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5 Stunning National Parks For Photographers

America’s national parks provide endless opportunities for nature photographers. From breathtaking scenery to incredible wildlife sightings, these are just five of the outstanding national parks that should be at the top of everyone’s must-see list.

Yellowstone National Park


Flora and fauna and out-of-this-world nature of the land combine to form the outdoor photographer’s dream destination at America’s first national park. Read more …

Joshua Tree National Park


Named for a tree-like succulent that’s actually a member of the agave family, Joshua Tree is a landscape distinguishable from all its desert counterparts, complete with its own characteristics and eccentricities. Read more …

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park


Located on the Big Island, Kilauea Volcano at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is photographer CJ Kale’s favorite subject, and he moved from Oahu for easier access to capture its unfolding drama from land, sea and air. Read more …

Glacier National Park


A photo adventure to Montana’s Glacier National Park offers a lifetime supply of scenes and subjects, with the unique opportunity to photograph glaciers, wildlife and meadows in the same day. Read more …

Yosemite National Park


Yosemite is so rich with photo subjects, it’s hard to decide where to begin. Consider these tips and recommendations your cure for analysis paralysis when photographing this crown jewel of the U.S. National Park system. Read more …


ALSO SEE

Point Reyes National Seashore

One of the best-kept secrets of the National Park Service is a year-round wildlife destination. Read now.

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Source: Outdoor Photography
5 Stunning National Parks For Photographers

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Autumn On Utah’s Colorado Plateau

southern Utah fall color
Aspen grove on Boulder Mountain, Dixie National Forest, Utah. Canon EOS 5D Mark III, Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L USM, Gitzo Mountaineer tripod, Acratech Ultimate Ballhead.

While most of us think of the northern woods of Vermont and New Hampshire, the southern forests of the Great Smoky Mountains, or perhaps the aspen-covered heights of the Colorado Rockies as the best locations for autumn-color photography, few of us set our sights on the red rock canyons and high plateaus of southern Utah—which is curious, because this region contains some of the most spectacular displays of fall color in America.

I still recall the kaleidoscopic hues of autumn that carpeted the rolling hills around my childhood home in northern New Jersey. As one of the most ecologically diverse forests on earth, the woodlands of the Appalachian Mountains contain a wide variety of deciduous tree species, with nearly every hue on the warm side of the color wheel represented as the green chlorophyll drains from their leaves every autumn. Compared to this full-spectrum display, the predominant autumn colors of southern Utah are the brilliant yellows and oranges of aspen trees high in the mountains or the rich golden-yellows of cottonwood trees deep in the red rock canyons.

While there’s much to be said for the tremendous variety of autumn hues back east, there’s also something clean, pure and refreshingly uncluttered about an entire mountainside covered with a monoculture of aspen trees with shimmering yellow leaves and crisp white trunks beneath a deep-blue western sky filled with Salvador Dali clouds.

southern Utah fall color
Calf Creek Falls, Escalante Canyons, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah. Canon EOS 5D Mark III, Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L USM, Gitzo Mountaineer tripod, Acratech Ultimate Ballhead.

One of the things I’ve always found most compelling about photography in Utah’s Canyonlands region is the vivid contrast between lush, green trees along canyon bottoms and the red and orange sandstone walls rising above them. But in the fall, when those same green leaves morph into their vibrant yellow hues, there are few regions anywhere on the planet as photographically unique as this landscape at this time of year.

Autumn color in southern Utah occurs in two vastly different ecological zones, the first being aspen trees between the elevations of 8,000 and 10,000 feet on the flanks of high-altitude plateaus with their leaves reaching their color peak around the first week of October. The second zone for autumn color is found deep in the red rock canyons, where perennial streams provide life support for thick groves of trees at elevations between 4,000 and 5,000 feet. The predominant color here is the golden-yellow of cottonwood and box elder trees with lesser numbers of red maple, yellow river birch and rusty-orange scrub oak. Due to the lower elevations of these canyons, these trees usually reach their peak of color in the last half of October into early November.

