Photography In The National Parks: Is There In Truth No Beauty?

Quite a few stunning photographs have undergone their fair share of editing. For instance, the starry night photos you may see of the Watchman and the Virgin River in Zion National Park with the perfect lighting on both river and mountain even in the dark of night. Those are composites of two or more images blended together.

Some photographers will state how many shots it took to create that composite, while others remain silent about it. Is it a beautiful image? Yes. Is it an honest image, true to the original scene? Well … sure. The photo was taken at an honest location within a national park, as opposed to a Hollywood backlot, and the photo depicts what you will see in that specific location during a visit to this park.

But the photo itself has been manipulated beyond the average sharpening, saturation, contrast, and brightening adjustments. While the shot was captured at a beautiful landscape, there were a few enhancements made to that image, allowing the natural beauty of that scene to really pop out and catch the viewer’s eye, even in the dark of night. Does that matter to you? Is a pretty image a pretty image, manipulated or not?

Most of us like our national park landscape images to look natural. But, what is natural? If the image is dull, do we think that is what the natural landscape looked like? If the image is colorful, do we automatically assume it’s overdone, simply because there is so much saturation to the scene?

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