Category Archives: Hiking

Showing Scale in Iceland

Iceland is a country full of wonder. Of all the splendid locations in Iceland, my favorite without a doubt is the highlands of Landmannalaugar. Colorful mountains as far as the eye can see. Patches of snow create a pattern amongst the blues, red, greens, and every brown and yellow tone you can imagine. An interesting aspect of the highlands and most of Iceland is the lack of trees. Moss is about the only thing you will find growing on the highlands of Landmannalaugar. This presents us with an interesting opportunity to use people in our landscapes in order to show scale. The mountains are photogenic on their own to be clear, but adding a hiker gives that extra element of scale, turning a pretty scene into a jaw-dropping scene. Let’s take a look at some examples, starting with “The Hiker”.

The Hiker

The hiker on the ridge is entering this endless wilderness. The light in the image highlights the subject and we see the journey ahead. Imagine this image without the hiker, void of the story and sense of wonder.

The Legend

In this example, we see a hiker paused to take in the epic view, just as the viewer of the image is doing. A connection is made with the attempt to bring the viewer closer into the scene by putting you, the viewer, on the ridge itself. The title of this image is based on a client and friend of mine who is on that ridge. “The Legend” is his nickname and it seemed a fitting title here.

Almost Home

It can be difficult to view these images small on the web. Imagine being able to view them printed large? In this example, titled “Almost Home”, we see a hiker on the lower right about to make their final descent into camp. They came, they saw, they conquered. The journey is almost done.

Laugavegur Trail

In this final example, “Laugavegur Trail”, we see a hiker on the most famous trail in Iceland. Having experienced the hike myself, this image brings back fond memories. Every time I view this image it puts a smile on my face.

As a landscape photographer I’m not one to photograph people, pretty much ever. I have zero interest in it. But as you can see here, sometimes it can actually improve your landscape imagery, and that is something I’m always striving for. I encourage you to give it a go when the situation arises.


Trekking to Mt. Everest Base Camp

Pointing to Everest

Recently I spent a month trekking in the Everest region of Nepal with Kim Bannister of Kamzang. Kim and her partner Lhapka provided first class service, expert guidance and helped us tremendously with some of the obstacles of the trek, expected and unexpected. I can’t recommend her highly enough and I will be back for another trek in the Indian Himalyas in the not too distant future.

This wasn’t a¬†photography trip, it was for the experience of traveling and hiking with my girlfriend in an incredible region. Landscape photography is an all-encompassing pursuit that takes a great deal of research, often quite a bit of gear, and many hours for scouting and executing fine art images. It is incredibly difficult to achieve unless the sole purpose of the trip is designed around the pursuit of creating fine art images. So I leave the heavy camera equipment gear at home and hit the road with a point in shoot with a large sensor, the Ricoh GR, and an iPhone 5s.

The Ricoh GR is fitted with an APS-C sized sensor and enables me to print large any image that may come from the camera. It’s small size comes with a trade-off though, as it has a fixed focal length of 24mm.

The iPhone 5s doesn’t provide me with images for print, or anything of financial value to me or my company, but it tells stories like no other camera can through the use of fantastic apps. I know Sony has started an app store and it’s in its infancy, but it would be incredible to have a DSLR system with the Apple App Store ecosystem. I used my fair share of HDR Pro, the best HDR software I’ve ever used, and it happens in camera, but the app that really shined was DMD Panorama.

What makes DMD Panorama different from your standard panorama app is the ability to play back your image in a cinematic style. The Hymalayas are filled with incredible 360 degree views. What better way to tell the story than with DMD Panorama? You can share the images in a standard format or share a link to view the cinematic effect. After showing the group how the app works, we had people ditching their point and shoots and spinning in circles with their iPhones.

Here is a sample of some of the standard panos taken with the app. Click on each image for a larger view. To see what the panos look like in movie mode, check out this example.









