photography, travel, workshop

AUTUMN FEATURE: THE SAN JUANS

Autumn is just around the corner, and as you all know, it’s my favorite season. The color and the drama are incredible, and as I’ve mentioned before so many times, I have a few favorite spots that I hit up every year in the fall.

This week, I wanted to feature the southern San Juans of Colorado, and more specifically, the Telluride area.

I’ve been visiting this little piece of heaven for 25 years now, and it never disappoints. Even in the years when I miss peak, it presents me with  something amazing to behold.

The uniqueness of the area, I think, lies in the combination of high elevations and lots of aspens stands. Because of the elevation, geographic location, and boxed in nature of the area, it tends to get a lot of snow in the winter. That’s why it is considered one of the best ski areas in the country. But also, it means that the colors typically catch fire in the fall because of high precipitation values leading up to it.

The vistas one can experience here are simply unparalleled. National Forest public land access is great, allowing for the leaf peeper to cover a lot of ground in a short period of time.

But another cool aspect of the area is catching the first snow. Typically in late September/ early October, the first significant winter precipitation hits and it often coincides with the peak color. The drama of the weather and contrast of the fresh dusting is my favorite!

And the colors aren’t at all limited to the autumn spectrum. The deep purples and blues, and even greens are still abundant even at that late time of year. It’s really spectacular.

And then the skyfire! Pinks, reds, orange, you name it. Every color in the spectrum is displayed in this gem of a location.

I’ve been exploring the area for a long time, and many of those years as a pro photographer. The last 5 or so, I’ve been leading intimate workshops for those interested in being led to some amazing spots and growing in their love for art, nature, and photography.

Oh, and it should also be mentioned that Telluride has some exquisite restaurants and bars, as well as shopping and spas, so we really get to pamper ourselves and even relax a little during this dynamic and exciting time of year.

Every time I visit Telluride and the southern San Juans, I find new nooks and lovely compositions. It really never gets old.

If this looks like a place you’d like to see and explore, let me guide you through one of my favorite places on the planet! We will learn, grow, experience awe, eat amazing food, and genuinely have a great time together. If you’ve ever wanted to just hang out with a professional photographer and get the one on one time to ask all of your burning questions, this is your chance.

I have just a few spots left for 2020, so check it out on my website and sign up for the experience of a lifetime.

— Andrew


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photography, portraits, travel

N O M A D // no 5

We have more options than we think to live the life we desire!”

Starr (@appreciateandlove) oozes joy. That is the first thing Ellen and I noticed when we met up with her in Telluride, CO just days before she was to embark on her maiden voyage in “Rodger”, her newly acquired 160 sq ft 2008 Coachman Freelander.

She has now been on the road a little over two weeks with her 4 cats, Essence (the senior, the Queen), Jacob William, Princess Mia, and Petunia (“Tootie”).

“I embarked on my maiden journey for this off-season and to see how it goes! I have stationary home in Florida for the winter seasons if I so choose, an option for a home base. Keeping Roamin’ Rodger on site, docked for edits and organization for future galavants!  I have a couple of ideas for cat-related structures I would like to install. And to paint everything pink is another goal. Currently feeling out how the cats are doing / what’s fiscally reasonable moving forward. Planning on traveling around Florida in Rodger on my off days to visit loved ones and see things I’ve never seen before!”

I love the wild enlivened freedom of being able to take your home with you wherever you want. To have everything you need right with you, like the biggest backpack ever! To see my loved ones in their space, while I am in mine. Conveniently providing a balance of independence and freedom, with the comforts and sentiment of home. To root down when I feel like it, or to boldly adventure into the sunset at the drop of a hat (and a releasing of the emergency brake!)”

Starr lost her mom recently, so she has decorated her new mobile home with a few mementoes that keep her memory ever-present.
“My sweet and sassy mom loved quilts and this blue quilt was one she frequently used. Using it feels like a hug from her. And I’m trying really, really hard to keep her plant alive! I love having life in my home, a breath of fresh air and a sentimental connection. Also got the plant pot at a thrift store, another beloved pastime we shared. I love my mom!”

