andrew r. slaton // workshops

woo hoo!!  i’m excited to announce my new workshop blog!!

check it out… find the learning adventure you’ve been looking for…  and be sure to subscribe to stay up to date with what i’m offering.

i have several new classes and trips that i will be adding over the next few weeks, such as big bend, grand teton, and yellowstone national parks, and location lighting in dallas!

Screen shot 2013-03-08 at 5.38.21 PM

all images © andrew r. slaton | photographer 2013

wyoming | the bounty of autumn

it’s been said before that fall in the mountains is a magical time.

the leaves are changing, the temperature drops, and the animals are energized with hormones for mating season.

moose populations in wyoming are declining because of the growing wolf numbers, and i’ve been seeing less and less of them every year.  so i was really excited to see a huge bull with two cows at our campground one morning when we woke up.  the state has recently opened a limited hunting season for wolves.  there are at least two lawsuits in the courts currently, brought on by environmentalist groups to challenge the state’s new policy.

because of the close proximity of fires, the sunrises were often very hazy but quite colorful.

i spent many days out on the river road looking for bugling bull elk.  and i found plenty.

the bears were apparently out in full force.  fall is the time when grizzlies and back bear are fattening up for the long winter ahead.

and grizzlies, in particular, are emboldened by the fact that hunters are out in full force and leaving their kills’ guts in the field.  it can be a dangerous time.

but i didn’t even see one bear the entire month i was there… just lots of signs…

mornings on the river road were marked by bugling elk.  they lead their harems up from the snake river to the high plains to strut at the foot of the tetons.

the evenings brought about the reverse.  the bulls, some with new females won from rivals, made their way back to the safety of the tall grass, trees, and water along the snake.

bugling is one of my favorite sounds in the natural world.  and spending the quiet times of my mornings and evenings listening to the haunting tune of elk replenished my soul.

autumn is a time of beginning and end.  the leaves fall from their branches, but not before they take on colors rarely seen so bright in nature.

bitter cold wind blows in from the north.  but not without it’s gifts.  the cold air brings with it the desperately needed moisture to alleviate the wildfires with the first snowfall.

i long for this time of year.  i already miss it.  and i’m already planning for next year…

all images © andrew r. slaton | photographer 2012

wyoming | antelope hunt

** GRAPHIC HUNTING PHOTOS… PLEASE BE ADVISED**

i felt kind of silly writing the above disclaimer… but then i thought about it, and many of the folks that frequent my site are expecting beautiful landscapes, portraits, and *living* wildlife photography.

this post incorporates all of those elements, but it also adds photojournalism.  a documentation of what the vast majority of humans throughout the span of time have done in order to survive.  with graphic detail.

Elle and i are not big hunters, but we are both meat eaters and have a great respect for the people that go out into the wild to bring meat home for their families.

rarely, in this day and age, do we city-folk ever see the animals that we eat prior to their processing and packaging at our supermarkets.  i think it’s good for all of us to experience a hunt.  it gives us the opportunity to develop respect for the animals, and a thankfulness for the bounty of food that results.  to get our hands dirty.

so here is our first real hunting experience in the sagebrush sea of sublette county, wyoming with our good friends Mike and Ellen.

elle was excited and nervous when we hopped in Ellen’s truck that morning.

Mike and Ellen had already harvested one antelope of their two for the year, so they were just ready to get the meat that they needed for the long wyoming winter.

antelope hunting is unique.  there are tens of thousands of high mountain desert acres in wyoming.

antelope roam those plains, sometimes alone, and sometimes in groups.

because of that, it is common for hunters to drive miles of dirt road until they spot a suitable animal.  so we drove.  looking….

after a while of looking… we spotted a huge, lone male.  so Mike set up for the shot.

