education, photography, travel

Photographing // Tents

Yeah, it’s a thing.  And if you follow me on Instagram, you know that I clearly enjoy it.

Photographing tents in amazing places is trending on Instagram and other social media outlets, and for good reason… it makes for incredible, eye-catching images and it’s really fun.

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Recently, I’ve begun experimenting with the sources of light inside the tent… but when I began, one might say it was a little less calculated and a bit more haphazard.

One of the first times I made a ‘lit tent image’, it was almost accidental.  I pointed my camera in the direction of Squaretop, and intended to do a ghosting image of Ellen and I getting into the tent.  The image that was created would send me into an obsession that has really paid off…

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In many ways, it is simply a means to document some of the cool places I have laid my head.  But when I started getting serious stock and print inquiries from these images I realized I was on to something.

Man hiking up to a winter campsite overlooking Fremont Lake in Bridger National Forest, Wy

Social media would blow up every time I posted one of the tent shots, and I began to notice they were showing up all over my Instagram feed from some of my favorite photographers.  Something in these shots was resonating with people.

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Dusk, colorful sky, and lit tent under a silhouetted Nugent Mountain

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So I began doing them all over the world and experimenting a bit.

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I’ve used everything from cruddy headlamps, to Canon Speedlights, to my Dynalite strobes. And at this point, I’m not set on one method… I know I have a bit more searching to do to find the one best lighting solution that is compact and lightweight enough to take deep into the backcountry when backpacking.

Any recommendations are much appreciated :)

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But one of the things that I have learned over the years of experimenting is that your best bet is to shoot your tent shots during the blue hour. It is the hour +/- just after the sun has set, or just before the sun rises.  I prefer the evening blue hour because it seems to have a quality of light to it that is better to photograph.  But also because you have the daylight first, which allows you to more easily compose your image before it gets too dark. You get to ease into the shot.

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The blue hour is the optimum time for your artificial light to match the exposure and desired color temperature with the sky.

Dusk at Sparks Lake

Lit tent on the rim at Crater Lake

Lit tent on the rim at Crater Lake

But even if you wait a bit longer, you can get the stars in the shot, as an added bonus.  But beware, it is more difficult to match the exposures, so it may take a little experimentation.  If you have the ability, turn your lights down several stops.

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Knowing all of this, the first thing you need to determine is your composition.  It is best to figure this out during the day when it’s light out.  Once you have a composition you like, it’s time to think about where the best, most compelling placement of the tent will be.

Camping in Gifford Pinchot National Forest

The example above is actually where I slept.  But recently, I’ve been setting up the tent just for dynamic shots, like the ones below.  I did not venture to sleep where the tent was in the four images below.  Sometimes the best shot is not also the best place to camp. And the best, most comfortable place to camp does not always make for the most interesting shot.

Lit Nemo Equipment tent on the Ohanapecosh River

Lit Nemo Equipment tent on the Ohanapecosh River

Lit Nemo Equipment tent on the Ohanapecosh River

I hope sharing what I’ve learned is helpful and hopefully inspiring. But it is a process, and I will keep refining my craft.

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

I’ll keep you all posted as I learn more. And feel free to comment below if you have experiences or recommendations of you own to share!

Until next time…

— andrew


 
Join me on an amazing adventure… check out my 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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What I learned from the Lunar Eclipse

I found myself in less than ideal conditions in the early morning hours of April 15, 2014.  In the city, and somewhat sleep deprived.

Had I planned a little better, I could have been in a beautiful location, well rested, and ready for the total lunar eclipse.

But I wasn’t.  Sometimes it goes that way when I’m not shooting for a specific client.  It requires a little more self motivation and determination to make things happen.

So, I stayed up to watch the eclipse, and I devised to shoot a time-lapse.  20 Minute segments at 400mm focal length.

I made it all the way until the actual Eclipse… and of course fell asleep.  Seriously.

I awoke in a complete stupor to fire off one more raw image of the gorgeous red moon before me.  Then back to bed.

What I learned was to prepare better for an event as unique and beautiful as this.  Even if there is no related paycheck…

Thankfully, I’ll have a second chance this year… in Grand Teton National Park no less!

Expect more from me on that one :)

— 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.comThanks for visiting AndrewSlatonBlog.com!
 
all images and content © ARS Media, LLC 2014
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photography, travel

Big Bend // R+R

stars over the chisos basin in big bend national park, texas

You can’t travel all the way to Marathon, TX for work and not at least spend a night or two under the stars in Big Bend.

So after our interior shoot for the Gage Hotel, we did just that.  And I barely even picked up my cameras.  I know, hard to believe… but it’s true.

