Story Behind the Top 5 Grams of 2014 – #1 Alpenglow on Mt. Baker

Behind the Gram 2014 – #1 Alpenglow on Mt. Baker

Alpenglow on Mt. Baker

Original Instagram Caption: Heading up to the North Cascades for a weekend up high. It’s gonna be COLD, but it’s always beautiful! Hope to see some colors like this tomorrow morning.

Technical Details: Captured with Sony Alpha A99 with Sony 70-300 4.5-5.6 Lens @ 300mm. Exposure 1/400 sec, f/5.6, ISO 400. Color and contrast adjustments in Adobe Lightroom. Cropped and uploaded via Instagram.

I posted this image in November while en route to my first winter exploration of the year in the Cascades. The actual image is from a previous November excursion to one of my favorite haunts in the entire state. Here’s the story.

By the time November is in full swing, I’m always hungry to explore my home mountains in winter conditions. This year, as is often the case, much of the Cascade Range was lacking coverage at low and middle elevations. The good news is that the Cascades are home to the largest glaciers in the Continental US, so a little bit of sweat will always earn access to snowy alpine environments.

Hiking from Cascade River Road

Perhaps the finest access point to these areas of perpetual cool is the Cascade River Road, east of Marblemount, WA. From this road one can access multitudes of iconic North Cascades locales including huge Alaskan style faces, astounding couloirs, and classic alpine climbs. A late start had us climbing well into the November night, but a bright moon helped illuminate the way to our temporary home.

Moon over Hidden Lakes Peak

While I love to sleep outside any time of year, there’s also something special about a cozy shelter in an unlikely place. One of the best crash pads around is the Hidden Lake Peak lookout. This is one of the few remaining lookouts that is open to public use on a first-come basis. Perched atop the craggy summit of Hidden Lake Peak, it’s a perfect temporary home and refuge for the cold weather explorer.

Hidden Lake Peaks Lookout

I made sure to set an alarm before sunrise and was outside with my camera as the first rays of sun ripped through the crisp morning sky and painted astounding colors on the peaks to the west, including Mt. Baker in the featured image, and it’s iconic neighbor to the east, Mount Shuksan.

Alpenglow on Mt. Shuksan

When the light show had come to an end and a sunny breakfast had been enjoyed in the cabin, it was time to strap on the skis and get out for some runs. This is right below the lookout and is about as fine a start to a day as you can hope to have.

Erik Svege on Hidden Lake Peak

With no roads or chairlifts for miles, each glorious powder run has to be earned with hours of climbing. I’ve found that it’s more than a fair trade.

Climbing out of Hidden Lake

I’ve been exploring the Cascades for my whole life, and there’s still so much to be done!

Forbidden and Sahale

Wishing you all a fantastic journey in the new year! To keep up with my ongoing adventures, follow @scottrinck on Instagram.

Story Behind the Top 5 Grams of 2014 – #2 Ruth Gorge Sunset

Behind the Gram 2014 – #2 Ruth Gorge Sunset

Ruth Gorge Sunset

Caption as Posted on Instagram: Today on the REI blog you can find the photos from my favorite trip of the year, and one of the most amazing places on the planet. Click the link in my profile to see the whole story.

Location: Stump Camp, Ruth Gorge, Alaska Range, Denali National Park, Alaska.

Technical Details: Captured with Nikon D610 with Nikon 27-70 2.8 Lens @ 24mm. Exposure 1/400 sec, f/5.6, ISO 640. Color and contrast adjustments in Adobe Lightroom. Cropped and uploaded via Instagram.

There are places on this planet that exist on a plane of visual drama that renders any written or spoken description completely impotent. The only wordsmith who has approached consistent success when writing of the sublimity of nature is the great John Muir. His words upon exploring the glacial landscapes of Alaska will serve well to describe the area captured in this image.

Fain would I describe the glories of these months in the ice-world, the beautiful and terrible network of crevasses, the clustering pinnacles, the thousand streams ringing and gurgling in azure channels cut in the living body of the glacier, the march of the clouds on the mountains, and the mysterious splendor of the auroras when the nights grow long…But this would require a volume,while here I have only space to add
Go to Alaska, go and see.

