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Rebecca Helen / Photo & Travel Photos & Videos on Instagram

@rebeccahelenphoto   ✧ Travel photographer & blogger chasing waterfalls, sunrises, & adventure ✧ Next > Sedona #femalephotofriday ↓ Blog & more ↓

2 days ago

⁣The patterns of Death Valley ... I will forever be dreaming of the sand painted in a rosy gold light as the sun set below the horizon.⁣⠀ ⁣⠀ This was one of the most challenging but also the most rewarding places to shoot that I have ever been to. It truly defies description, standing there versus seeing my images from my time there.⁣⠀ ⁣⠀ On my quest to visit every National Park, Death Valley was a new one I was determined to see this year. Sequoia was also another first for me, and Yosemite was just the second time I have ever visited. That being said, I realize just how lucky I've been to set foot in any of them at all.⁣⠀ ⁣⠀ I was excited to hear the addition of a new park, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore - which has stunning dunes like these, shoreline, marshland, and oak forests - so many amazing habitats for birds and wildlife, not to mention incredible views and hiking for the human visitors. I am so happy that another park has become accessible to people who may not be able to visit another state to set foot in a National Park. ⁣⠀ ⁣⠀ Congratulations Indiana on your first National Park, Leslie Knope would be proud!⁣

4 days ago

Anyone else dreaming of a tropical vacation right now? Winter hit in full force this last week but after my winter National Parks trip, I think I'm about ready for spring.⁣⁣⠀ ⁣⁣⠀ Early summer of last year, I took a trip out to Maui for a week full of photography. I got up for almost every sunrise, caught every sunset, and photographed as much as I could in between.⁣⠀ ⁣⠀ On this particular morning, I wanted to play around with long exposure shots. Waiting for the perfect wave while trying not to get soaked is a fine balance with wave shots. Not to mention your tripod gets absolutely wrecked full of sand and salt, so cleaning it every night was a necessity.⁣⠀ ⁣⠀ But it was such a calm morning and there was only one other person on the beach, so it was the most relaxing way to begin a busy day of photography and hiking. Sunrise came late, but finally some gentle color began to light the sky.⁣⠀ ⁣⠀ There is definitely something about the sound of waves that always gets me, and I was reluctant to leave even after sunset had passed. I could have easily stayed for hours more, but waterfalls were calling my name. ⁣⠀ ⁣⠀ What about you? Do beaches or waterfalls captivate you more?⁣ 🌴💦⁣⁣⠀

5 days ago

New blog on my National Parks trip is up! Check out the link in my bio for Winter Road Trip Adventures in the National Parks of California - Yosemite, Sequoia, & Death Valley. I'll go over all my favorite hikes, photo spots, and more so you can do your own winter National Parks road trip.⠀ ⠀ This is one of the shots I took from the trip at one of my absolute favorite spots - the sand dunes of Death Valley. There were so many intriguing textures, lines, and colors - the last of which changed drastically with the angle of the sun.⠀ ⠀ It was a challenging place to shoot though. The first sunset I did here, I felt that I didn't come away with "THE shot", and I was frustrated. The simplicity in other shots I had seen was much more difficult to achieve than I realized.⠀ ⠀ Thankfully, I had time in my trip to return a second evening to try for one more sunset. This time, I entered a different section of the dunes and had a better idea of what I was trying to accomplish in my shots. I found as many different compositions as I could, racing against the setting sun.⠀ ⠀ Once the sun set, I had maybe less than fifteen minutes of perfect, soft light. I ran up and down the dunes, panting and firing off shots right and left at all the spots I had scoped out before the sun dropped. I ended up with quite a few shots I enjoyed, and I couldn't wait to get back home and edit them.⠀ ⠀ It was a great end to the final sunset of the trip, and I can't wait to be back in the Valley to try my hand at this beautiful and challenging area once more.⠀

