art, photography, travel

WINTER, AZ

When you live on the road in the U.S., there are just a few main regions that are suitable for winter living. Florida, South Texas, the Southwest (Arizona & Southern California), and Baja Mexico. We explored Florida our first two winters, mainly because we love the gulf beaches and I love the Everglades, but in 2019, we decided to explore more of the Southwest.

Obviously, the mild temperatures are the main reason Arizona is so popular in the winter. But all the federal public land (mostly BLM and National Forest) is really just as big a draw for many of us.

See, in Florida, the uninitiated/ unaware may spend $500-1000 per month on places to stay. In Arizona, we only spent $100 on “rent” the entire six weeks or so we spent there, thanks to boondocking on BLM land. Granted, off-the-grid living requires a few key pieces of equipment that we personally didn’t have yet our first two years on the road. But in 2019, we finally had a generator and solar panels, enabling us to “unplug” with ease.

Living off-the-grid in Arizona really suited us. Vast, open land.

A lot of people, sure, but so many great places to camp that we felt like we had several spots completely to ourselves. The nearest “neighbors” being a quarter of a mile or more away. Some camp areas we saw had hundreds of RV’s packed in like sardines. Basically giant, dirt parking lots. When we saw those we simply kept driving.

I have been in love with the desert landscape for many years, thanks mostly to Big Bend. Deserts are dynamic and dramatic. And everything that lives in that ecosystem is so well adapted for such a harsh environment… I find it endlessly fascinating.

And I’m not sure how typical it is, but we got amazing storms that rolled in throughout February, creating some beautiful light.

It was a dynamic winter in the desert. Layers of light drifted and danced across the landscape, creating artful scenes.

I found some really incredible locations that I am excited to explore a bit more. There really are incredible photographic opportunities everywhere across Arizona.

We’ve always said that if we make enough money in the summer and fall, we’ll go to Florida in the winter. If we don’t, Arizona. I’m rethinking that now as I reminisce.

I really do love getting beach and Everglades time, but wintering in Arizona is quite certainly in no way any kind of silver medal.

Should we continue to be so fortunate, to live this dream on the road, spending the winter months getting dusty, wandering the arid backroads, I will count it as gold. Cherished, borrowed time, in a desert wonderland.

— Andrew


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:
INTO THE WINDS // BACKPACKING + PHOTOGRAPHY ADVENTURE
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 // Limited Edition Prints
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
 
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photography, travel, writing

N O M A D // no 6

I love this life, and although I may not have money every day, I know that everything will work out, and as long as my daughter and I are healthy and happy, that’s all that really matters!”

Shanti Roadrunner (@shanti_theroadrunner) is one of the most unique people I’ve ever met. And as far as this NOMAD project goes, she’s the most authentic and perhaps holds claim to a blood relation to the ancient Romani people (the original gypsies).

I met her in Sedona, and when asked, “Why a nomad,” she responded, “I’ve been a nomad my entire life, with the exception of living in a house for about 5 yrs altogether on and off. I think it’s just in my blood, I can’t help it! My ancestors and relatives are all gypsies, so, it’s kinda just a normal thing for us. Plus, in my opinion, it’s the freest we can be in this society!”

She struck me as a proud, hard working mother, whose main concern is cultivating a lifestyle of freedom and wilderness for herself and her daughter. She and Robyn live in her 1987 Toyota dolphin camper, all in all about 50 square feet. She said this camper was gifted to her somewhat recently. Before that, the pair lived in her van… She’s very glad to now have a stove and shower.

For me personally, this lifestyle allows me to raise my daughter myself, which is the most important thing to me! I don’t want to send her to daycare and work a 9-5 job. This lifestyle doesn’t require rent…or at least not as nearly as insane as house rent! It requires gas and propane, but yeah… A lot more feasible! I get to take her to my job which is everything to me.”

  

When asked what she does for work, she replied, “I do some crafting, I make water bottle holders (crochet) but I also do housekeeping gigs for Airbnb’s.”

I asked her a question that Ellen and I get all the time… do you ever plan to settle down?

“Really, no future plans of settling down! Although I wouldn’t mind getting some land if I ever save up enough money. The hardest thing (about life on the road) is probably the law, always trying to get rid of us! It’s unfair! And frustrating.”

She then told me a story of camping in a well known park in Sedona with her sister a while back. They’d been there for about a week when law enforcement showed up. She apologized and let the officer know that they were not aware that they couldn’t camp there. Regardless, he wrote her a ticket. When she asked if there are any signs that say “no camping”, he said, “yes.” But when she asked if he could show it to them, he said “no.”

I looked all around the park for any signs and saw none.

 

She carries few possessions. But one that caught my eye was a replica of Frodo’s blade, Sting, from Lord of The Rings. I find that every nomad carries at least one thing with them that doesn’t really have any utilitarian value. But it usually carries some emotional significance.

“Ok so Sting… my sister and I were huge, and I mean, huge, Lord of The Ring fans. Those are the only movies we would watch and everything in our life had to somehow relate to LOTR! We had many more swords and memorabilia, but we had to let a lot of it go. I couldn’t bring myself to leave Sting. It was the first sword I owned and I loved it too much to leave behind, plus it’s super cool to have a sword…” Shanti and her sister remain close. Her sister and father both live on the road as well.

Shanti also carries a banjo.