Compared to the drier Mojave desert to the southwest, the deserts of southern Utah are a relatively wet place, with countless small streams originating on the 11,000-foot rims of heavily forested volcanic plateaus. The vast majority of beautiful canyon systems in southern Utah—including the canyons of the Escalante River, Capitol Reef National Park and Zion National Park—were carved by streams originating on these plateaus. These same streams today continue to provide easy living conditions along canyon bottoms for a variety of water-loving trees and plants in the otherwise harsh, dry desert environment.

southern Utah fall color
Deep in the Escalante Canyons, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah. Canon EOS 5D Mark III, Canon EF 15mm f/2.8 Fisheye, Gitzo Mountaineer tripod, Acratech Ultimate Ballhead.

Regardless of the season, the Escalante River Canyons have always been my favorite location for photography in southern Utah. It’s easy to get lost in the folds of its deep, sinuous canyons with mile after mile of tributaries carved into thick layers of sandstone, many of them sheltering cool, small streams lined with lush vegetation. One of my first autumn-color photo excursions in southern Utah was a five-day backpacking trip down the upper Escalante from its confluence with Calf Creek to Harris Wash. Thick groves of cottonwood trees along this 30-mile stretch of canyon begin to turn yellow as the cold nights of late October set in. With all the stream crossings, I still remember how my waterlogged boots were frozen solid every morning and how difficult it was to get back into them. If you study topographical maps of this region, you’ll notice a number of tributary canyons along this section of river, all of them lined with vibrant groves of cottonwood and box elder trees. If you’re not quite up for an adventure like this—preferring not to scrape ice off your boots every morning—I do offer an autumn workshop in this area based in the very comfortable and well-heated Boulder Mountain Lodge.

If late October in the canyons doesn’t work for your schedule, you could always arrive a few weeks earlier to catch the aspen colors higher up on the plateaus. Boulder Mountain, also known as the Aquarius Plateau—the largest high-altitude plateau in North America—was formed as a shield volcano over 20 million years ago. Today, it’s the source of the Escalante River and one of the best aspen-color displays in the West. The ideal elevation for aspen at this latitude is between 8,000 and 10,000 feet, and Boulder Mountain has an ample supply of real estate at precisely this altitude. You’ll find thousands of acres of aspen trees with their shimmering leaves and tremendous views overlooking the canyons of both the Escalante River and Capitol Reef National Park. The colors begin to change up here in late September and are usually gone by mid-October. The road connecting the towns of Boulder and Torrey provides easy access to many of these groves.

southern Utah fall color
South Caineville Mesa above cottonwood groves along the Fremont River Valley. Pentax 67, Pentax 105mm, Gitzo Mountaineer tripod, Acratech Ultimate Ballhead, Lee Graduated Neutral Density filter, Fujichrome Velvia.

In addition to the Aquarius Plateau, the Markagunt Plateau north of Zion National Park and Fish Lake Plateau northwest of Capitol Reef also have vast expanses of aspen-covered slopes. On the Markagunt, the most prolific groves on Cedar Mountain can be accessed along the graded-gravel road between Kolob Reservoir and Cedar City. Further to the northeast, Fish Lake Plateau is the site of Utah’s largest glacier-carved lake and the largest aspen clone yet discovered in the world. In dry climates, aspen don’t reseed very well and instead propagate through vast underground root networks. These root systems can be thousands of years old, with trees continually sprouting from them. The entire root network and the trees are considered one living organism. This large clone was given the name of Pando (Latin for “I spread”), with its root system estimated to be at least 8,000 years old. It covers an area of more than 100 acres and weighs more than 6,000 tons. Sorry, blue whales and General Sherman tree—Pando is considered the largest and perhaps the oldest living organism on earth. (And I thought that title belonged to that seething mass of green mold growing in the bottom corner of my refrigerator’s vegetable drawer.) Anyway, these individual aspen clones explain why we see large clusters of aspen trees of one specific hue, say deep red-orange, with another solid cluster tinted bright yellow right beside it, with another cluster next door that has already shed all its leaves.