1 week ago

Thank you so much for the birthday wishes yesterday! And to all you lovely ladies today - HAPPY GALENTINE'S DAY! ⠀ ⠀ Even though it's not a true holiday (tragedy), I just wanted to take a moment to highlight the importance of women supporting other women, especially female creators creating a strong community instead of competing with each other. I posted a story (see my about me highlight) that talked about featuring myself in my photographs and how my biggest advice for female creators is to support and learn from each other.⠀ ⠀ I wrote: "For a long time, I was afraid to post photographs of myself in my feed because I wanted people to follow me for my work and not for my gender. But I'm realizing how important it is to show myself and my personality, because let's face it - there are a million amazing creators out there, but there's only one you."⠀ ⠀ Since that story post, I have had a lot of messages from other female creators that struggled with the same hesitancy to feature themselves. We've been told that we are vain for taking photographs of ourselves. We've been told that our bodies are more important than our brains or our creativity. We've been told a lot of things, but now is the time for us to start telling our own stories and break down those boundaries of who we "should" be and just BE.⠀ ⠀ I also received messages about the challenge of finding exactly where those other female creators are. I want to facilitate these connections, because my platform on here means nothing without the community that has supported me. Beginning this week, use the tag #femalephotofriday and I'll share your photos and accounts on my Friday stories (and I'll also ask for nominations that day as well if you want to shout anyone out) - ESPECIALLY female landscape photography, because this seems to be the field we are the most underrepresented. I want to see your landscape shots, I want to see you in landscapes, and I want us to all find and support each other. Now go out and give some love to the strong females in your life! Happy Galentine's y'all. 💙

1 week ago

Today I turn another year older. ✨ This past year has been a crazy explosion whirlwind of change and growth. I am in a completely different place than I was one year ago - both mentally and physically - and most significant, in a completely different place with where my life, relationship, and career are all going. This year I moved away from home to support my partner - something I didn't really want to share or talk about here, because it made the move feel more real, and I didn't want to leave the place I loved the most. This year, I got engaged to the love of my life, and I can't believe this is the year that we get married. And this year, I finally got the courage to stop trying to please my family and some weird societal idea of what I should do or be, and I decided to pursue my dream of doing photography full time. I am looking forward to what this year may hold for me, for my photography, for my life. I don't have any answers, I don't know where this path will lead, but I do know I want to work harder than I ever have and I want to chase down my dreams until they become a reality. I want to put myself out there, share more of myself, and put myself in my work - quite literally! The fact I only have a few photographs of myself in some epic locations is something I definitely want to change this year. This last trip in January to Yosemite, Sequoia, and Death Valley, I began to step in front of the camera. Sometimes I was serious, sometimes I was silly, but it makes those memories even more special. Instead of being happy or sad that I "got the shot", I instead get to see myself there, enjoying the view for all its worth, and that makes me happier than when I got the perfect capture. So this is me, this is my journey, and I am so excited anyone at all wants to follow along and see where it goes. Here's to another year full of adventure, laughter, uncertainty, love, travel, achievement, fear, courage - here's to it all. 💕

1 week ago

Happy new week! I just posted a new blog, 15 Tips to Capture Magical Winter Photographs - link in bio! Inspired by my recent winter photography trip, I go through gear, technique, composition, and edit tips so you can take full advantage of all the recent snow.⠀ ⠀ This shot was from my final day in Yosemite (I keep saying that and realizing just how many shots I crammed into one day), where I ran around crazily to all the places I had visited earlier in the week. I had all my favorite spots mapped out, and I wanted new shots of them with beautiful snowy layers.⠀ ⠀ I had previously done a sunrise at the river, and I still had the same composition in mind for having these cute plants with little snow caps with the waterfall in the background. The river's edge was muddy from the recent snow, and areas that had been dry before were now underwater.⠀ ⠀ I carefully rock hopped to the spot I had in mind, and cautiously put my tripod into the water. I tripled checked every leg was locked down before setting my camera on top. I am always worried I'll knock my camera into the water or something won't be tightened down enough and it will slide right in.⠀ ⠀ I fired off a few shots, moved my tripod, repeated. I made tiny adjustments until I felt I had the composition lined up perfectly, the horizon line was straight, and the foreground was centered correctly. I checked the back of my camera screen to make sure it was all in focus and I hadn't blown out any highlights. When I thought the shot was perfect, I packed up and headed to the next snowy spot.⠀ ⠀ I was really happy that for this trip I had planned in extra time - usually I try to be the most efficient I can be and hit the maximum number of stops. But on this trip I had left a few sunrise and sunset spots blank and left gaps in my day - spaces purposefully designed so I could scout out potential shooting locations and revisit any locations I wasn't satisfied with on the first attempt. When there was better weather, I went back to a favorite spot and re-shot it. ⠀ ⠀ Of all the things I did on this trip, this is probably what allowed me to be the most successful with my photography. I will definitely be planning this way

