landscape, travel

MT Obsession // Pilot Peak

Okay, so I have another mountain portrait obsession*.  Pilot Peak.  Well, technically, it started four years ago on my usual Fall trip to Wyoming and Montana.  But it really hit me this year.

*Note: See Squaretop & Long’s Peak

I didn’t spend more than a few mid-afternoon hours exploring a few different vantage points this year, but be watching in the future, because I will no doubt return.

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Pilot is a very Matterhorn-esque peak with a really dramatic and jagged summit.

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For the most part, this visit was a scouting trip.  I know, I know… I’ve been to this area 10,000 times.  But I’ve had a lot of new vision swirling around my brain lately, so I’m beginning to see things a little differently.

I’m excited to see growth this year.  And new mountain obsessions…

— andrew


 
Take your photography to the next level… check out my NEW workshop dates:
 
Grand Teton Photographic Tour/ Workshops 2015
More Destination Photo Tours/ Workshops 2015
 
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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landscape, travel

A Few Faces of Long’s Peak // 48 Hrs in RMNP

If you’ve been following this blog at all, you’ll know that I love photographing mountains.  And if you’ve been following for a long time, you might know that I can get obsessed with particularly handsome mountain faces.  *Note: See Squaretop

Well, I have a new one.  And it’s a very well-known one: Long’s Peak in Rocky Mountain National Park, Co.

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I know i’m probably a little late to the party with Long’s, but I only first saw this imposing peak last summer.  So, it was an opportunity to explore the mountains a bit more when I decided to tack on a quick visit to RMNP this October, after an overnighter in Denver.

And Long’s Peak did not disappoint.

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When you only have 2 days in a location, I believe it can be more beneficial to focus on a dominant aspect of that place and explore it from many angles.  It’s tough.  I would  even consider it a discipline.  The temptation for me is always to try to pack it all in and see everything.  But there is benefit to slowing down and studying… and the next time you have the opportunity to spend a little more time in that locale, you will have abetter understanding of the light, and the many faces of the mountains.

— andrew


 
Take your photography to the next level… check out my NEW workshop dates:
 
Grand Teton Photographic Tour/ Workshops 2015
More Destination Photo Tours/ Workshops 2015
 
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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instructional, photography

The Budgeting Photographer’s Best Friend

I don’t care if you’re an amateur or professional… photography is expensive.

That’s why I rarely buy brand new.

Canon has a refurbished section now that is full of basically brand new equipment, with the one-year warranty, leaving the budgeting photographer like me to save hundreds, or even thousands.

But over the years, another shop that has earned my trust is KEH.com.  No, they’re not paying me to do this.  I just recently had such an amazing experience, I wanted to finally give them some formal love.

I’ve been in the market for a 5D MK III for a LONG time.  Plus, an ever-growing long list of lenses of course.  So this month, the time came to pull the trigger on a new 70-200/ 2.8 and a MK III.

I researched the best deals for weeks.  This is my full time job, and I have to support my family, so the best deal (without going grey market) is what I need.

I was moments away from just purchasing both refurbished from Canon.  My budget was $4000, give or take a few.  The Mark III was running just over $2700, and the lens was about $1300.  Well, fortunately for me, Canon didn’t have either available at the time.  So I had to go looking elsewhere.

And I remembered my old friends at KEH.

They’ve been around a long time.  In fact, they perfected the industry standard for accurately rating used equipment.  I’ve bought lenses in the past from them and been very happy with what I got… but a camera body?

I don’t buy used cameras.  Factory refurbished maybe, but not used!

So KEH had an EX+ (the highest rated, just below NEW) Canon 5D MK III for $2802.  But here’s where it gets good.

Two days prior, I received an email from KEH saying they miss me, and want to extend a 10% coupon!  So let me make this long story a little shorter…

I ended up getting a nearly brand new (only 2500 shutter accusations) Canon 5D Mark III and a beautiful 70-200 F/2.8L IS together for only $3400.

