THE MOST DIFFICULT HIKE IN THE U.S.

Most people don’t think of Florida when they think of amazing hikes. The sunshine state is also, perhaps, not what hikers think of when they think of difficult hikes. True, Florida is mostly at sea level, so there’s not a ton of elevation gain and loss, and the air is quite thick and rich with oxygen. And true, it boasts temperate weather most of the year. But let me assure you, I completed the most difficult hike of my life, right here in Florida a few weeks ago.

Birds, and other fauna abound in the Big Cypress, a massive part of the Everglades ecosystem.

Ellen and I try to winter in Florida every year, like every other 65+ person in the U.S, because of course, we both appreciate the weather. She loves the Gulf beaches, and I love the abundance of critters, and challenging landscapes to photograph.

This year, I decided to make it a goal to section hike the Florida National Scenic Trail (FNST or simply FT), a 1300 mile span of the entire state. I wanted to explore this diverse and beautiful state, and to get my hiking and wilderness fix, in spite of the season. I figured to do it quite passively, with no real end date in sight. We only spend a few months every few winters here, so I wanted to approach the task realistically. I wish I had read this article by Outside first, but alas, I only found it after while researching some info for this post.

If your hiking NOBO (northbound) on the Florida Trail, you start at the southern terminus, at the Oasis Visitor Center in Big Cypress National Preserve. This is known as the most remote, most dangerous 31 mile section of the entire 1300 miles. Great way to “get your feet wet.” I would come to find that expression translates literally in this case.

It is recommended to take three days to do this section, so of course I decided to make it an overnighter. The first day I planned to do 17 miles from the start at US 41, and the second day, 14 miles, with Ellen picking me up at the end of my section, I-75 (Alligator Alley), at 5PM.

February is considered the “dry season,” however, I only found about 3-4 miles out of the 31 to be actual dry land. The rest of the hike, I was in 6-18 inches of water and muck.

The Big Cypress section of the FT is known as one of, if not the hardest hike in the U.S.

This is prime alligator and snake country. And with temps reaching 87 degrees during the day, it is not uncommon to come across reptiles in Big Cypress, even in February. Many dangerous and some venomous.

Eastern diamondback rattlesnakes are just one of the venomous snakes commonly found throughout Big Cypress.

Thankfully, I only came in close contact with a water moccasin once. But the opportunities abound.

The orange blazes marked on the cypress and pines help to keep the hiker on trail, when the trail is not always so visible.

It is a truly haunting and beautiful landscape though. Vast cypress strands with bromeliads create hanging gardens to slosh beneath. Your eyes are constantly tilting down, watching the murky waters for danger, then glaring up to make sure you still see the orange blazes, on many stretches, the only indicators of your trail. To top it off, there is almost no shade on the entire hike.

Only a few miles in this realization hits… your exposure to the blazing sun is profound and inescapable. Even in winter.

The cypress swamps are beautiful gardens teeming with amazing plants and animals.

Lovely wildflowers dot the swampy landscape, even in winter.

After deciding to stop several times the first day well short of my 17 mile goal, I came across two guys hiking SOBO (southbound). They told me that if I could make it the 3-4 more miles to 13 Mile Camp (confusing, because if hiking NOBO, it’s actually 17 miles in) I would find dry land on which to comfortably camp and a large trail maintenance group that was giving out water.

I had underestimated how much water to bring, so this info came to me as the best motivator possible. Of course I brought my filter, but I can assure you I only wanted to drink the water I was sloshing though as a last resort. So I pushed on.

I reached 13 Mile Camp with a few hours of sunlight to spare. I started my hike a bit late that day at 10AM, and reached the 17 mile mark at 4:30PM. I won’t lie, I was completely exhausted. My feet were sore from the constant post-holing up and down through deep mud. My shoes never got dry on the entire hike.

But I made it.

It is not at all uncommon to stumble upon alligators on this section of the Florida Trail.