Continuing with our theme of cottonwood-lined streams originating on high plateaus, the Fremont River in Capitol Reef National Park is another of southern Utah’s hot spots for autumn colors. With its headwaters near the Pando Clone on Fish Lake Mountain, the Fremont River provides life-sustaining water for a 30-mile-long ribbon of cottonwood trees beginning at the pioneer village of Fruita, in the heart of Capitol Reef, and extending all the way to the town of Hanksville beneath the convoluted slopes of the Caineville Mesas. Along the way, the tributary streams of Pleasant Creek and Sandy Creek nurture their own cottonwood groves. Highway 24 through Capitol Reef parallels the Fremont River and its cottonwoods all the way to Hanksville.

southern Utah fall color
First snow of the season dusts Court of the Patriarchs, Zion Canyon, Zion National Park, Utah, USA.

It’s not possible to consider autumn-color photography in southern Utah without including the spectacular canyons of Zion National Park. Located at the deeply eroded southern edge of the Markagunt Plateau, the trees of Zion owe their lives to the thick winter snowpack that accumulates on top of this vast plateau every winter, with its melt water feeding small streams and springs throughout the canyons. With its Yosemite-like cliffs rising thousands of feet above the cottonwood-lined Virgin River, Zion is a very popular destination, so you’ll need to plan far in advance if you want a room or a campsite. Due to its southerly location and lower elevation of 4,000 feet, the trees in the main canyon usually reach their color peak in the first two weeks of November, a couple weeks after those in the Escalante Canyons.

If you’re staying outside the park in Springdale, you’ll need to ride the shuttle bus to access locations along Zion Canyon, but if you’re staying in Zion Lodge, you could walk directly from your room. Try a loop hike from the lodge to Emerald Pools and from there to the Grotto shuttle stop and then back to the lodge. This is one of the best areas in the canyon to capture the colors.

One of the other main spots you’ll want to explore is the Gateway-to-the-Narrows trail, which starts at the end of the main road at the Temple of Sinewava. Jump off the shuttle bus here and spend the morning photographing the trees along this flat, mile-long trail paralleling the Virgin River, with 1,000-foot cliffs on both sides. This deep, cool canyon supports a rich diversity of plant life, most of which morphs into a tapestry of color during the first week of November.

southern Utah fall color
Mountain of the Sun above the Virgin River, Zion Canyon, Zion National Park, Utah. Canon EOS 5D Mark III, Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L USM, Gitzo Mountaineer tripod, Acratech Ultimate Ballhead.

The other main location for colors in Zion would be along the Left Fork of North Creek on the west side of the park, otherwise known as Great West Canyon/The Subway. The small stream here is surrounded by soaring walls of sandstone and lush vegetation, with river birch and cottonwood trees providing most of the color. As this has become one of Zion’s most popular routes, you’ll need to arrange for your permit well in advance before setting off. It’s a steep 600-foot descent into the canyon but relatively easy walking once you arrive on the canyon floor. If you’d prefer a less-crowded, easier-to-access canyon, try Pine Creek above the Zion-Mount Carmel tunnel. While not nearly as spectacular as The Subway, you’ll find good water reflections, autumn colors and pleasant narrows, and you’ll have them all to yourself.

As you assemble your gear, don’t forget your polarizing filter. It’s probably the single most important tool for photographing foliage as it will vastly reduce reflections on the surfaces of leaves, thus accentuating their brilliant colors. This is effective both in direct sunlight and in open shade or flat light from overcast skies. Backlighting is also a good technique to employ if you want to enhance the brightness and color of the leaves.

If you’ve been paying attention over the years, you already know that the timing of the color peak is never exactly the same from year to year and depends on the climatic conditions of the previous summer. Variations in the temperate and amount of precipitation can cause brilliant displays one year and dismal displays the next. If you live close to the region and are able to depart on short notice to catch the exact color peak, check online for color updates or call someone in the region—at the park headquarters or your lodge—to see how things are progressing before you depart. Or, of course, if you have one of those annoying things called a job, you could always quit, pack up the car, and spend more than a month photographing the entire region, starting high on the volcanic slopes of Boulder and Fish Lake Mountains and ending up in Zion Canyon five weeks later.

