All of America’s national parks have their own treasures to offer visitors, but some are more popular than others.

Photos of the Week: 3/21/2019 :
The 15 Least-visited National Parks Have All the Beauty, and None of the Crowds

Each year, the National Park Service tracks the total number of visits made to each of the parks, revealing the most and least visited. While the country’s least-visited parks can take a bit more planning to reach, they offer incredible experiences to all those who make the trek: Watch synchronous fireflies, hike among the world’s oldest trees, take in views of the Northern Lights, or enjoy wildflower blooms at these lesser known national treasures.

These 15 national parks had the fewest visitors in 2018, despite the fact that avid travelers that make it their mission to visit all the parks have touted them as the best in the country. If you’re looking for adventure and scenery without the crowds, here are the parks to travel to next.

15. Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota
Voyageurs National Park, in Minnesota, is over 40 percent water, with a network of lakes and interconnected waterways that give visitors the feeling that they’re exploring their own private islands. Last year, the park had 239,656 recreation visits.
When the lakes freeze over in the winter, there are scenic cross-country skiing and snowmobile options, while spring and summer bring edible blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and hazelnuts. Namakan Lake offers incredible fall colors among the maple and aspen trees that line its shores.
The park’s dark skies allow for views of shooting stars, the Milky Way, and the occasional aurora borealis. Stay for the sunset here and you’ll be treated to a stunning reflection of pink and purple hues against the water.
Photo by Steven Schremp / Getty Images

14. Pinnacles National Park, California
Pinnacles National Park is an excellent spring destination to see blooming wildflowers, from poppies to buck brush to shooting stars. In 2018, the park had 222,152 visits.
You can admire the wildflowers while hiking along the park’s many trails, like the High Peaks Trail, and be sure to keep an eye out for the peregrine falcons, golden eagles, and California condors that call the park home.
Pinnacles is also home to two systems of talus caves formed by huge boulders that sit in between ravines, inviting visitors to walk through caves below “rocks the size of houses.”
Photo by: Vicky Jauron Babylon and Beyond / Getty Images

13. Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas
Guadalupe Mountains National Park combines mountain and canyon scenery with desert terrain and impressive dunes. The national park is home to more than 80 miles of hiking trails that weave through the desert, canyons, and even to the “Top of Texas” at the Guadalupe Peak Trail, where those who make the hike can see mesmerizing views from every angle.
Four of the state’s highest peaks are located within the park, which also offers spectacular foliage viewing in the fall. Hit the McKittrick Canyon Trail in the northern portion to see just how magnificent the park’s fall colors can be.
Photo by: Mark Wetters / Getty Images

12. Great Basin National Park, Nevada
Great Basin National Park offers visitors some of the country’s best stargazing.
Thanks to drastic elevation changes (from 5,000 to 13,000 feet) at the Great Basin, the park is immensely diverse in its lflora and fauna. Here you’ll find everything from deserts and playas to mountains, fossils, springs, caves, and glaciers. The park is home to 73 different mammal species, more than 200 bird species, 11 species of conifer trees, and more than 800 plant species (like alpine wildflowers that cover its grounds in the spring).
In the fall, pine nuts adorn the park for picking, while mule deer make their seasonal migration through the park during the winter. Visitors will also find the oldest trees on earth and ancient caves at Great Basin.
Photo by: Elizabeth Ruggiero / Getty Images

11. Congaree National Park, South Carolina
South Carolina’s Congaree National Park is home to both the country’s largest expanse of old-growth forest, and some of eastern America’s tallest trees. Some of the trees reach as high as 170 feet, and visitors can admire them on the more than 25 miles of hiking trails — or even by canoe or kayak.
The park is also one of the few places in the world where travelers can witness two magnificent natural displays. These include synchronous fireflies, which typically appear between mid-May and mid-June, and a fascinating view that occurs when the park experiences flooding. Thanks to elevated pathways that line the park, those who happen to visit when heavy rainfalls occur can see close to 90 percent of the park completely submerged underwater.
Photo by: Brian W. Downs / Getty Images

