photography, random thought, travel

Up The Eastern Sierra

All the world lies warm in one heart, yet the Sierra seems to get more light than other mountains. The weather is mostly sunshine embellished with magnificent storms, and nearly everything shines from base to summit – the rocks, streams, lakes, glaciers, irised falls, and the forests of silver fir and silver pine. — John Muir

The Sierra Nevada topped my bucket list ever since I first laid eyes on Ansel Adams’ and Galen Rowells’ photographs. While studying photography in college back in Austin, I was exposed to images that awoke a sleeping giant within me. An adventuresome spirit that began to show inklings when I was a tiny creature going on camping trips to Colorado with the family, became a force I wouldn’t be able to suppress.

Instead of our typical winter in Florida, we decided to explore the deserts of Arizona and Southern California. It was glorious. Those will warrant separate blog posts, but for this post, I’ll focus on California’s famous Highway 395.

I have to confess… I planned this whole past winter with the idea in mind that I would finally get to road trip up 395 along the eastern Sierra in the spring.

I can say with confidence that we were not disappointed with any portion of this leg of our nearly four year journey.

The flowers were just beginning to bloom when we arrived at Alabama Hills. The nights were still quite chilly, but the days began to warm, unless the wind was blowing, of course.

The Sierra loomed large and still nursed large swaths of snow.

Spring storms would roll in every few days to add another awe inspiring visual to the magical light of these mountains.

I was mesmerized by the sandstone formations and abundant desert flora. Endless photographic opportunities.

As we worked our way up, we made it to Bishop, a quaint little town. It’s a unique mixture of old conservative ranchers and dirtbag hippies. It seems to work, in a strange cultural yin and yang. I’ve only found that in one other place, and we made that town our “home.”

There’s something so balanced about having two opposing lifestyles like that in a small town that’s immensely appealing. Maybe it’s because I grew up idolizing cowboys and the old, conservative pioneer spirit. And with Boomers for parents, I knew the good side of the hippies and “free spirits” too.

We lived off the grid in the deserts surrounding Bishop for free for several weeks, as I explored the area with my feet, my truck, and my camera.

I was struck by how much it reminded me of Wyoming. Sparse, vast, open, rugged. Drop-dead gorgeous.

After our time in and around Bishop, we headed up to Mammoth and Mono and the land of the hot springs.

I made a few reptile friends along the way, of course.

The original plan was to go all the way up to Truckee and then head east back to Wyoming, but the unfortunate gas prices, and hell, frankly the price of everything in CA caused us to bail a little early and head over to Nevada for a few weeks before our return to WY.

So we have a little unfinished business along Highway 395. But in all, we spent six weeks exploring this remote American gem, and it will forever now hold a place in my soul. It is unique in it’s landscapes and the people it attracts. It is our kind of place.

So much so, we made a little fam portrait at the end of our time in the eastern Sierra.

It was a wonderful first visit, and I feel certain it won’t be our last.

–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
 
Standard
photography

Park Peek // A SUPER BLOOM in Joshua Tree

We visited Joshua Tree National Park for the first time in October 2017. I knew right then that it would be a “home” park for us. Ellen and I are both drawn to the desert, and Joshua Tree is a unique blend of Mojave and Colorado deserts. It is where the two meet, and mingle.

When we decided to do a desert tour, instead of our usual winter in Florida, Joshua Tree came to mind one of our focus areas. I knew there was BLM land close by, which for full-time nomads is like finding flowing water in the desert. We can camp for free (for nearly as long as we’d like) just outside the park. Little did I realize when planning that we would be arriving just in time for a rare experience, the 2019 super bloom.

It has been truly spectacular to witness this once in a decade event here in Joshua Tree. The lupines, sunflowers, poppies, and countless other species have been popping up everywhere.

  

  

But I assure you, there is much more to this huge park than just wildflowers. It is approximately 800k acres of desert and mountain terrain.

There are of course incredible vistas.

Amazing night skies.

Hidden desert gems.

Cholla cactus gardens, treacherous and beautiful.

And of course, the otherworldly Joshua Trees, for which the park is named.

I like to try to combine several elements for which the park is famous, all in one photo, if possible.

We’re here for a few more weeks, so I know I will have much more to show all of you… this is just a preview of what I’ve seen and experienced.

It’s a fascinating park. And one that I know will take me many years to fully explore. Good thing Ellen and I have both fallen for this massive desert parkland in the heart of Southern California.

–Andrew


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:
 
PHOTO 101 // LEARN TO SHOOT LIKE A PRO // SELECT CITIES // USA
GRAND TETON // FALL COLOR // LANDSCAPES + WILDLIFE
TELLURIDE // FALL COLOR // LUXE LANDSCAPES
 
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 Slaton
  
For assignment work requests, please email me: andrew@andrewslatonphoto.com
 
Thanks for visiting AndrewSlatonBlog.com!
 
All images and content © ARS Media, LLC 2019
Standard
photography, random thought, travel

The Ocean Song

The sea is emotion incarnate. It loves, hates, and weeps. It defies all attempts to capture it with words and rejects all shackles. No matter what you say about it, there is always that which you can’t.”
― Christopher Paolini

Ellen is an ocean girl.  And clearly I’m a mountain guy.