2 weeks ago

Keeping it simple this Friday. Sometimes the most beautiful views aren't the grandiose vistas but the subtle hints of beauty you didn't quite notice before. Those little scenes your eyes slide over at first, but then come back and start to puzzle together. Something about the lines, the colors caught your eye. ⠀ ⠀ Those scenes were what made Death Valley such a wondrous place to explore. Yosemite was all about trying to put my unique spin on a classic shot, but Death Valley was all about making your own shot. I really enjoyed the photographic challenges of both, and I loved that Death Valley pushed me to look at landscapes differently than I ever had before.⠀ ⠀ Thank you to everyone who reads through my super long captions, I enjoy telling a little more of the story behind a shot because I feel it gives it more meaning and shows you more of how I saw a scene, how it began to come together, and what challenges I faced. But I'll keep it shorter today so you can all get to your weekend plans! Go out an enjoy the outdoors, and find those little moments and little scenes of beauty that are all around you.

2 weeks ago

Winter in Oregon - waterfalls transformed to icy sheets, trees adorned with white mantles, frosty crispness collected in the air, and traffic at an absolute standstill. 😂 ⠀ ⠀ Snowfall is uncommon in Portland, in the north of Oregon, so at the exact time I want to go out and adventure, it becomes nearly impossible to reach those most wonderful locations. And until last year I didn't have four wheel drive, so I was trapped unless a friend adventured with me.⠀ ⠀ I grew up in Southern Oregon though, where I spent every winter skiing and snowboarding on Mt. Ashland. It snows more frequently in the valley than up in Portland, and my parents made a point of having me practice driving in snowy and icy conditions. Now that I have a 4WD vehicle whose tires match my snow driving confidence, I've been able to enjoy all the beautiful wonderland scenes of recent winters.⠀ ⠀ I still remember a certain day years ago, practicing driving in the snow with my mother. She calmly instructed me to accelerate more and more down a snowy road, and then when I was at my peak nervousness, she shouted "DEER!" I slammed on the brakes, the car fishtailed out crazily, and I struggled to remember how to "steer into the skid". Finally, I got the car straightened out and stopped. Shaking, hands sweaty, I looked over at my mother. My mom took a sedate sip of coffee, completely at ease, and said "again". ⠀ ⠀ After that memorable day, I am able to keep calm when the inevitable ice patch sends the back of my car twisting out, adjust the steering correctly, and keep driving as if nothing happened. That's not to say I don't still have a brief moment of panic though. 🙈 Anyone else have a crazy winter driving experience? 🙋‍♀️

2 weeks ago

My final stop on my winter national parks road trip: Death Valley. I journeyed from snow to sand, trading forest winter for desert winds.⠀ ⠀ It was the first time I had ever been to Death Valley, and after the snowstorm of Yosemite and Sequoia I thought it would be difficult to live up to the previous two parks. But Death Valley absolutely blew me away.⠀ ⠀ While Yosemite has grandiose viewpoints and Sequoia has striking giants, Death Valley's beauty lays in the little details. Sunrise on the salt flats, lines stretching as far as the eye can see. Multicolored hills, changing tones as sunlight chases over their folds. Rolling sand dunes alternating with swirls of yellow and blue, and then fading to pink as the sun sets.⠀ ⠀ I could spend weeks in Death Valley, never getting the same shot twice. There is so much to explore, and not just because of the sheer scope of the park. There are so many hidden scenes to be explored, and the fact that the angle of the sun can completely change the colors of the landscape is endlessly fascinating.⠀ ⠀ I fell completely in love with the desert all over again, and I can't wait to return to Death Valley and discover more of its beauty.