“I had an era of my nomadic life where it was just me and my pack. I was traveling across the country with my boyfriend at the time… he was a folksy bluegrass musician. We went down to New Orleans for a while, and he played on the streets to make money. I didn’t know how to play anything. But as soon as I could I bought my first banjo and it went everywhere with me, even if I don’t know how to play. It’s a comfort knowing it’s there to fiddle around with when I’m feeling inspired, and some day, I would like to play like a pro!”

“Being a nomad isn’t as hard as it seems! And as for myself, I own everything I’ve got in my rig! No debt! Not a lot of money, but i make it day by day. We don’t need a house, an endless hot shower or 3 crazy huge meals a day to be happy or comfortable,” she mused.

Living this lifestyle also puts a whole new perspective on how dependent we are on so many things, and really, how lazy humanity has become. It’s good to get out and connect to the wilderness, and really, our true and original state! Humans are tribal… we need community, we need to connect! We aren’t meant to be set in front of a tv in our lazy John, sending our kids to strangers so we can go to work to make money and never see them, all in order to feel secure.”


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, made #ontheroad in my mobile print studio. 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 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// WILDFLOWERS + STARS
PHOTO 101 // LEARN TO SHOOT LIKE A PRO // SELECT CITIES // USA
GRAND TETON // FALL COLOR // LANDSCAPES + WILDLIFE
 
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 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 2019

 

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film, photography

When All Else Fails… Time-lapse It

Landscape photography is the supreme test of the photographer – and often the supreme disappointment.” ~ Ansel Adams

Sometimes you get yourself out of bed at 4:30 AM and drive across town to get set up by 5:30 for a shot you need.

You have shown up, but the right weather hasn’t.

That’s okay… just get creative.

You’re already there… no sense in getting frustrated.

Make something unique and interesting with what you have.

Time-lapse it.

Over the last several months, I’ve been shooting time-lapses in tandem with my stills from all over the world… here are a few I wanted to share.

Some are the direct result of the still image never “showing up”.

~ andrew

Music: Parlours Slowly From The Earth


 
Take your photography to a new level… 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
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nature, photography

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

___________________________________________________________________________________________________
 
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
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art, film, landscape, nature, photography, travel

canyon de chelly // a disappearing act

When I was in college, I worked for a man who frequently raved about Canyon de Chelly National Monument in Arizona.

But I’m rarely passing through Arizona unfortunately, so it doesn’t often pop into my periphery.

On this trip, however, because of my planned route, a visit to the little known canyon that Ansel Adams photographed a half century ago began to materialize.

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Crossing into Navajo country near Four Corners was a whole new experience.

The vast, open, dry plains and amazing monuments rising out of the desert floor were simply awe-inspiring.

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And, at least for a while, the clouds didn’t disappoint.

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But then we got to the canyon…

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This ancient place was inhabited by the Anasazi first, it is believed, several thousand years ago.  Until, they seemingly disappeared.  Just like in Mesa Verde and Chaco Canyon.

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Then the Navajo moved in and began cultivating and farming the fertile canyon floor, and are still living off the land there to this day.

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Since the Navajo own, and many of their families inhabit this land, it is illegal to venture into the canyon without a Native guide.

The only exception being the White House hiking trail.  And since we were just passing through, and didn’t have a tour planned, we decided just to hike down.

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It was the wrong time of day to photograph the amazing homes carved into the side of this sheer cliff, but it was fascinating none-the-less.

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The visit really was too short to properly take this magnificent place in, but I’m glad we at least got a glimpse.

It truly is a beautiful and haunting place.

all images and content © andrew r. slaton | photographer 2013

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art, equipment review, landscape, nature, photography, random thought, travel, wildlife, writing

rocky mountain high | road-trip 2013

I have never been to Rock Mountain National Park.  Yeah… seriously.

With all of the locations I drive to regularly in New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, for some reason, I have never been.

It’s especially odd, now that I think of it, because of how (relatively) close and how stunningly beautiful I hear it is.

So, I’ve been planning to spend a week there at the end of June.

I will piggyback off a job I have in Telluride over the fourth, and a stock assignment in Big Bend National Park.

Adding in a few extra stops like Canyon de Chelley in Arizona, this thing has really turned into quite the road-trip…

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To top it all off, Canon is sending me a few lenses to evaluate, which I will review here on the blog… check back to see me put some exciting lenses to the test!

I am really looking forward to spending some quality time in phenomenally beautiful Rocky Mountain NP with Canon’s long awaited 500mm f/4L II and 24mm f/1.4L II.

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The closest I’ve been to RMNP was a backpacking trip a few friends and I took in 2008 to Indian Peaks Wilderness.

IPW is within Arapahoe National Forest and borders the southern edge of Rocky Mountain National Park.

I’ve been to a lot of beautiful places, but Indian Peaks Wilderness was certainly one of the most stunning.

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And then of course… like an old friend waiting for a long overdue visit… Big Bend.  Except for 2012, I have been at least once every year for the last 10+ years.

It’s a magical place.  With a character and an energy like no other place I’ve been, it has the ability to soothe ones soul.  It’s a perfect mixture of southwest desert and rugged mountains.

sunset over the chihuahuan desert, big bend national park, texas

Along with the lenses, I will be testing out some new filters, new techniques, and I hope it will be a rejuvenating experience.  And I want to share it with all of you…

So please, feel free to ask questions, give tips, make comments, and check back over the next several weeks for updates.  I will be sharing some of the secrets and tricks of the trade!

Cheers!

— andrew

all images and content © andrew r. slaton | photographer 2013

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