And here’s the kicker.  They pay top dollar for used equipment, and I ended up selling my oldest MK II (well used) and a questionable 70-200/2.8 (that they’ll of course fix up to be gorgeous), for $1300.  So in effect, I came in at almost $2000 under budget!

That made for a VERY happy day.

And then I got the equipment in the mail the next day, and it may have been even happier.

The lens was better than described and the camera just as they said… basically brand new.

Looking forward to making some beautiful images with my equipment for years to come, and sharing them all with you…

Cheers!

— andrew


 
Come learn light with me… 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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photography, random thought

Top 10 Photography Gadgets

Your camera and lenses are the most important tools in your bag.  Hands down.  But there are so many more helpful instruments out there, that sometimes choosing what to pack and what to leave behind is overwhelming.  Here are my top ten, don’t leave home without them!

10.  Filter Holder

Filters help us achieve the look and feel we want in camera.  I hear the excuse all the time, “Why use that when you have photoshop?”  But to put it bluntly, getting it right in camera the first time is where we get the latitude and quality that makes professionals stand out from the amateurs.  Though I often handhold my 4×6″ ND filters, my Cokin Z Pro Series Filter Holder allows me to hold my filters (up to 3 at a time) in one consistent place, making it easier and more accurate to shoot long exposures and time lapses.  The downside though, is at super wide focal lengths, the edges of the holder are visible in the frame.

9.  Velcro… Yeah, You Heard Me… Velcro.

How did people live without velco??  On most trips I carry a 15ft roll of the stuff.  “Why?”, you may ask.  Well, I can tell you many uses, but I seem to find more on nearly every trip!  Right now I use Scotch Self-Stick Reclosable Fasteners on my tripod legs to fasten my intervalometer and cable releases.  When shooting long exposures and time lapses, you don’t want them flapping around in the wind messing up your shot.  I also use it on my pocket wizards to fix them to whatever I need; the power packs, stands, flashes, etc.  There are so many uses, I could hardly name them all…

8.  Filter Pouch

My Lowepro S&F Filter Pouch 100 allows me to keep all of my filters in one place, where I can access them conveniently.  It clips around the neck of a tripod, and can hold several circulars, 150mm x 100mm NDs, and even a filter holder.

 

7.  Multi-tool

It’s hard to argue this one.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had emergencies where I’ve had to tighten crews on my lens in the field, or cut something, use my players to fix a wayward piece of metal, etc.  No matter where you are or what you’re shooting, you’ll thank me if you take your multitool, I promise.  And I recommend the Leatherman Wave.  It has just about any and every tool you would ever need in the field to fix any problem… you could even field dress a deer with it.

6.  Small Stand

The Manfrotto 5001B 74-Inch Nano Stand fits in a standard size suitcase.  When space and weight are a premium and I’m traveling around the world, this little bad boy gets packed first.  It folds down to less than 20 in, and can easily support speedlights and boom mics.  When full size stands won’t do, this compact solution will save the day for you.

5.  Geared Tripod Head

It’s an obvious and necessary accessory… a good tripod head.  But recently I’ve been introduced to the Manfrotto 410 Geared Head.  It was love at first use for me.  It’s heavy and meaty, which I love for it’s stability when shooting long exposures.  Now I’ll admit, it’s not the best for mobility with video, but I rarely shoot anything but handheld or static shots anyway in video.  Its precise controls, and super fast yet secure quick-release plate keep me loyal.  It’s perfect for landscape, long exposures,  and architecture… the majority of my work.

4.  2X Tele

A good 2X teleconverter is a must for nature shooters.  It’s all fine and good to have your 500 or 600 f/4, but let’s face it, they are beasts.  And sometimes a 5 or 600 isn’t even enough.  A good 2X like the Canon EF 2X III Extender will give you what you need with minimal image degradation.  I often use it just in conjunction with my 70-200/2.8 so I can have a 400mm reach without the bulk of a prime, when hiking or backpacking.  It’s not better than good prime glass, but it’s a supremely valuable tool when space and weight are a premium.