Elle loaded the 30-06 magazines.

it was a really long shot… probably around 750 yards.  needless to say, Mike missed quite a few times.

the one that got away.

more looking….

then, finally… Mike found ‘the one’.  it was downhill from us and still a very long shot.

not a clean kill, unfortunately, but Mike eventually got the kill shot…

now it was time to gut the antelope.

just as it sounds, gutting just means to cut out the insides in the field so that the internal organs don’t turn and spoil the rest of the meat.

really sharp knives are helpful…

it can be a messy activity.

all in all, Ellie was not a huge fan of the experience.  though she understands hunting for food and respects people’s right and need to do so, she feels it’s not for her.

i, on the other hand, am fully prepared to reap the harvest of wild game… if i need to feed my family… and there are no cows or chickens nearby to ‘hunt’.  though generally prefer to shoot animals with my camera.

we live in an interesting time.  one in which most of us never see where our food comes from, and many certainly like it that way.  ignorance is bliss, right?  and so is a fresh steak.

but still, there is something comforting about knowing exactly where your food came from.  and wearing the earth and blood to prove it.

i look forward to taking part in many more excursions with my frontier friends… to see how it once was, and still can be.

all images © andrew r. slaton | photographer 2012

wyoming | our time

thanks to our clients and friends at the goosewing ranch, and our new ranch HAND | photographic business venture, Elle and i spent nearly a month in wyoming this fall.

we headed up a week before we needed to be at the ranch so we could see our friends in pinedale and backpack a few days in the winds.

well, our plans didn’t exactly work out the way we wanted…. but it was some much needed time rejuvenating ourselves in the mountains….

me getting geared up for a day hike…

it’s weird for me to have photos of myself on here now that Elle is shooting too.

she makes fun of me for my new “fanny pack” camera bag, so i decided to pose for her to prove how useful it would be… especially when backpacking!

i do look pretty nerdy though.

the fall colors were just starting to ignite at soda lake and on the trail to little soda.

my girl exploring the light…

the beautiful wind river range in the distance.

we sat for a while and watched a family of bald eagles at little soda.  i haven’t seen these guys there since 2005.  it was a welcomed sight.

i used to sit and watch them for hours when i lived in pinedale.  it brought back good memories to see these majestic creatures again.

we soon decided to do a three day trek into the winds from the new fork trailhead, up new fork lakes to new fork canyon, then up through palmer canyon and back out doubletop.

not a tremendous feat.  but for some lowlander city dwellers, an accomplishment for having just driven 22 hours up only one day before.

Elle had been feeling awful that day, but we decided to embark in spite of her worsening condition.  and i had already (somehow after only being in hiking country for a little more than 24 hours) developed a few killer blisters on my heels.  no problem, i thought.  i can ignore them.

we got about two miles in.  both of us reeling from carrying too much gear, nursing illness and blisters, and decided to go ahead and set up camp.

Elle tried to sleep off her fever.  and i re-taped my blisters and went for a little day hike.

beautiful view from our tent of new fork canyon.

we were both ready for bed.  “hopefully, we’ll feel better tomorrow.”

the sun rose with purpose.  we did not, however.

we decided to just relax and enjoy our surroundings.  we noticed a slew of woodpeckers all around us.  what a treat.

after a while, we went for a short day hike…

this bald allowed us to get in really close…

new fork canyon is beautiful, and we were really looking forward to getting up into the high country…. but it wasn’t meant to be on this trip.

so we eventually hiked out to the car and headed over to little half moon lake, one of my favorite car camping spots near pinedale.

dusk at little half moon.

stars over little half moon.  that night, the moon never rose… it was VERY dark.

the next day we hiked around, explored a little, made our way to half moon lake, and enjoyed the scenery.

we watched more birds of prey… an osprey this time.

our time around pinedale was coming to an end.  but our wyoming adventure wasn’t even half way done.

we had the privilege to go with our friends on an antelope hunt before we were needed up at the goosewing.

we didn’t hunt, but i documented the whole experience… antelope hunt images coming soon!

all images © andrew r. slaton | photographer 2012

…last week in wyoming…

_MG_4259AS

_MG_4281AS

one of my first, and best, friends when i lived in wyoming was kim.  she recently got married and had a gorgeous little girl, kate.  first thing’s first… i had to go see them.

_MG_4290AS

now on to my animals.  a coyote searches for food in the elk national wildlife refuge near jackson.