A lone coyote wanders the desert in Big Bend National Park, Texas

We did see a coyote wandering the lonely draws and bluffs in the iconic desert landscape… so of course I had to snap one…

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And then we did a quick Ellen Slaton | yoga commercial shoot for my wife’s new venture.

She recently finished teacher training here in Dallas and is now a certified yoga instructor!

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Her heart is to “love others through the practice of yoga and perhaps share a bit of the peace I find when I can escape to my mat, chill out my brain, listen to the Lord, & find strength…”

Thankfully, we found a little peace in the desert that weekend after a long week of working hard.  It’s important sometimes for me to set my camera down and use my own God-given senses.  It doesn’t happen often enough… but now I’m making a conscious effort.

— andrew

___________________________________________________________________________________________________
 
If you are interested in learning more about photography, taking your art to a new level please check out my new workshop dates:
 
Big Bend 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 // printsFor assignment work requests, please email me: andrew@andrewslatonphoto.comThanks for visiting AndrewSlatonBlog.com!
 
all images and content © ARS Media, LLC 2014
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photography, travel

Ray Roberts // Night Lights

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Elle and I were itching to sleep out beneath the stars, so we made a last minute trip up to Lake Ray Roberts State Park to do some weekend car camping.  Not a bad spot at all.  Beautiful lakefront campsites, nice neighbors, and all the stars we could handle.

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I even played around a bit, experimental painting with cell phone lights, headlamps, and flashlights.

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Sometimes I forget how important it is for me as a photographer to still get out there and “play”.  I get used to the dog and pony show of being a professional where I feel like I have to act as though I know absolutely everything there is to know about light and photographic processes.  The truth is; I am always learning and growing.  And the minute I reach a point where I know everything… well, I imagine I can just pack it in and lie down to die… because it certainly won’t be challenging and fun anymore.

I sure hope that day doesn’t come anytime soon.  I’m looking forward to “playing” and learning more this year.  Join me!

— andrew

___________________________________________________________________________________________________
 
If you are interested in learning more about photography, taking your art to a new level please check out my new workshop dates:
 
Big Bend 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 // printsFor assignment work requests, please email me: andrew@andrewslatonphoto.comThanks for visiting AndrewSlatonBlog.com!
 
all images and content © ARS Media, LLC 2014
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art, landscape, photography, random thought, travel, workshop, writing

big bend // revisited… part 2

Once again, I woke up before the sun…

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And witnessed a spectacular sunrise over the Chihuahuan Desert, with both Texas and Mexico in view.

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Everything in the desert seems to want to hurt you.  It’s an amazingly inhospitable place.

Maybe that’s why I love it.  It continually screams at me to leave, and I, unrepentantly scream back at it, “no!”

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Mariscal mine settlement.  When you visit this small village (seriously) in the middle of nowhere… it really does make you think about how beautifully tough our forefathers must have been.

This place is so difficult to get to and remote, that few people even nowadays visit.  What with our air conditioned cars and four wheel drive.

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So I finnally exited the River Road and hit pavement.  It’s funny the feeling you get when you’ve only felt super bumpy, unimproved dirt tracks underneath you for two days – driving 20 miles an hour, because if you drove any faster you’d surely bottom out or receive a flat for your insolence and disrespect to the road – finally being lifted up on to the smooth ride of a highway, and potential speed of 65.  I love it.  Kinda feels like you just won the lottery.  Undeserved and glorious.  Thankful you made it off that God-forsaken death trap of a road.  The reverse can also be true.  I LOVE THE RIVER ROAD!!

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So I spent the next several hours scouting a few different locations.  The first being my evening “epic” Big Bend landscape, that attempts to sum up the place.  Tough indeed, if you’ve ever been to BBNP.

The second shot was a night, road photograph I’ve had in my mind on this trip.  I got one in RMNP, but really wanted to try one here.  I had several nice spots from which to choose.

The third and fourth theoretically could be the same spot.  One shot would be in the very early morning hours… a star picture.  And the other was a morning “epic” Big Bend landscape.

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I finished my scouting with several hours to spare, so I decided to hike to one of my favorite little spots in the park, Cattail Falls.

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I always go when water is scarce, so I’ve never come away with the waterfall picture I want, but it’s a great little hike and the only place I’ve ever seen a bear in the park.

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By the time I got back, it was late afternoon… time to begin my work for the evening.

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I ended up with a few shots I like, so I called it a night… at least get a few hours of sleep.  Back up at 4 a.m. to shoot the stars and catch what would be a gorgeous sunrise.

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That morning was a sunrise-to-end-all-sunrises.  At this point, it was as good a time as any to quit while I felt ahead.

