Do you know what George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt have in common? Of course, a glance at a photo of Mount Rushmore quickly reveals that they are the subjects of a famous work of art, where the faces of these four former American presidents are carved into rock. I find this to be an extraordinary form of art, which is why I’ve decided to explore the topic and seek out the most beautiful photographs of this fascinating monument. In this article, I will describe Mount Rushmore, its history, significance, and everything that comes into play for us, as photographers, when we embark on a photo journey to this mountain.
We are going to embark on a fascinating journey into the heart of South Dakota in the United States, where we will explore one of the most recognizable landmarks in the world. This monumental sculpture, carved into living rock, has been repeatedly depicted in photos and film art, and it’s mostly not easy to capture with a lens.
If you’ve ever dreamed of taking your own version of this world-famous image or simply want to learn some new photography techniques, this article is perfect for you. Join me on this exploratory journey and discover how to take the best photographs of Mount Rushmore!
Before we get into the article, I would like to invite you to read similar posts that will surely interest you. These are photos of Bryce Canyon National Park, Brooklyn Bridge Photo Spots, Photos of Santa Monica Pier, and Central Park photo spots.
Let’s get into the article!
Showcasing the best photos of Mount Rushmore
To start off, I’ve selected some of the most beautiful photos. This is just a sneak peek; of course, there are many more photos waiting for you in the article.
Location and online resources
Mount Rushmore is located in the Black Hills of South Dakota, USA. This is an area rich in cultural history and natural beauty. It offers numerous opportunities for exploration and photography.
For more information about Mount Rushmore and its surroundings, visit the official website of Mount Rushmore National Park:
- Official website: www.nps.gov/moru/index.htm
On the website, you will find detailed information about the history of the monument, events, guided tours, hiking trails, and other attractions.
There are other useful and interesting websites and resources:
- Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Rushmore
- South Dakota Department of Tourism: https://www.travelsouthdakota.com/explore-with-us/great-8/mount-rushmore
- Mount Rushmore National Memorial: https://www.mtrushmorenationalmemorial.com/
I recommend that you check the weather conditions and event schedules before visiting, so you can best prepare for your photography adventure. You can use weather forecast websites for this or contact the park manager directly.
History and significance of Mount Rushmore
Mount Rushmore was created as a tribute to the four presidents of the United States of America who played a key role in shaping and developing this country. The faces of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt are carved into the mountain.
Work on this monument began in 1927, with the idea being conceived by Doane Robinson, a historian from South Dakota. His intention was to create an attraction that would draw more visitors to the region. The project was led by sculptor Gutzon Borglum, who, along with his team, carved the four faces into the granite rock. The work lasted about 14 years, and despite numerous challenges, including financial problems and harsh weather conditions, it was successfully completed in 1941.
Each of the four presidents depicted on Mount Rushmore represents an important period in the history of the USA. George Washington, the first president, symbolizes the birth of the USA. Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence, represents the expansion of the country. Abraham Lincoln, who led the country during the Civil War, symbolizes the preservation of the country. Theodore Roosevelt, known for his efforts towards social justice and environmental protection, represents the development of the USA.
Mount Rushmore is more than just an impressive sculptural achievement. It is a symbol of American history and culture, illustrating important milestones in the development of this country. Photographing this monument is not just a technique and an art but also a tribute to these four giants and the eras they represent. For us, it’s an opportunity to link our work with a rich historical and cultural heritage. This adds additional depth and meaning to our photographs.
Technical aspects of photographing Mount Rushmore
Photographing Mount Rushmore presents several challenges and requires a thoughtful selection of equipment and techniques. I’ve explored some key points to consider.
Choosing the right equipment
When photographing Mount Rushmore, choosing the right equipment is crucial. Having a wide-angle lens can be helpful to capture the entire scene, while a telephoto lens will allow for more detailed shots of individual faces. Given the large distance from the monument, a tripod will come in handy for stabilizing your camera, especially for long exposures or shooting in poorer light conditions.