  

When asked if she’ll miss anything about the “stationary” life, she responded, “Yes, the sturdy ground beneath me to be just as careless and quickly moving as I want to be, dancing around without shaking a whole vehicle, etc! Also ease of access to facilities like laundry, recycling, a large sink. The general feeling of longevity of a stationary home strikes me as something I’ll miss. Seems to be a safety in being sturdier or rooted down. The space inside. I bump my head a lot!”

So then… why a nomad?
“I want to balance my desire to be near the ones that I love with the desire for freedom and to discover new places. Having my sweet cat fam with me makes anywhere I am seem like home, and when I can be nearby my loved ones but still have my own independent space it increases my comfort and the longevity of these adventures.
I tend to work seasonally in the hospitality / food service industry, so being in my RV for the season in one place for a couple of months and then traveling in the interim is a fluid and workable setup!”

I am touched by the camaraderie I see in people living the nomadic lifestyle. I respect the courage of those who seek to follow their passions, even if not ‘conventional.’ I want to be open to the possibility of being able to do exactly what I want, while being fiscally responsible still. By letting my own light shine encourage others to shine as well! And I see that with the nomadic community. We have more options than we think to live the life we desire!”


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// LANDSCAPE + THE ART OF SEEING
PHOTO 101 // LEARN TO SHOOT LIKE A PRO // SELECT CITIES // USA
EVERGLADES // WINTER // 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 2018
 
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education, photography, travel

#findyourpark | ROCKY MOUNTAIN

Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado is the quintessential Summer mountain destination. With cool temps in the 40’s to upper 70’s, it’s a nice getaway from the sweltering heat of the lowlands. It is incredibly beautiful in any season, but Summer offers the most to see and do since the elevations can reach in to the 14k’s. And what better time to visit this iconic park, than the Summer of 2016, the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service.

I admit that I visited this park a little later in life. My family used to go camping in Colorado every Summer, but for some reason, we stayed mostly in the south/ southwest part of the state, in the San Juan mountains. I did not first visit Rocky Mountain National Park until 2013. But I’ve made up for lost time and visited many times in the last several years. It is a truly spectacular park with much to see and do.

There is so much to see and do, in fact, that this post is in no way comprehensive. It is simply a list of some of my favorites, and many of the “musts”.

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When To Go

As I’ve stated, Summer is definitely the most popular time of year, and for good reason; good weather (just watch out for afternoon thunderstorms!), abundant wildlife, easy access, etc. But Fall is spectacular with colorful foliage, no mosquitos, and energetic wildlife, frantically preparing for the harsh Winter to come. It’s moodier in the Fall. The weather is unpredictable and makes for more interesting photos.

Winter is quite nice in its own way as well, but very cold, and many of the roads are closed. The road to Bear Lake is open though. Winter transforms any mountain destination into a peaceful, quiet scene, and RMNP is no exception. Plus the crowds are virtually non-existent.

How To Get There

RMNP is one of the most easily accessed National Parks, as it is a short drive from Denver International Airport. Flights into DEN are relatively cheap, and so are rental cars. So whether you drive or fly, it doesn’t have to break the bank to get there.

From Denver, head north along I-25 until reaching Loveland. Take 34 to Estes Park, which is right outside the park. There are other routes to take from Denver, but I have found this to be the quickest, least trafficked.

Driving Trail Ridge Road at night, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

Be prepared for many cars, trucks, and RV’s on the road into Estes Park, and RMNP, especially in Summer. If you’ve been to Yellowstone or Yosemite, reference these memories. Just take your time and relax. Enjoy the scenery, even if traffic jams aren’t your thing :) Chances are, if you keep your eyes peeled, even with all the people and automobiles, you’ll get to see wildlife wherever you are.

Where To Stay

If camping isn’t your thing, there are so many options in and around the wonderful little town of Estes Park. From cheap motels, to swanky hotels with all the amenities, there is no shortage of places to stay within 15 minutes of RMNP. However, even with an abundance of options, the wise traveler will book as early as possible to ensure their desired accommodations. This area receives over 3.5 million visitors every year, so plan ahead.