And besides, I was into my third week of being on the road…. living out of my Subaru, eating lots of peanut butter and honey, sleeping alone (an activity I used to love – that I am now quite weary of) on the hard ground.

It was time to go home.  Hard to leave, but definitely time.

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So I composed my last shots of the desert and mountains of Big Bend National Park, and bid it farewell… this time thankfully, it won’t be so long between visits…

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 + content © andrew r. slaton | photographer 2013

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

big bend // revisited

It didn’t take long to get back into the rhythm of Big Bend.

After all, it had only been 18 or so months.

But this lesser-known National Park, in the middle-of-freaking-nowehere on the border of Texas and Mexico, has been a refuge for me for the last 10 years.

In many senses of the word, I found myself in Big Bend.

I’ve found myself lost in the middle of the desert in 110 degree heat.

I’ve found myself 18 miles from any person or paved road in a almost completely submerged truck… in 110 degree heat.

I’ve found myself purposefully leaving civilization and humanity.

I’ve found myself at the top of the world on the South Rim looking out on the expanse of the Chihuahuan Desert of Texas and Mexico, in awe.

I’ve found myself coming to terms with my insecurities and problems.

I’ve found myself watching a total lunar eclipse from the South Rim of the Chisos Mountains.

I’ve found myself spending New Years Eve alone atop the Dodson Trail, happy as a clam.

I’ve found myself sharing my alone time for the first time with my (then) future wife.

I’ve found myself kissing said future wife in Boot Canyon in the fall with the maple leaves ablaze around us.

I’ve found myself returning annually to celebrate her birthday.

I’ve found myself pushing the limits on how many miles I can hike in 1 day… turns out, it’s at least 18 miles… done on two different trips :)

I’ve found myself chasing a black bear in a desert oasis.

I’ve found myself standing in the middle of the Rio Grande alone at 4 o’clock in the morning to get a star picture of Santa Elena Canyon.

I’ve found myself (more times than I can remember) talking with the God of the universe in all the glory of His creation.

I’ve found myself entering the park ill, leaving well… entering heavy hearted, leaving renewed… entering empty, leaving full.

Big Bend is a very special place to me.

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I arrived in the middle of the day, so no sweeping, epic landscapes available to shoot.

I set up camp and focused on the details.

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I decided to start with Santa Elena that evening, so I hiked out to scout my location.

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Done.  That was quick.

I then went to Mule Ears overlook to hike the desert a bit.

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Made friends with a black-tailed jackrabbit, then headed off to catch the sun going down at Santa Elena Canyon.

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I went back to camp to shoot a few desert star pictures.

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Got up well before the sun (4am) to shoot a star picture of Santa Elena.

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Bats flew all around me as I stood in the middle of the Rio Grande until sunrise.

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The sun rose high quickly.  So I moved on and headed for the infamous River Road.

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Prickly Pear Cactus flowering late.

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I hiked Pine Canyon.

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After driving several hours on the River Road (where I drowned my truck a few years ago), I arrived at one of my old favorite campsites, Jewels Camp.

It overlooks the Rio Grande, Mexico, and the Chisos Mountains.

I would come to learn (the next day on my way out) by a border patrol agent who searched my car, that it also happens to be a favorite spot for the cartels to smuggle drugs into the U.S.

Good thing I slept that night with my .45.

On a serious note though, I have NEVER had any problems in Mexico, Big Bend, or on the River Road.  I think it’s important to draw from experience rather than fear.

Okay, so back to my trip….

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Evening at Jewels was gorgeous, as it always seems to be.  The colors of the desert come alive at dusk.

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I read a little that evening, and then crashed.  All this getting up at 4 a.m., hiking all day, then going to bed at 10 p.m. was truly exhausting.

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But I was there to work… so before I could go to bed for the night, I had a few star pics I wanted to capture…

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I slept SO well that night, once I actually went to sleep.  And I would need it… the rest of the trip would be jam-packed and one of the most productive adventures in Big Bend yet!

Stay tuned for the second (and possibly) third part of Big Bend // revisited!!

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 + content © andrew r. slaton | photographer 2013

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art, film making, landscape, nature, photography, travel

lake hudson | time lapse

A few weeks ago we went to my cousin’s cabin on Lake Hudson in Oklahoma.

It was a wonderful time to relive warm childhood memories, and help create new impressions with our little nephews.

It also happens to be a beautiful place.  So I took the opportunity to shoot a few time lapse videos to share.

I’m excited to be offering time lapse classes soon… Be on the lookout at Slaton // Workshops.  Enjoy!

all content © andrew r. slaton | photographer 2013

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