In addition to showing new adventure images, I address degree of difficulty and creativity as well as sacrifice and compromise with respect to photography.
Lauri and I completed our second weeklong trip on the Royal Arch Loop with longtime friend and backpacking companion John Hoffer. The Royal Arch is a special and beautiful place seen by few because it is a difficult multi day hike.
I feel fortunate that at 50+ I am still capable of making physically demanding treks to create images. They are not without pain. There are times I wish I had a normal mid life crisis like owning a Corvette and whooping it up in Vegas but no! Instead, I do brutal backpack trips to remote places like the Royal Arch. When I go to places like this I never lose sight of a principle of photography that has stuck with me for many years: Degree of difficulty does not correlate to creativity.
Going to expensive exotic places, or places that are difficult to get to or require special skills (in this case rappelling and canyoneering skills) does not mean you will get great photography. Your viewers, unless they were there with you, cannot relate to the physical or emotional pain and investment you make in your photographs. Your images are judged solely on their creative merits. And it should be that way.
Photography on a backpack trip requires sacrifice but not compromise. I’ll explain. Sacrifice on this trip was severely limiting my equipment for obvious reasons. I took a Canon 5D, Mark 3, 24/f2.8 lens, Sigma 15/f2.8 fisheye, a 600RT speedlight with a couple of gels and the ST-E3 transmitter. For the first time in a long time, I went without a tripod. That was the biggest sacrifice on this trip.
I had to sacrifice some sweet photo ops. As long as I stayed within the limitations of the equipment I had I didn’t have to compromise on the principles of making compelling imagery. My focus would be on the hiking and at camp experience and making images where it was still possible to get sharp, hand held shots and shots that still looked well lit with simple fill flash skillfully applied.
Without a tripod and with only wide angle lenses I had to give up landscapes and many telephoto and macro ops. I really felt the pain of what I sacrificed one evening when we had a blazing pink sunset. I did however improvise on a full moon tent scene. With plenty of rocks and a ziplock bag full of sand made a great stabilizer for a 2-3 minute exposure.
The 15mm fisheye really came in handy as the noon sun was cresting the Royal Arch. It is such a fun lens to shoot into the sun with and I did that a lot.
Sacrifice without compromise of solid photography principles and remembering that degree of difficulty does not guarantee good imagery has hopefully resulted in a few marketable shots from a difficult to reach and seldom seen location that holds a special place in my memory.