2 weeks ago

For the first time on a photo trip, I made taking photographs of myself a priority. I began in Yosemite, setting my camera on a tripod with a timer and running into the shot. There were few people around, so while I felt like an idiot, there was no one around witnessing how I struggled to pose and look like a normal human being.⠀ ⠀ Then my winter national parks road trip took me to Sequoia National Park. There were scores of people out enjoying the snow. I was pretty pumped myself - the park hadn't been open until a few days prior due to a last minute donation during the government shutdown. And to top it off, the fresh coat of snow was everything I could have wanted for Sequoia and more.⠀ ⠀ I set out on one of the most popular hikes, as few trails were open during the shutdown and snowstorm. Families were out everywhere as I set up my tripod. To make it even more challenging, the snow was falling pretty heavily, so if I wanted photographs of myself, I'd have to get the pose in quickly before the lens was covered with water spots.⠀ ⠀ I was nervous to do my little posing routine in front of so many people waiting to also take shots at this particular tree. I usually set my timer to take 9 shots with a 1-2 second interval for me to change up my pose, so it's pretty much 15 seconds of me in all these different quick poses and trying to be as me as I can. ⠀ ⠀ I ended up liking this shot the best, when I finally began to relax and fell out of a more structured pose to just enjoy kicking up some snow and really feel the joy of being outdoors. I definitely have a lot to learn in working myself into my landscape shots, but I had so much more fun in the process than I expected.⠀ ⠀ The best part? Everyone around was super supportive and just wanted me to take their photograph next! Thank you to all the beautiful humans letting me rock my best self that day and to you all for the support as I branch into new editing styles, putting myself in the shot, and more. Cheers to you!!!⠀

2 weeks ago

It's Monday so a new blog is up! The last photograph I posted from Yosemite National Park, I talked about finally catching some snow and getting that perfect final shot, but I didn't get to touch on my experiences visiting during the government shutdown. No caption is quite long enough to do that justice, so check out the link in my bio for Visiting the National Parks During the Winter 2019 Government Shutdown. Please comment or message me with any questions you have!⠀ ⠀ This photograph today is another one from during the shutdown and also from my final day at Yosemite. I had previously shot this composition a few days earlier, also at sunrise, but the sun was locked behind the clouds and the foreground was a sort of sad winter yellow.⠀ ⠀ I had envisioned it with the sun catching the peak of El Capitan, lighting it up a stunning gold, and snow covering the foreground, painting it white and contrasting the sunlit brightness. But my first three days in the park were absolutely snow-free in the valley, despite snow falling in the mountains around.⠀ ⠀ I didn't think I would get that magic shot, but on the final day, a snow storm finally swept the valley and transformed it into a winter wonderland. I had been spending sunrise waiting at Tunnel View for the clouds to clear, because the clouds from the storm still hung heavy in the sky.⠀ ⠀ The clouds wouldn't clear for hours more though, so I headed down into the valley, hoping for some sun to peak through the clouds, and I figured I could at least re-do some of my favorite places with the coating of snow. I had to revisit this particular composition, because I new the foreground would be much improved. ⠀ ⠀ As I parked, the sun pierced through the clouds. I couldn't believe my luck, and I raced to set up my gear. I fired off shots as quickly as I could, and as I was finishing up, the clouds rolled back over El Capitan and swallowed it in a gray haze. I jumped up and down with excitement, so pumped I finally got that wondrous shot I had envisioned. I headed back up to Tunnel View and lucked out once more (see my previous post from here) and all I can say now is - Yosemite, I will be dreaming of you for a long time yet.

