There’s nothing quite like walking out into the woods with everything you need for the night on your back. All of your food. The tent and sleeping bag you’ll sleep in. An extra layer of clothing. A baseball hat snapped onto the back of your pack. And then you walk. Through forest with tall trees. Over a wooden boardwalk elevated over swampy terrain. Along a cold and clear river. Through berry bushes taller than you are. Your feet get tired, but the sun is warm and you chat with each other about anything and everything. Then for some stretches it’s ok to be silent. To get into a rhythm. My short legs make me a pretty slow backpacker, so I just try to go with the flow. But trips like this provide me with little jewels in my memory. These are little glowing days that stand out compared to the rest of my year. It wasn’t because it was easy. No. It was definitely not a breeze. My body was pretty exhausted after this trip on the Jordan Valley Pathway, but a couple of days in the woods makes your mind slow down. After a trip like this I seem to be able to refocus on the things that are truly important. I can’t wait to plan our next outdoor adventure - I’m already brainstorming ideas for this Summer…
This is the first post in a series that I have found myself calling “Blogging the Backlog”. There are so many fun personal projects, images from our travel, or commercial and editorial projects from the past few years that I haven’t found the time to blog. Some of them I haven’t even truly had time to edit! Yikes. During the weeks of February and March I’m going to try to have one scheduled each week. You’ll see images from Santa Fe, Summer backpacking in Northern Michigan, exploring and scuba diving in Bali, and hiking in Asheville. Those are just the things that are popping into my head that I know I’m planning to share, but I’m sure that I’ll find more to post as I delve deep into our hard drives.
Last Winter I had the great opportunity to join Kendall from Wild Banshee Adventure Co. (and The Revel Rose), Lee from Fieldguide Farmhouse, Heather from Ampersand Lettering Lab, the fine ladies of Juniper & Lace, and the one and only Sandy Michalik, i.e. my mom on a Winter Rafting trip down the Jordan River. Jordan Valley Outfitters led the trip and I would highly, highly recommend it!
Our Southern Road trip at the end of March took us all the way to the Keys for some diving. If you follow along with us on Instagram you may have already seen some sneak peeks ;) We found a perfect Airbnb in Islamorada and spent three days diving through Islamorada Dive Center. It was a greatly needed getaway for us, with just the right blend of relaxation and adventure. Below are a handful of our favorite shots.
It's April. It's snowing. There is a part of me that thinks - this sucks, I can't wait for Spring to actually be here - but then the other part of me realizes that this will be the last time for many months that I will be able to stand quietly in the woods while the snow falls around me. I love living in a place that has seasons. It's pretty magical.
I am so excited to share that my work has been published in the June issue of Discover Magazine! Two years ago, Professor Charlie Beeker gave me the amazing opportunity to document his underwater archaeology work in the Dominican Republic. Professor Beeker, along with his students from Indiana University, Peace Corps Volunteers, and the Dominican Republic's Oficina de Patrimonio Subacuatico, have been working tirelessly to recover artifacts and preserve underwater areas of important cultural significance. I was able to witness firsthand as plates, coins, and silver were first uncovered after spending nearly 300 years underwater.
I will always be grateful for this experience, and this has to be one of the most gratifying moments of my career as a photographer. You can view more images from this trip here, and go pick up a copy of the magazine!
Last night was a magical night to be in Northern Michigan and we are so excited to share this with you!
When we lived in California I actually missed snow, because let's face it - we never got to Tahoe enough. I missed the stillness of winter and the quiet. We are beginning our second winter back in Michigan and I am really embracing it. The snow and the way it blankets the woods is meditative. There is too much negativity about winter, and if you live here you should really challenge yourself to explore it. Because it is beautiful and peaceful, and it allows you to see the same scenery in a completely new way. Just wear the right clothes and get out there.
Shot on Kodak Portra 400 that was accidentally processed in black & white chemicals. Camera: Pentax K1000. The Hartwick Pines' AuSable River Trail and My Aunt's awesome golden retriever, Lily are featured.
I have written about our amazing trips to Yosemite on this blog before, here and here. For Mike and I, they hold some of our favorite memories from our time living in California. Yosemite is just an undeniably amazing place. We took this trip almost a year ago, last May, and before moving onto blogging about 2014 (including some great stuff coming up from Honduras), I wanted to make sure I got some shots up here. We backpacked to Ostrander Lake, spent the night, woke up to a campsite visit from entertaining yellow bellied marmots, hiked out, spent some time at the viewing areas at the end of Glacier Point Road, and on our way out even spotted some bears from a distance. We know we will be back, we just have to figure out when!
This week on the blog we are looking back at our time in California. With such huge changes happening over the past year, the blog has gotten very far behind. Before we move forward with blogging about 2014 - I want to make sure we cover a few absolutely amazing experiences and projects we had in Northern California.
