Artists in Our National Parks

As an Artist in Residence at Capitol Reef National Park,  I organized a talk about the History of Artists and Art in our National Parks.  When chosen as a residence, one of the “give backs” is to lead a hike, give a presentation, or any number of ways to contribute to the Park.  I presented to a group of visitors some techniques for using their smart phone more successfully.  And, I made a presentation at the Fruita Campground Amphitheater in Capitol Reef, and a public presentation at Mesa Verde National Park.

Artists have contributed to the formation of our parks from the early days of the Hayden Survey in 1871, all the way up till the present day, where the Artist in Residence programs thrive in our Parks.  Thomas Moran, William Henry Jackson, Frederick Dellenbaugh, painted and photographed in the West, as did many others. Today, contemporary photographers and artists contribute to our understanding of our precious National Parks and create images that speak to the preservation and expansion of our Parks.



Click this link for a full copy of the presentation of Art in Our National Parks.

Contemporary Art in our National Parks

Visit any National Park Service site and you’re bound to see photographers, artists, film makers, musicians, sculptors, writers, inspired and working on-site.   And many visitors use their smart phones for selfies, and bring home memories in our Parks, our Public Lands, and recreation areas.


Many of our Parks sponsor Plein Air Invitationals and host Artists in the Parks. Capitol Reef joined the list of about 50 National Parks that offer time and support for an Artist in Residence in 2017.  I was honored to be chosen as their first AIR.

Links to contemporary art being created in our Parks

Long-time Alaskan Kim Heacox spent a part of 2012 as one of Denali’s three writers-in-residence, and donated this essay after his experience.

A 2010 residency at Devil’s Tower allowed Chavawn Kelley to experiment with photography, and later inspired her written works here

Kathy Hodge, Artist in Residence.

Here’s a link to my portfolio of Artist Residencies in our Parks.


Hillman and Lookout Peaks, with Wizard Island.

My first look at Crater Lake. Artist in Residence, 2015

Annie Spring-Snowmelt

Annie Spring, Crater Lake National Park. ©Kit Frost

Clouds moving over Capitol Reef National Park

Autumn Gold, Capitol Reef National Park. Between 2016 and 2017 I spent about 14 weeks at Capitol Reef. In 2016 I volunteered as an Information Ranger. And in 2017 I was honored to be chosen as the first Artist in Residence in the Park. This image was made during the golden days of autumn in Cap Reef.


Long House, Mesa Verde National Park. ©Kit Frost, 2017 Artist in Residence

Photograph Hot Air Balloons – January 2014

The 16th Annual Bluff Hot Air Balloon Festival is just around the corner; the four corners to be exact.

Kit will be teaching a special weekend workshop, January 17th – 19th, 2014.  Space is limited, as are accommodations in and around Bluff.  We’ve held a few rooms, so register for this workshop as soon as you can!

Reserve your space now.  A perfect holiday gift too.

$650. Personal Instruction and Accommodations in Bluff, Utah
To register, email or call Kit at 970-946-9727 before December 5th.

By using the Nikon 55-300 lens I was able to create frames that compressed the background buttes and spires.  The balloons, then appear closer to the mesa. ©Kit Frost

By using the Nikon 55-300 lens I was able to create frames that compressed the background buttes and spires. The balloons, then appear closer to the mesa. ©Kit Frost

Full compression of the 55-300 lens.  The background sure appears closer and the composition is fun too. ©Kit Frost

Full compression of the 55-300 lens. The background sure appears closer and the composition is fun too. ©Kit Frost

You can see the wind blowing the balloon to the left.  Shortly after making this photo, all the balloons were tethered to wait own the wind.  ©Kit Frost

You can see the wind blowing the balloon to the left. Shortly after making this photo, all the balloons were tethered to wait out the wind. ©Kit Frost

Increase the storage space of your iPhone and iPad while traveling

When I travel, My camera gear includes a point and shoot Nikon (Nikon L120) and the Nikon D5100 and D300 camera bodies, with a pile of lenses.

The D5100 (and on my wish list, the Nikon D5300), uses SD cards. The D300 uses Compact Flash (CF) cards. And on many adventures I like to share my photos with my social network (Facebook, email, instagram)

I have an iPad and my iPhone, and use the phone for photos too. iPhoneography is so fun, as the camera is always with me and easy to keep in touch via the built in photo app. I usually travel solo, so there are plenty of times when I record the “Aunt Kit Show” and teach via videos.

I just learned about this product, also on my wish list. The RAVPower Wifi SD, USB, SDD, Card Reader.

Click here to see this product on Read reviews, and decide for yourself.

Available from Amazon for about $45., this item allows me to connect a thumb drive, an SD card, the Compact Flash Card reader, and even an external USB hard drive to wirelessly load my images and free up my CF/SD cards for more photos, and to increase the storage space of my iPad too.

Why?  Because I don’t own a laptop.  If I did, I’d probably still use the RavPower because there are times when I don’t want to carry it, like backpacking, and I don’t like the idea of leaving a laptop in the car.

