Big Bend // R+R

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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

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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

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

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

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

guadalupe mountains // an overnighter

Another quick stop I made on the road trip was Guadalupe Mountains National Park, on the border of Texas and New Mexico.

Yet another first for me.  I mean, I’ve passed this park on the long drive from Dallas to El Paso a few times, but never stopped long enough to photograph.

So, on my way from ABQ airport, where I dropped Elle off, to Big Bend National Park, I stopped to stay the night at Pine Springs Campground the Guadalupe Mountains.

I arrived after dark… so the darkened outline of mountains against a big sky full of stars were all I could see…

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The Milky Way shone bright and colorful.

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I got a few hours of sleep, then woke before the sun to find a spot to photograph what is called “the signature peak” of West Texas, El Capitan.

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This exercise reminded me how insanely difficult it is to show up, in the dark, at a brand new location, and expect to find “the perfect” location for a sunrise shot.

I did my very best, but never really felt I came away with the image  wanted.  Oh well… a good excuse to go back and explore this beautiful park!

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I tried several locations, and then decided it was time to move on and high tail it to Big Bend!

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On the way, the ranches of the Chihuahuan Desert beckoned me to stop frequently to shoot…

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I was excited and anxious to get to Big Bend.  Like I’ve said before, I’ve been going to Big Bend every year for the last 10+, with the exception of 2012.

It was high time to get in a good visit to this desert/ mountain/ river paradise.

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

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

a cool toned campout

my brother in law invited a few of his friends and me to his uncle’s farm to camp this past weekend.

other than me, it was a bunch of dad’s with their young kiddos.  a little terrifying for me at first, but it turned out to be an incredibly fun weekend.

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the land was an armadillo haven.  i saw tons of signs of dillos, but i only caught a short glimpse of one in person…

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i had to get the obligatory texas bluebonnet shot…

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and then, of course, a group bluebonnet shot.

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the night nature walk was certainly one of the highlights for everyone…

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sunday was beautiful and gray.  i wandered and explored a bit with my camera.  the cool, blue tones caught my eye.

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all images © andrew r. slaton | photographer 2013