10. Virgin Islands National Park, Virgin Islands
Close to half of Virgin Islands National Park is underwater, inviting visitors to don a snorkel to explore what awaits underneath the park’s surface. Mangrove shorelines and seagrass beds are teeming with marine life, and the park’s various hiking trails also often lead to secluded locations to swim and snorkel.
Two-thirds of the island of St. John resides within the park, where magnificent beaches like Trunk Bay can be found, while the park’s calm waters make it ideal for boating enthusiasts.
Photo by: Joel Carilett / Getty Images

9. Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska
At 13.2 million acres, Alaska’s Wrangell-St. Elias National Park is the nation’s biggest — but only saw 79,450 visits last year.
The park is roughly the same size as Yellowstone National Park, Yosemite National Park, and all of Switzerland combined. It’s home to the nation’s largest glacial system (close to 35 percent of the park is covered in glaciers), which is why National Park Service representatives say visitors following any braided river or stream to its source are sure to find a receding, advancing, or a tidewater glacier to admire.
The park has 16 of the country’s tallest mountains, and visitors can even see Mount Wrangell (one of the world’s largest active volcanoes) smoking on clear days.
Photo by: Noppawat Tom Charoensinphoen / Getty images

8. Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida
Dry Tortugas National Park is 100 square miles of natural and historic gems located about 70 miles out from Key West, Florida.
Most of the national park, which includes seven small islands, is part of the Florida Keys reef system — the third largest in the world — and its remote location offers visitors a rich abundance of marine life and shipwrecks to explore.
Head to Garden Key to explore Fort Jefferson, one of the nation’s largest 19th-century forts, where you can camp and take in the night sky views the park is known for.
Photo by: Winand Deerenberg / Getty Images

7. Katmai National Park and Preserve, Alaska
Designated a national park and preserve in 1980, Katmai National Park and Preserve on Alaska’s northern peninsula is home to dramatic landscapes and a rich array of wildlife. The national park is almost exclusively accessed by plane or boat, and various operators offer air taxi flights and flightseeing tours.
Flightseeing tours are one of the “more dramatic” ways to see the national park and preserve, according to park representatives, as the aerial view reveals the vast size and diversity of the park and its combination of tundra, freshwater lakes, and volcanoes. Those flying over can also take in views of the bears and moose that live in the area.
There are more than 2,000 brown bears around Katmai, and bears are so beloved here that there is an annual Fat Bear Week to determine the fattest bear in the park.
Photo by: Chase Dekker Wild-Life Images / Getty Images

6. North Cascades National Park, Washington
Three hours from SeattleNorth Cascades National Park offers visitors the most views of glaciers in the U.S. outside of Alaska.
Though the North Cascades National Park Service Complex is one of the world’s snowiest places, it still provides visitors with a range of activities year-round — from river rafting trips to horseback riding, backpacking, climbing, and hundreds of hiking trails. The alpine landscape hosts short and scenic strolls for beginner hikers, and more lengthy trails that pass alongside glaciers for the more advanced.
Photo by : Getty Images

5. National Park of American Samoa, American Samoa
The National Park of American Samoa is spread across three different islands, about 2,600 miles southwest of Hawaii.
This national park is one of the most remote, with secluded villages, coral sand beaches, and open vistas of land and sea in place of tourist facilities. Those who visit can bring their own snorkel gear to explore an underwater world home to over 950 species of fish and over 250 coral species.
Attractions include hiking trails along cliffs with ocean views, islands dotted with tropical rain forests, and preservations of the Samoan culture. The park even offers a homestay program for visitors looking to stay with local Samoan families and learn about the culture.
Photo by: Michael Runkel / Getty images