And so, despite my personal interest in how I created this image with the help of ski planes, base camps and two weeks of watching and photographing constantly changing conditions, my recommendation to you is that you follow the recommendation of John Muir. Go to Alaska, go and see.

But first, one photo tip: Don’t waste precious moments of glorious light setting up that tripod. Wind your ISO up to as high as it needs to be in order to shoot a shutter speed faster than 1/250, and blast away. The rules of photography are changing with technological advances, use them to your advantage.

P.S. If you want to know more about this area and my trip there, visit these stories:

http://blog.rei.com/climb/catching-turboprop-ski-plane-ruth-gorge-alaska/
http://thesummitregister.com/skiing-climbing-alaskas-remarkable-ruth-gorge/

To follow the ongoing adventures, follow @scottrinck on Instagram!

Return the Junk and Get The Goods! – 12 Gifts for Yourself

You’ve been through everything under the Christmas Tree and by Jove, you’re not impressed. Those ski socks will be useful – ski socks are always useful – but the rest is going to rot in the closet until you can manage to do some serious re-gifting next season. Fear not, there’s a better plan. Return that blender, those corduroy slacks and the new DVD player. Take the pile of money you get, and buy yourself something that you’ll really dig. Here are some things that I’ve really enjoyed this year. Give yourself the gift of a gift for yourself. You’ve been nice. You deserve it.

MSR Windboiler StoveMSR Windboiler Stove – If you move around a lot in the outdoors you know that feeling. You want a hot soup or a cup of coffee, you want it all to yourself, and you want it NOW. The MSR Windboiler Stove, released earlier this year is designed to cook your personal food and beverages fast and in any weather conditions. It’s glorious!

 

Suunto Ambit3 Peak Watch

Suunto Ambit3 Peak Watch – I’ve had a number of mountain watches in my day. Most of them have been pretty neat and have done a nice job of dealing with time and date as well as altitude, barometric pressure, compass direction, temperature, etc. The Suunto Ambit3 Peak watch takes things to a whole new level. It has an amazing internal GPS and accessory heart rate monitor, the data from which can travel bluetooth to the iPhone where it automatically creates awesome route maps, charts, graphs and even animations on an interface similar to Google Earth. And, if that weren’t enough, your watch will even let you know when you get a stoked comment on Facebook or get a text from the boss. This is a next level timepiece.

K2 Route Helmet

K2 Route Helmet – Helmets…stupid looking, heavy and uncomfortable, right? Not anymore. The K2 Route helmet is crazy light, super comfortable due to the BOA adjustment system and generous venting, and is the first ski helmet I’ve owned that doesn’t make me look like I’m itching to be shot out of a cannon. When weight and safety both matter, this helmet is the business.

 

Sony RX100 iii

Sony RX100 III – If you like taking pictures outside, you may be sick of two things: the crappy quality of your phone pictures or the ridiculous bulk and weight of your ‘real’ camera. Enter the Sony RX100 III, small enough for a coat or cargo pocket, tough as nails and delivering super legit image quality and speed. This is the most impressive point-and-shoot ever made. You can even send the photos to your phone via built in wifi so that your Instagram posts will go on sans delay.

Moment iPhone Lenses

Moment iPhone Lenses – “Screw that, I don’t need another camera, my phone takes great photos.” OK, but what about when you want to zoom in, or need a super wide angle? Adhere the lightweight metal mounting plate to the back of your phone and twist on the Moment Lens 60mm zoom or 18mm wide angle lenses. These things have incredible optical quality and will take your mobile photography to a whole new level.

 

Bellroy Elements Pocket Wallet

Bellroy Elements Pocket Wallet – For those who venture outdoors, the standard wallet is far from up to the task, leaving your money and receipts soggy and gritty after any decent adventure. Enter the Bellroy Elements Pocket Wallet, made of weather resistant leather and sporting a waterproof zipper, this wallet protects your goods and will have your accountant thanking you for finally submitting legible receipts.