If you’re a camper, like me, you can of course stay at any one of the developed campgrounds within the park, though they fill very quickly, especially in the Summer. There are even several NPS maintained campgrounds just outside RMNP, that serve as popular alternative access points to the park. For NPS camping info, go here.

To download a full, detailed park map of Rocky Mountain National Park, click here or the image below:

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As you can see in the map, the park is surrounded by National Forest. These can provide great, free (or low cost) camping as well, but keep in mind, it will be primitive. I’ve car camped several times in undeveloped Arapaho (west) and Roosevelt (east) National Forest sites, and really enjoyed the solitude and cheap living. Usually, the park can be accessed within a 20 minute drive from many of these sites. They are first come, first served though, and some roads may be too rough for low clearance vehicles and large trailers/ RVs.

What To Do

I feel silly writing about this, because it would seem obvious to some. But Rocky Mountain National Park really is one of those parks with so much to see and do, it may help to have a few things highlighted for the first-timers.

Driving

There is so much to see just from the car window, so a good bit of time can be spent driving. From Many Parks Curve and all of Trail Ridge Road to Old Fall River Road and Moraine Park, many beautiful scenes can be seen right from the passenger seat.

alluvial fan, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

Driving Trail Ridge Road, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

Trail Ridge Road (TRR) is one of the great, paved alpine roads through the Rockies. Drivers can wind up from Deer Ridge Junction to top out at over 12,000 feet elevation. Keep in mind that Trail Ridge Road closes in mid-October, due to the high elevations. There are many stops along the way to get out and experience, including (but not limited to): Many Parks Curve, Lava Cliffs, Alpine Ridge Trail, Medicine Bow Curve, etc. The Alpine Visitor Center is your best spot for info, restrooms, gifts, and refreshments. It sits atop near the highest point in the road (12183 ft) and boasts phenomenal views. TRR is a must drive for anyone visiting RMNP. Just be sure to hydrate, as it is common to experience symptoms of altitude sickness at these elevations.

Driving Trail Ridge Road, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

Old Fall River Road is a one-way alternate route to the top of TRR. Starting about a mile past the Alluvial Fan, cars can switchback their way through forests past gorgeous flowing streams, up steep switchbacks to get a whole different view of the subalpine and alpine ecosystems. Eventually arriving up at the Alpine Visitor Center, at the top of Trail Ridge Road. Keep in mind that this road is only open from July 4 through September. Be sure to take it slow, and bring plenty of water!

silhouetted cyclists on trail ridge road, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

Wildlife Viewing 

This is one of the best parks in the U.S., except possibly Yellowstone, to view wildlife. Rocky Mountain elk, moose, deer, black bear, coyote, eagles, hawks, fox, pika, big horn sheep, and more can all be seen in one day here.

Cow moose with baby Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

bull elk in velvet in Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

Slowly driving the main roads is one great way to see wildlife. Begin early and stay late are the mottos of successful wildlife watchers. Dawn and dusk are the best times to see animals, just about anywhere. It can be a gamble to see anything during the heat of the day. Animals are typically resting in shaded areas hidden by the dense forests and rocky outcroppings, making spotting them nearly impossible.

Bull Elk resting in high alpine tundra of Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

Bighorn sheep crossing the road in Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

For very specific tips on where to find certain wildlife, and how to photograph them, see my new eBook, The Photographic Guide to Rocky Mountain National Park.

Bighorn sheep crossing the road in Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

Cow moose in the Colorado River, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

american robin, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

Two Mule deer bucks spar on the side of the road during the rut in rocky mountain national park.

Rocky Mountain Bull Elk, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

Hiking

In 2013 massive flooding occurred in the town of Estes Park and parts of the eastern side of RMNP. Please check with a ranger station for up to date trail conditions before embarking on any hikes.

hikers, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

RMNP has  hundreds of miles of scenic trails throughout the park, ranging from very easy, to very difficult. Depending upon your skill level there really is something for everyone. Be sure always to hydrate more than you think you need to, and try to avoid late afternoon hiking in the Summer, as lightning is a very real danger.