_MG_4313AS

_MG_4318AS

_MG_4329AS

two ocean lake in teton wilderness provided fantastic scenery.

_MG_4345AS

_MG_4375AS

_MG_4387AS

_MG_4389ASBW

on the way out of two ocean and pacific creek, one of my favorite views of the tetons materializes quickly.  almost out of nowhere, the jagged peaks come into view with force and drama.

_MG_4399AS

_MG_4402AS

_MG_4433AS

_MG_4438AS

then, of course, the jackson lake dam provides unimpeded views of this beautiful mountain range, the grand tetons.

_MG_4472AS

_MG_4509AS

a lone big horn ram wandered, grazed.

_MG_4519AS

early in the morning, the elk eat dew-covered grasses.

_MG_4528AS

_MG_4529AS

_MG_4533AS

lamar creek.  the hidden gem of the lamar valley.  always one of my favorite spots to sit in the morning.

_MG_4545AS

the lamar valley in the summer is a haven for the american bison.  they graze it heavily in massive swarms.

_MG_4573AS

the lamar valley is also home to many bears.  this pair, one black bear and one cinnamon black were inseparable as i watched them cross miles of open landscape.  i saw this same cinnamon about four years ago in the exact same spot.  glad to see he’s got a lady to keep him company now…

_MG_4582AS

bull elk are scattered across yellowstone this time of year.  typically alone, they seem to know that the autumn rut and breeding season will be coming in a few short months.

_MG_4594AS

sulphur stained ponds dot the landscape of yellowstone.

_MG_4672AS

a lone black bear on the northeast entrance road scavenges in the shadow of the mountains surrounding the montana/ wyoming border, near cooke city.

_MG_4705AS

not even a mile away from the bear, a fox too looks for an evening snack.

_MG_4707AS

_MG_4710AS

on the road to lulu pass, just outside city limits, seedlings, clear cuts, mountains, and sky provide the backdrop for cook city, montana.

_MG_4712AS

_MG_4718AS

_MG_4725AS

early morning, heading back from a night spent at the cooke city dump, the mountains and fog performed a ballet.  mist danced across the tops of trees as the light watched passively from behind the clouds.

_MG_4733AS

and it only gained dramatic crescendo as i made my way back, further into the lamar valley of yellowstone.

_MG_4799AS

after a long morning hike up the side of a peak in the lamar, a lone antelope kept his distance.

_MG_4881AS

_MG_4915AS

a 45 minute exposure at oxbow bend in grand teton national park, well after sundown.

_MG_4916AS

_MG_4917AS

morning glow over the tetons.  i love waking up to this view!!

_MG_4945AS

_MG_4964AS

_MG_4978AS

mid-morning at oxbow bend.  light slowly makes it way toward me from behind, painting my canvas.

_MG_5025AS

teton3fsm

jackson lake was glass.  a rare site.

_MG_5044AS

_MG_5055AS

_MG_5062AS

string lake, near jenny lake, grand teton national park.

_MG_5074AS

back to my old haunt in sublette county… green river lakes in bridger-teton national forest.

_MG_5084AS

the lower lake was in tumult, with wild winds from the south rumbling like a freight train through the valley toward the upper green.

_MG_5123AS

the green river was calm the next morning, though the sky overhead read drama.

_MG_5144AS

i hiked the highline trail toward the upper lake.  squaretop mountain spectacularly reflected the patches of sun.

_MG_5145AS

_MG_5175AS

_MG_5185AS

i followed massive grizzly tracks all the way to the upper lake about three miles.  it was not alone.  two smaller sets of tracks alerted me to the fact that a sow with two yearlings could be around any bend.

_MG_5199AS

on the way into little soda lake, the aspen groves catch a reflection more colorful than reality.

_MG_5216AS

cactus patches keep me aware of where i place my feet…

_MG_5239AS

just a few minutes from the front door of my old house in pinedale, soda lake reflects the wind river mountains, creating impressionistic hues that would make any artist salivate.

all images © andrew r. slaton | photographer 2009

remembering travels of the recent past

a few weeks ago i posted about july being a boring month for me.  especially with the anticipation of an amazing upcoming august.  well, august has changed a little, but july remains the same.

so, with the “july-factor” in mind, i decided that reliving my recent travels might help lift my spirits a bit.  and just maybe for a minute i’ll stop whining and feel thankful for the wonderful places i’ve been to see this year.

