Hey, everyone! A big thanks to Nations for sharing this piece on their blog. I’ve been shooting landscapes and outdoor scenes for decades, so travel is obviously something that I’m very passionate about.
Although there are dozens more locations around the world that I’d love to photograph one day, these are my top five favorite places that I’ve had the privilege of visiting so far:
1. Mt. Rainier National Park
Mt. Rainier, at the right time of year, is amazing. I’m awarding it the top spot on my list because I think it offers the landscape photography enthusiast just about everything they could ask for. First and foremost (of course) you’ve got the perfect reflection shots of Mt. Rainer:
If you get there at the right time of year (early August), the wildflowers will be in bloom. They make an amazing foreground when photographing the mountain and are great close-up shots by themselves:
There are also a ton of waterfalls around Mt. Rainier which look beautiful at just about any time of the day. This one is my of my favorites, Christine Falls
(it’s also super easy to get to):
If you’re a night owl, and you like to photograph stars and the milky way, you’re far enough away from city lights that you don’t have much light pollution. There are a ton of opportunities there as well.
If the weather totally gives out on you (like it did for me a couple of mornings), you can pull out your macro lens and shoot close-ups anywhere along the roads.
2. The Columbia River Gorge
Oregon is definitely at the top of the list for photography spots. It’s got everything from mountains and lakes (Mt. Hood
and Trillium Lake
are absolutely breathtaking), to rocky shorelines, deserts, and some of the most gorgeous waterfalls I’ve ever seen.
This waterfall (Multnomah Falls
) is probably one of the easiest to get to since it’s right off the highway. Plus, it has a large area to park, eat, and watch the falls.
If you’re willing to take some small-to-medium-length hikes (anywhere from a few hundred yards to a mile or so), then there are a ton of other waterfalls to discover.
A few of my favorites (in order below) are Panther Creek Falls
(a short but challenging hike, as it involves a downhill scramble), Falls Creek Falls
(a one-mile hike uphill) and Elowah Falls
(not quite as long, steep, or strenuous as Falls Creek).
If you’re REALLY feeling adventurous, a few buddies and I rented wet suits and waded/swam our way up a water-filled slot canyon to Oneonta Falls
These are some of my favorite photos of all, but I’m not sure if it’s because they look the best or because the story of getting there is the most interesting…
Norway goes down in history as one of my all-time favorite places I’ve ever been. The best way I can describe it is that no matter where you are, it looks like a postcard.
I taught at a conference there a couple of years ago in June, so the days were crazy long. Sunset was around 11:00 PM and sunrise was at 3:00 AM. That being said, it never really got that dark, and you could almost shoot through the night if you wanted to.
What was even more amazing was that the “golden hour” was more like a golden four hours. Because of the way the sun sets there during that time of year, the perfect light is there for hours, instead of just minutes (like it is in Florida, where I live).
Another thing I loved about Norway was that I was the only person in just about every area I photographed. It’s the opposite of my experience photographing sunset at Delicate Arch
in Moab, where 260 of my photography bretheren were right next to me shooting the exact same thing.
Don’t get me wrong, everyone should go to Delicate Arch and experience it if you’re into landscapes, but there was definitely something unique about forging my own path in Norway and stopping to shoot whatever seemed interesting.
4. Western Colorado
I went to photograph Ouray, Colorado
and the surrounding area a few years ago in the fall. The photos from that trip are still among my favorites that I’ve ever taken.
The group I was with caught the fall colors and changing trees at almost the perfect time. The morning sunrise at the Dallas Divide
is full of so much awesome photography potential, with mountain peaks, fall colors, and great light – all at the same time.
We had incredible weather while we were there. Putting some of those yellow aspens up against the blue skies made for some amazing photos.
I think my favorite part of my trip to Ouray was that we had some stormy weather too. As I look back at the last ten years of my photography, the stormy, dramatic photos tend to be my favorites and these are definitely close to the top.
5. Piling City
Okay, “Piling City” doesn’t actually exist, but hopefully, my last choice is more helpful to you than anything. My last official place isn’t really a “place;” it’s more of a general feeling that I really like to capture, and I look for it in whatever place I happen to be.
I love pilings, old docks, or just about anything of the sort along the water. Whenever I travel, that’s what I look for. I basically Google the heck out of any place near water and look for photos similar to what you see below.
Google Earth is awesome for this project, too. Here’s one of my all-time favorites in the the town of Bandon, Oregon. You can park your car in downtown Bandon, walk a hundred yards, and it’s right there.
Here’s another one taken across the river of downtown Portland. The one right below it is taken near Brooklyn Bridge Park
in New York City.
And finally, one of my favorite spots is only 20 minutes from my house. It’s a little place along the main road in Dunedin, FL
that you’d totally miss if you weren’t paying attention.
It’s become one of my favorite spots to go to and capture some of those amazing Florida sunsets.
Well, I hope this helped get the ideas flowing as to places you may want to add to your travel list. These are some of my favorites and I think they lend themselves to all types of photography interests and styles.
If you can’t make it out to any of these places, try this: Search locations close to your home (or close to where ever you are traveling) and look for interesting photos of the area. 500px.com
is a great place to research places to travel, as well.
You never know… there may be a killer photo spot near you that you’ve been missing out on. Enjoy!
Matt Kloskowski is a photography educator who specializes in outdoor photography and editing with Photoshop, Lightroom, and ON1. He is a Sony Artisan of Imagery and has been inducted into the Photoshop Hall of Fame. You can follow Matt and his latest photo adventures on Instagram
or at www.mattk.com