The winter of 2018-2019 in the San Juan Mountains has been one for the records books, with about 600% of average snowpack at the start of June. With all this beautiful snow in the mountains this spring, lately I’ve been having some hairbrained photo mission ideas – one of which was to hike up Mt. Sneffels in the dark to take some star photos from the summit. With no moon and a decently clear weather forecast I figured this last Friday night was my opportunity. I’ve hiked up Sneffels several times before via moonlight, but this was my first time with just starlight and a headlamp! See more photos >>
In mid May we met up with family from Germany in the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park in Utah for a couple days of camping and hiking. Our timing wasn’t great, as it rained more than I’ve ever seen in the desert! But we did get one somewhat dry-enough day for my brother-in-law and I to do the ultra-classic hike to Chesler Park and Druid Arch. See more photos >>
The exceptionally snowy winter in the San Juans keeps on going into May and our snowpack is currently 187% of average for this time of year! As I’ve been out splitboarding lately, I’ve been admiring all the peaks draped in thick snowpack, and thinking about how they’d look with colorful sunrise light. So this morning I woke up at 2am, drove up into the mountains, and slogged up one of my favorite peaks for sunrise. I brought my telephoto lens for a closer look at some of the standout peaks above the Silverton area. Continue reading >>
You’ve probably seen the recent headlines about the careless behavior of photographers and “influencers” trampling poppy fields in southern California. This is just the latest example of a rising worldwide trend of careless outdoor behavior from people who seem only concerned about getting their shot, and either don’t understand or don’t care about the damage they may be causing in the environment or the negative examples they are spreading to their followers. Here in Colorado, I’ve witnessed people flying drones in wilderness areas (illegal), pitching their tents right on top of wildflowers meadows, building fire rings on open tundra grass next to lakes above treeline, and trampling lakeside vegetation.
In this Instagram era it’s becoming more and more difficult to deny that our photography might actually bring harm to the special natural places that we are intending to celebrate. Whether it’s due to our own careless actions in pursuit of the shot, or publicizing previously quiet and pristine places to the masses, nature photography has unfortunately become a potential nemesis of untrammeled nature rather than an ally of nature as it has traditionally been assumed. I’ve always thought it’s a good thing when my photography inspires people to get outside and enjoy nature, but if even a small portion of those people behave disrespectfully when they’re out there, then it may all be a net loss for the natural lands I wish to preserve.
In an effort to combat this trend, some fellow photographers and I have gotten together during the last year to form an alliance of photographers devoted to a more careful and mindful approach to nature photography which prioritizes the long term well being of nature over the short term desires of photography. The group we created is called the Nature First Photography Alliance. We have drafted a set of 7 principles which we all pledge to follow and promote. As nature photographers it is our responsibility not just to create beautiful images but to act as ambassadors for the lands we photograph. From our positions as active photographers we hope to leverage our networks of friends, followers, and associates to spread the word and hopefully turn this into a popular positive movement that spreads out into the broader culture.
If you are a photographer reading this, I invite you to read more about the movement at www.NatureFirstPhotography.org and to join us as a fellow member on the website. Even if you’re not a photographer I would encourage you to take a look and consider how you too can help to promote a more mindful approach to outdoor recreation.
As is usual in late winter, Claudia and I have been itching for some desert hiking and backpacking time, so this March we spent three weeks camping and backpacking in various mountain ranges and wilderness areas in the Mojave Desert in Nevada, California, and Arizona.
There are many wild, rugged, and seldom-visited mountain ranges in the Mojave, making it a prime area for exploratory missions. I appreciate that there are still places like this out there where we can explore on our own with little to no guiding information, and find little or no evidence of previous human visitation when we’re there. Continue reading >>
This weekend we had a wonderful stay at Eric Johnson’s Mount Hayden Backcountry Lodge. Located in Richmond Basin in a remote corner of the San Juan Mountains between Ouray and Telluride, the lodge is surrounded by a powder playground of skiable terrain. With heaps of fresh snow awaiting us, we were excited to have three days to ski and splitboard to our hearts’ content. Continue reading >>