The trail crew could not have been nicer. They were camped only a quarter of a mile or so away. They gave me as much water as I wanted, and so I alleviated the symptoms of dehydration I was already showing. I stumbled back to my lonely camp and crashed. The anxiety for tomorrow, and the warnings for what lie ahead from the trail crew swirled in my thoughts. I had told them I made it this far in one day and that I planned to do the rest of this section tomorrow, and I saw the looks they gave one another. Their lack of confidence in me was palatable.

Trekking poles are a must if backpacking the Big Cypress section.

When I got reception for a moment the next morning, I called Ellen to tell her to plan on not picking me up today… I would need another night out and a half day to complete this section. I felt a bit defeated.

I’m comfortable tackling 15-20 miles at high elevations, carrying 50 lbs on my back. Here, I was at sea level, carrying only 35-40 lbs. How was it that Florida was kicking my butt already?

Yet, I pressed on. One step at a time.

That’s the “mantra” I use when a hike seems too difficult for me… “one step at a time, Andrew. Just one. Step. At. A. Time.” It’s become a lovely metaphor for life for me. When trials come, disaster hits, despair takes hold… “one step at a time, Andrew. Just one. Step. At. A. Time.”

I know it’s cliche, but hiking/ backpacking really is an uncanny metaphor for life. You have your mountaintops and moments where you are overwhelmed by all of the beauty, and then the long, seemingly never-ending uphill slog, when you feel like you can’t take it anymore. And all you have to do is put one proverbial foot in front of the other. And then again. And again. Until, eventually, you reach the mountaintop again, and take your rest.

The birds of Big Cypress are plentiful and fascinating.

Sunrise and sunset in Big Cypress are worth all of the pain and misery.

Birds (and water) are the only constant companions on this lonely section of trail.

Day two was a test of will. It was definitely more challenging than day one. The submerged swamp sections grew longer and more maze-like, the water deeper, the mud more viscus. I nearly fell several times, which could have been incredibly defeating. If you are considering hiking this section, and I do realize that’s unlikely after reading this post, may I suggest trekking poles. I would even venture to say that this hike wouldn’t be possible without them.

Even through several miles of being slowed to one mile per hour, I was actually making good time. I couldn’t believe it. My “one step at a time” mantra was working.

I got reception and hurried to call Ellen. I was already going to run out of water again if I stayed another night, and I was beginning to see the possibility of finishing as planned on day two. My will to finish was kicking in. The mosquitos, wet feet, and difficult steps were enough at this point to propel me forward to unending fresh water, my bed, and an escape from the bugs.

Starting at 8AM, I was able to make it to the finish line ahead of schedule, at 4:30PM.

I hit the pavement of the I-75 rest area, tossed my pack to the ground and immediately ripped my soaked, muddy shoes and socks off. It was one of the best feelings to know that I accomplished what I set out to do. Ellen pulled up with the pups only a half hour later, with a victory beer in a beachy coozie.

So I’m sure you are asking yourself “why?” Rightfully so. Ellen asked me several times before and after. And I think the best answer I could  muster was that sometimes the hard things, the things that haunt our dreams and cause us to worry… the things that we fear, the unknown… these are the things we must confront. For confidence in ourselves and our abilities, but also to force ourselves to rely on God for strength and protection. Tasks that just seem too tall for us to take on, are the best places for us to dig deep within ourselves to find strength we didn’t know we even had. And more than this, to look outside ourselves for help when we realize we don’t actually have the strength to go on.

The current level of comfort in our age betrays us.

When I get the “why” question, I often think of JFK’s speech about going to the moon. And I find it apropos as people look at me like I’m crazy when I place myself in challenging and difficult, and sometimes even dangerous situations.

How else can you measure a man, if not to put him to the test?

We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win, and the others, too.” ~ JFK, 1962

When asked immediately after finishing by a tourist pulling up, “how was it?” I told him I wouldn’t recommend it.

