Erik Stensland is an award winning photographer and author. His photography is concentrated in the Rocky Mountain National Park which is literally in his back yard. Erik has managed to blend his love for hiking and photography into a successful business.
(go here for his About Me page, selected info below.)
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- Intro Questions:
How did you get into photography and why landscape photography?
After working for years and becoming “burnt out” I thought about what I liked the most…mountains. I thought about what would help me earn a living, a ranger, a guide…a photographer. After getting negative feedback from people I decided to become a landscape photographer.
Limited to seven days of camping per year…May to October. The remainder of the hear it too cold / snowy.
During the winter the trips are “day trips”
Do you make a living from landscape photography?
Taken many years and it is a hard way to earn a living. Now doing well, have employees and pay the bills…not getting rich but enjoying what I do.
How much time taking photos versus the business?
Majority of the time is at spent working versus photography
Love big prints…love to print
Tell us about your book – “Wild Light”
Spent 10 years working on getting the images to do justice to Rocky Mountain National Park
Currently writing several other books…should be coming out soon with another around Christmas and another in the Spring in regards to National Parks
What gear do you take with you?
Love that Casio Pre Trek watch, do you actually use it?
Hiking in the deserts of Utah and received a call in regards to the watch…wanted to focus on me as a photographer
The contact led to a video
What do you look for in a tripod?
Pretty much everything in Lightroom
What gets you up in the morning, which for the landscape photographer is REALLY early?
To get morning shots in Rocky Mountain National Park I sometimes get there at 10PM to 2AM
Depends how far I need to hike in
Encounter with a moose
Walking in a meadow and encountered a moose…eyes wide open, nose flared and started to charge
Any worries about being in the wilderness alone?
In the early days I was worried and now I am more comfortable
Utilize a satellite tracking device that allows me to stay in contact with family and in an emergency contact for help
Plan out the images and head out when the weather is anticipate to be appropriate for the specific photo
Have a backup plan because the sun may be covered by clouds
How do you select the photos you want?
Know the park very well and know when the sun will strike a mountain correctly, when the leaves will change, the snow will fall. All based on prior historical experiences.
Do it come to the point when you realize you shot everything…now what/
The public areas are very well documented…the back locations that are waiting to be captured. There are the areas that nobody ever makes it to.
Have Federal Budget cuts limited access to the park?
Not me but friends working for the park service
Entrance fee, however, that doesn’t directly to the park.
Images per year in Gallery for purchase?
15 per year…maybe up to 20
After shoots place photographs on Facebook to gauge the reactions from everyone
Do you ever use HDR?
Most are single image, however, some extreme settings have been done with Lightroom and Photomerge
Pollution, how does it impact the landscape photographer and how do you deal with it?
Most of the time there is no haze…crystal clear skies. Except if there is a Forest Fire nearby…Washington State, Wyoming.
Not pollution free but very little…nitrogen levels are increasing though
After all the time you have spent in Rocky Mountain National Park, do you think you are running out of new locations?
Try and plan a few trips per year
Autumn – Desert Southwest, New Mexico
Spring – Pacific Northwest
Summer – Iceland for a week
How far from Utah
Moab – 7 hour drive
Zion – a day drive
When do you use B&W?
Very few B&W. Color photographs move me emotionally. There are some photos that will lend themselves to B&W…but less than 10%
Sunrise or sunset?
If I had my choice…sunset, however, where i live the mountains are to the east and have the better light in the morning.
Do you use an app or something else to help you know when and where to shoot?
Favorite location to shoot?
Remote back country in Rocky Mountain National Park at the treeline where the trees open up to the tundra.
What’s in your Camera Bag?
Camera – Nikon D810 with 24-70 f/2.8 lens as starting point – no filters, maybe a polarizer for wet foliage
Lens – 14-24 f/28 and 70-200 f/2.8
Red Bag – First Aid bag rope, knife, batteries, sack to hold heat
Yellow Bag – camera spare parts, battery, cable release, polarizer, tools for tripod, card case with spare cards,
Orange Bag – hiking essentials, heat pack, filter for water bottle, SteriPEN (cleans water with UV light), compass, earplugs (for highwinds)
Top of bag, mesh sack – inside is the Spot messenger satellite tracker
Blue Bag – Toilet Paper
Park Regulations – Laws for still photography in the park
Food Bag – Granola Bars, Fig bars, Endurance Gel
Duct tape…usually ends up on heals to prevent blisters
Images displayed during the show.
Pro Trek Video
Discuss the show in our forums! – Forum Post
Album for this episodes can be found here – Erik Stensland
Albums from previous episodes can be found here – Podcast Images