A front rolls in over Long's Peak in spectacular color.

Long's peak from Bear Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

The Bear Lake trailhead offers several stunning, but heavily trafficked hikes. Due to its high volume of visitors, there are shuttles available to avoid the potential parking nightmare.

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The best (and most popular) from the Bear Lake trailhead is, of course, Dream Lake. Download the map above! This is a fairly easy hike and very heavily used, but for good reason. Starting at the Bear Lake trailhead, it is only a few miles to stunning alpine views of Hallett and other peaks. The trail passes Nymph Lake, then up to incredible Dream Lake, and if you keep going, the next reward is Emerald Lake. All three are beautiful and worth seeing and photographing in their own rights. You may not beat the crowds with this hike, but it is certainly a “must see & do”.

hikers at dream lake, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

Sunrise at Dream Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

waterfall near emerad laek, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

There are over 300 miles of trails to hike in RMNP. And all of them have merit. Consult the book recommended above for more great hikes, specific to what you’re looking to see/ achieve.

Backpacking

There are so many great backpacking opportunities within the boundaries of Rocky Mountain National Park, well, and many more in the immediately surrounding areas for that matter. If you plan to backpack in RMNP, you will need a few things specific to the park: First, stop at the Wilderness Office for a permit and current wilderness information. For more info, go HERE. You will also need a bear proof food container. I recommend this one. Next, you will need a good map. The one provided above is great for basics, but if you choose to venture out in to the backcountry, you will definitely want this map.

Timber Creek, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

sunrise at Odessa Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

Creek flowing out of Odessa Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

Fern Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

This is clearly a Rocky Mountain NP specific, (very) short list. If this is your first time backpacking, I recommend reading up on what gear and clothing you will need generally, and how to prepare for several nights in the backcountry. Any time you step in to the wilderness, life becomes very serious, and all about survival. That statement is not meant to scare anyone away from enjoying such an experience, it is simply to highlight the fact that trekking into the wild, with none of the comforts/ securities of modern life can take many people by surprise. Search and rescue missions have increased exponentially in recent years, often due to the unpreparedness of people. Be aware! And enjoy responsibly.

night at Odessa Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

If you are looking for a beautiful, quick overnighter, Timber Lake, and Odessa Lake are my favorites. Both are under 8 miles one way and offer beautiful views, and a wonderful backcountry experience. The Timber Lake trailhead is on the east side of the park, just 10 miles north of Grand Lake. Odessa Lake can be accessed either from the Bear Lake or Fern Lake trailheads.

Fishing

Sport fishing is allowed in the park, and all that is required is a valid Colorado fishing license. There are many idyllic streams, lakes, and rivers within the park to break out the fly rod or spinner reel, where one can experience peace and solitude. But be aware of any regulations and or conservation efforts in place before packing up and heading out. All current regulations and information can be found HERE.

creek in forest, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

Fly fishing Dream Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

Dream Lake outlet waterfall in Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

creek near dream lake, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

timber creek, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

Photography

This park is one of my favorite for all of its photographic opportunities. Regarding landscape, wildlife, stars, and general nature photography, it is one of the best.

Stars over dream lake, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

columbine, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

A front rolls in at dawn over Long's Peak in spectacular color.

There are of course the tourist spots, where you’ll be elbowing other people to get some of the classic postcard shots, but then there are the off the beaten path spots. I am now putting major time and effort into providing you with all of my favorite secrets within our National Parks, and I’m excited to announce Rocky Mountain NP as my first eBook! You can look forward to maps, locations, photo tips, and much more in this soon-to-be-released eBook. Pre-order it HERE to get a discount.

smooth rose, Rosa blanda, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

Stars over Long's Peak and Bear lake in Rocky Mountain National Park.

I hope you have found this information useful. Even more than that though, I hope this encourages you to get out and experience one of our national natural treasures, Rocky Mountain National Park! As always, for the most up to date, comprehensive park information, please visit the official NPS website for RMNP.