So I planned a trip recently that I hoped would offer the best of both worlds… the Pacific Northwest Coast.

It really didn’t disappoint.

But I was surprised at how deeply I too fell for the ocean song.

Pacific surf along Del Norte Coast

Dusk falls on the Pacific at Wilson Creek Beach

There’s more to the music of the sea than just the crash of the waves.

A silhouette of a photographer as dusk falls on the Pacific at Wilson Creek Beach

Or the melodic ebb and flow of the tide.

Dusk falls on the Pacific surf at Wilson Creek Beach

There’s the distant surf rolling and rumbling faintly.  Steadily.

Sea birds and pastels accompany the rocks in the Pacific surf along Del Norte Coast

The chatter of the seabirds.

starfish in the tidal pools near Arch Rock

plant life and wildlife in the tidal pools near Arch Rock

The gentle sway of the tiny creatures.

Arch Rock at dusk

There is a sound to the light.  It carries all of these other notes of the sea to create one grand song.

The sun sets on the Pacific and a tent campsite with beautiful displays of color

The sun sets on the Pacific and a tent campsite with beautiful displays of color

The sun sets on the Pacific with beautiful displays of color

Dusk falls on Bandon Beach

Dusk falls on Bandon Beach

And when the sun drops beyond the horizon, out of view, the symphony doesn’t end.

Dusk falls on Bandon Beach

In fact, the orchestral crescendo begins to take shape with soft colors and the gentleness of the breeze.

Dusk falls on Bandon Beach

This is where the song takes shape.  This is where the minor key takes hold.

Dusk falls on Bandon Beach

Dusk falls on Bandon Beach

Dusk falls on Bandon Beach

Dusk falls on Bandon Beach

It is primal song. And it is one that I will forever try to capture, impossible as it is… it hangs just out of reach in the air around us and passes through us tenderly. It tells us that we are not alone. That this is not all by chance.

It reminds us that every song has a composer.

— andrew


 
Join me on an amazing adventure… check out my exciting, NEW workshop dates:
 
Big Bend NP // Night/ Landscape // 2016
Isle of Skye // S C O T L A N D // 2016
Highlands // S C O T L A N D // 2016
 
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 2015
 
 
Standard
education, instructional, photography, travel

Photographing // Waterfalls

Creating stunning waterfall and river shots is not always as simple as finding a compelling composition and just pointing your camera. There are some basic, and even advanced techniques that you need to consider.

I just returned from a three week road trip through Washington state, Oregon, and Northern California; one of the regions of the world with the most abundant waterfalls and cascades, thanks to the very high annual rainfall of the area.

Punchbowl Falls

Toketee Falls

Wahkeena Falls

The scenic Ohanapecosh River

I’ve shot waterfalls from Arizona to Scotland and beyond over the years, but none compared to the concentration and variety I visited recently… I was just blown away by the beauty of the Pacific Northwest.  The forests are lush with vegetation and the rivers run crystal clear and some even take on a deep blue hue.

The scenic Ohanapecosh River

The first concept you want to think about when photographing moving water is whether you want the water to blur or whether you want to stop the action. 9 times out of 10, your image will be more compelling and interesting with blurred water, so that means you will want a shutter speed of at least 1/2 a sec.  I prefer around 2.5 to 10 seconds to achieve the look I like.

But if you have an element of action in your image that needs to be stopped, you will want a faster shutter speed. Consider the image below. Although I would’ve liked the water cascade to be blurred and smooth, I knew it was more important that I stop the action of the cliff jumper… so I made a split second decision to change to a 1/125 sec shutter speed.

Cliff jumping at Punchbowl Falls

So, you might be asking, “What if it’s the middle of the day? How can you achieve such a slow shutter speed?” Well, that’s a great question.  I would refer you to an earlier post on neutral density filters.  But if you don’t have a solid or variable ND, you can often get close enough to the speed you need with your circular polarizer… Which brings me the next consideration to make; to polarize or not.

Proxy Falls

This series of images, shot at Proxy, Toketee, and Punchbowl Falls in Oregon are good examples how of using a circular polarizer can enhance your waterfall photographs. First, the polarizer will give you at least 2-3 extra stops, allowing you to utilize slower shutter speeds. But it will also cut the glare from the water, allowing the colorful water to take shape in your image. But perhaps my favorite reason for using the polarizer is because it will also cut the glare from the surrounding vegetation and make the greens pop like never before.

Proxy Falls

Toketee Falls

Punchbowl Falls

Two men wade to get a closer look at Punchbowl Falls

Lit Nemo Equipment tent on the Ohanapecosh River

The next thing to consider, as I’m sure you’ve butted heads against already, is camera stabilization.  All these long shutter speeds do not work unless you have a very sturdy tripod. I have three tripods that I cycle between that are all great for different reasons and applications.  The best for waterfalls, is my Manfrotto MT055XPRO3 Aluminium 3-Section Tripod with 410 Junior Geared Tripod Head. It is heavy duty though, and if I’m flying to a location or backpacking in, I use my lighter Gitzo GT2340L Series 2 Aluminum 4 Section Tripod, with the same sturdy, geared head.