3 weeks ago

Happy weekend! I was really excited to finally get some winter adventures in January, it was making me reminisce on some of my other amazing winter adventures.⠀ ⠀ My winter adventures used to consist of hitting the slopes to ski or snowboard, and now I love to be out doing it all - hiking, snowshoeing, skiing, photographing, etc. Which is pretty impressive considering I am a tiny human that runs pretty cold. If you see a human marshmallow in bright clothes, that's probably me.⠀ ⠀ Last year I finally purchased my first pair of snowshoes instead of renting them, and so naturally it was a warm winter and I didn't need them. This year, I flew out to my winter adventures so I couldn't bring them along. One day I'll actually use them! At the very least I had also purchased crampons, and those have been worth their weight in gold.⠀ ⠀ Hopefully there are more winter adventures to come this year, although with how quickly time is going by I think it will be spring before I know it! ⠀ ⠀ This weekend, I'll be spending the time going through my 3000+ photographs from my Yosemite, Sequoia, and Death Valley trip (!). And of course planning my next trip! What are your weekend plans?⠀⠀

3 weeks ago

My first image from my winter National Parks road trip through Yosemite, Sequoia, and Death Valley (!)⠀ ⠀ It's been 5, maybe 6 years since the last time I set foot in Yosemite. I did that insane 30 mile Panorama hike, but I only had a point and shoot camera with me. I was completely awestruck and determined to make it back with a real camera, and I really wanted to visit in winter for a gorgeous layer of snow.⠀ ⠀ I almost didn't even make it out on my flight because right as I was headed to start my trip, a huge winter storm hit California and dumped FEET of snow. I was so excited, and a bit nervous for the drive. But when I arrived, it seemed the snow had completely missed Yosemite for some reason, and it was just cold.⠀ ⠀ I was a little disappointed, but the sheer beauty of Yosemite kept me from feeling anything but gloriously happy. The morning I was supposed to head out to Sequoia, a final storm crashed through the area. I eagerly arrived at Tunnel View at dawn, but the thick clouds obscured the view. I waited in 27 degree weather for 2 hours, shivering against the wind. I finally gave up and headed into the valley to at re-visit some of my favorite photo spots.⠀ ⠀ When it was time to head out, I gave Tunnel View one last shot. The clouds were still pretty thick, but the sunlight looked like it could disperse some of the clouds. As I set up, the wind kicked up a notch and Bridalveil Falls suddenly blew into view. I scrambled to take as many shots as I could, as as quickly as the clouds blew out, they came back in.⠀ ⠀ I couldn't believe my luck. The shot I had been dreaming about - I checked the back of my camera screen - there it was. I zoomed in - was it in focus? It was, and the joy struck me fiercely. Emotions swept over me, and I felt so grateful I could be out in one of the world's most beautiful places, breathing in that crisp winter air, and witnessing one incredible sight. It's a moment I will keep with me forever.⠀ ⠀ This trip had so many amazing moments, and I haven't even begun to discuss what it means to visit during a shutdown, but I'll be writing a blog this month about my experiences. Have you visited Yosemite? What was your favorite moment? ❄

3 weeks ago

In the depth of winter, I learned that there was in me an invincible summer.⠀ -Albert Camus⠀ ⠀ I've been so enjoying my winter adventures this week. It's been a while since I had a week-long trip out to the snow. Other than weekend trips, it's been since my Iceland and Norway trip that I've had multiple days to revel in that winter wonderland glory.⠀ ⠀ Snow is definitely a challenging environment to shoot in and even just to hike in. It coats the land and transforms it into something new, but you must brave the cold, the wind, and your own stamina to earn that snow-kissed shot.⠀ ⠀ My winter trip to Iceland was the second time I had been there - I had visited once before in autumn. I couldn't believe how much I associated Iceland with its lush 100-year old moss. I thought of green and I thought of black lava rock. Iceland in a white blanket was quite a different look than I was used to, but it was absolutely enchanting.⠀ ⠀ It was also bonkers cold and the wind was ever-present. But I would go out in that cold again just to see the land shimmering in its coat of white glory. Would you brave the cold to get the shot?