— 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 3 SPOTS AVAILABLE
LOCAL + PRIVATE WORKSHOP// 2016 – AFFORDABLE RATES FOR ME TO COME TO YOU
BIG BEND // LANDSCAPE + NIGHT SKY // 2017 – MOST POPULAR! 7 SPOTS AVAILABLE
 
I’m excited to announce my “A Photographic Guide To Our National Parks” Ebooks:
 
See what’s NEW
 
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 | photographer // prints
 
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
  
For assignment work requests, please email me: andrew@andrewslatonphoto.com
 
Thanks for visiting AndrewSlatonBlog.com!
 
all images and content © ARS Media, LLC 2016
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photography, random thought, travel

Telluride’s Bounty

I had the absolute pleasure of spending this year’s peak Autumn colors in Telluride, CO.

It’s rare that I stray to far from my usual Wyoming stomping grounds for the Fall, but 2015 was a little different. Thanks to some amazing friends, we had a golden opportunity. And though I missed ol’ Wyom, the southern San Juans put on a great show for us. I have to admit, it was the best display of Autumn I’ve ever seen.

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Wilson Mesa put on a show and lit up several mornings, evenings, and even once by starlight for us.

It would prove to be one of our more fruitful locations.

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Alta Lakes had shifts in hues I’d never seen up there…

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Several of us photographers went up to Gold King to shoot trail running, and the light danced for us. With bouts of clouds and snow, of course.

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With each new solitary morning I spent hunting for photos, the aspens grew bolder.

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We marveled at the beauty.

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Even Hunter Trek felt compelled to try to take it all in with us at Cornet Creek Falls.

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On my last morning drive, the high country got the dusting I had been waiting to see. The chill in the air noticeably bit harder.

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That rare mix of golden light and winter clouds appeared… it’s truly the most dynamic time of year. My favorite time of year.

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Fog rose from the warm valley floor into the sharp, cold. Golden warm hues mingled with blue, cool tones.

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Alta got colder, bluer, and snowier each day.

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It had arrived. That very short time between Autumn’s farewell and Winter’s settling in.

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There’s not enough money in this world to equal the richness of that feeling. To witness the fullness of Autumn. Especially in a magical place like Telluride.

— 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
 
 
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photography, random thought, travel

To Share or Not To Share

The debate rages on.

You might ask, “exactly which debate?”

The subject of sharing is quite broad.

Well, let me explain…

And don’t be surprised if it opens some related subjects on which I too have opinions, and will probably write about later.

A few months ago I was scouting a location to which I was about to travel, like I always do. As a photographer, I spend many hours researching locations before I go, trying to find the best, most beautiful and pristine spots to capture.

So I came across a blog post that mentioned a beautiful waterfall.  And it recognized the fact that it is a little tough to get to and not very well known.  This is the holy grail for photographers. We are constantly searching for the “gardens of eden” that exist out there. Rarely seen. Even more rarely photographed, or at least photographed well. We want to have images and experiences that few others have.

First, let me put something out there.  And I think this provides a lot of confusion for some people. I am a conservationist, not an environmentalist. I line up more closely with Gifford Pinchot than John Muir, though I respect and admire Muir to the hilt. Muir is the heart, and Pinchot is the head.

And I believe wholeheartedly that the responsible use and enjoyment of our natural resources is necessary for nature’s healthy balance and an inherent right of humanity. The environmental movement has grown more radical (as movements led by pure emotion will) over the years, to include such theories as “the only way to preserve nature is to close it off to humans” and “natural resources are too fragile for mass human consumption” and “human beings are no more important than any plant or animal.” Somehow forgetting that human beings too are a part of nature, and in fact, the pinnacle of nature (as we know it), and therefore tasked with stewardship of the rest of the known, natural world. These facts are not inherently good or bad, just facts. It is what we chose to do with such knowledge that is so important.

The earth and its resources belong of right to its people.

Gifford Pinchot

So I believe we, as human beings (the only creatures that we know of with the capabilities of whole earth stewardship) are tasked with conserving the resources and beauty of the natural world for the sake of ourselves and generations to come. It’s pretty simple. And yes, I pump gasoline, use paper products, and eat meat. And no, I do not feel guilty for any of that. Though I do see the need to innovate in these areas and find more long-term sustainable alternatives.