’07-’08 was a blessed year for me regarding travel, and ’08-’09 is already shaping up to be exponentially better.

i guess dallas is where it all begins and ends for me right now.  and though i’m not so fond of her, dallas has enough work to allow me to travel more than most.  so i’ll think kindly of her for the moment…

austin is kind of my secret girlfriend.  we courted for over 5 years, but i had to leave her for a more practical lover.  so sad.  i do sneak around from time to time though… just to see her pretty face, and hear her alluring voice.

  

 

brazos bend, texas.  my favorite place to play with alligators in texas!!  if you want to see some prehistoric monsters, i highly recommend this park.  it’s just a short drive southwest of houston.

cabo san lucas, mexico!  my friends joe and erin got married there last summer, and guess who was able to go for free in exchange for a little wedding photography.  well worth it…

  

not too far from the city, somewhere out in east texas, is a private getaway, known only as “timado” to the few elites who know of it.  i was let in to the inner-circle last fall when i was invited to a double bachelor party extravaganza.  well, okay, so it’s not very elite, more like a good place to drink beer, go fishing, and grow out your mullet.  but it’s really fun.  and a great place to catch snakes and shoot fireworks.

big bend national park, texas.  ah, the big bend of the rio grande.  one of my classic favorites.  this trip was the first of two for the year, but it ended in tragedy.  my truck somehow found its way to the bottom of a four-foot-deep washout.  at least i only had to hike 18 miles through the desert before i saw someone to get help – hahaha!  what a great trip!

  

another friend of mine, adam, got married in wonderful savannah, georgia.  what a great place.  i had been once before, but rest assured that i could never get sick of savannah.

  

  

  

  

  

  

so, yet another friend, anna, got married in her home town of philadelphia, pa.  big year for marriage apparently.  and no offense to my other friends, but this was the best one yet.  i’d never been to philly, but it quickly became one of my favorite cities.  partially because two of my favorite people were there – anna and elaine.

  

another first-time favorite city, san francisco!  i lucked out with this one because of some awesome friends of mine, john and bd.  the brothers had an extra ticket to the 2007 baseball all-star game, and i got the invite.  we had a fantastic time at the weekend’s festivities, and we even made our way out to napa for a day.  amazing trip!

  

  

  

  

i lived in pinedale, wyoming a few years ago when i worked for a small newspaper.  it’s a tiny town just south of jackson (or to you tourists, jackson hole… hahaha!).  consequently, it is also very close to grand teton and yellowstone national parks.  doesn’t get much better than that.  so, since i reluctantly moved back to texas in 2006, i’ve made the pilgrimage back at least twice a year.  this was my first trip of the year, in the autumn.  and it was breathtaking – just the way i remembered it.  i hope to someday move back…

  

  

yee haw, boy howdy!  ARKANSAS |ˈär,kanzəs|!!  the white river in arkansas is incredibly beautiful, no doubt.  i went on a weekend trip up to northwest ar with some friends last fall to do a little fly fishing, and enjoy the scenery.  i don’t know how to fly fish, so i just enjoyed the eye candy, and made photos all weekend.  i think we’ll try to go again this fall.

  

  

  

  

 

oklahoma city, oklahoma.  we have tons of family in oklahoma – our rival state to the north.  and in all honesty, i don’t visit enough.  it’s really a great state.  though the university by the same name will always be my arch enemy.

the okc bombing memorial is stunning… a quiet experience… completely heartbreaking.

  

  

  

  

  

big bend, part deux.  i took my new ride to experience the land that claimed my previous truck’s life only months before.  wow, i really like my new car.  especially with gas prices the way they are.  i was able to do the entire 5 day trip for under $250!!  that includes 1500 miles of driving, four days of bland camp food, and priceless nights under a clear desert sky.  it was a really rejuvenating experience.  i needed it.