But now, several days later, I actually might consider doing it again. And I actually would recommend it… only to the resilient… with eyes wide open.

–Andrew

If you enjoyed this article and found it helpful, consider joining me on the adventure of a lifetime to learn so much more. I offer workshops and tours in many of the worlds most incredible locations, and on these trips, you will get tons of one-on-one time to ask me anything. In fact, I’m offering $250 off my Big Bend Wildflowers + Stars workshop coming up in March, for a limited time. Let me help inspire you to become the artist you’ve always wanted to be! 


Ellen and I hit the road full-time in June of 2016. We are on a mission to inspire and educate everyone on the importance of getting outside. Check out my workshops and my prints. The revenue will help propel us further on this great adventure. Enrich yourself and others… and feel great about it too as you’re helping to ensure our public lands are cherished and to keep the wild spirit of the American Dream alive. Our goal is to visit all 60 National Parks in 3-5 years. We are currently in year 4 and half way thru the Parks. LEARN MORE ABOUT WHAT WE’RE DOING HERE



N O M A D  Magazine // Issue 1
 
Order your copy today and receive this 100 page full color travelgasm at your door!
 
Want to learn photography and enjoy a guided experience? Check out my exciting, NEW workshop dates:
 
BIG BEND // WILDFLOWERS + STARS
GRAND TETON // FALL COLOR // LANDSCAPES + WILDLIFE
TELLURIDE // FALL COLOR // LUXE LANDSCAPES
 
I’m excited to announce The Photographic Guide to Our National Parks” series of eBooks:
 
Rocky Mountain National Park
Grand Teton National Park
 
If you are interested in purchasing a “print from the road”, please check my prints for sale, or email me directly for a custom request:
 
Andrew Slaton // Prints From the Road
Andrew Slaton // Canvas + Metal Prints
 
If you are interested in licensing any of the images/ video from this post, please visit my stock agency:
 
Tandem Stills + Motion // Andrew Slaton
  
For assignment work requests, please email me: andrew@andrewslatonphoto.com
 
Thanks for visiting AndrewSlatonBlog.com!
 
All images and content © ARS Media, LLC 2020

Scotland: Revisited

Many years ago, when I was still single… I decided to take a very unconventional trip. I knew the time was right to visit my family’s country of origin… Lebanon. I was half-Lebanese, young, and single, and I had a shoot in Spain, so I would already be more than half way there. This was my first big international trip, and of course, it triggered what would become a lifelong passion for travel and experiencing different cultures.

Fast-forward nearly a decade. Ellen and I were doing quite well and we wanted to do an international trip together. Her heritage is largely Scottish (I have a little bit in me too), and I happened to be obsessed with Braveheart growing up… not to mention we both love fine Scotch whisky and dramatic scenery… so it was really a no brainer. Scotland was in our crosshairs!!

Ellen and I fell in love with Scotland immediately. It’s green hills, craggy mountains, moody weather, crashing seas, remote islands, hearty and happy people.

The landscapes completely captivated us.

It was vacation, but it also turned into a 3 week scouting road trip. I knew that I eventually wanted to teach workshops in this dynamic and friendly country. We knew we wanted to make this an annual trip.

So, fast forward again to this year. I had a few folks interested in taking my workshop in Scotland, but they ended up falling through last minute. We were pretty sure Scotland wouldn’t happen for 2017.

Then, seemingly out of nowhere, we had a client who was all in! He wanted a private workshop, so I began tailoring an incredible trip to his likes and aptitudes.

We set out a week before his arrival to scout and re-scout, making sure our locations were singing… oh… and they were!

All in all, we had an incredible 3 week road trip through the Highlands, Isle of Skye, and Islay. It was magical, as always.

We even discussed moving to the UK after our 3-5 years on the road in the US, making Scotland our “home base” from which to explore Europe, and the rest of the world…

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If you have any interest, consider joining us in May of 2018 for a magical photo workshop, touring the best of the Highlands, Skye, and a few of your favorite whisky distilleries.