Cascade Pass & Sahale Arm

Chris and I headed up to North Cascades National Park last weekend for an overnighter. We chose a highly rated location that had flown under our radar until now. The permit was a breeze to pick up in Marblemount with no entrance or permit fee. We opted to stay at the Sahale Glacier Camp instead of the Pelton Basin Camp. I felt as though Pelton might be a better choice for photography but we HAD to see the view from the top. The hike to Cascade Pass is 3.7 miles with an 1800ft elevation gain. The grade is nice and easy and the trail is in great condition. Once you reach the pass the views open up and fall colors explode all around you. This is the turnaround point for most, but I highly recommend pushing on to the Sahale Arm. It’s another 2.2 miles and another 1800ft to the Sahale Glacier Camp, but you don’t need to go quite that far to get the best views. Head to the turnoff for Doubtful Lake and the views are some of the best in Washington State.

The trail eventually turns into a rock scramble as you leave the vegetation behind and enter the glacier area. We made it to camp a little before dark and setup in the “castle”. This is what the site looks like as you approach.

The view from our site was one of the greatest views I have ever seen, truly spectacular.

If there had been a great sunset, this image would have been a winner.

The beautiful day turned into a stormy night: strong winds and rain pounded the tent endlessly and made for a restless sleep. Fortunately, the rains let up as we broke camp and we were able to hike out in great weather: cloudy, cool, and filled with atmosphere. Without the harsh sunlight I was able to photograph the fall colors. Here are few shots from the hike down.

I highly recommend Cascade Pass & Sahale Arm as a day hike, and if you’re a photographer itching for great light, it’s a wonderful place to stay for the night. Keep in mind that the Pelton Basin Camp is more sheltered, but man, what a view from the glacier!

Announcing Backcountry Photo Tours!

I’m thrilled to announce my brand new workshop and tour company – Backcountry Photo Tours! Another photographer tosses his hat in the ring, so what’s different about my workshops and tours? A couple of key points:

1) I have been an instructor in many different arenas for over 16 years. Teaching is what I do best!

2) My extensive travel and backpacking experience can enable your personalized tour to go just about anywhere you desire!

3) I will be setting up in Mount Rainier National Park for much of the summer, offering a wide range of dates to photograph wildflowers, fall colors and some unique views of Mount Rainier that only my workshop will venture into. I am extremely fortunate to have a permit to teach workshops in Mount Rainier and I plan on making the most of it!

Please venture over to the site and have a look. The Mount Rainier Workshop Dates for the year are up. If you have any questions at all please let me know.

Hiking Pic of the Week #11

Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park is a short but strenuous hike to an amazing viewpoint of Zion Canyon. Many just make it to end of the trail, but if you don’t mind heights, there is an opportunity to continue along the top of the rock formation with a steel chain assisting you through the difficult sections. If you can, it is well worth it to do the hike in the early morning for better weather and less crowds. If you normally use poles for hiking, make sure you attach rubber tips as most of the hike is on concrete. When you arrive at the difficult upper section, be sure to leave your poles behind and pick them back up on the way down. I definitely recommend Angel’s Landing.

Hiking Tip of the Week #9

This is a biggie. Hikers traveling uphill have the right of way! The is an unwritten rule that really should be written somewhere! This is pretty common knowledge for overnight hikers, but for day hikers this may be getting their first wind of it. Once in play, this tip will be appreciated by all.

I'm Back!

It’s been a while I know, and it’s time to get back to bloggin’. This summer was full of hiking and shooting, an incredible growing experience for me as a landscape and wildlife photographer. Spending time in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park was an eye opening journey into the world of wildlife photography. That experience really instilled in me that I wasn’t going to just shoot landscapes for my career. I’ve been back from my adventures for a little while now and I have been busy at work on my new website – It is finally completed and now I’m going through the process of optimizing it for search engines. It was an interesting experience which had me learning some CSS, a good deal of copying and pasting different code, and relying on endless forum posts to get just the look I wanted. I am pretty happy with it so far and fortunately, being hosted on smugmug means that I can evolve it as needed.

I have numerous posts planned, from trip reports to hiking tips, there is plenty to discuss! This weekend I leave for Zion National Park where I hope the fall colors come a little early, and I can add some Southwest images to my portfolio. Until next post (which will be sooner than later!)