Lighting and exposure
Mount Rushmore is exposed to natural light, which can greatly change throughout the day and in different weather conditions. Understanding how light affects your scene is important for proper lighting and exposure. Try shooting at different times of the day to see how the light and shadows change. You can also use filters (I must admit, I never do) to enhance colors and contrast in your photos.
Photographing Mount Rushmore offers various possibilities for composition. You can focus on the four faces, use nearby elements for framing, or include the surrounding landscape for a more contextual scene. Experiment with different angles and positions to create dynamic and interesting compositions. Include your friends.
Different weather conditions can greatly impact your final image. Sunny days offer bright and clear images. Cloudy days, on the other hand, bring softer light and a dramatic backdrop. Rain, snow, or fog can add a unique atmosphere to your photos. Don’t be afraid to take advantage of these conditions and use them to your benefit. Make something unique.
Best time to photograph Mount Rushmore
Photography is a play of light and shadow, so choosing the right time to photograph is really important. When photographing Mount Rushmore, there are a few points to consider.
The “Golden Hour”
The “Golden Hour” is a period shortly after sunrise or before sunset when the light is particularly soft and warm. This time of day is ideal for photographing Mount Rushmore, as the warm light accentuates textures and details on the faces while creating a dramatic and emotional ambiance. If you want to capture this magical moment, be prepared to get up early or stay on location late in the afternoon.
Photographing in Different Seasons
Each season brings its own palette of colors and moods that you can use to create unique photos. Spring and summer bring bright colors and lush vegetation, autumn brings a warm palette of colors, and winter can cover the landscape with snow, creating a beautiful contrast with the dark rock.
There are also special events that can offer you unique photography opportunities. For example, on the eve of Independence Day in the USA (July 4th), fireworks take place at the monument, which can add a spectacular and festive atmosphere to your photos. Every evening, a lighting ceremony takes place at the monument, bringing a new set of light and shadow plays to explore.
Regardless of the time and season, always ensure you’re ready to capture that perfect moment when everything comes together – light, shadows, colors, and feelings – and create an unforgettable photo of Mount Rushmore.
Overview of the best places to photograph Mount Rushmore
There are several different locations for photography that offer diverse views and opportunities for creativity. Here’s an overview of some of the best.
- Main Viewing Area: This is the most popular point for photographing Mount Rushmore. From here, you can get a clear and direct view of the four faces. The location is accessible by foot or car, and it also offers additional amenities such as restrooms and a visitor center.
- Presidential Trail: This 0.6-mile trail takes you to the base of the mountain, where you can get a close and personal view of the four faces. This location is great for photographing details and textures.
- Iron Mountain Road: This scenic road offers multiple different views of Mount Rushmore through designated “tunnels” carved into the rock. This is an excellent opportunity to create unique and interesting compositions.
- Norbeck Overlook: This viewpoint is located on the Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway and offers a far-reaching view of Mount Rushmore. This location is especially popular during sunrise and sunset, when you can capture dramatic shadows and colors.
- Golden Hour at Crazy Horse Monument: Although it’s not a direct view of Mount Rushmore, from this location you can capture the golden hour when the sun reflects off Mount Rushmore, creating a spectacular scene.
Using the Environment
Regardless of where you photograph, always try to utilize the environment to create more dynamic and interesting photos. Use nearby trees, rocks, or flowers for framing or creating depth in your images. Explore different angles, move around, and be creative. Remember, the best photo is the one that captures your unique perspective and sense of place. Make your photos stand out from the rest.
Instagram hashtags for Mount Rushmore
Once you’re home and have edited your photos, it’s time to post them on social media. Using Instagram hashtags is an excellent way to share your photos with a broader community and discover other photos for inspiration. Here are some popular hashtags you can use for your Mount Rushmore photos:
- #SunriseSunsetPhotography (if shooting during the golden hour)
- #GoldenHourPhotography (if shooting during the golden hour)
Remember, it’s best to use a combination of general and specific hashtags to reach a larger audience. Also, make sure your hashtags are relevant to your photos.
