The wild places. Those are the ones I live for. Those places that whisper their history to you on the wind; letting you know that the space you have ventured into is one that remains as it was a hundred thousand years before. Those places that are only truly known by the peoples and animals who have lived there for time immemorial.
Over the past decade I have tried to share these spaces with as many people as I possibly can. This has lead me to many a far-flung place, from 30-day whitewater expeditions in Northern Ontario to dogsledding through the Arctic mountains of Svalbard, Norway.
In doing this, I have tried to help others reach the healing and educational opportunities that await us just as we pass through the threshold of the wilderness and step away from modern civilization.
But not everyone can join us as we head North for 10, 20, or 30 days. For some, this seems beyond their realm of comfort. For others, the idea has just not yet crossed their mind. And so it is for these people that I attempt to capture these spaces.
For me, photos provide a medium like no other. With images, I can help transport a casual observer from their office chair, to a mountain valley in Patagonia; from their living room, to a morning sunrise bursting out over Smoothrock Lake. These acts of mental teleportation help build connections to places that we can’t make it to ourselves.
And for those who have the spirit of adventure within them, an image can be used to inspire. It can ignite the passion needed for them to seek out the spots on the map that they’ve always dreamed of, but have not yet had the courage to pursue.
So when I look through the lens, I look for those images that tell a story. A story of the land, older then any of us. And I try and show those moments when we play into this story, wandering into a scene for a moment, acting as passersby and learning what we can from the world around us.
Finally, if you are one of the ones who seek out these places as I do, I urge you to find ways to capture your journey. Even if you never share your adventure with other people, capturing what you have seen and experienced helps put in sharp relief what it is you have learned from these beautiful quiet places. Whether it is through a pen, brush, or lens find ways to hold on to those places that you have learned from and been awed by.
Because at some point we all pass back through that threshold, leaving the wilderness and coming back to the civilization we sought to depart. But it is amazing what ink on a page or even pixels on a screen can do to help bring you back to that rushing rapid; that moonlit lake; or that endless blue sky.
Tools of the Trade
Currently I shoot using a Nikon d7000, with both a 18-55mm and a 55-300mm lens. This gives a decent range of options for shooting while still being small enough to fit in a trusty Pelican Case (I use the 1300).
Though DSLRs give the opportunity to take any number of shots, my first love is my Pentax k1000. The way film captures the lighting in wilderness spaces (such as the last sunlight dappling through a spruce forest) can’t be recreated by anything on Earth. For a good all around colour film I’d suggest Ilford Delta 3200.
In reality, anything will do though. If you’re passionate, just get out there and start taking pictures. What works best for you (as well as the skill to capture what you’re hoping to) will come through with time.
Discover how two other Outdoor Professionals capture their adventures through pen and brush: