The features of today's cameras, coupled with the size of some national parks, can make photographing the parks on your vacation a daunting task. But when it comes to Big Bend National Park, Kathy Adams Clark has a book you should read.
The heart of Photographing Big Bend National Park: A Friendly Guide to Great Images, understandably, takes you about this grand, 801,163-acre national park along Texas' southern border to some of its most photogenic spots, places such as the Window, down into Boquillas Canyon, and to Rio Grande Village. And through the chapters Ms. Clark, a past president of the North American Nature Photography Association, offers the best times (and seasons) to take photographs of these places and subjects around them, and offers "simple," "intermediate," and "advanced approaches to taking your shots.
Those three varied approaches can range from simply standing in front of, say, the old post office building at Rio Grande Village and snapping a shot, to hiking up a hillside to the ruins of the Longfellow House and using the building's windows and doorways as "frames" for landscape shots. The author also takes time to note some of the subtleties of these locations that you might overlook.
For instance, in the Longfellow House she notes that "there are some excellent specimens of fossils in the stones used to build the house. A fossil near the doorway makes a great foreground subject for a photograph of the finely layered hillside along the river."
But before Ms. Clark delves into such locations and details, she spends 20 pages explaining the mechanics of cameras and how you can work with, or override, the auto settings. This might sound like trivial material for some amateur photographers, but how many times have you actually sat down and read through the entire manual that came with your camera?
These 20 pages might not reveal all the secrets of your new camera, but will provide the foundation for understanding how it works. She goes into setting light meters, working with shutter speeds and f/Stops, and the ISO, which controls the sensitivity of your camera's light meter.
There also is a two-page map of the park at the beginning of the book so you can get the lay of the land and see where some of the most photogenic spots in Big Bend are.
Along with explaining some of the best landscapes and still photo shots in the park, Ms. Clark also spends a good amount of time on photographing wildlife and wildflowers.
Measuring not quite 6 inches wide by 8.5 inches long, Photographing Big Bend National Park is a handy, helpful book to stick into your daypack, or camera bag, when heading out into the park. And the opening chapter is great to review at home with your own camera to help you perfect your skills before you head out into the parks.