The salt flats of Badwater, Death Valley National Park © Aurora Photos / Offset
Herd of Guanacos at Torres del Paine National Park, Patagonia, Chile © David Tipling / Offset
Tour group walking on a desert dune at Namib Naukluft National Park © Fotofeeling / Westend61 / Offset
Ever since the mid-19th century, when Carleton Watkins first embarked on his love affair with Yosemite, his stereoscopic camera and 18 by 22 inch glass plate negatives in hand, American and international photographers have had a beautiful but tumultuous love affair with their National Parks.
Watkins’s Yosemite photographs and those later made by Ansel Adams have helped to define our relationship with the environment. National Parks give us a glimpse into a pristine and idyllic slice of a national landscape, and in so doing, they inspire both conservation efforts, and paradoxically, unwanted attention. In addition to motivating new conservation efforts, Watkins’s photographs famously romanticized the construction of new industry throughout the American West, much of which was actually harmful to the environment.
Today, Yosemite has about half a million “followers” on Instagram. In December, New York Magazine’s Dan Nosowitz investigated and reported on the phenomenon of “Instagram Hikers,” or people who visit National Parks with the intention of sharing stunning, much-liked photographs online.
While the recently revived popularity of the parks have indeed encouraged people to become passionate about preserving our country’s resources for generations to come, some amateur photographers have interfered with the native wildlife and their natural habitats. Some litter; others try to take selfies with resident animals; a few even paint hashtags on historic rock faces.
In lieu of the resurgence of this 100-year-old debate surrounding National Parks and the people who photograph them— the serious environmentalist, the artist, the Instagram fan, and everything in between—we’ve pulled together a selection of some of the most breathtaking National Park images we could find.
This discussion extends far from the borders of the United States, reaching upwards to Canada, down to South America, and overseas to the distant corners of Africa, Europe, Asia, and beyond. These pictures capture parks around the globe, curated from the Offset collection of high-end, boutique photography and illustration.
What we choose do with unforgettable pictures like these ones, how we let them ignite our hearts and guide our footsteps, remains to be seen.
Rhinoceroses at a national park in South Africa © Cavan Images / Offset
A bison crosses a rainy road, Yellowstone National Park © Fotofeeling / Westend61 / Offset
Giraffes at Okaukuejo water hole at twilight in Etosha National Park, Namibia © Fotofeeling / Westend61 / Offset
Seruun Bulag oasis, Gobi Gurvansaikhan National Park, Mongolia © Peter Langer / Design Pics / Offset
A glacial lake at Vatnajkull National Park, Iceland © Stefan Hefele / Mauritius Images / Offset
Waterfall at Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia © Martin Rügner / Westend61 / Offset
Clouds over Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park © Aurora Photos / Offset
Storm above the Grand Canyon National Park © Adam Schallau / Offset
A wild guanaco in front of the towers in Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park © Aurora Photos / Offset
Amboseli National Park, Kenya © Danita Delimont / Offset
Canaima National Park, Venezuela © David Santiago Garcia / Westend61 / Offset
Garajonay National Park on La Gomera, Canary islands, Spain © Stefan Hefele / Mauritius Images / Offset
A waterhole in Etosha National Park © Gemma Ferrando / Westend61 / Offset
Volcanoes Bromo, Batok and Semeru, Indonesia © David Santiago Garcia / Westend61 / Offset
Wadi el Gemal National Park, Egypt © Manfred Bortoli/SIME / SOPA Collection / Offset
Giraffes at a waterhole at sunset, Etosha National Park © Gemma Ferrando / Westend61 / Offset
Travel trailer at Joshua Tree National Park, California © Seth K. Hughes / Image Source / Offset
All photos featured in this post can be found on Offset, a new curated collection of high-end commercial and editorial photography and illustration from award-winning artists around the world. Offset is a sponsor of Feature Shoot.