I guarantee you will not be disappointed.

— Andrew


Ellen and I have hit the road full-time! We are on a mission to inspire and educate everyone on the importance of getting outside. Check out my workshops and my prints, made #ontheroad in my mobile print studio. The revenue will help propel us further and further on this great adventure. Enrich yourself and others… and feel great about it too as you’re helping to ensure our wild lands are cherished and to keep the wild spirit of the American Dream alive. Our goal is to visit all 59 National Parks in 3-5 years. LEARN MORE ABOUT WHAT WE’RE DOING HERE



Want to learn photography and enjoy a guided experience? Check out my exciting, NEW workshop dates:
 
BIG BEND // LANDSCAPE + THE ART OF SEEING // 2017 – ONLY 4 SPOTS AVAILABLE
LEARN PHOTO + CAMERA BASICS // USA // 2017 – SEE IF I’M COMING TO YOUR CITY
EVERGLADES // LANDSCAPE + NATURE // 2017 – SNOW BIRDS UNITE!
SCOTLAND // LANDSCAPE // SKYE + HIGHLANDS // 2018 – ONLY 4 SPOTS AVAILABLE!
 
I’m excited to announce my “The Photographic Guide to Our National Parks” series of eBooks:
 
Rocky Mountain National Park
Grand Teton National Park
 
If you are interested in purchasing a “print from the road”, please check my prints for sale, or email me directly for a custom request:
 
Andrew R. Slaton // prints from the road
 
If you are interested in licensing any of the images/ video from this post, please visit my stock agency:
 
Tandem Stills + Motion // Andrew R. Slaton
  
For assignment work requests, please email me: andrew@andrewslatonphoto.com
 
Thanks for visiting AndrewSlatonBlog.com!
 
all images and content © ARS Media, LLC 2017

Summer: A Season For Work

As the Byrds and the Good Book say, there is a season for everything. Turn, turn, turn. And as much as I’ve been conditioned in modern life to believe that Summer is the season for relaxation, vacation, and beach lounging, it isn’t. It is the season for work. At least for me.

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Let me explain: Summer is the season when the days grow longer, and in the north country where we go this time of year, the days are extraordinarily long. I get asked often what it is that I do all day, so I thought I’d share my typical Summer day (and almost any nature photographer’s day for that matter) when out west…

4:30 AM – Wake, dress, coffee, hit the road/ trail. Driving + hiking usually involved.

5:10 AM – Pre-dawn light reaches its time for me to begin shooting.

5:40 AM – Sunrise! Shoot, shoot, shoot.

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6:45 AM – The sun is typically already too high for me to get the best images (I know, right!?) Begin scouting for sunset/ dusk.

7:00 AM – Return to the trailer for breakfast, quiet time, downloading, processing images from morning shoot.

8:00 AM – Social media. Strategy, posting, liking, perusing, repeat. Blogging, E-books, workshop strategy, website updates, returning emails, making prints, general business strategy, etc.

12:00 PM – Lunch

12:30 PM – Pack up for scouting/ hiking with the family (Ellen + Islay)

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1:00 PM – Scouting new locations for commercial/ landscape shoots. Creating Outbound adventures for others to find these amazing places. And of course, hiking with Ellie and our dog!

5:00 PM – Return to the trailer for dinner prep. Social media, blogging, emails, etc. Maybe enjoy a little happy hour single malt too :)

6:30 PM – Dinner

7:15 PM – Pack up and head out on the road/ trail for the sunset/ dusk shoot. Location predetermined from the day’s previous scouting. Driving + hiking usually involved.

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8:10 PM – The light begins to get good. Shoot, shoot, shoot!

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8:59 PM – Actual sunset.

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9:15 PM – Light finally dissipates and I must pack up.

10:00 PM – Return to the trailer. Download, edit, process images from the evening shoot to prepare for social media/ blogging/ stock for tomorrow.