So for starters, we have to thank our friend J for attending Dartmouth. It just so happens that Dartmouth has an alumni cabin in Tahoe that is the epitome of a rustic mountain getaway. We had the chance to spend a weekend there with some of our closest friends. To our California friends and family - thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing in a very special time in our lives. We look forward to our future visits, and we are also excited to share the next chapter of our lives with you - both on this blog and in person.
P.S. Mike is slightly embarrassed by a few of these photos, so enjoy.
Today we - Mike and I - took a refreshing break from editing, and finally broke out my new - well actually used - underwater housing. My experiments today feel like I am actually accomplishing the things I wanted as a thirteen year old, dreaming about being underwater. I didn't feel the intense desire for the photography part in all of this until high school, but ever since then I have imagined, waited for, sold a car, shopped around, and gathered the pieces necessary to buy this piece of equipment. Wedding season rolled around and I have just been trying to keep my head above water - excuse the bad pun - keeping up with clients, editing weddings, scheduling meetings, responding to emails. My facebook page right now makes it seem like weddings are all I ever do. And don't get me wrong, I feel incredibly fortunate to be documenting such amazing people this summer. It has been an awesome experience working for myself and doing something so memorable for couples. I really love it. But I needed today. I needed to remember my thirteen year old dreams and take advantage of the warm weather while it lasts. I needed to finally get the courage to put the housing together, and cross my fingers that I did everything right, and dunk it underwater.
After taking some photos up in Forestville a few weeks ago - for a project I will be sharing with you soon - I headed over to Jenner to check out the coast and walk on the beach. The Russian River converges with the ocean here, and there were seals, tons of birds, and whales. It was amazing. I have been a diver for 12 years, and seen all kinds of ocean life including dolphins, but I have never seen a whale, so even from far away it felt like an extraordinary experience. It felt like a blessing. It was bitchin'.
If you have been following along here on my blog, or on facebook, you may know that I have been doing some work for Hog Island Oyster Co. To see a few images from part I, look here. I thought I would take a short break from editing to post a couple shots from a recent oyster harvest. More to come, stay tuned.
Seeing two of my shots used as cover photos this season has been amazing! The topics and publications couldn't be more different: California dairy farming in Edible Marin and Wine Country and underwater archaeology in the Dominican Republic featured in American Archaeology. But hey, that's why I am loving my projects... they are so varied and unique. One day I am shadowing artisanal cheesemakers, sampling fresh ricotta, and the next I am underwater photographing artifacts from a 1725 Spanish treasure galleon - ok, well the whole 'next day' thing is an exaggeration...
Either way, I have to stop and be thankful for everything that has happened in the past year. Launching into the business world of photography has been slow going - and I am still looking forward to the day when I am completely financially stable doing it - but I have to recognize the progress. When I receive the physical publications with my images, I get a boost of encouragement to continue on and tell more stories.
Thanks to Indiana University and Professor Charlie Beeker (pictured in the photo), this project was made possible, and I can only hope to collaborate in the future!
To see more from this trip, look here!
For future updates, feel free to subscribe.
This past weekend was my birthday weekend, so - surprise, surprise - my choice was to be outside exploring a new place. Mike and I went up to Mendocino, CA. with his older brother, Pat, and fiance (also a Courtney). We camped at Van Damme State Park, explored downtown Mendocino and the Mendocino Headlands, rented wooden outrigger canoes, paddled down Big River, and hit up North Coast Brewing Company. It was pretty fantastic.
Mike and I are also working on a short video about the trip, so stay tuned! Feel free to subscribe!
This morning I stumbled upon the book Journeys to the Far North by Olaus Murie at an estate sale. I won't get into my love of estate sales just yet, but I might be posting more quotes from this book - and a few others I picked up - in the future. Just by flipping through it, I am already excited to read it and make art inspired by it. By looking up Olaus Murie online, I am told he was a naturalist, author, and wildlife biologist who did groundbreaking research on a variety of northern mammals. He is now called the "father of modern elk management" and - this is my favorite part - he spent his honeymoon with his wife, Mardy, tracking caribou through the Koyukuk River region.
The other day I just needed a mental break - a chance to look at something relaxing, and calming and awesome. So I decided I would start working on some photos from my second Yosemite trip with Mike which I had failed to pay attention to for so long. I made tea, put some bluegrass on pandora, and away I went. As a soundtrack to this blog post, I highly recommend you click on this link here, before scrolling down. Click on the link, let the song start playing, and then start reading this post. Trust me on this one.
So to begin, this Yosemite trip was far more successful than our first one. It might not be quite as eventful and intensely seared into our brains as the last one was, but this trip was a different kind of amazing. We decided to head north of Yosemite Valley to Tuolumne Meadows (don't ask me how you are supposed to pronounce this).
Gorgeous open spaces, mountains, and trees. We both think about these types of places often when we are feeling trapped indoors... these places with so much undiscovered. Places with nothing and everything at the same time.
Since we have only had weekends - so far - to explore this amazing wilderness, we have had to do short loops. We were hiking to Young Lakes via Dog Lake Trail.
We kind of like each other.