Frequently asked questions and answers
I have researched some of the most common questions and answers that people ask on the internet.
Who are the faces carved into Mount Rushmore?
The faces carved into Mount Rushmore are those of four American presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt. These presidents were chosen for their significant contributions to the history and development of the United States.
Why was Mount Rushmore chosen as the location for this monument?
It was chosen for its size, stability, and sun exposure. The rock was solid enough to withstand carving, and the mountain’s peak was high enough and properly oriented to the east to be exposed to sunlight most of the day.
When is the best time to visit Mount Rushmore?
Mount Rushmore is open year-round, except on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas. Each season offers a unique experience. Spring and summer bring warmer temperatures and more events; fall brings beautiful leaf colors; and winter can offer a magical snow-covered landscape. The “golden hour,” at sunrise and sunset, is a particularly popular time for photography.
Is there an admission fee to visit Mount Rushmore?
No, there is no admission fee. However, there is a parking fee, which as of this writing (May 2023) is $10 per vehicle.
Are guided tours available at Mount Rushmore?
Yes, guided tours are available and are included in the parking fee. Guided tours are a great way to gain insight into the history and artistry of Mount Rushmore while also providing an opportunity to ask questions and learn from experts. Check the official website for details and tour schedules.
Is there a fifth face on Mount Rushmore?
No, there is officially no fifth face carved on Mount Rushmore. The monument features the faces of four American presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln.
However, rumors and misconceptions about a “fifth face” often arise for a few reasons. One reason is that the monument’s sculptor, Gutzon Borglum, initially planned to carve a short inscription into the mountain explaining the context of the four presidents. This was to be placed to Lincoln’s right but was never completed. Instead, behind the carved likenesses is a hall known as the Hall of Records, where documents and items related to the monument are stored.
Another reason for the “fifth face” rumor is the occasional claim that Borglum secretly carved his face or someone else’s face into the monument. However, these are merely urban legends. Any unofficial marks or natural formations on the mountain that could be interpreted as faces are purely coincidental.
Why was Mt. Rushmore never finished?
Mount Rushmore was never completed for several reasons. At first glance, it appears unfinished because the original plans by sculptor Gutzon Borglum were more extensive. Borglum initially wanted to depict the four presidents from head to waist, but due to a lack of funding and Borglum’s death in 1941, the project was declared complete in its current state by Borglum’s son, Lincoln Borglum, the same year.
Another element of the original plan that wasn’t completed is the Hall of Records. Borglum envisioned a grand hall built into the mountain behind the carved likenesses where significant American documents and historical artifacts would be stored. Construction on the Hall of Records began in 1938 but was halted in 1939 when Congress ordered that construction focus on the faces. After Borglum’s death, the idea of the Hall of Records was abandoned.
However, the project was somewhat revived in the 1990s, and a repository of records was placed at the site. This repository contains sixteen porcelain enamel panels engraved with the words of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the biographies of the four presidents and Borglum, and the history of the U.S.
While Mount Rushmore may not fully match Borglum’s original vision, it is considered complete in its current state and remains a symbol of the United States.
We’ve reached the end of today’s post. Have you already visited this place? Have you photographed it? Share your photos with us!
Photographing Mount Rushmore is an exciting and enriching experience that combines history, culture, art, and technique. I’ve explored various aspects to consider, from choosing the right equipment and understanding lighting to selecting the best time and location for shooting.
Whether you’re a professional photographer or a hobbyist, Mount Rushmore offers endless opportunities for creating unforgettable photos. You can use the “golden hour”, different seasons, weather conditions, and events to create unique images that showcase this iconic landmark in a new light.
I invite you to try photographing Mount Rushmore yourself and share your experiences with us. Be creative, experiment, and, above all, have fun. After all, photography is a way of expressing and connecting with the world around us, and what better way to do that than to capture one of the world’s most recognized landmarks in your unique style? I’m looking forward to seeing your photos and stories.
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