A good tripod will save you from many headaches in the field and heartaches when you get your images on your computer (or get your film back) and see that none or very few are even sharp.

Proxy Falls

Proxy Falls

But even with a hefty tripod, you will need one more piece of equipment… a remote shutter release. Canon makes two different kinds; the Canon RS-80N3  & the Canon TC-80N3.  I have both and like them, but they are pricey for what they are.

I recently stumbled upon the Polaroid Wireless Camera Shutter Remote.  It is wireless, which is fantastic for so many reasons (including the fact that I can shoot star pictures without leaving the comfort of my tent!), it is an intervalometer (so I can time-lapse, and shoot really long exposures with precision), and the price is right.

There is one way around the shutter release, but you have to set your timer delay every time you want to do a long exposure.  I would recommend investing the money in a decent shutter release, and I would even go with the wireless, intervalometer.

Having a good tripod and shutter release, whether wired or wireless, will ensure no camera shake, giving you the sharpest images possible.

Toketee Falls

The trail to Wahclella Falls follow the beautiful and serene Tanner Creek

The trail to Wahclella Falls follow the beautiful and serene Tanner Creek

Now that we’re done with the technical side of things, I’d like mention something more on the subjective/ artistic side.

Only in recent years have I begun to add people to my landscape images.  And it’s become a bit addicting. It’s a whole different mindset in many ways. But in practice, I simply compose the landscape image I want first, and then I look for the perfect (and most interesting) location within the composition to place the human element.

People admiring the majesty of Wahclella Falls

You may be like me and vehemently resistant to such an idea initially, but I would encourage you to round out your portfolio with interesting “people in nature” images. Unless you exclusively make your living from fine art print sales, you stand to make some decent coin from shots like this.  Both advertisers and editorial producers alike love this type of image.

A man is drawrfed by Elowah Falls

Another prime example of why I would go with the Polaroid Wireless Camera Shutter Remote… Sometimes you will be the only person available to place in your image. The wireless remote makes being your own model a real breeze.  Trust me, I have to do it all the time :)

The scenic Ohanapecosh River

Man hiking Proxy Falls

The scenic Ohanapecosh River

People admiring the majesty of Wahclella Falls

Multnomah Falls

Multnomah Falls

One of the trickiest things about photographing waterfalls is the spray. Powerful waterfalls will produce a spray or mist within a certain distance, and sometimes the shot you want is going to fall within that wet perimeter.  It is very difficult to keep your lens dry.  So what I found is you have to stand in front of the lens until the very last moment, wait for the wind to die down or shift, and then wipe the lens with your lens cloth, all the while jumping out of the way as you press the shutter on your wireless shutter release.  Needless to say, It’s not easy.

A man admiring Wahkeena Falls

So sometimes, you just have to roll with it.  The image above is after I got one good frame, I gave up trying to keep the mist from the front element of my lens, and a very impressionistic image was the result.  I ended up really liking the look and feel. I’m glad I experimented with a non-traditional shot.

Ferns and vegetation detail near Wahclella Falls in Tanner Creek

Along these lines, the last thing I think is important to mention (and this applies to any nature photography you might be in to); don’t forget see the beautiful details.  They are easy to miss sometimes, but when we are able to slow down, tune in to them, and notice the quiet shots, we are rewarded with unique images.

— andrew


 
Take your photography to the next level… check out my exciting, NEW workshop dates:
 
Big Bend NP // Night/ Landscape // 2016
Isle of Skye // S C O T L A N D // 2016
Highlands // S C O T L A N D // 2016
 
 
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 2015
 
Standard
city, composition, photography

san francisco // from every angle

How creative do you get with the same subject?

It can be challenging, but I always try to push myself to see all the angles, different qualities of light, and unending compositions that I can create with my camera.

Last week, my subject was the city of San Francisco… and here are a few of my favorites.

San Francisco, California

San Francisco, California

San Francisco, California

San Francisco, California

San Francisco, California

San Francisco, California

San Francisco, California

San Francisco, California

San Francisco, California

San Francisco, California

San Francisco, California

San Francisco, California

San Francisco, California

I hope this gets you thinking about your next subject and how to explore it photographically.

And  wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!!  Hope to see you all in 2014!

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

Standard
art, photography, travel

san diego again

we enjoyed another long weekend in san diego a few weeks ago…

it’s such a handsome skyline from so many angles, i just had to shoot a few more cityscapes.

all images © andrew r. slaton | photographer 2012

Standard
art, photography, travel

the san diego skyline

my commercial job in san diego was a success!  and i even had a little bit of spare time to explore this beautiful city…

night shots from corodano island…

fireworks!  i think it was a navy graduation of sorts, but not sure.

ocean beach…

surfers near ocean beach.

the skyline from cabrillo monument…

a few more from coronado during the day…

san diego is an incredibly beautiful city.  i had a great time exploring the skyline from all angles.

now i’m looking forward to returning in april for my cousin’s wedding!

all images © andrew r. slaton | photographer 2011

Standard