Conservation means the wise use of the earth and its resources for the lasting good of men.

Gifford Pinchot

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So back to the sharing. I decided to go explore this waterfall with the excitement and wonder I feel anytime I get to see a beautiful location.

It was truly awesome.

It made me feel small and thankful all at the same time. I was enriched for having seen and experienced this place.

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And I wanted to share that with everyone.

Enter the debate.

Many of my kind (photographers, adventurers, explorers) are split on whether it is a good idea to share these lesser known, special places with the rest of the world, except by word of mouth.  And I get it.  I really do. I’m conflicted a bit by it in my heart.

But I want to examine the motivations first behind “to share or not to share” before I make my final decision on what’s right.

Why would I want to share:

+ The good: A genuine desire for others to enjoy the experience.

+ The bad, and the ugly: Selfish ambition and the desire to appear cool, or to be the “first” at something.

Why would I not want to share:

+ The good: A genuine desire to preserve the place.

+ The bad, and the ugly: Selfish ambition to keep it to myself, and to be “in the know” about something very few others have seen.

So both could very easily involve genuine, good desires, and also very selfish, ugly ambitions. Interesting. Well, since I can only know my own intentions, and it is futile to judge the heart and thoughts of another, I think it’s best to examine the eventual outcome of both scenarios.

What happens if I (we) chose not to share? Well, regardless of if I tell you (or anyone else) that I have a unicorn living in my backyard, eventually, people will find out. Whether the yard guy stumbles upon it, or the electricity meter reader, or my neighbor sees it, or a helicopter overhead catches the glint and shine from it’s iridescent rainbow horn, it will eventually become known to others. That is just a fact. Now, it may remain only known to a few for a longer while (if no one else shares), thereby preserving it perhaps a little longer. But the fact remains that eventually, it will become known to a wide enough audience that it may be in danger. So for that time of preservation, only a select few would be able to study it, enjoy it’s beauty, and even have the opportunity to learn something from the unicorn.

Okay, then what happens if I (we) chose to share? Can you imagine?? Immediately, upon finding a unicorn in my backyard, I share on Facebook and Twitter, and even a photo of it on Instagram that I found the earth’s only unicorn!! The world is in a frenzy for a week… news copters flying over my backyard, masses of people on foot peering over my fence, my street completely shut down with hoards of cars, anti-unicorn hate groups gain momentum online and plan attacks on my yard, etc. All of this lasts for a few days.  I have to keep a close eye on my backyard and prized unicorn to ensure that no one try’s to deface it, steal it, or worse, kill it. But before the frenzy even dies down, others start to come out and reveal that they too have unicorns living in their backyard, and it’s not really such a frenzy any more. In fact, a majority of people (except of course for the crazy anti-unicorners) would grow to revere, respect, and possibly even cherish the unicorns we have.  Maybe learn something from them, enjoy their beauty, and even teach their children about them.

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God has cared for these trees, saved them from drought, disease, avalanches, and a thousand tempests and floods. But he cannot save them from fools.
John Muir

To me, it makes more since to share… to educate and inspire others with the beautiful places we have on this amazing earth. The fact is, these places are not unicorns. And a lot of people aren’t even interested to put their screens down long enough to go hike a few miles to see a waterfall. If I have the opportunity to inspire someone with a photograph to become one of us, those that revel in nature’s beauty and wonder and seek to responsibly enjoy and preserve it, then I think that is a wonderful privilege. Even a responsibility.

I cannot control the anti-unicorners out there. Neither can you. Neither can the government. There will always be those out there that have respect for nothing. That will seek to destroy the beauty. But we cannot try to hide all of the beauty and wonder of our world because of these few fools. If we do, more people become uneducated fools, and run the risk of hating the world’s precious “unicorns”. Even John Muir knew this…

Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.

John Muir

 

— andrew


 
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Big Bend NP // Night/ Landscape // 2016
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Highlands // S C O T L A N D // 2016
 
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