11:00 PM – Go to bed. Or go shoot some night landscapes/ star pictures! Depends on the night :)

…rinse and repeat…

I typically sprinkle a day or two per week in there to rest. Especially if the weather is uncooperative, I will take an odd morning or evening off. But in general, two and a half months look like this. It is so exciting, and I wouldn’t change it, but it can be quite exhausting.

By the time Fall rolls around, I’m ready for those shorter, darker days.

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Is this not so different from our recent ancestors? When we as humans were much more intimately connected with the seasons and the hours of the day, perhaps only pre-electricity, we woke and slept with the sun. If we had more daylight, we had to take advantage of that and make the most of our days… for it wouldn’t be long before the harsh bite of Winter came and made everything harder.

I live in a world of artificial light, technology, and amazing advancements (for instance the automobile! It takes me only moments to travel what would’ve taken hours before). But I am also drawn to connect to this old world reality.

Summer was meant for toil, Fall was meant for the harvest, Winter for rest, and Spring for renewal and rebirth. Back in Texas, we don’t really have seasons. We have Summer, and not-so-Summer. So maybe it’s just novelty for a Texas kid like me, but I love these distinct seasons and what they represent.

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It just so happens that we are, right now, in the most exciting, productive, and exhausting time! Don’t be afraid to change your routine, and take advantage of these long and lovely days.

Cheers to the seasons. And cheers to Summer, friends!

— Andrew


Ellen and I have hit the road full-time! Help us on our mission to inspire and educate everyone on the importance of getting outside by checking out my workshops and my prints, made #ontheroad in my mobile print studio. The revenue will help propel us further and further on this great adventure. Enrich yourself and others… and feel great about it too as you’re helping to ensure our wild lands are cherished and to keep the wild spirit of the American Dream alive. Our goal is to visit all 59 National Parks in 2-4 years. LEARN MORE ABOUT WHAT WE’RE DOING HERE



Want to learn photography and enjoy a guided experience? Check out my exciting, NEW workshop dates:
 
TELLURIDE // LANDSCAPE + MOUNTAIN LIGHT // 2016 – SOLD OUT
TELLURIDE // LANDSCAPE + MOUNTAIN LIGHT (Trip 2) // 2016 – ONLY 4 SPOTS AVAILABLE
LOCAL + PRIVATE WORKSHOP// 2016 – AFFORDABLE RATES FOR ME TO COME TO YOU
BIG BEND // LANDSCAPE + NIGHT SKY // 2017 – MOST POPULAR! 8 SPOTS AVAILABLE
 
If you are interested in licensing any of the images/ video from this post, please visit my stock agency:
 
Tandem Stills + Motion // Andrew R. Slaton
Image Brief // Andrew R. Slaton
 
If you are interested in purchasing prints from this post, please check my prints for sale, or email me directly for a custom request:
 
Andrew R. Slaton | photographer // prints
 
For assignment work requests, please email me: andrew@andrewslatonphoto.com
 
Thanks for visiting AndrewSlatonBlog.com!
 
all images and content © ARS Media, LLC 2016

BRAZOS BEND | Working to Relax

Nowadays, at least in the U.S., we’re all expected to work more and more. The saying used to be “working 9 to 5”, but not too long ago it became 8 to 5… and now if we’re honest, most of us work a lot more than that.

Well all of this would be fine if we had no life outside of work, but we do. No kids, no spouses, no friends, no hobbies. But more than that, we need balance in our lives.

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When I get home from a 2-3 week road trip, I’m usually stuck in my dark office staring at a computer most of the day working. Contacting and working with clients, retouching, editing, blogging, updating websites, pre-producing new shoots, etc. For another 2-3 weeks. It’s very up and down, back and forth. It’s unhealthy.

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That’s when Ellen and I will take short trips to our favorite state parks, like Brazos Bend in Texas. Just a few days to get out. Away from the house/ office. We had one such trip recently between two long work road trips and it was exactly what we needed.

