The World of National Parks

  Each day I wake up I have the opportunity to discover beauty newly.  It's not enough to simply remember what I discovered yesterday, I get to actually open my eyes and experience it.  Today.  Now.  In this world I live.


I live in Utah and when I truly open my eyes and see - not just look at, but SEE - the mountains and the nature around me, I am overwhelmed with gratitude.  Many drives through canyons and I want to yell out the window "I GET TO LIVE HERE!!"  A photographer's paradise.  So much to see, so nearby.


A couple days ago, I took an impromptu trip to Vernal, UT to visit a great friend, Mark, on his birthday.  We found a decent restaurant to eat (one of half a dozen restaurants in Vernal!), had a bon fire, and then went to Dinosaur Land National Monument for night photography.  It was cold, dark, scary, I whined way too much about the temperature, but still... it was absolutely beautiful.



This photo below is a 30 second shutter speed, flashlights to light up the background and a speedlight to light me on the rock.  We had a lot of fun "painting with light."





One of the most inspiring aspects of photography for me is the beauty of nature at night.  The way the stars light up the sky, I find such a sense of wonder and peace.  It is awesome - in the truest sense of the word.  Awe-inspiring.  While at DinoLand, I made a commitment: This summer, I am committed to visiting at least one National or State Park each month!  I am beyond excited to take this adventure on.




The photo above is no lights, the photo below is the result of walking around and using several speedlights from different angles (same location).





  Then, just today (a few days after my trip), on a dusty bookshelf, I found an old book I'd forgotten about called "America Wide - Panographs by Ken Duncan".  It's a book of photos of National Parks and other iconic views across the country.  A close high school friend, Matt, gave it to me as a present for my 17th birthday.  This was long before I had an SLR, before I had even CONSIDERED photography as a job or even a passion.  I was focused on music at the time, but have always had an appreciation for nature.  In the front of the book was a letter, and what an amazing thing to read through it and see where life has taken me from then to now.  Here's an excerpt I'd like to share:


"I want to present this book to you as a gift of encouragement not only for your 17th year, but also for life beyond. We all have trials and tribulations of life set aside for us to overcome and defeat, but if I can get you to remember one thing; about this archetypal battle, it's that you can't ever shut your eyes to the world around you, even in the midst of utter despair. Once you do that, you close the gate to a rejuvenating source of beauty.  Take this book... look at it... comment on it... then set it down for a long while. Force your eyes wide open to the picturesque beauty in your own world, and be amazed at the seemingly therapeutic results. Don't forget to open your eyes before the scenery whips by."




Thank you, Matt, for the example and encouragement of living an awesome life, full of awe for the world around.