“Where are you going?”
I don’t have an answer to that question, but I do know this: Wandering down unfamiliar paths is what brings you closer to your true self. You might feel lost occasionally, but all the things that never made sense before kinda stop mattering. You figure out what’s important and you get wiser. Life becomes about places, people and experiences -- not possessions or politics.
It hasn’t always been this way. I used to live in LA and I had a 7-5 job, an apartment and clothes that defined me, until I realized that I wasn’t happy. After working in television and online publishing for nearly a decade, I’ve ended up as a freelance writer and photographer, and my office is the road. I have bursts of time where I’m hanging out with people and then back-to-back days where I’m in the middle of nowhere. Walking. Driving. Thinking. Sometimes it seems like I have all the time in the world to think.
So what’s been on my mind these days? Here are some scattered thoughts from my latest adventure in Utah, along with a little bit of info about some of my favorite photos from the trip.
Shot on a Canon 5DMIII with an EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM lens, handheld (16mm, f/14, 1/40s, ISO 160)
My alarm went off around 6:20am. I grumbled and put it in snooze mode, but as soon as I saw the horizon starting to glow, I perked up. I’ve been lucky enough to camp in some pretty epic locations over the years, so when I find a spot that gives me a view like this, any discomfort I’m feeling takes a backseat. And even if there isn’t a killer landscape right outside of my tent window, the sounds are something else that make me live for sleeping under the stars. From coyotes howling to the rustling of bushes around me, I’ve felt very connected to nature even when it’s pitch black out. As much as I prefer the comfort of a cabin or sleeping in the back of my Jeep, tent camping is one of those experiences that engages all of your senses and makes you think about everything that exists beyond the bubble of space you occupy.
Shot on a Canon 5DMIII with an EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM lens and a meFOTO aluminum GlobeTrotter tripod (70mm, f/10, 1/40s, ISO 100)
Sometimes I screw up. I miss the light, my focus isn’t razor sharp or I do a lousy job scouting and settle for an average place to shoot sunset. As soon as I saw this photographer perched on a ledge at Canyonlands National Park, I wished I was in his spot. But then who did he have standing in front of him to show the scale of the landscape below? As much as I shy away from including people in my photos, sometime the human element is what actually makes an image.
Shot on a Canon 5DMIII with an EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM lens and a meFOTO GlobeTrotter Air tripod (45mm, f/4.5, 1/80s, ISO 100)
I was bummed that the clouds didn’t light up, but a moody sky makes me nearly as happy as a horizon full of cotton candy pinks and purples. The grey formations swirling above the rocks in Capitol Reef National Park had me thinking about one thing, and one thing only: Storm chasing. I went for the first time last year, and I’m hooked. And yup, I’m going out again this spring…
Shot on a Canon 5DMIII, an EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens and a meFOTO aluminum GlobeTrotter tripod (200mm, f/10, 1/10s, ISO 100)
I don’t even know how to begin to describe this wall of magically lit dirt and rocks, but it was just as awesome in person as it was in the photos I saw prior to this trip. I felt a connection with this landscape that I haven't had in a while. A true sense of marvel, and just enough satisfaction with the images I shot that I didn't feel defeated when I left. As I get older, I find myself appreciating these moments more and more, as they become harder to find.
These are the moments that matter. They teach you, define you and determine where you will end up. Over the last year and a half I’ve turned my life into one big road trip, and I feel more at home now than I ever did before.