Best parks in the U.S. to visit this spring and summer 2018

The arrival of the spring and summer months is always a great time to explore the great outdoors and reconnect with nature. Whether you plan on going alone or with the entire family, here are some of the best U.S. parks to visit this 2018.

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Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Sprawled between Tennessee and North Carolina, the Great Smoky Mountains has some of the most visited trails and streams in the country. The ideal time to visit is from April 19-23, as the park hosts the Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage. There’s so much to do and enjoy here, from photo tours and art classes to historical walks and even horse camp options.

Shenandoah National Park
Travelers in this Virginia park get to explore more than 200,000 acres of beautiful mountains, stunning waterfalls, and rich wildlife. Visitors can hike a section of the famed Appalachian Trail or take a road trip along the Skyline Drive.

Wind Cave National Park
You’ve to pack your bags for South Dakota to witness this awesome park that features the world’s longest and most intricate collection of caves and more than 28,000 acres of mixed-grass prairie, ponderosa pine forest, and rich wildlife.

Yosemite National Park
Easily one of the most popular in the U.S., the Yosemite National Park in California is a must-visit for attractions like Colombia Rock, Yosemite Valley, Half Dome, and Sentinel Rock. It has 13 campgrounds and amenities for car-camping and RV-ing.

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Hello, I’m Allen R. Hartman, a retired photographer. Among my favorite photographic subjects are scenes from national parks. For more on my work and interests, check out this blog.


The Nba Draft’s Biggest Losers

The NBA Draft is an exciting time for teams and fans alike since they can get a good glimpse of the future of their team. Oftentimes, teams pick up gems in through the early picks, but there are instances when these top first-round picks turn out to be busts. Here are a few of the biggest losers in NBA Draft history.

The 2007 Portland Trail Blazers

The Blazers are unlucky in the draft. Back in 2007, they used their first pick to choose Greg Oden over Kevin Durant. Both were big men, but Oden was more dominant inside the paint, and at this point, Durant wasn’t Durant yet. But Oden suffered one injury after another, ultimately causing his career to be a disappointment.

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The 1998 Los Angeles Clippers

In 1998, the Clippers picked Michael Olowokandi first overall, much to the surprise of many scouts. He hadn’t played organized ball until he was an adult. The result? 10 seasons of 8 points per game. To think that “The Kandi Man” was chosen ahead of players such as Dirk Nowitzki and Paul Pierce was just baffling.

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The 1984 Portland Trail Blazers

Did we mention that the Blazers are unlucky in the draft? If you thought the Oden deal was bad because they passed on Durant and Oden kept on getting injured, their experience in 1984 was worse. They first lost a coin toss against the Rockets and missed the chance to get Hakeem Olajuwon. So they chose another big man, but with a history of injuries – Sam Bowie (who went on to play in only 139 games in five years). One small detail though – they could’ve chosen a young player from North Carolina named Michael Jordan. The Chicago Bulls couldn’t be any happier.

Allen R. Hartman shares his opinions on sports issues as a blogger. For his thoughts on the hottest sports issues, follow him on Twitter.

Yosemite, Photography, And Fitness

There are times when we live for nature photography. It helps that our country is blessed with countless wonders of the natural world. At the forefront of these wonders are our national parks. Our favorite ones are those that are worlds in themselves. Take for instance Yosemite. It is a park unlike any other, where people can go for a great number of reasons.

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For us, however, we’re in it for two things – the hiking and the shoot. Being in Yosemite presents a rare chance to enjoy nature, get in shape, and take pictures, all at the same time. The beauty, if you can call it that, about Yosemite is its varied trails, which are categorized according to its difficulty.

For fitness enthusiasts, the high-level trail may prove a challenge, especially if you’re hauling all the camera gear. This is why we only recommend the easy or intermediate trails for photographers. Each trail has nothing less than their own amazing views, and people will never run out of things to take shots of.

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From the magnificent Yosemite Falls to the mysterious Sentinel Dome, Yosemite has everything for the nature photographer. And if you’re anything like us, having to trek through the natural realm of the planet to get there is simply a blessing and motivation.

Hey there, my name’s Allen R. Hartman. I’m a retired photographer drawn to the call of the great outdoors. For more photography tips, follow me on Twitter.

The Everglades: The best parts to photograph the park

The Everglades National Park is the centerpiece among all the other wetlands that cover thousands of square miles between the east and west coast of Florida. The best time to visit the place is during the winter, from November through early April.

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Here are some of the best places to photograph the Everglades National Park:

1. Loop Road

Loop Road travels 26 miles through the heart of the Big Cypress National Preserve. There are many ponds on both sides of the road and you should find any wading birds, perfect for practicing your water photography.

2. Wakodahatchee Wetlands

Wakodahatchee Wetlands, located in suburban Delray Beach on Jog Road, was created more than 10 years ago. It is now a renowned bird sanctuary featuring herons, anhingas, purple gallinules, bitterns, limpkins and more.

3. Shark Valley

If you like photographing wading birds, then Shark Valley is a good place for you. It’s located about 35 miles west of Miami on U.S. 41. There, you’ll find a large number of wading birds, most within 50 feet from your lens. The park opens at 8:30AM. But avoid the no parking zones along road 41 or you will get a ticket.

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Hi there, I’m Allen R. Hartman, I’m a retired photographer drawn to the call of the great outdoors. Follow me on Twitter to get more photography updates.

Top Tips To Capture Better Nature Photos

Nature photography, while a source of marvelous patterns, textures, and colors that are both vivid and subtle, presents a set of challenges for the photographer in you. The key is therefore to work with existing outdoor elements and find the right light and way to showcase landscapes and wildlife.

The right light is the sun’s natural light. The worst lighting to work with is direct, which is harsh and does not flatter the whole setup. Direct lighting is present at midday, so it’s best to avoid shooting from mid-morning to mid-afternoon.

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How about during sunrise and sunset? Try arriving about an hour before sunrise or sunset, giving you some time to position your gear before the best shots dawn on you. Use a wide-angle lens for sweeping landscapes, and a telephoto lens for when the sun dominates the shot. Experiment with varying manual exposures, too.

Using the right equipment is also key in shooting nature. Any digital camera can shoot landscapes, but the devil is in the details. A DSLR, for instance, allows you to shoot in aperture priority mode, a necessity for setting the small apertures for capturing a large depth of field. A large depth of field is critical in landscape photography, as you would want the entire shot from back to front in laser-sharp focus.

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Compose the shot with the foreground, middle ground, and background in mind, and work with the horizon and with lines. These lines are defined by the landscape’s natural architecture or by specific pieces of scenery.

Finally, there’s dealing with the elements. The weather can get both interesting (think of low hanging clouds) and less interesting (shooting on a cloudy day). Work according to the elements, such as bringing up the exposure during wintertime so that the foreground isn’t in shadow.

Allen R. Hartman is a retired professional photographer drawn to the call of the great outdoors. Read more about photography on this page.

Why Nature Photography Is Good For You

Nature itself is a masterpiece, and it’s always thrilling to photograph its majestic landscapes and beautiful seas. Sure, you’ll get amazing shots doing from our mother nature, but did you know that nature photography is also good for our physical and mental health? Here are some of the benefits of having a photography session with mother nature.

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It relieves stress

People like to go out camping or hiking to destress. The relieving effects of those activities is similar to what you will get when go for a session of nature photography. Being immersed in the nature-taking photographs and admiring its beauty has a safe and definite relaxing effect on your mind and soul.

It provides inspiration and motivation

Just got over a hell week? Do you need to come up with an idea for your next big project? Go on a trip and take photos of beautiful landscapes. Taking photographs of nature equates meditation and gives you fresh strokes of inspiration.

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It helps you stay fit

Getting out in the nature and taking all kinds of pictures is not very easy, it may seem like it, but it’s actually physically demanding. So while you’re enjoying the beauty and freshness of nature, you’ll also get your daily dose of exercise needed for the day.

Hi there, my name’s Allen R. Hartman. I’m a retired photographer. Since my retirement, I’ve taken the opportunity to leave the urban city and get up close with nature. If you want more tips on nature photography, visit my page.

Bucket List: America’s Most Visited National Parks

The first national park to ever exist was the Yellowstone National Park. It was designated as a national park to preserve its beauty for posterity. Many others followed. There are 58 national parks in America, all of them beautiful, of course. Here are the most visited national parks in America.

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park is found in California. Yosemite’s unique rock formation is a very good subject for photography. It’s highest peak, the El Capitan, is a 3000-foot smooth granite wall. When the light hits the wall, it creates a majestic view that are just picture perfect.

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Grand Canyon National Park

The Grand Canyon is located in Arizona. It hosts 5 million visitors annually. And one of its main attractions is found at the bottom of the canyon, some 5200-feet deep, the Colorado River. It has some of the best whitewater rafting in the world.

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Acadia National Park

Located in Maine, the Acadia National Park is a 47000-acre of wonder. There is literally no place where you are not going to be in awe. It is the home of Cadillac Mountain – the tallest peak on the Atlantic coast, and the first national park in America to have a trail system. Hiking in Acadia is the best I’ve experienced.

Hi, I’m Allen R. Hartman. I’m a retired photographer from NYC. I travel the country to take photos of national parks. Visit my page to see more.