The Best of Crater Lake National Park in 3 Simple Photographs

During a recent road trip to Oregon with a good college friend, we decided to stop at Crater Lake National Park on our way back to California. And I’m so glad we did!

What an amazing place with breathtaking views. Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the U.S. (1,943 feet beep) and the 9th deepest in the world. The lake was created by a volcanic eruption about 7,700 years ago. Another fun fact is that Crater Lake is among the five clearest lakes around the world. The main reason for the water being so clear is because there are no water streams flowing in or out of the lake. The water is maintained only by precipitation (snow and rain), which helps to explain its clarity and extremely reflective blue appearance.

We entered through the North Junction and our first stop was Watchman Overlook at over 8,000 feet of elevation. It was the beginning of June and there was still lots of snow on the ground.

The first time you see the lake it takes your breath away! We had a magnificent view of Wizard Island – a small island located at the west end of the lake. The reflective quality of the water is almost like a mirror. White puffy clouds formed above the rim and streaks of snow added extra reflections on the water. I was taken away by the reflective quality of the water. Pure magic! So I grabbed my camera and immediately wanted to take the “perfect” picture.

However, I quickly realized that I was photographing the lake without a foreground – without it I realized my photographs lacked visual reference. By adding sections of the foreground to the images, the photographs became a bit more grounded and relatable to the eye. Also, I became aware of the placement of Wizard Island in the frame. Instead of placing it right in the middle of the shot, I decided to put it either on the left of to the right of each frame (rule of third). This placement of the island makes for a better composition that is more pleasant to the eye.

Landscape of Wizard Island on Crater Lake

Every stop we made along the ring the view changed slightly but the feeling of peace and tranquility kept rising. As I continued photographing the lake, I continued to add visual elements to frame the view. I included sections of the grown covered in snow, rocks and green pine trees. All these added texture and dimension to each shot.

Landscape of Crater Lake and reflection

I also tried to be selective with the way I shoot and instead of taking hundreds of photographs, I decided to take a breath, take a look, evaluate the view and pre-visualize each image. I said to myself, “If I were to tell the story of my visit to Crater Lake in 3 amazing photographs, how would I photograph this incredible location?”

Of course, I took more than 3 photographs but I purposely took my time and slowed myself down to enjoy the view. There were times in which I didn’t take any photographs and thought “This one is for my eyes only!”

Crater Lake is nature at its finest. A National Park you must to put on your bucket list.

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