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Source: Outdoor Photography
Autumn On Utah’s Colorado Plateau

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5 Pro Guides For Black & White Landscape Photography

While some photographers tend to experiment with black-and-white on their computer as more of an afterthought after they’ve shot their images in color, more successful results can be achieved when a thoughtful process begins in the field. Here, five photographers share what they’ve learned during their monochrome journeys.

1. Monochrome Vision


A nature and wildlife photographer explains why he thinks black and white is the best choice for his photographic palette—a conclusion he came to after a lot of trial and error with printing, shooting and developing images, and after a struggle to reconnect with his work after a bad case of photographic writer’s block. Read more …

2. Think, Feel, Do


This step-by-step plan offers an easily digestible process for shooting black-and-white-photography. It’s an interesting look at learning to envision a full-color scene in black-and-white, developing a connection to the subject, and then getting outside your comfort zone and exploring opportunities. Read more …

3. Black & White In Harsh Light


We all know that the best time for color landscape photography is during the golden hours, and many photographers stay away from the harsh and contrasty midday light. However, the latter may offer some of the best conditions for black-and-white photography. Here are some things to consider. Read more …

4. Exploring Infrared Photography


If you’ve reached a creative block with your photography, or are just looking to try something new, infrared photography can unleash your creative vision. This guide discusses options such as using a filter or converting your camera, how to overcome challenges with focusing and exposure, and provides postprocessing tips. Read more …

5. See In Black & White


Previsualizing a scene in black-and-white takes some training, but it’s an incredibly important part of creating a successful black-and-white image. This article covers some of the basics, such as focusing on light instead of color, viewing shadows as forms, seeing colors as midtones, and more. Read more …


YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Exploring Monochrome From A Color Photographer’s Perspective

A look at the key influences that have affected this photographer’s explorations into monochromatic photography.
Read now.

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Source: Outdoor Photography
5 Pro Guides For Black & White Landscape Photography

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Photo Of The Day By Simmie Reagor

Today’s Photo Of The Day is “Still Waters Run Deep” by Simmie Reagor. Location: Housatonic River, New Milford, Connecticut.
Photo By Simmie Reagor

Today’s Photo Of The Day is “Still Waters Run Deep” by Simmie Reagor. Location: Housatonic River, New Milford, Connecticut.

Photo of the Day is chosen from various OP galleries, including AssignmentsGalleries and the OP Contests. Assignments have weekly winners that are featured on the OP website homepage, FacebookTwitter and Instagram. To get your photos in the running, all you have to do is submit them.

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Source: Outdoor Photography
Photo Of The Day By Simmie Reagor

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Off-Camera Flash

Off-Camera Flash

Bad light produces bad photos. If your subject matter is a grand landscape, a huge building, a towering bridge or any other large item, the sun is your main light. If it’s obscured by ugly clouds, too contrasty or the wrong angle, not much can be done to improve the light except return on another day. But, if the subject is small enough to be lit with a flash, bad light can be augmented and even overpowered and made to look good.

Off-Camera Flash

On small subjects, flash can be used to fill in shadows. This softens the overall contrast, which provides a more pleasing look. Rather than use the flash on the hot-shoe, get it off camera and aim directly at the deepest shadow or create side or backlight. The light becomes more directional and more strategically aimed. The more directional it can be channeled, the more control you’ll have over the look of the photograph.

Off-Camera Flash

Depending on the DSLR you own, there are a number of ways to trigger off-camera flash. If the flash and camera are wired cord compatible, use the cord to connect the camera to the flash. Auto TTL flash can be maintained if you use a dedicated cord in which one end connects to the hot-shoe and the other accepts the flash. These cords are coiled and come in various lengths. If your camera has wireless capability, take advantage. The pop-up flash is used as a trigger to fire the off-camera flash. If your DSLR doesn’t have a pop-up flash, infrared transmitters can be mounted to the hot-shoe to accomplish the same. They’re sold as accessories. The most efficient way to fire an off-camera flash is with a radio-controlled transmitter and receiver system such as a Pocket Wizard. They can be triggered from hundreds of feet away and are not impacted by bright sun the way an infrared system can be influenced.

