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.

From the Vault: Weminuche Dreams

If you follow this blog, you might have noticed that I haven’t posted any new photos in over two months! Recently I have started getting emails from people wondering if I’m alright, or if I’ve given up on my website or photography in general. Well, let me assure you I’m still alive and kicking. The thing is, back at the end of December when I was longboarding a ditch in Albuquerque, I slipped on a slick spot where someone had poured paint and I badly sprained my wrist. I didn’t think much of it at the time and even did another run, but later on I realized something was seriously messed up. X-rays, an MRI, numerous doctor and therapy visits, three months, and thousands of dollars later, my wrist is still messed up but slowly healing. It wasn’t broken but it was pretty much as badly sprained as can be without needing surgery. Unfortunately it killed any prospect for backcountry adventures this winter/spring since I can’t hold a pole, rip skins, or use a shovel if I had to. Fortunately I’ve still been able to snowboard at the ski area, which has kept me sane enough. But since pretty much all my winter photography is done while hiking or splitboarding, I haven’t had hardly any new photos to share all winter. So… bummer.

On a brighter note, I have lots of adventures in store for the summer! We will be homeless again all summer and will spend five weeks in Germany and Austria, followed by two months of backpacking around in Colorado, which I’m super excited about since we’ve been elsewhere for the last two summers. I still love Colorado the best! With that in mind, here are some new old photos I dug out of my archives from a solo trek I did through the Needle Mountains in the Weminuche Wilderness back in 2008. Yes, I am dreaming about summer and long to get back into the wilds of the Weminuche, my happy place!

Colorado, Needle Mountains, San Juan Mountains, Weminuche Wilderness, mountain goat
Sunlight Goat : Prints Available

Mountain goat in the Weminuche Wilderness.

Colorado, Needle Mountains, San Juan Mountains, Weminuche Wilderness,, 14er
Weminuche Sunset 2 : Prints Available

A colorful cotton candy Colorado sunset above Windom and Sunlight Peaks, two 14ers deep in the Weminuche Wilderness.

Colorado, Needle Mountains, San Juan Mountains, Weminuche Wilderness, 14er
Windom Peak Vista : Prints Available

Looking north at the Needle Mountains and Grenadier Range from the summit of Windom Peak, 14,083 feet.

Colorado, Needle Mountains, San Juan Mountains, Weminuche Wilderness, mountain goat, Chicago Basin
Weminuche Goat : Prints Available

Mountain goat high above Chicago Basin in the Weminuche Wilderness.

Colorado, Needle Mountains, San Juan Mountains, Weminuche Wilderness, mountain goat
Mountain Goat in the Clouds : Prints Available

Mountain goat in the Weminuche Wilderness.

Check out all my photos from the Weminuche Wilderness here.

Wasatch Color

Guardsman Pass, Utah, Wasatch Range, aspens, autumn
Trail Through Red Oak : Prints Available

After tromping around in the snow smothered aspens near the top of Guardsman Pass yesterday, we drove down below the snow line towards Midway and found a fantastic trail to hike through vast groves of colorful aspens and brilliant neon red oaks. Pure eye candy!

Guardsman Pass, Utah, Wasatch Range, aspens, autumn
Wasatch Colors : Prints Available

Guardsman Pass, Utah, Wasatch Range, aspens, autumn
Aspens and Oaks : Prints Available

Guardsman Pass, Utah, Wasatch Range, aspens, autumn
Colorful Forest : Prints Available

Guardsman Pass, Utah, Wasatch Range, aspens, autumn
Guardsman Aspens : Prints Available

The beauty of autumn (especially amongst aspens) is sometimes so overwhelming that it fills me with an intangible sense of longing — a desire to grasp the beauty, to hold and own the moment forever. But these moments and feelings slip by like sand through your fingers, and there’s nothing to do but let the beauty stream by and be grateful for the experience, however brief it may be.

Autumn Snow in the Wasatch

Utah, Wasatch Range, Willow Heights Trail, aspens
Willow Heights Snowy Aspens : Prints Available

Our big summer road trip is almost over and soon I will start posting many new photos and trip reports from our adventures up north! In the meantime, here are some photos from yesterday up near Guardsman Pass at the head of the Big Cottonwood Canyon in the Wasatch Range of Utah. With a fresh snowfall smothering the golden aspens, along with a mystical foggy atmosphere, the photography conditions were just about as dreamy as can be!

Guardsman Pass, Utah, Wasatch Range, aspens
Snowy Golden Aspen : Prints Available

Guardsman Pass, Utah, Wasatch Range, aspens, panorama
Snowy Aspen Vortex : Prints Available

A vertical panoramic view of a foggy, snow-smothered aspen forest in September.

Guardsman Pass, Utah, Wasatch Range, aspens
Snowy Creeping Aspens : Prints Available

Guardsman Pass, Utah, Wasatch Range, aspens
Snowy Foggy Aspens : Prints Available

Guardsman Pass, Utah, Wasatch Range, aspens
Snow Smothered : Prints Available

Guardsman Pass, Utah, Wasatch Range, aspens
Leaning Aspens : Prints Available

Guardsman Pass, Utah, Wasatch Range, aspens
Autumn Snowfall : Prints Available

Guardsman Pass, Utah, Wasatch Range, aspens
Snow Covered Aspen Leaf : Prints Available

A Taste of Haines

My buddy Mikel is working on the official video, but in the meantime here’s a quick cut of some of my own GoPro helmet-cam footage from our recent heli snowboarding trip in Haines, Alaska. The title of this video could also be: Steeper Than It Looks. 😉

On many lines in Haines the terrain oftentimes rolls off over knolls and you can’t always see what lies ahead. Sometimes the guide would be below on the walkie-talkie guiding us to the correct spines to drop in on; but mostly you just take it as it comes, making split decisions along the way. So much fun!

From the Vault: Mount Sneffels

Colorado,Mt. Sneffels,San Juan Mountains,Sneffels Range
Sneffels Winter Light : Prints Available

Sunset light shines through storm clouds around Mt. Sneffels – April, 2007.

Here’s a few older shots recently dug up from my archives of one of my favorite mountains, Mt. Sneffels in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado.

Colorado,Mt. Sneffels,San Juan Mountains,Sneffels Range
Snowy Sneffels : Prints Available

Sunrise light on Mt. Sneffels – March, 2007.

Colorado,Mt. Sneffels,San Juan Mountains,Sneffels Range, Dallas Peak, moon
Sneffels Moonset : Prints Available

Moonset over Dallas Peak, as seen from the summit of Mt. Sneffels – May, 2012.

Flight over Greenland

Greenland, aerial, glacier

View of the southeast coast of Greenland, in the region around Tingmiarmit and Uvtorsiutit, as seen from a commercial airliner.

The best part of the flight between the States and Germany is the chance to see Greenland out the window halfway through the flight. On our recent flight home (between Frankfurt and Chicago) we passed over the southern tip of Greenland, and were treated to awesome views of its mountains and fjords, with glaciers flowing out from the continental ice sheet. See lots more photos below! Continue reading “Flight over Greenland”