I don't usually experiment with longer exposures without a tripod - but now I think I should try it more often. And I have to admit, I LOVE the neon pink I am able to get by doing this. Normally I am not a pink-kind-of-gal, so I guess it just has to be a pink mountain to get me interested. We haven't been backpacking with tripods, so I always feel like I am not a "real" photographer somehow. I mean Ansel Adams dragged ridiculous set ups all over the Sierras, and I don't feel like carrying one measly tripod? But ultimately, due to that very lack of stabilizing gear, I have found myself getting more creative when dusk comes around and I am not ready to put my camera down. I love these images.
There is nothing quite like reading Joseph Campbell discuss ancient mythology when you are curled up in a tent, with the wind whipping around you, and darkness approaching, and the closest place resembling modern civilization is a day's walk away.
I am doing a quick jump back in time so you can see the difference between the light in late afternoon:
And the light in the morning:
I would have loved to spend more time at the lake during the day, but we had to get back on the trail... and it was mostly downhill for the second half of the loop :)
Nice dirty toes at the end of the hike. Ok, I guess I like pink mountains and pink nail polish.
We drove by Tenaya Lake on the way out of Yosemite. We stopped to have a snack and take a couple shots... it's too stunning not to.
And of course we HAD to stop and get burgers at the Iron Door Saloon. It is our kind of place, and it is the oldest alcohol-selling establishment in the state of California.
Until next time,
Turtle & Moose.
As a part of my ongoing project documenting sustainable seafood in the SF bay area, I recently photographed two fishermen, Mike and Kirk, fishing for Two x Sea. They are using toss nets to catch surf smelt which are found along the coast from Southern California to Alaska. The older man with the yellow jacket was there fishing with his grandson. Looking through the photos I'm regreting that I didn't get his name or contact information to show him these shots... just maybe I can catch him out there again.
At dusk in Yosemite, I started experimenting with longer exposures. I would move the camera with the shutter open and I am really liking this effect.
A few weeks ago, Mike and I quickly planned a trip out of town to Yosemite when we realized we both had a weekend off together. Neither of us had ever been, so we successfully checked off an item on our California bucket list. It really was a whirlwind trip... nowhere near long enough. Friday night we left the bay area after work (Mike ate a falafel hut sandwich faster than I thought humanly possible). We made it to Jamestown, CA, closing in on midnight, and stayed at this pretty darn nasty hotel which I had google searched that morning. We paid $80 for this room that did not even have toilet paper. Thank god we were backpacking and came prepared. We had been warned about trying to visit Yosemite in the summer, especially last minute, so this incredibly overpriced hotel was just the first example of why those warnings are true.
Here is a glimpse of the hotel's hallway. Definitely has an old California gold rush kinda feel.
The next morning we woke up early and after grabbing some gas and gas station coffee, we headed to Yosemite Valley.
Our drive into the valley was absolutely ridiculously mind blowing. Beautiful. Massive sheer rock faces rising up on either side of us. It really is the kind of thing that you have to experience for yourself. But a million people do experience it, or at least a miniscule part of it, in the summer (4 million people visited the park last year). We also read a statistic on one of our Yosemite maps that because the wilderness area is so large, 99% of visitors only see 2% of the park. Here are people interacting with nature.
I really can't criticize... I know I have most likely been seen doing this too. Anyway... because of the massive number of people in the valley itself, parking was a challenge. We ended up parking on the side of the road next to an overnight campground... crossing our fingers that we didn't get a ticket. The shuttle buses in the valley were also totally packed at the stop near our car, so we ended up adding 2 miles onto our hike by walking through the valley to the trailhead. Oh well. We were just dying to get started.
We decided to hike the Yosemite Falls Trail/Upper Yosemite Falls trail. I should have known not to blindly take the recommendation of Mike's older brother who completed Ironman Canada last summer. Oh, and his last experience backpacking this trail was with their middle brother, a fantastic triathlete who has competed at worlds in Australia and has been known to gleefully subject himself to push ups with a full pack on. The first four miles were straight uphill. Literally hiking up to the top of the massive cliffs lining the valley.
I don't consider myself to be a wimp. I played competitive soccer for 10 years, I have backpacked in 90 degree heat in Madagascar, camped for a month in Iceland, and been diving with sharks. But this shit was hard.
Ok, there were some nice views.
I have to admit it really was worth it (maybe it took me a few weeks after the fact to realize it, but hey...).
It was also pretty fabulous after we made it to the top and truly entered the backcountry... no more people.
Camp for the night.
And the mini bar I packed.
Enjoying said mini bar.
Can't take me anywhere.
Despite a few challenges, we will be back... there is already talk of a potential fall/winter trip. And disregard any warnings you may hear, you really should experience Yosemite, even if the only time you can go is in the summer. We both love that feeling of being "out there" too much not to go back. The silence. The way the air smells. And even I will admit the excercise backpacking provides feels pretty great. I am kind of hoping we take a slightly more horizontal trail next time though.
With love, Turtle & Moose.