Nature First!

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.

Nature First Photography AllianceIn 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.

Explorations in the Mojave Desert

Nevada, Pinto Valley Wilderness, rainbow, Mojave Desert, Lake Mead National Recreation Area
Rainbow Over Pinto Valley : Prints Available

A spectacular double rainbow over the Pinto Valley in the Pinto Valley Wilderness of Nevada.

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 >>

Mount Hayden Backcountry Lodge

Colorado, Mount Hayden Backcountry Lodge, San Juan Mountains, United States Mountain, cabin

Dusk at the Mount Hayden Backcountry Lodge, with United States Mountain towering above. San Juan Mountains, Colorado.

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 >>

Ama Dablam in Black & White

Recently I was asked if I had any black and white photos of Ama Dablam, the star peak of the Khumbu/Everest region of Nepal. This spurred me into reviewing my archives from my trip there, and I was happy to find a number of nice photos I passed over previously. Here’s what I came up with:

Ama Dablam, Asia, Himalaya, Khumbu, Nepal
Prints Available

Gazing up at mighty Ama Dablam.

Ama Dablam, Asia, Himalaya, Khumbu, Nepal
Prints Available

A subpeak of Ama Dablam.

Ama Dablam, Asia, Himalaya, Khumbu, Nepal
Prints Available

Ama Dablam (6856m / 22,493 ft) emerges from the clouds.

Ama Dablam, Asia, Himalaya, Khumbu, Nepal
Prints Available

Ama Dablam (6856m / 22,493 ft) emerges from the clouds.

Ama Dablam, Asia, Himalaya, Khumbu, Nepal
Prints Available

Alpenglow light illuminates Ama Dablam. Makalu (8481m, 27,825 ft) is visible at the left side.

Ama Dablam, Asia, Himalaya, Khumbu, Nepal
Prints Available

Ama Dablam hiding in the clouds.

The mountains here in the Khumbu region of the Himalaya are by far the largest and most powerful-feeling mountains I’ve ever visited, and I hope that these photos convey some of that awesome power!

Roaming Around Southeast Utah

Robbers Roost Country, Utah, slot canyon

Psychedelic hiker.

In late October and early November we spent a dozen days camping and backpacking around in the deserts and canyonlands of southern Utah, including the San Rafael Swell, Robbers Roost/Dirty Devil area, and Cedar Mesa. Though the days were short and the nights cold, it’s always worthwhile to spend time in these wonderful, wild, and lonely places. Continue reading >>

Snowy Ice Lakes

Colorado, Ice Lakes, San Juan Mountains, sunrise, snowy
Snowy Sunstream : Prints Available

Sunrise at Ice Lakes after an October snowstorm dumped two feet of snow in the San Juan Mountains, Colorado.

With fresh snow in the San Juan Mountains and dreams of winter I couldn’t resist heading up high for a quick early season winter camp at Ice Lakes Basin near Silverton. I got a little more than I bargained for with two feet of fresh powder and knee-deep postholing through a snowstorm up there! In the morning I was treated to some fiery light for a few moments at sunrise, for a different kind of autumn color. Continue reading >>