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Studies show that being outside and “unplugging” a little from our digital life is so good for us. It doesn’t mean we have to throw the smart phone in the lake, it just means intentionally setting aside time to reconnect our brains to nature.

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It is also now known that camping can help us to reboot our sleep cycles. There is something about going to bed when the sun sets and waking when it rises that connects with a primal part of our brains, that relieves stress and brings about true relaxation.

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The benefits of spending intentional time outdoors are still being discovered, but I can say as an expert :), that you have to experience it to believe it. And in this day and age, many of us don’t even need to be in an office setting, so we have more opportunity than ever to at least take the laptop or tablet outside to work under a tree. Try it!

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Well, okay, the alligator part of this may be a stretch for you… but I love these creatures, and in a strange way, they help me relax and reconnect to more primal parts of my brain. Perhaps it’s the “survival” part of my brain. But I’ll tell you this; when I’m hanging around photographing alligators, I never pull out my iPhone to check my email. Just sayin’.

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The fact is, we modern humans want to ignore or forget that we too are a part of nature, and even used to live in nature. But it doesn’t change the fact that all of this technological sensory overload is new for our brains. We need time outdoors for our physical, mental, and spiritual health. And that will trickle down to your work life too, I promise.

— andrew


In honor of the NPS Centennial this year, I have put together a special collection of (some never before seen) my favorite National Park prints. Please check it out and know that 5% of all the profits from the sale of this artwork will be donated to a wonderful organization that works hard to help preserve our Nation’s most magical places, The National Park Foundation.. We will be visiting almost all of the 59 National Parks this year, so check back often as we will be updating the page regularly. Thank you so much for your support!


 
Want to learn photography and enjoy a guided experience? Check out my exciting, NEW workshop dates:
 
TELLURIDE SUMMER 2016 – 4 SPOTS AVAILABLE
TELLURIDE FALL 2016 – 4 SPOTS AVAILABLE
ULTIMATE WYOMING SUMMER 2016 – SOLD OUT, WAIT LIST ONLY
 
If you are interested in licensing any of the images/ video from this post, please visit my stock agencies:
 
Tandem Stills + Motion // Andrew R. Slaton
Image Brief // Andrew R. Slaton
 
If you are interested in purchasing prints from this post, please check my prints for sale, or email me directly for a custom request:
 
Andrew R. Slaton | photographer // prints
 
For assignment work requests, please email me: andrew@andrewslatonphoto.com
 
all images and content © ARS Media, LLC 2016

 

Silence, In Black and White

When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs.  When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.”  ~ Ansel Adams

 
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Storm and Colorado River, South Rim, Grand Canyon NP, AZ, 2014
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If you are interested in learning more about photography, taking your art to a new level please check out my new workshop dates:
 
Destination Photo Tours/ Workshops 2014
Private, Destination Workshops 2014
 
If you are interested in licensing any of the images/ video from this post, please visit my stock agency:
 
Tandem Stills + Motion // andrew r. slaton
 
If you are interested in purchasing prints from this post, please check my prints for sale, or email me directly for a custom request:
 
andrew r. slaton // photographer // prints
 
For assignment work requests, please email me: andrew@andrewslatonphoto.com
 
Thanks for visiting AndrewSlatonBlog.com!
 
all images and content © ARS Media, LLC 2014

Welcome To The New

I had a new design concept for my workshops and the new site last week… and on a wild hair, I completely redid my slatonworkshops.com website in just a few days.  And I absolutely love it.  I hope you do too.

My goal with this new site is to try to give back more than I’m asking of people.  It’s a new way of approaching things, but I feel really good about it.

colorful dawn over the chihuahuan desert in big bend national park, texas

For each exciting destination, the viewer is greeted with an iconic shot that sets the scene for the workshop.

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Come on… don’t be shy.  Check them out… you know you want to!

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And just so it’s worth everyone’s time, I added a few limited time discounts to celebrate the launch!