Off-Camera Flash

There are a number of quick ways to add intrigue to your photos made with off-camera flash:

  1. If the light is flat and dull, add a spotlight effect. Put the camera into manual mode. Set the ambient exposure to at least one or more stops below the meter reading. Set the flash to normal. The light from the flash will illuminate the primary subject, but the ambient light will be underexposed. Vary the amount of underexposure of the ambient light to produce varying intensities of the spotlight effect. It may become necessary to use High-Speed Synch the more you underexpose the background.
  2. Bounce the flash into a gold reflector with it placed to either side of the subject or in back of it, but out of the composition. The warm light will bounce back onto the subject and provide interesting warm results. An alternative is to add a warm tone gel to the head of the flash.

Off-Camera Flash

  1. Add multiple flashes—Vary the strength of each to draw the viewer’s eye to the brightest part of the image.
  2. Tunnel the flash—Many high-end flashes have a zoom button on the back. Press the zoom button to its most telephoto setting. The more telephoto, the narrower the beam of light. This works great when you want to spotlight an area of your subject.
  3. Experiment—Hold the off-camera flash to the left side of the subject and make the image. Now place it on the right side of the subject. Bring the flash to the back and use a reflector to bounce light onto the front of the subject.
  4. Gel the flash or flashes you use. Interesting effects can be achieved if you place a colored gel over the head of the flash. Light the left side of a still life with a warm-toned gel and the right side with a cool-toned gel.

Off-Camera Flash

Flash is one of the single most important tools that can add impact to an image, yet it’s underutilized. There’s a learning curve, but with a small investment in time and practice, you’ll easily see its power and wonder why you didn’t jump on the bandwagon a long time ago.

Visit www.russburdenphotography.com for information about his nature photography tours and safari to Tanzania.

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Source: Outdoor Photography
Off-Camera Flash

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Photo Of The Day By Michael Arzur

Today’s Photo Of The Day is “Sunrise at Pétarel Lake” by Michael Arzur. Location: Pétarel Lake, French Alps.
Photo By Michael Arzur

Today’s Photo Of The Day is “Sunrise at Pétarel Lake” by Michael Arzur. Location: Pétarel Lake, French Alps.

See more of Arzur’s photography at www.arzurmichaelphotographie.com.

Photo of the Day is chosen from various OP galleries, including AssignmentsGalleries and the OP Contests. Assignments have weekly winners that are featured on the OP website homepage, FacebookTwitter and Instagram. To get your photos in the running, all you have to do is submit them.

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Source: Outdoor Photography
Photo Of The Day By Michael Arzur

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Photo Of The Day By Jaromir Ondra

Today’s Photo Of The Day is “Sunset in Wales” by Jaromir Ondra. Location: Broad Haven Beach, Wales, Great Britain.
Photo By Jaromir Ondra

Today’s Photo Of The Day is “Sunset in Wales” by Jaromir Ondra. Location: Broad Haven Beach, Wales, Great Britain.

Photo of the Day is chosen from various OP galleries, including AssignmentsGalleries and the OP Contests. Assignments have weekly winners that are featured on the OP website homepage, FacebookTwitter and Instagram. To get your photos in the running, all you have to do is submit them.

The post Photo Of The Day By Jaromir Ondra appeared first on Outdoor Photographer.


Source: Outdoor Photography
Photo Of The Day By Jaromir Ondra

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7 Wildlife Photography Techniques

Take your wildlife photography to the next level with insights from the experts, including what tools you’ll need and what skills will make your work stand out.