3 weeks ago

New week, new blog - check out the link in my bio for "Break Out of Your Winter Funk with 15 Photos That will Inspire You to Explore Maui." I had a ton of winter adventures in Yosemite and I am finishing up my Death Valley adventures, but for those of you less into the cold, check out the blog and let me know what you think! Now for the story of today's shot:⠀ .........⠀ I haven't been able to get out as much with my drone as I would like, but I did nab this shot last winter of these amazing snow-covered trees in the Willamette National Forest. ⠀ ⠀ You can't tell the scale from the photograph, but the tops of these trees were at least 200 feet up - such an insane height. I was dwarfed by these silent giants, who were completely transformed by a heavy snowfall.⠀ ⠀ As always, the cold is the enemy of batteries and the drone was no exception. It was also starting to snow pretty heavily, so I only kept the drone up for a short time to avoid water damage. I am definitely a weenie with my drone, but I've gained more confidence the more and more I've flown it.⠀ ⠀ Hopefully I can get more drone adventures in this year, although I have a lot of plans for exploring the National Parks, which means the drone stays in the bag. That being said, I definitely have a lot of drone projects in mind that I am excited for. I finally got a new computer to handle 4k footage so I am pumped to finally start getting some of my film put together.⠀ ⠀ Let me know if you want to see more drone shots in my feed in the coming year ❄️

1 month ago

New blog Monday! Except it’s Tuesday 😂 new blog went up on Monday but I haven’t had a chance to post yet so go check out the link in my bio for My 2019 National Park Travel & Photography Bucket List Around the U.S. and Beyond. This week I'm already exploring one of my bucket list items - Yosemite and Death Valley National Parks! ⠀ ⠀ Since I'll be out in the parks this week I will be online less and likely have fewer posts, but I will keep my stories updated so follow along in my stories! ⠀⠀

1 month ago

Dreamy sunrises on the Oregon coast, it doesn't get any better than this. I got lucky with a trip out here in the beginning of winter, usually a terrible time for the Oregon coast. There was a brief break in all the cold weather and I had the most beautiful three days of perfect sunrises and sunsets. I could not have timed it better between storms.⠀ ⠀ This next week, I'll be out on another winter adventure, but this time I'm hoping for the cold weather. I'll be adventuring in Yosemite and Death Valley National Parks. I am so excited to return to Yosemite, since it's been years since I've been there and the last time I was there I only had a little point and shoot camera. ⠀ ⠀ I've never been to Death Valley, so I am really pumped to visit a new park and explore an area of California I have not been to yet. I'll be offline more than usual and posting less next week, but stay tuned for the stories, I'll be keeping those updated.⠀ ⠀ Unfortunately, my timing is terrible this time around with the government shut down still ongoing. I had hoped I could move my trip, but the flights were non-refundable. I don't recommend going to the parks during a shut down, and I'm sure you've seen enough bad press to know why. But I'm hoping I can at least do my part to help the parks during this terrible time - I'll be spending afternoons between shoots picking up trash. ⠀ ⠀ Please take a hard look at why you love beautiful wild places and help be part of a cycle of respect, protection, and regeneration instead of destruction. On that note, have a happy weekend and endeavor to leave places you adventure to in the coming days better than you found it. 🙏

1 month ago

I still can't get over the size and color of these icicles. A few winters back, Portland was hit with Snowmaggedon. It was so bad we had to get snow plows from Seattle.⠀ ⠀ The roads were really bad, so I didn't get to leave my house much and explore. I also unfortunately had my old 2WD car. If I had only had the car I have now! But I did make it out for one gorgeous winter hike.⠀ ⠀ It was only a four mile trek, but it felt like eight miles due to the difficulty of snow shoeing through such deep and wet snowfall.⠀ ⠀ A beautiful waterfall awaited at the end, almost completely frozen through. To the side of the waterfall grew these enormous icicles. I couldn't believe it. I had to get some shots. For reference, each of these is thicker than my fist - maybe even two of my fists combined.⠀ ⠀ It was an absolutely wild hike. I returned last year in the snow again, but it was a much more reasonable level. There was definitely an ideal amount of snow for photographs for the waterfall, and there's a point where it is almost too snowy. However, I love that I had this crazy winter adventure more than I loved getting "THE SHOT" here. ⠀ ⠀ Cheers to adventures and memories over photographs, because loving the experience is the reason I got out here in the first place. Good photographs are just the bonus! 🙌⠀