4. Isle Royal National Park, Michigan
Isle Royal National Park is located on an isolated island that sits in the middle of Lake Superior. The national park is only accessible by boat or seaplane, and transportation services are available from nearby locations.
Once at the park, travelers will find forests, rugged shorelines, backcountry trails, and some 400 satellite islands to explore by boat. Thanks to the cold waters of Lake Superior, the national park is also a prime location for scuba diving as sunken shipwrecks have remained intact.
Photo by: Getty Images

3. Kobuk Valley National Park, Alaska
Half a million caribou migrate through Kobuk Valley National Park, tracking across the sculpted dunes. The park is home to the Great Kobuk Sand Dunes, the largest active sand dunes in the Arctic, which formed over thousands of years as glaciers gradually ground the rocks beneath them. The Ice Age relics are also often dotted with the tracks of bears, wolves, foxes, and moose that roam the park.
The Kobuk River weaves through the park, offering visitors a unique vantage point to view the flora and fauna by boat.
Photo by: Haley Johnston / Getty Images

2. Lake Clark National Park and Preserve, Alaska
Lake Clark National Park and Preserve may be the nation’s second least-visited national park, but avid travelers who have seen all of America’s national parks cite it as one of the best.
The park offers an iconic Alaskan experience, where visitors can get magnificent views of turquoise lakes, brown bears, soaring mountains, and glaciers. Take all of it in while kayaking, hiking, power boating, or biking along the lakes and rivers.
Photo by: Carl Johnson, / Getty Images

1. Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve, Alaska
With no roads or trails and a landscape carved by glaciers, Alaska’s Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve is for the traveler looking to truly get away from it all.
Park representatives refer to the area as “one of the last truly wild places on Earth.” The park’s natural habitats can indeed be harsh, and only experienced wilderness travelers are advised to visit. However, there are also companies that can organize day trips and overnight camp-outs to give visitors at every level the chance to enjoy aurora-lit skies and a natural setting unlike any other.
Photo by: David Shaw / Getty Images

1/3 of the photos shown here were in Alaska. 1/3 of the least visited National Parks in the United States are in Alaska. 1/3 of the most beautiful, least visited national parks in the United States are in Alaska. Hmmm, makes me want to go to Alaska! What do you think? I think that I would like to go in the middle of summer there, however. It may warm up to nearly 50 in the middle of summer there. But, whatever the weather is like I think there are some beautiful photos to be found there. Let’s see if I can find some more from those National Parks in Alaska:

Another amazing photo of : Gates of Arctic National Park and Preserve, Alaska.

Amazing photo of Lake Clark national Park, Alaska

Sand dunes with spruce trees. Kobuk Valley National Park, Alaska, USA.

American Samoa National Park

So this should give you some ideas of some great places to go that have very few people, and the scenery is just beautiful. Any of these locations go on your bucket list?

This is blog # 942



SPRING HAS SPRUNG, OFFICIALLY !!! This is one of my favorite seasons. Summer is probably my favorite, because everything is out in bloom, except for the spring flowers, but, no more dead looking plants, or things coming to life, they are alive. But, spring is nice because you are coming out of the DEAD of winter. It does bring a sense of a refreshing feeling to get out in the sun now, that you couldn’t do so much in the winter. And there are colors now. Winter you only had white to deal with. Spring brings a new variety of spring flowers, and new buds, and new animals and things are generally just coming to life, and people feel it.

A usual spring flower, the tulips are well photographed in the spring.

So, you photographers, there are obviously some good pointers that should be brought out to all at this spring time, to make your photos look even better. So, here you go:

The moment when snowdrops start appearing through the final snowfalls of the year, Mother Nature seems to go into overdrive, and it’s almost as if not a week goes by without something new, different, and exciting appearing in gardens and parks.

photo by Mark Freeth

As a photographer it’s my favorite time of the year. The light seems fresh and crisp, and the sun remains fairly low in the sky throughout the day so to my mind it feels a little more gentle than the harsh sunlight of high summer.