  

  

the quintessential western road trip, executed at the worst time of year.  my friend, bd, got a wild hair in early november, and decided to plan one of the most classic of american road trips, down the 101.  it was originally planned for the next spring, but neither of us could wait that long…

we set off just a few days after thanksgiving.  we left dallas, and spend the first night in denver.  then from denver, we made our way through blizzards, over togwotee pass to jackson, wyoming.  we had the privilege meeting up with my old roommate, emily, and previous editor, noah.  we had way too much fun.

the next day in spite of splitting headaches, we were off to boise, idaho and then to portland, oregon.  portland may be my new favorite city (i know… i say that a lot).  it reminds me so much of austin, but even prettier.  we spent a few days there, and then made our way up to seattle.  another great city.  somehow, we ended up at a seedy bar called “shorty’s” that night.  it was clown-themed, which made it creepy to begin with, but it also happened to be in, what i found out later to be, seattle’s “crack district”.  that was the first, and hopefully last time i’ve ever seen someone smoking crack.  right outside the bar, in the rain!?  interesting.

so we were ready to get back on the road after that night.  from seattle, we drove back to portland, then on down to eugene…  go ducks!!!  from eugene, we headed over to the coast, and that’s where we hooked up with the legendary highway 101, which we followed the rest of the way down to los angeles.  the scenery was absolutely amazing from the oregon coast all the way to big sur.  and even south of big sur to monterey was quite nice.  really, the trip down the 1 was so overwhelming in its grandeur and raw beauty, that for me (someone who is already a painfully bad writer), is too hard to put in to words.  plus, i’m a photographer anyway.  so i hope the images speak for themselves.

in spite of taking this trip in the most off part of the off season, it was incredible.  i can only hope that i have the opportunity to do this trip again at some point in my life.  i should be so lucky.

my virgin voyage to chitown.  seriously though, i was such a nerd on the flight there, and in my rent car.  the only two albums i listened to the whole weekend were sufjan stevens’ come on feel the illinoise, and greetings from michigan, the great lake state.  but they fit so well!  and they are two of the best albums of all time.  so at least they had that going for them.

chicago is certainly a cool town.  i need to spend more time there.  also, it was december, sooooooo, just a little cold.  maybe i’ll see what it’s like in spring…

  

  

  

  

  

 

ah, spring in wyoming… what a segue – damn, i’m good!!  so this was the second (well, technically third, if you count the short drive thru on the road trip in november) time for me to visit my old haunt in about six months.  what a treat!

yet another friend, kim, was getting married in pinedale, so it was as good an excuse as any to go visit one of my favorite places in all the world.  and it certainly did not disappoint.  i camped for the first time in single digit weather on eight feet of snow pack too.  so that was cool.  but i learned a valuable lesson:  don’t ever do that again!!

in all seriousness, there is something about western wyoming.  a special quality that lacks clear explanation.  ask anyone that has spent any time there, and they’ll tell you…  it’s a deeply spiritual experience.  and there’s something about the winter (which is much of spring as well).  it is what quiet looks like… if that makes any sense.

anyway, if you’re still reading, i feel sorry for you because you may have severe mental problems.  or into s&m or something.  but i promise that i’m almost done.

there are two innocence mission songs that always make me nostalgic about my travels, so i’ll end with some lyrics.  if you’re unfamiliar with the innocence mission, i would highly recommend you give them a good listen.  the first song is called, song about traveling.  really… go figure!?  and the second is the brotherhood of man.

“a man said, ‘why?’  why does traveling, in cars and in trains, make him feel sad?  a beautiful sadness, i’ve felt this before.  it’s the people in the city, you’ll never know.  it is everything you pass by, wondering will you ever… return.”

“waiting at the airport on my suitcase, a girl traveling from spain became my sudden friend.  though i did not learn her name.  and when the subway dimmed… a stranger lit my way.  this is the brotherhood of man.”

“i never can say what i mean… but you will understand… coming through clouds on the way.  this is the brotherhood of man.  this is the brotherhood of man.”

all images © andrew r. slaton | photographer 2008