3.  PocketWizards

If you shoot portraits, these are a must.  Whether you’re using strobes or speedlights, PocketWizard Plus III Transceivers are the best solution to consistency and stability in communication between your camera and lights.  But something that most folks don’t know about these little magic machines… you can also remotely trigger your camera.  It comes in really handy for wildlife and sports photography.  They run on two AA batteries, and they’re quite small, so you don’t have to worry about them taking up valuable space in your bag.

2.  Intervalometer

I really don’t know how I lived without this for so long.  Seriously.  My work was so much more difficult and time-consuming without the Canon TC-80N3.  It will control long exposures and time-lapses like a boss.  You can tell it exactly how many frames at what intervals… I mean.  Remember the days of the cable release with your 35, medium, or large format camera?  Yeah, this totally kicks their butts.  And what it does most valuably for me, is that it allows me to get a little shuteye when I’m shooting star pictures and night time-lapses.  I really cannot say enough about this genius, little gadget.

1.  Graduated ND Filters

Again, it’s only been the last few years since I’ve really seen the necessity of my Singh Ray Graduated Neutral Density filters.  I’ve already talked about “getting it right in camera”…. well, this is how you achieve that.  Have you ever been shooting a scene and not been able to balance the amazing sky with your perfectly composed landscape?  Well sometimes these shots would be impossible without grad and reverse grad nds.  There is no Lightroom or Photoshop equivalent, though one can achieve decent results in post.  You really can’t argue the difference in quality once you start using the appropriate filters.  And it opens your ability to convey the emotion and drama you envisioned for your image without it looking too “photoshopped”.  Now don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with Lightroom and Photoshop, I use both everyday for very single image I shoot.  What I want to do though as I grow as an imaging professional, is to minimize the distraction to my viewers.  I want them to get lost in the fantastic beauty of my image… and I don’t want them seeing the tell-tale signs of having to use Photoshop salvage an image.

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The fact is… there are so many wonderful little gadgets that help us take our images to new heights of creativity.  I would love to hear which I’ve left off the list that are true must haves.  I know there are plenty out there with which I am not yet familiar.  Thanks in advance!

— andrew


 
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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equipment review, instructional, photography, travel, writing

planning an epic road trip // equipped

“The single most important component of a camera is the twelve inches behind it.”
Ansel Adams
 

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Equipment

It cannot be said enough… the equipment is only as good as the photographer using it.  With that said, I am a lover of gadgetry and get really excited when I have the opportunity to learn a new tool that will help me achieve better, more consistent results with my imagery.

So for this trip, Canon is sending me the 5D MK III, TS-E 17mm, and the new Speedlite 600EX-RT to evaluate and review here on the blog…

I know the MK III is not very new anymore, but I’m excited to put it to the test in one of North America’s most extreme environments.  And I am really looking forward to spending some quality time  with Canon’s widest and highest rated tilt-shift lens, and the newest Speedlite technology.  

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But regarding other equipment, and being prepared for a trip such as this, I have had to plan accordingly, with weather as the biggest “x” factor.

From dry bags and applying scotch guard to as much as possible, to purchasing mosquito netting for my head, I have tried my best to think it all through.  I will be bringing multiple rain covers no doubt.

Check out this video that explains a bit more, and see some of the gear that will (hopefully) get me through the extreme conditions…

“Never forget that all the great photographs in history were made with more primitive camera equipment than you currently own.”
Brooks Jensen

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To know what equipment to bring and what to leave behind, I think carefully through my shot list.  What tools will I need to give myself the best chance to achieve each image?  Only experience helps me determine that with any accuracy.  And the more you shoot, the more confident you’ll be when practicing this.

It’s a very obvious, yet important part of the planning process.  There’s nothing worse than arriving on location after days of driving, only to realize you so wish you had brought that second tripod, or the 2x extender.

