photography, travel

#findyourpark | Great Sand Dunes

I’ve been visiting so many National Parks lately that I thought it would be a fun idea to feature a park every quarter or so. And though I have many on my list that I know much better than this one, I want to start with this smaller, more obscure destination: Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve in southern Colorado.

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It’s a tad bit out of the way from most routes you might be traveling, but the extra hour or two driving is worth the views and activities. Nestled in the San Luis Valley, your closest major airport is Colorado Springs, but there are several small, regional airports nearby as well.

Driving in from the south, you may be thinking to yourself, “Where is this grand landscape already?” It’s quite unassuming, until… out of nowhere… the massive Sangre De Christos mountains rise up.  And then the dunes become visible too.

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I’m clearly approaching this from a photographer’s perspective, so I can give you a good many reasons to visit with your camera, but this park offers so much more.  If you like backpacking, 4×4 driving, swimming, dune surfing, hiking, camping, nature programs, star gazing, etc., you are in for a treat!  For more info on all of that, visit the official website.

For the photophiles out there, this park does not disappoint.  Disclaimer: I have only been twice and both stops at the park were honestly an afterthought.  So I have lots more to explore. However, from what I did see, there is great potential.  From the main road heading in to the park several shots jump out with the amazing views of the Sangres in the background, the tallest dunes in North America stacked in front, and Serengeti-style plains with sparse vegetation in the foreground. Wildflowers bloom in varieties from Spring until late Summer, and wildlife roams freely in view.  So there are many opportunities right off the road at sunset and sunrise.

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As you travel in further, and even hike the dunes some, new opportunities arise.  Some that you truly cannot find anywhere else in the U.S.  “Fording” Medano Creek is the first great shot you can play around with after you park at the dunes and begin to explore. I love the contrast of the parched dunes, rising mountains and the cool, clear running water.

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Often, you can get shots of active people enjoying all that nature has to offer… Not a ton on my quick trips, but I know dune surfing is really popular here and even swimming, when the creek runs high.

There are several trails that take you up into the sub-alpine and alpine ecosystems, so if mountains are your thing, you’ll be whistling all the way up to the alpine lakes and scree slopes.

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There are all sorts of little gems to find here that make for wonderful foreground elements.  And when the weather hits, it can really put on a show! I lucked out and caught one of the most spectacular sunsets of my entire three week road trip on my last night at Great Sand Dunes…

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This park is relatively small, but it has been added to my list of ‘must sees’ because of the amazing contrasts found in this spectacular landscape. There’s really so much more to explore with this park, so I hope this is an encouragement to you and me both to get out there!

— 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
 
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all images and content © ARS Media, LLC 2015
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photography, travel

Telluride // Fall Color

The timing was pretty close to perfect for this year’s Telluride Photo Fest.

Colors were in full force in the southern San Juans of Colorado.

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It was my first Fall in Telluride… and I have to say, it was pretty epic.  I only wish I had more time to actually shoot.  I was in meetings almost the entire week.  So next time, I will be heading up there just a few days earlier….

~ andrew


 
Take your photography to the next 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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photography, random thought, travel

Telluride // What I learned…

The biggest take-away for me from this year’s Telluride Photo Festival was… drumroll please….

….Shoot for yourself.  Not what you think editors/ agencies/ clients want… just keep shooting the way you see the world.

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Sounds pretty basic, right?  Well if you’re a full time professional photographer, trying to support your family, this basic concept can get lost.  Super lost.

It’s easy to go out and copy the style of the day… what’s running in the magazines and advertisements.  That takes technical expertise, but not talent or creativity.  And we as artists can get lost in the game of chasing trends and dollars.

That’s not to say that you aren’t going to need to adjust and grow and learn.  Don’t get me wrong.  And it also doesn’t mean that aren’t going to be assignments that require us to set aside our agendas and opinions to get the job done the way the client needs it.

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I think the point here is that we as artists are unique.  In fact, often the only thing that sets us apart from the bajilliun other “photographers” out there is our eye’s particular way of seeing and interpreting our world.  So what I’m saying is, don’t lose that.

It’s not a narcissistic rejection of everyone/ everything else.  Selfish pursuit of personal fulfillment.  No, quite the contrary.

You get hired for your distinct and unique perspective.  What really becomes difficult now is incorporating your style, your eye into what your client/ editor needs.

And this is what I tried to shift my focus to over the last five weeks on the road.

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As I mentioned in The Active Landscape post, it’s good for us to push ourselves, grow, and even adapt to the market.  But what good does it do if we lose our personal vision and style in the process.  Spoiler alert… it doesn’t.

Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others.  ~ Jonathan Swift

So keep growing, learning, and challenging the way you see, but don’t lose that which makes you unique!  No one else sees the world the way you do.

~ andrew


 
Take your photography to the next 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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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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photography, travel

Telluride Photo Fest // Preview

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I have had the pleasure of spending much time in the incomparably beautiful Telluride, Colorado.  But never in the Fall.  So the fact that I’ll be attending the 2014 Telluride Photography Festival in October has me really excited.

With Joel Sartore, Barbara Davidson, Aaron Huey, Ian Shive, and Jennifer Wu as the lineup of speakers, a lot of photography wisdom will be at the helm, ready to be gleaned.  And I’ll be ready.  In the past, I didn’t follow many photographers… But Joel has been on my radar since I was very young in my work, because of the amazing stories he has shot for Nat Geo.

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There are workshops, seminars, panel discussions, a photo contest, portfolio reviews, and all of the other usual convention perks.  Not to mention the opportunities to network with industry professionals and other great photographers.

But perhaps what I’m still looking forward to the most, is the fall colors.  I can’t believe that in the last 18 years of frequenting the town of Telluride, I have never personally seen the amazing explosion of color that is Autumn in the southern San Juans of the Rockies.

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If you have a chance to make it this year, please drop me a line, I would love to get out there with all of you and shoot some of the spectacular vistas of the surrounding area!

~ andrew

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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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