Newport News Park is a hidden gem for the Hampton Roads nature photographer. This park is located, of course, in the City of Newport News, Virginia and is one of the largest city-operated parks in the United States. The park is located in the northern part of Newport News and has over 8,000 acres. It has 30 miles of wooden walkways that meander through the property and a wooden bridge that is built over a dam. With 30 hiking trails in this park, there is a lot to explore and discover within these grounds. A printed map of the Newport News Park is available outside the visitor center at the entrance of the park off of Jefferson Avenue. The Newport News Park is open sunrise to sunset.
Best Time to Arrive
On the Saturday that I photographed at the Newport News Park, I had arrived shortly before 9:00 a.m. as it was a cloudy summer morning and as there was not really much of a sunrise. The park is open to sunrise to sunset, and there are plenty of opportunities with potential to photograph a sunrise or sunset over the scenic waterway of the Lee Hall Reservoir. Views from the dam #1 bridge can be seen in all directions across the water. In addition, especially on cloudy days, there is potential to photograph reflections of the trees and clouds in the water along the walkways. An example of this possibility is demonstrated in the below picture that I photographed on a cloudy morning.
Unless you are there on a cloudy or mostly cloudy day, I would stick to the preferable early morning or late evening hours to capture your artistic images at the Newport News Park.
The Photography Potential
There are just so much to explore within this enormous city park. I have only touched the surface in exploring the opportunities that present for wildlife and nature photography. Thus, the reason that this blog is titled, Hampton Roads Photography Location Guide: Newport News Park-Part 1, is because there is much more to explore and to share in future posts. There are a lot of nature subjects like some flowers and cattails which was the first thing that I spotted on my morning visit to the park. On side of the road that travels through the park there was a pull off to the right side where I found the white Rose of Sharon flowers and cattails. The cloudy morning along with no wind was perfect to capture some lovely flower and cattail images.
Along the wooden walkway that meanders around the waterway, there are several opportunities to photograph other landscapes such as the reflections mentioned above and the shoreline stumps, which make for some interesting subjects as well. There is some potential for wildlife, even though I was not focusing on wildlife on my visit. However, I did take a few turtle images. Plenty of turtles swam in the water and were on some logs that made some great subjects. There were also some gulls and few other birds flying over the water. I also saw a couple of grebes swimming in the water. I think that the potential for nature and landscape photography is much greater than wildlife photography at the Newport News Park.
I used minimal gear on my first visit to Newport News Park that included my camera attached to a my Bogen monopod and a 55-200mm lens. I also used a bubble level in the hot shoe of my camera to make sure that my horizons were straight on my landscape images. If I would have been photographing sunrise or sunset or anything in really low light, I would suggest bringing a tripod. In my future visits to Newport News Park, I plan to spend some time walking the trails to explore the endless possibilities of photographing various nature subjects, and I plan to bring my diffuser, macro lens and close up filters. A telephoto zoom lens would be beneficial to bring if you are interested in photographing the wildlife subjects at the park.
I always shoot in raw mode which will give me the greatest quality of a captured image and the best degree of control to pull out all the details during my post processing. I used aperture priority mode with evaluative metering, and I set my ISO high enough at 200 to get a fairly decent shutter speed to keep my images sharp. I used mainly around f/11 for an aperture on this cloudy morning. I also changed my main subject and focus points along the edge of the water to a variety of different looks of the reflections in the water. My main focus on the this particular visit, since it was a cloudy day, was to focus on taking pictures of the reflections of the trees, stumps, and clouds in the water.
Any Other Pertinent Information
I definitely plan to make many return trips to Newport News Park to continue to explore the various areas and trails of this huge park and photograph the variety of nature and landscape scenes that change throughout the year and seasons. I definitely think that this fall in November will make for some awesome fall foliage images. As I discover more about this park and the photography potential, I will share this information in future continuations of this blog about Newport News Park.
Thank you for taking the time to view my blog and this Hampton Roads Photography Location Blog series.
All the very best,
Lori A. Cash
If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment and I will get back with you.
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