Aug 16, 2018

Take Only Photos, Leave Only Footprints

After a day out in the wild, between snacking on s’mores and sipping on glasses of Kenwood, we got to talking about photography in the great outdoors with Jason Hatfield and Brandon Dewey. We wanted to know what inspires them and keeps them going in a world that’s turned photography into a means to get likes.

It’s been a long day and both the guys are enjoying a well-deserved drink. After all, both Brandon and Jason have been on their feet since sunrise, trekking around Pursuit Series, teaching classes of eager adventurers about photography. Their insights are no “secret recipe”, the guys are more than willing to share their wealth of knowledge. Their passion for photography is almost contagious. We get to talking about why they love the work they do so much.

For Brandon, it’s “getting out in nature and seeing it when it’s at peak beauty… Early in the morning or late at night. Especially sunrises… just enjoying the view, enjoying nature, and listening to the birds as the critters wake up in the morning.” Right out the bat, we can’t agree more. Jason adds that “getting out in the wilderness is by far my favorite part of it, you can’t experience it anywhere else. I can’t go back to an office.” Immediately we’re all on the same page — the main reason we love making wine is that we get to go out and enjoy the vineyards.

As we start to pry and see what pointers we can soak up, along with pouring another glass of wine, we’re surprised to find that their main advice doesn’t have to do with cameras at all. Instead they discuss how you should interact with the subject matter which, in this case, is the great outdoors:

  1. Leave No Trace: both Brandon and Jason agree that respecting nature is top priority. While it might be tempting to leave your mark or attempt risky acrobatics for that perfect photo to share with friends, it’s important to preserve the beauty we are there to witness. As Brandon reminds us, “take only pictures, leave only footprints”.

  2. Photo-A-Day: like your parents reminded you, practice makes perfect. Challenge yourself to take at least one great photo every day that fits a theme. If you need some inspiration, google “photo a day” challenge and get to it!

  3. Early Bird: there’s nothing better than a good sunrise shot, right? What we didn’t know is that there are different kinds of daylight: back light, front light, and side light. The morning also provides cooler tones compared to the evening — consider adjusting for this through warming filters to balance the color profile of your final photo.

  4. Master of the Dark: capturing the perfect nighttime shot is a result of a few different factors, the most important being your equipment. A fast lens is ideal, f/2.8 or faster. Jason also recommends a wide angle lens to capture enough foreground and stars, 28mm or wider on a full frame camera.

  5. Phone Photography: lest we forget the camera that we find ourselves using the most, our phone. Jason and Brandon advise letting your fingers do the work. Don’t be afraid to touch the screen to see what makes the best image. Drag the exposure up and down to adjust the lighting via the yellow square with the sun icon. Tap the subject you’re looking to capture and snap away.

At the end of our chat we’re left feeling pumped to get out there and take photos while respecting nature and our surroundings. Maybe it’s the wine talking, but we’re feeling more connected with the great outdoors than ever. We’re grateful that, like both Brandon and Jason, we get to immerse ourselves in our natural environment every day. When we “clock-in”, it means we get to do what we love and on occasion that includes meeting great people like Brandon and Jason.