Natural beauty in the National Park System is not harbored solely in the Rocky Mountains, the High Sierra, or the Cascades. Drift through the pages of a new book that revolves around the nation's capital and you'll be treated to snow drifts and Swallowtail butterflies in perhaps the most unexpected places.
With cameras in hand, Thomas Paradis set out to trace A Photographer's Path, Images of National Parks Near the Nation's Capital, and came home with a beautiful collection of images that should give those who live near the capital ample reason to go out and explore these landscapes themselves.
The cover itself hints at the uniqueness of the region, as it features storm clouds gathering over the Potomac River, with the Great Falls Park marking the river's left bank and the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park on the right.
The C&O makes frequent appearances in the book, from a shot of snow-covered banks along the Potomac at Great Falls and the Paw Paw Tunnel to a turtle's eye view of a path in the park.
But you'll also find lotus in pink bloom at Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens, purplish-blue Virginia bluebells along the George Washington Memorial Parkway, and odd Osage oranges on the grounds of Antietam National Battlefield.
The region's Civil War parks are well-represented. In addition to several shots Mr. Paradis took at Antietam, you'll come up snow-cloaked fencelines at Manassas National Battlefield Park, and a shot of the Thomas farm at Monocacy National Battlefield. There are others from the battlefields, too. That electric-blue Swallowtail, by the way, was found on a branch at Manassas.
In assembling his images, Mr. Paradis -- a visual information specialist in the National Park Service's National Capital Region -- kept his photographic options open. Some shots are black-and-white closeups that reveal the texture in the objects he's focusing on. Others show his keen eye and strong composition skills, such as in the photograph of a sliver of sunlight that managed to sift through the thick-leafed canopy of forest at Catoctin Mountain Park and highlight green ferns.
He managed a closeup of a Queen snake curled about a branch, also at Catoctin, and a group shot of white-tailed deer staring at him at the C&O. And there are shots depicting the geometry of nature, found in ice at the C&O.
If there's a lament about this book, it's that it is a softcover, not hard-bound. Still, the images capture settings that some folks no doubt miss in their hurried lives. Mr. Paradis gives us ample reason to slow down.