 

Scarpa Crux Shoes

Scarpa Crux Shoes – If you made me choose one pair of shoes to wear every day for the rest of my life, the Scarpa Crux would be those shoes. Sturdy enough for rugged hiking and scrambling, stylish enough to wear out on the town, and featuring sticky rubber for technical approaches, these shoes do it all.

 

Black Diamond Whippet Pole

Black Diamond Whippet – Aside from avalanches, backcountry skiing has another inherent danger. An accidental slip in the wrong place can change a quick traverse into a fight for life. The Black Diamond Whippet is a telescoping ski pole with an ice axe head on top of the grip. This glorious hybrid gives you just enough power to arrest a fall, and is an amazing tool for climbing those steep lines when the snow is a little bit less than soft. If you’re stepping to ski mountaineering terrain, this is an essential tool.

Revant Sunglass Lenses

Revant Sunglass Lenses – Are you a sunglass destroyer? I am. I lose them too, but sometimes when I’m lucky I’ll hang on to a pair long enough to destroy the lenses beyond recognition. Thanks to Revant Lenses, you can order super reasonably priced high quality polarized replacement lenses for your favorite frames. Less waste, fresh glass. Win, win.

 

The Calling A Life Rocked by Mountains

The Calling, A Life Rocked by Mountains – I like to adventure, probably more than the next guy, but I keep a level of moderation in play that keeps me from truly outlandish missions. Alpine Climber, Barry Blanchard, who was at the top of the game in the 80’s and 90’s entertained no such moderation, putting up incredible first ascents in the Rockies and Himalayas. His recently completed memoir, The Calling, is a no holds barred account of an life filled with incredible adventure, devastating tragedy and astonishing focus. Another spectacular release from Patagonia Books.

Patagonia Houdini Jacket

Patagonia Houdini Jacket – Ask anyone who owns as Patagonia Houdini about their jacket. I guarantee you will hear this exact phrase: “I LOVE this jacket!!!!” It’s featherlight, packs down smaller than a hacky sack, and changes the game when you’re exercising heavily but still need a layer against wind or light precip. This is the only jacket I can wear when going uphill in the backcountry. It’s epic, it’s irreplaceable, it’s my religion.

Funny Shit In The Woods

Funny Shit in the Woods – But what about if you only have $15 and you just want to laugh your ass off? Brendan Leonard’s latest book, Funny Shit in the Woods is just what you need. This is an anthology from the world’s most amusing outdoor humor blog, Semi-Rad.com. If you’ve ever been stoked by the outdoors, broken by the outdoors, or otherwise touched by stepping beyond the urban threshold, these stories will hit close to home, hammer on your funny bone and leave you inspired to find a new adventure or to find a reason to laugh at the one you’re currently on. Especially if it’s all gone sideways.

Wishing everyone a joyful holiday season and a happy new year!

Story Behind the Top 5 Grams of 2014 – #3

Behind the Gram 2014 – #3 Chilcotin Campsite

Mountain Bike Camping Chilcotins

Caption: Is sleeping outside AND riding bikes all day the best of both worlds? I think it might be. Learn how today on the @rei blog.

Technical Details: Captured with Olympus OM-D E-M1 with Olympus 12-40 2.8 Lens @ 12mm (24mm equivalent). Exposure 1/500 sec, f/7.1, ISO 200. Color and contrast adjustments in Adobe Lightroom. Cropped and uploaded via Instagram.

Story: Any way you look at it, Lorna Lake in the Chilcotin Mountains of British Columbia is an inspiring sight. However, it takes on new dimensions of greatness when your first glimpse is through the windshield of a float plane that will soon be using the azure waters as a landing strip. If you happen to have mountain bikes and camping gear on board, you’re absolutely frothing at the mouth.

Float plane mountain biking in the Chilcotins has become somewhat legendary among the riders of the Northwest and beyond. An area with unrivaled access to high alpine single track riding, and over 120 miles of trails, this place is a dream come true for those who seek to use bikes as a mode of exploration instead of a toy on a manicured track.

I had wanted to visit the area for a number of years before finally managing to put together a trip, but an opportunity to produce a story for the REI blog spurred some last minute action and I was able to book the last flight of the season to Lorna Lake with riders Sam Larson and Shannon Skouras. The Tyax Adventures float plane dropped us off with everything we needed to survive in mountains and we had three days in which to explore and eventually cover the miles back to Tyax Lodge.

