Shooting Film at 5 National Parks in 2016

Theres something romantic about being out in nature and shooting 35mm film. Having something physical in your hands and being forced to capture the scene in manual way makes you feel more present in the moment. I cherish not knowing what I’ll get until days later, a souvenir to look forward to — for myself only. So much so is our generation addicted to instant gratification, pressured to share our moments online instantly, only for the sake of validation from others.

I visited 5 National Parks for the purpose of nature and experience, to get away from our online world and to be more present in our own. It was a dream shooting film in our country’s National Parks. I imagine its as close as I‘ll get to experiencing what our ancestors felt generations ago — present in nature.

Enclosed are my favorite photos I took throughout my trips. I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed capturing them.

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite is my favorite National Park that I’ve been to. Its a weird mix of Disney World and nature. On the valley floor you’ll find tourists with their expensive Patagonia sweaters and massive Nikon lenses having never hiked a trail in their life. On the main trails you’ll get away from the tourists and be more immersed and alone in nature. While hiking the Yosemite Falls trail I got stuck in a thunderstorm 4 hours into the hike. Its the first time I’ve felt how powerful and alive nature is, while how small I am.

Big Bend National Park

Big Bend is extremely special to me because its one of two Texas National Parks. Its always been something I’ve heard about the past 2.5 years living in Austin, but I’ve always been intimidated by the 8 hour drive away. Big Bend is the first time I realized Texas has MOUNTAINS, huge massive mountains. Here you really feel like you’re in the middle of no where nature, like I could die out here nature, I really appreciated that.

Mount Rainier National Park

Mount Rainer is a very close second in beauty to Yosemite. You honestly feel like you’re hiking somewhere in New Zealand. The landscapes were filled with vivid colors and the mountains were insane. Jake and I ended up visiting on the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. We hiked the Paradise Trail and then ended the day drinking a cold beer watching the sun set behind the mountains. It was really special moment for me.

Rocky Mountain National Park

My good friend Teddy was on a road trip across the country and asked if Michelle and I would wanted to meet up in Colorado. So we booked a ticket and flew out there. Our trip was literally less than 24 hours, landing in the afternoon in Denver on Saturday and leaving Sunday afternoon. We ended up doing an 8 hour hike through Estes Park starting at 5am. It was the first time I’ve ever experienced the effects of altitude sickness. Towards the top it got extremely difficult to breathe with the thin air, constantly try to catch my breath.

Olympic National Park

We visited Olympic National Park the day after Mount Rainer and hiked the Skyline Ridge Trail. The mountains were amazing and it was really cool seeing Canada across the way when we got to the top of our hike. Unfortunately we were only here for a few hours, would have loved to visit the coastal areas of the park and see the beaches.

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I get asked every so often how I visit so many parks, my best advice is to just go. Thats it.

I challenge everyone to make an effort to visit the National Parks this year, especially in a time where our parks may be in danger of loosing protection from our government. Our National Parks are a gift to us, a place where beauty and nature still live. Once we give that up, theres no going back.