. As serious photographers, we will get creative to find those places of beauty that speak to us!

  10. I feel blessed to have been able to visit most of the places you mentioned before the instagram hoards made if difficult to enjoy them, much less make compelling photographs. June and I have found that there are locations that are just as beautiful but less known. Sometimes you have to hike a ways from the road to get past the crowds. These are the places we go now and enjoy God’s creations. We don’t always tell where our photos were taken.

  11. Dick Ginkowski says:

    Just came back from the Grand Canyon. VERY crowded this winter weekend and some dangerous conditions (icy walkways not salted).

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