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I’ve even created a customizable Private Destination Workshop adventure.  An affordable, one-on-one dream workshop… anywhere in the world!

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There’s  a really cool “Resources” section that I’m very excited about.  I give a ton of great info on it already, and plan to keep posting more and more.

I hope to continue to build a marketplace of ideas for like minded people who love nature and photography, and desire to get out and do!

Will you join me?

— andrew

___________________________________________________________________________________________________
 
If you are interested in learning more about photography, taking your art to a new level please check out my new workshop dates:
 
Grand Teton Photographic Tour/ Workshops 2014
More Destination Photo Tours/ Workshops 2014
 
If you are interested in licensing any of the images/ video from this post, please visit my stock agency:
 
Tandem Stills + Motion // andrew r. slaton
 
If you are interested in purchasing prints from this post, please check my prints for sale, or email me directly for a custom request:
 
andrew r. slaton // photographer // prints
 
For assignment work requests, please email me: andrew@andrewslatonphoto.com
 
Thanks for visiting AndrewSlatonBlog.com!
 
all images and content © ARS Media, LLC 2014

Hurry Up And Wait

I remember this old adage being used frequently when I was an assistant to several commercial photographers in Dallas and Austin in my younger days.

“Today will be a lot of ‘hurry up and wait'”, they’d say.  Stylists, make-up artists, talent, creatives, account execs, clients, big wigs, etc.  Everyone has their part to play in a commercial shoot, and the bureaucracy at times, made for really long days.

I still shoot some commercial work, but the transition back to my first love, nature photography has reminded me that this old saying still rings true.

You can’t rush the elements.  And sometimes, they just never come together the way you visualized.

This image below is from my most recent trip to several northern Arizona/ southern Utah National Parks.  I drove over 1500 miles each way, hiked 20+ miles round trip with 60-75 lbs of gear, woke up at 3:30 AM, and waited for an image that was in my head of stars over the incomparably beautiful Havasu Falls.  I waited in vain, in the dark, for two hours until the sun rose.  But the clouds never broke long enough to capture the nighttime star picture I wanted.

I still came away with a few images I liked, but not what I truly wanted and envisioned.

Sometimes it’s really hard work to capture images such as these… and when dealing with nature, there are no guarantees.

But sometimes, it all comes together, with little work on your part other than being there… and being prepared.

When we arrived at Grand Canyon National Park, all the elements came together.  No long hikes through deep canyons and sand with all my gear.  Just amazing drive-up vistas, dramatic clouds, and phenomenal light.

However, there was still the need for patience.

Then there are the opportunities that occur when you least expect them… as can happen often with wildlife.  We were driving to a trailhead when my wife spotted a group of desert bighorn sheep scrambling up the slick rock of Zion National Park.  Thankfully, I stay prepared for even these chance encounters.

When traveling, I always have a camera body ready for wildlife.  70-200mm lens with a 2x teleconverter, fast shutter speed and wide aperture set.  Because you never know.

Waiting.  Prepared.  They are the ever present realities of the nature photographer.

Often we’re waiting on the individual elements; the light, the animals, the weather, etc.

But much more profound than just these, it is the moment we seek to capture.  The culmination of all the elements in space and time, artfully composed in our frame.  We are dutifully ready and able to use whatever tools are necessary or at our disposal to lock the “paint onto the canvas”.

We’re fortunate as photographers if this happens perfectly even a few dozen times in our our career.  It is elusive, truthful, and beautiful.  It’s addicting too.

And it’s why I still desire to continue learning and growing… and venturing out into the wild.

Hurry up and wait my friends!

— andrew

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If you are interested in learning more about photography, taking your art to a new level please check out my new workshop dates:
 
Grand Teton Photographic Tour/ Workshops 2014
More Destination Photo Tours/ Workshops 2014
 
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Tandem Stills + Motion // andrew r. slaton
 
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andrew r. slaton // photographer // prints
 
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