Don’t rush through this step, or chances are, you’ll be frustrated later…

— andrew

“There is nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept.”
Ansel Adams

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

If you are interested in learning more about photography, taking your art to a new level, and/ or Big Bend photography tours and workshops, please check out my new workshop dates:

Big Bend Photographic Tour/ Workshops 2013-2014

More Destination Photo Tours/ Workshops 2013-2014

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 © andrew r. slaton | photographer 2013

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landscape, nature, photography, random thought, travel, wildlife, writing

flashback | everglades

It was thirteen years ago…. I sat at a crappy, college-student computer, playing around on a new website called “Priceline”.

Back then, all you could do was bid on flights.

And so it was, a 19 year old aspiring photographer and travel junkie, bidding (really low) on random flights.

Well, I didn’t realize that if they accepted my bid, that I would have actually purchased my first solo trip.

And they did.

I think the winning bid of Austin, TX to West Palm Beach, FL, round trip was around $120.

I was going to the Everglades.

The next few months were marked with frustrating phone calls, trial and error planning, and no luck finding a reputable rental car company to rent an out-of-state nineteen year old a car.

But eventually I found a shady car company, and I was on my way.

With only a hand-me-down Canon AE-1, two lenses, and about 35 rolls of film (Fujichrome Provia 100F and hand-rolled Kodak T-max 100/ 400 b+w), I set off on my first solo photo adventure.

I know that I have already attached several of these Everglades images to earlier posts, but I thought it would be fun to see them again in light of the flashback…

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I have SO many more images from this trip, tucked away in dark closets, nested within box after box, like Russian dolls.

Perhaps someday I’ll dig them back up and share them. But until then, these will suffice, as will the new ones I bring home in just a few weeks…

I’m getting really excited!

— andrew

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

If you are interested in learning more about photography, taking your art to a new level, and/ or Big Bend photography tours and workshops, please check out my new workshop dates:

Big Bend Photographic Tour/ Workshops 2013-2014

More Destination Photo Tours/ Workshops 2013-2014

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 © andrew r. slaton | photographer 2013

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art, landscape, nature, photography, random thought, travel, writing

planning an epic road trip // intro

It is said that “the road goes on forever”, but I prefer to think of it as having both a beginning and an end.

And the place to start and finish is always home.

For many years, the road was like home to me… now it is more a means to an end.

But it still has just as much of a draw on my spirit as it did before…

“Road…”, you are not home anymore, “…yet I love you, you express me better than I can express myself” (Walt Whitman).

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Often times people will compliment my images, and then inevitably ask how I did it.

I’ve found that many folks assume that I wander around, aimless, in amazing locations, and simply “happen upon” the perfect shot.  While that can happen, it’s really rare.  More often than not, a lot of work and planning go into each and every photograph.  And even after all that planning and hard work, sometimes it just doesn’t come together.  I am completely dependent on nature.  But it wouldn’t be as fun if it weren’t so challenging!

So it occurred to me after feedback from the last few posts that it might be interesting to my viewers to get a more in-depth, “behind the scenes” look into what it takes to plan, execute, and achieve success on a big road trip shoot, like my Rocky Mountain road trip and my upcoming Everglades adventure.

I will try to cover as much process as I can without boring you :)  I’ll season the raw information with poignant examples, along with hilarious and terrifying stories from the road.

You can expect several in-depth posts over the next few weeks, leading up to my trip… and here’s a brief outline of what I’ll cover:

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So thirteen years after my very first road trip alone – fittingly, also to the Everglades – I want to share some of the lessons I’ve learned along the way!

Planning an epic road trip is truly an art.  Don’t believe me?… check back in, follow this series, and then tell me what you think!

I would love to hear from all of you…  What have your experiences been, and what lessons have you learned on the road?

Thanks for tuning in!

— andrew

A lot of people don’t like the road, but it’s as natural to me as breathing.

Bob Dylan

Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens.

J. R. R. Tolkien 

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

If you are interested in learning more about photography, taking your art to a new level, and/ or Big Bend photography tours and workshops, please check out my new workshop dates:

Big Bend Photographic Tour/ Workshops 2013-2014

More Destination Photo Tours/ Workshops 2013-2014

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 © andrew r. slaton | photographer 2013

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