To me it offers a little more freedom to the photographer. On many occasions you can abandon reflectors and diffusers and shoot with impunity. It’s almost as if the golden hours just after and just before the sun rises and sets seem to last so much longer.

That is not to say that everything becomes simple and easy. Everything tends to be on a much smaller scale as spring emerges, and getting up close and personal with either a macro lens or a macro diopter opens up a whole new world. Everything from wasps and bees collecting pollen through to spring rainfall collecting on leaves and flowers. There are two major difficulties with this type of photography: light and wind. Don’t be afraid to give your ISO levels a little boost or invest in an off camera flash and some radio triggers

photo by Swallowtail Garden Seeds

Erratic spring winds are my chief nemesis. Working at close quarters with bugs and blossom can rapidly become very frustrating as even the slightest of movements can throw off your focal point and leave you with a less than optimal picture. I’ve been shooting at a pretty standard ISO 400 with a shutter speed in the region of 1/800 of a second to ensure that I get more pictures. Sure, you’re going to get more noise in your picture, but to my mind a little more noise in a picture as opposed to having no picture at all is a simple choice to make.

Another thing a photographer should never be afraid to do is get down and dirty. When shooting flowers and bugs, you should be down at their level. If you don’t have to brush yourself down after a photo session, you’re not doing it right, in my opinion. In order to give your close up subjects a sense of scale, you should be at their level. When shooting a blossom, try to get up at its level, and conversely, when shooting stuff on the ground get down there and shoot from the ground up.

I try—wherever possible—not to shoot with a tripod. It gives me more freedom, although sometimes I wish that I had the discipline to be a little more structured and spend the time setting up my tripod and lighting—but I am always worried about missing a picture!

photo by Kyle Pearce

But spring is not all about little things. It’s a time that sees the return of migratory birds. It’s also a little easier to spot and photograph creatures like pheasants and deer in fields that will in just a few short weeks be filled with crops that reduce your chances of getting that great shot. I’m certainly not an experienced wildlife photographer, and I don’t really have a lens with a long enough reach to get great wildlife shots, but I do know that you need to be as close as you can get, so patience and an understanding of how your subject will behave is critical to getting that killer shot.

Lastly, the sky in spring offers a wealth of opportunities. With the sun lower in the sky, you can capture superb cloudscapes that are lit wonderfully. In mid-summer with the sun high in the sky, it’s difficult to get an optimally lit shot.

In spring, it’s as if Mother Nature is doing the work for you. All you have to do is spend a little time working with what she has given you and you should end up with a fist full of photographs that really encapsulate the wonders of spring!

Some of this article was written by Lanny Cottrell, chief editor for 123Photogo, but, the bulk of this article was written by Brian John Jones.
Brian John Jones is a stock photographer and small holder originally from the UK (bjonesphotography dot co dot uk), now based on the Hungarian Great Plain.

Some other great spring photos for you to enjoy:

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Photo by Bagus Pangestu on Pexels.com

Photo by Valeria Boltneva on Pexels.com

This is blog #941


Can I be so bold as to say: If you don’t have a tripod, you are not a serious photographer yet? But, maybe that is not a fair statement yet, because you just haven’t had the need to use a tripod yet. So, I won’t fault you yet for not having a tripod.

Not too long ago, I purchase a camera kit, and it came with a tripod. I am glad that the company I purchased this from felt that the need was there to include a tripod with the camera outfit. Now, keep in mind, I used to work in a camera store, and sold tripods that sold anywhere from $12.95 US dollars to $399 US dollars. Was I delighted with this tripod I got? Absolutely not !!! I wasn’t sure I would give it to my best friend! Who would dare put that in a kit and call it a tripod. (Mad face) It wasn’t long before I purchased a $180 tripod, complete with a ball head, and built-in mono pod leg as well. Now I am a happy person. The new tripod goes taller than me.

Digital cameras offer a level of technology that was unimagined only a few short years ago. The funny thing is, the old techniques are still as important as ever.