1. Backlighting Wildlife


Backlighting refers to the positioning of light behind your subject, such that your subject is located between you and the source of light. Light behind an animal can illuminate and call attention to the features that make that animal unique. Read more…

2. Creative Blurs For Wildlife Photos


While there are hundreds of ways to produce creative blurs, this article will explore four photographic techniques to add visual interest and a sense of motion to your wildlife photography. Read more…

3. Create A Wildlife Panorama


Traditional panoramas usually show landscapes and geographic features, but adding wildlife can add depth, revealing your subject in their natural habitat. This technique will help you navigate through the difficulty of capturing a moving subject. Read more…

4. Telephoto Technique for Wildlife


For some wildlife subjects, it’s difficult, or even dangerous, to get close enough for a photo with a regular lens. A telephoto lens can be expensive, heavy and awkward, but sometimes it’s the only way to get the perfect shot. Read more…

5. Wildlife Camera Traps Tips And Techniques


Sometimes when you’d like to photograph skittish or nocturnal subjects, the best solution is to take yourself out of the equation. Setting up a remote-trigger or motion-activated “camera trap” can help you do just that. Read more…


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Into Africa

Expanding on his successful exhibit at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History seen by more than 3 million people, Frans Lanting’s “Into Africa” showcases the wonders of Africa’s wild landscapes and inhabitants. Read now.


 

6. Specialized AF For Action


Catching that once-in-a-lifetime action shot might be luck, but luck is when preparedness meets opportunity. Use these techniques to ensure that next time you’re presented with an amazing shot, you’ll have the tools and skills to capture it. Read more…

7. Lighting Wildlife


Many wildlife photographers consider themselves at the mercy of existing natural light for their shots. A flash or LED light are often overlooked options that can add an extra dimension to your photos of animals and birds. Read more…


ALSO SEE

Point Reyes National Seashore

One of the best-kept secrets of the National Park Service is a year-round wildlife destination. Read now.

The post 7 Wildlife Photography Techniques appeared first on Outdoor Photographer.


Source: Outdoor Photography
7 Wildlife Photography Techniques

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Last Frame: Good Pawsture

Last Frame: Good Pawsture
Photo By Ruth Steck

Ruth Steck captured the image “Standing Tall” while visiting Churchill Wild at Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge in Manitoba, Canada. She was joined by guides and a film crew from Travel Manitoba when they set out in the hopes of seeing a few polar bears in the wild. “We were extremely lucky that year as the fall colors were late, and we had magnificent yellow, red and orange foliage,” Steck recalls. “As we approached the willows, we heard rustling noises. Just as we stopped, this male polar bear stood against the beautiful yellow backdrop, checking each of us out with a long stare. He stood for many minutes just looking at us before laying back down, completely hidden from view amongst the tall grasses.”

Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III, Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS USM. Exposure: 1/2000 sec., ƒ/3.2, ISO 400.

See more of Ruth Steck’s photography at rmsteckphotography.com.

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Source: Outdoor Photography
Last Frame: Good Pawsture

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Turning A Passion Into A Career With Ted Hesser

Becoming a professional has to be one of the hardest transitional moments in a photographer’s career. For me, it took years of struggling with how to turn talent with a camera into an income. Making the leap from artist to business owner requires entirely different skills and means you must look at your work in a new way. Pretty pictures aren’t always commercially valuable. I know plenty of photographers who create incredible work and can’t figure out how to turn that into cash flow. So much of it is based on passion and dedication, a willingness to step out into the unknown, to risk losing everything.

I was recently having a conversation with one of my favorite adventure photographers, Ted Hesser, about how he got his start. I spontaneously grabbed my camera and started to record the conversation without having any real plan of putting a video together. But I loved what he had to say.

Ted was a finance guy, and he made a good living, but his passion was always photography. He’d save up vacation days to spend his time taking photos and building a portfolio. Now he works for some of the biggest names in the outdoor industry.

He really did put it all on the line to become a photographer, and he figured out a great way to avoid risking everything. He got rid of everything. Ted and his girlfriend moved their lives into a Sprinter Van taking only what would fit under the bed and in the cabinets, and then they drove off into the American wilderness to follow their passion of a life of adventure.

I think you’ll appreciate his perspective even if it isn’t how you want to go about building your own career.  I know I did.

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Source: Outdoor Photography
Turning A Passion Into A Career With Ted Hesser

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