March 8th 2015,
Soon after my return from camping, I was off on another outdoor excursion. This time I went with a small group to hike Arizona's Picketpost Mountain. Boy, we were in for a treat.
Originally I expected the trek to be a brisk jaunt through the scenic desert landscape. What we got instead was a long climb up a steep rocky cliff. Through the first half of the hike, I was able to grab many pictures here and there. However, as the trail intensified, I had to watch my camera closely so that it didn't drop to its doom or swing wildly into the rocks.
When our tired crew finally reached the top, we were treated to some amazing views of the Arizona frontier. The wilderness seemed to stretch on forever. We rested, had some snacks, and enjoyed the scene.
Reaching the peak meant that the trip was only half over. I hoped the decent would be a breeze considering gravity would be working with us this time rather than against us. However I was so wrong. In fact, we had far more difficulty on the way down due to the steep slopes and gravely terrain which caused us to lose our footing constantly. I was forced to 'crab walk' down the slopes in order not to slip and fall. This action caused my pants to rip in an area which rendered them impossible/inappropriate to wear in public every again. Lucky I had the foresight to stow my camera away for this leg of the hike to insure that it too would not be destroyed.
In the end it was a real hard day. The hardest day for me in a long time. There were moments in the hike where I felt despair and a genuine fear for our safety. Towards the finish I was dehydrated and pretty much blacked out on the drive home. But it was the support of my good friends that saw me through the challenge. There's no way I could have made it out alive without them.
Hiking Picketpost Mountain was a truly memorable life experience that resulted in some great photos, fun stories, and a few sore muscles.
March 12th 2015,
Back in February I took a hiking trip with my friend Nikki. I blogged about the day because I was able to get some really nice pictures of her two dogs. That day we began talking about my photography career and possibly volunteering with an animal adoption organization she works with called Underdog Rescue of Arizona.
As I’ve mention in earlier blogs, I’m a huge animal lover and I’ve always considered doing some sort of volunteer work with them. Like most people however, the demands of life and other forces convinced me that I simply didn’t have the time to spare. But after talking with Nikki and thinking seriously about it, I finally decided to make the time.
Nikki got me in contact with her people within Underdog and, after a lot of emails back and forth, we arranged to a photo shoot on March 11th. I would take pictures to help advertise foster dogs looking for a forever home. We’d also try shooting some video for me to cut into small adoption ads for each dog.
In the time leading up to the shoot I did everything I could to prepare. I watched youtube videos by animal photographer Seth Casteel with his non-profit ‘One Picture Saves A Life’, I read the book ‘Pet Photography: From Snapshots to Great Shots’ by Alan Hess, and even purchased dog treats & squeaky toys to use on the shoot. I wasn’t necessarily nervous about working with animals I wasn’t familiar with. I was worried I’d be overwhelmed. That I’d be unable to successfully run a photo shoot with a pack of crazy dogs running all over the place. Most of all I was worried I’d let down Nikki, the Underdog staff, and the dogs.
By the time the shoot day arrived, I was ready. I had brushed away the doubts and had a plan in mind. I would try to relax, be patient, and just go with the flow when necessary. I meet Nikki’s contact Danielle who was amazingly sweet and welcoming. She and Nikki were amazingly helpful as we worked together and photographed the foster dogs one at a time. It wasn’t always easy to get the dogs to pose and look at my camera but we did our best. By the end of the trip I had over 600 pictures, some 30 mins of video footage to edit, and a sore butt from crouching a lot. But I was a great time.
So far the images have been processed and they look great. I’ve just started on the video editing but its coming along really well. Me and Nikki are in talks about setting up future shoots with Underdog in the near future. I’m already planning some more side work with the local animal community. More on that in future blogs.
March 17th, 2015,
As mentioned in my earlier blog post “Photographing the Underdogs”, I recently did some volunteer work for Underdog Rescue of Arizona. The goal was to photograph dogs up for adoption. While I worked magic with my DSLR, I had my friend Nikki record video footage of each dog in action. I later took the footage and was able to edit a series of videos introducing the pups. Hopefully this will get them one step closer to their forever homes.