Most of the time, I camp in my travel trailer, or I car camp, and in the evening I like to review the day’s images and send off a few to my blog, social networks.  But in the past, I have been limited by the available space on my 32GB iPad.  On an average trip I tend to use up that space rapidly, with my apps, and music too. Now I can use the Rav Power to increase the space. And even use it to bring along some music, videos, movies to watch (they can be loaded on a thumb drive or external HD.  Saaweeet.

Monument Valley and Valley of the Gods Photos

Our Chase the Light Photography Workshop in Southeast Utah and Arizona: 5 days/4 nights photographing the monuments of Monument Valley and the spires and buttes of Valley of the Gods.   Eight participants attended the photo workshop.  Our first location was at the Goosenecks of the San Juan River, where I taught about using the widest focal length lens to capture the big scene.  The day was blustery to say the least, so handheld photography from the overlook rim was in order.  Students determined how wide they could photograph, set up their wide-angle lenses and chose an ISO for obtaining deep depth of field as well as a shutter speed that would avoid camera shake.

Learning about using our wide angle lenses ©Nora Whalen

Learning about using our wide angle lenses ©Nora Whalen

As the week progressed, lessons included metering properly for balancing indoor and outdoor lighting (we used a hogan in Monument Valley for that lesson).  By using the digital camera’s “live view” or LCD, to assist in metering challenging scenes, students learned to balance and choose the correct exposure.

Image 23

Discussing how to capture the varied exposures in the Hogan at Monument Valley. By turning on “live view” you can see exactly what the camera is metering.

An example of using "Live view" to meter the inside and outside of the Hogan.

An example of using “Live view” to meter the inside and outside of the Hogan.

Some students were working with advanced Point and Shoot cameras, some DSLR, some played with their iPhones and when we had service, uploaded their images to instagram and social networking sites.

The Road to Monument Valley ©Nora Whalen

The Road to Monument Valley, many people call this the “Forest Gump” road. ©Nora Whalen

Shot with an "in camera" effect: vignette. ©Sherry Ketner

Shot with an “in camera” effect: vignette. ©Sherry Ketner

Shot with an "in camera" effect: vignette. ©Sherry Ketner

Shot with an “in camera” effect: vignette. ©Sherry Ketner

iPhone Photography, Monument Valley, Instagram images ©Nora WhaleniPhone Photography, Monument Valley, Instagram images ©Nora Whalen

Image 22

One of the workshop participants, Anita, photographing along the 17 mile drive in Monument Valley

Image 20

Walter never took that camera down from his face. He had a great time on this, his first, photo workshop

More participant examples to follow.  I’m prepping up for a two week adventure, a photo and road trip to California.  More to follow.

My Favorite iPhone Camera Apps

I don’t care for the camera app that comes with the iPhone.  My experience with apple is that they produce very well thought out products, but I’m not a fan of their build in camera app. It’s too remedial for me.  It is very limiting.  I don’t like where the exposure button is located on the app.I use the photojojo iPhone case so I can press the shutter on the top of the “camera” but that’s not enough.  Here are some features I like in an 8mp digital camera.  They are not all required, just looking at the options out there.

  1. Control of point of focus
  2. Control of point of metering
  3. Self Timer with a selection of 2-5-10-20 seconds.
  4. Ease of pressing the exposure
  5. Image stabilization.
  6. Depth of field, aperture, control.

Here are a few apps that I really like:

Developer Website: ©Lucky Clan

Developer Website: ©Lucky Clan

Top Camera has a feature I really like; focus point and metering point can be manually selected.  Sweet feature when photographing indoors, when there is a bright highlight in the scene . Very useful outdoors, the ability to choose the metering point is great for detail in clouds too.

Top Camera features HDR, Aperture control, self timer, image stabilization.  By including a self timer, after pressing the shutter release it’s easy to steady the iPhone for the capture. The Screen button allows me to press the shutter from anywhere on the screen.  One flaw that annoys me is that TC does not automatically save photos to the camera roll for ease of viewing and sharing later.  $2.99 is a bargain.  But I prefer free apps.


Big Lens © Real Illusion Inc.

Big Lens $.99 is my favorite app for controlling focus area and depth of field, in post production.  After taking the photograph you have a wide variety of choices about what part of the image is the sharpest and how “soft” the rest of the image is.  This is just one aspect of this app’s abilities.

Screen Shot 2013-01-18 at 10.20.54 AM

Today I downloaded Camera Awesome app and so far, I like the way it too allows you to select the focus point and the metering point in different parts of the composition.  But I did find it slow to load to Facebook and email.  I see Camera Awesome has a setting to reduce file size for upload, so I’ll give that a try. I used some of the composition features and “awesomized” some photos.  I love that the app records where and how you’ve shared photos and includes a 1-tap upload to Facebook.  Sometimes I repeat uploads to social networks and this feature will eliminate duplicates. The GPS is helpful and fun.  And best of all CA is free. I often use my iPhone for video so I’ll be testing that feature soon too.

What apps do you use for your iPhone photography?  Join in on this conversation.

Here’s an online blog about Big Lens

And a review in Wired Magazine