A tripod is still an essential piece of equipment for good photography. For beginners, the purchase of a tripod is usually a sign that one is ready to move beyond the snapshot stage and get more serious about photography. But if you have managed without a tripod in the past, perhaps you have wondered if you should take the plunge, or continue to get by without. So here is the first question you need to answer: “Do I need a tripod?”

Captured by PictureSocial member Mohammad Amziry bin Roslan

The answer depends on how seriously you take your photography. If you’re happy with simple snapshots and have no ambitions of delving into more serious photography, you would probably be wasting your money. Tripod photography takes a little more time, thought and effort; if good photography is not important to you, you will not get value out of a tripod and probably would not use it even if you had one.

Now for the second question: “Why do I need a tripod?”

A tripod keeps your camera completely still, so you can take photos that will not be blurred by any movement of the camera caused by an unsteady hand.

There are two reasons why you might use a slow shutter speed for your photos. Sometimes the light is very low, and you need a slow shutter speed to get a good exposure. Or you may choose to use a slow shutter speed to capture a special effect. In either situation, your tripod will ensure that the camera is perfectly still and the photo will not be blurred.

An additional benefit is that the tripod allows you to compose a photo carefully, without having to concentrate on keeping the camera still in your hand. It is much easier to check that the horizon is level, and all parts of the photo are as you want them before you press the button.

“Queen Elizabeth Bridge” by PictureSocial member Wayne Gibbons

Let’s assume for a moment that you have a tripod. Now for our third and final question:“When do I use my tripod?”

Some people will tell you you should never take a photo without a tripod below a certain shutter speed. The trouble is, different people recommend different speeds. Some photographers will tell you 1/125 of a second is the lower limit; other will recommend 1/60 or 1/30 second.

So who is telling you the truth? Actually, all of them. Because the truth is, it’s not that simple.

When you use a large lens to magnify your subject, you also magnify the effect of any camera movement. So if you use a telephoto lens, a shaky camera will affect your photo much more than if you use a wide-angle lens. So it could be that a photo you could take hand-held with a wide angle lens would require a tripod with a telephoto lens.

How do you know, then, when to use a tripod? This is a guideline that was recently told to me, and it is a good one to keep in mind.

Let your choice of shutter speed match the size of the lens. For example, if you are using a 200mm lens, you should be able to take photos without a tripod at speeds of 1/200 second or faster. Once your speed drops below 1/200 second, be sure to use your tripod.

“Fantasy Sky” by PictureSocial member Spidey

For a smaller lens, you can go with a slower shutter speed to match. So if you are using a standard lens (around 50–60mm) you could set your cutoff point at 1/60 second. Faster, and you can take the photo hand-held; slower, and you should use a tripod. With a wide angle lens of 28mm, your cutoff point would be 1/30 second.

There are some photographers who insist that all photos should be taken with a tripod, no matter what lens or shutter speed you use. This is simply not practical, but it does point to the simple fact that the tripod is always steadier than the hand. If a photo is important to you, it is worth going to some extra effort and leaving nothing to chance. So if in doubt, use a tripod, even when the shutter speed suggests you can get by without it.

Oh, and one more thing. Never, ever, ever take a photo slower than 1/30 second without a tripod.

About the Author
Andrew Goodall writes for 
http://www.naturesimage.com.au and is a nature photographer based in Australia. He manages a gallery in Montville full of landscape photography from throughout Australia.

Note: A special thanks to Andrew Goodall. I have used his articles before, and I like his simple approach to the basics of photography. Thanks again Andrew. You are my hero ! And thanks to Picture/Correct for publishing his articles.

Here are a few extra photos that could not have been taken without a tripod. If you have ever wondered how these have been taken, keep in mind that these kind of photos are done only because of a tripod.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Photo by zhang kaiyv on Pexels.com

Photo by stein egil liland on Pexels.com

This is Blog #940