Q&A With National Park Photographer Manish Mamtani

Alanna SobelNPF Blog

We all have something we’re passionate about.

That something for Manish Mamtani is photographing America’s national parks. From capturing dark night skies to bear sightings, Manish recently chatted with us about his photography and his love of national parks. 

Photographer Manish Mamtani sitting on an overlook at the Rocky Mountains

Manish Mamtani at Rocky Mountain National Park

How long have you been a photographer?

I have been a photographer for 10 years. It started as a hobby and soon it became my passion.

What inspires you about photographing the national parks?

I have always been a great fan of America’s national parks. I love the way beauty and wilderness is preserved in the parks. I always feel a close connection to nature in the national parks. I do a lot of night/astro photography and some of the national parks like Death Valley, Big Bend, Natural Bridges National Monument, and Arches provide the darkest night skies.

What was your most difficult/challenging national park photo?

The most challenging national park photo for me was the one I shot at Delicate Arch on a moonless night. Taking the picture was not that difficult, but hiking up and down on a moonless night certainly was. I lost my way a couple of times, but finally made it to the top. The image shows the Milky Way rising over Delicate Arch with a Lyrid Meteor just at the right spot.

Milky way with shooting star over illuminated sandstone arch
Manish Mamtani

Which national park photos are you most proud of?
Some of the national park photos I am most proud of are:

Wisdom Tree: This picture was shot in Joshua Tree National Park. It is a panorama of the Milky Way rising over a Joshua Tree.

Lone illuminated tree with Milky Way arching over it at Joshua Tree National Park
Manish Mamtani

Moonrise in Yosemite: One of my favorite shots from Yosemite National Park shows the moon rising in between El Capitan and Cathedral Rocks. This is one of the most beautiful scenes I have ever seen.

The moon rising in between El Capitan and Cathedral Rocks at Yosemite National Park.
Manish Mamtani

Thunderstorm Shot in Arches National Park: I drove 8+ hours from Denver to Arches in heavy traffic to do some astro photography, but ended up photographing a thunderstorm. It was my first time shooting a thunderstorm.

Lightning striking during Thunderstorm Shot in Arches National Park
Manish Mamtani

Perseid Meteor Shower: This picture was taken in Arches National Park. It was cloudy all night, but I got a window of 45 minutes with clear sky and I was able to record some meteors on my camera.

Milky Way rising over Delicate Arch with a Lyrid Meteor
Manish Mamtani

What was your first national park experience?
My first national park visit happened in November of 2010 when I was still learning to use my first camera. I visited Yosemite National Park and was awestruck by its beauty. After this visit, I looked up other national parks and started planning more trips. My experience in Yosemite was the reason my hobby of taking pictures turned into my passion.

What is your best national park memory?
It is really difficult for me to pick one best memory. The most memorable moments in my life so far have occurred in national parks. 

I can never forget the first time I saw Aurora Borealis in Glacier National Park, or the first time I saw a meteor shower in Arches National Park, or the first time I saw a double rainbow in Yellowstone National Park, or the first time I saw a bear in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

What is the most unique experience you have had in a national park?
I had my most unique experience in Cades Cove at Great Smoky Mountains National Park when I spotted 5 different bears within 2 hours. People consider themselves lucky if they get a glimpse of even one bear. It was my lucky day, I guess.

Smoky Mountains covered in fog during a yellow and purple sunrise
Manish Mamtani

How many parks have you visited in total?
I have visited 25 national parks. I have visited most of them at least twice.

What is your favorite national park you’ve visited so far?
Each park is special and beautiful in its own way. My favorite national park is Yellowstone National Park for its sheer beauty, power and wilderness. 

What national park are you most excited to visit in the future?
I am most excited to visit Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park in the future.

Do you have any tips about planning or making a trip to national parks you can share?
It is always best to read and research the national park before your visit. It is important to know the road conditions and opening and closing dates of a few important roads to enjoy the park to the maximum. There are some beautiful natural phenomena that one should never miss like:

  • Moonbows in Yosemite
  • Wildflower season in Mount Rainier, Grand Teton and Glacier
  • Fall colors in Acadia, Rocky Mountain, Denali and Great Smoky Mountains
  • Meteor showers and star gazing in dark night skies in Death Valley, Arches and Big Bend

Glacier park pink sky and pink wildflowers in the meadow
Manish Mamtani

Manish Mamtani is an avid nature photographer who has travelled widely across exotic destinations in the United States. He focuses on landscapes that reflect the beauty of America’s majestic national parks. Born and brought up in Nagpur, India, he came to the U.S. to work as an IT/finance consultant where he discovered his love for photography. He travels during the weekends to the national parks and takes pictures. His work includes landscapes, night/astro and infrared and has been published in various magazines and books including National Geographic, Better Photography, Vanity Fair, Digital Photo and Arches National Park Newspaper. His work has been featured on various social media pages including National Geographic, Whosay, the Department of the Interior, EarthSky, Space.com, Milky way scientists and International Dark Sky Association. His work can be seen at www.manishmamtani.com and www.facebook.com/ManishMamtaniPhotography

Start a Conversation

This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Stay Inspired
Connect with the parks you love. Sign up to receive the latest NPF news, information on how you can support our national treasures, and travel ideas for your next trip to the parks. Join our community.