This photo was taken at our first night’s camp just down the lake from where we stepped off of the plane. For the whole story and more photos from the trip, check out these pieces on the REI blog:

Planes and Drivetrains – Mountain Biking the Canadian Wilderness
Fast and Light Packing for Mountain Bike Overnights
The Advantages of Riding 27.5 Wheels

To follow the ongoing adventures follow @scottrinck on Instagram!

Peter Lik Just Sold a Photo for 6.5 Million Dollars, But Is It Art?

Peter Lik Phantom

Peter Lik Phantom: PRNewswire

Surely by now you’ve heard that the most expensive photo in history has recently been sold by photographer Peter Lik to an undisclosed collector for a record-breaking price of 6.5 Million Dollars. Peter Lik is better known for his television personality and his decadent galleries in posh retail locations in cities like Aspen, Beverly Hills and Las Vegas than for his dominance in the realm of fine art. But whether you like it or not, his work has just created the new pinnacle in art photography sales, and it undoubtedly raises some interesting questions.

Peter Lik is certainly a personality, and has doubtless created an amazing brand, but is he an artist? Can photography even be considered art?

My favorite stance – actually two stances, but we’ll get to that – comes via the Guardian UK art section, and is penned by one Jonathan Jones. He begins:

Photography is not an art. It is a technology.

Mr. Jones goes into the shortcomings of photography as an artistic medium, and then unleashes an all out assault on the quality of this particular image. He closes as follows:

It is a cliche: easy on the eye, easy on the brain, hackneyed and third-hand. If this is the most valuable “fine art photograph” in history, God help fine art photography. For this hollow and overblown creation exposes the illusion that lures us all, when we’re having a good day with a good camera – the fantasy that taking a picture is the same thing as making a work of art.

Well, there we have it. Clearly photography is not art, most especially when the image under the microscope is this particular one by Mr. Lik. But, to be fair, we should really find a counter argument. Surely there’s another perspective to be had.

Yes, here it is. I’ve found the perfect argument for photography as art, in the very same Guardian UK, penned by the very same Jonathan Jones! In his article from 2013, not so very long ago, titled ‘Photography Is the Art of Our Time’, Mr. Jones espouses the recognition of photography as an art form as follows:

It has taken me a long time to see this, and you can laugh at me if you like. But here goes.
Photography is the serious art of our time. It also happens to be the most accessible and democratic way of making art that has ever been invented.

Moving or still, and however it is taken, whether by pinhole camera or phone, the photographic image is the successor to the great art of the past…Why? Because photography relishes human life. The greatness of art lies in human insight. What matters most is not the oil paints Rembrandt used, but his compassion. Photography is the quickest, most exact tool ever invented to record our lives and deaths – 17th-century painters would have loved it.

Whammy! Take that Jonathan Jones, you just got served by…um, Jonathan Jones. So, while Jon argues with himself in the pages of the newspaper, I’ll weigh in with my perspective.

I have, out of professional curiosity, wandered through a few of Peter Lik’s galleries. His work is striking, beautifully presented and lit, and is supported by a masterful sales team and a cubic ton of marketing mojo. It’s also heavily retouched and composited, and suffers from a distinct excess of digital special sauce. In short, upon close inspection, it doesn’t float my boat. But that really couldn’t be more beside the point. Here’s the point.

Peter Lik believes he is an artist and has successfully built a business on that foundation. The Smithsonian has cared enough for his images to give them generous wall space. Buyers of photography around the world have decided he is an artist and have opted to purchase and display his pieces when selecting work for the winter house in Aspen or the summer getaway in Key West. And this latest buyer? He has stated, with his checkbook, that Peter Lik is among the greatest photographic artists in history.

As far as I’m concerned, it only takes two people to decide that something deserves the title of ‘art’ – an artist who believes in the artistic value of his creation, and one single viewer who feels the same way. This work, like all works must be foremost subject to the Eye of the Beholder clause. Or, as Macklemore put it, “One man’s junk is another man’s come-up”. In this case, we have an artist and we have an appreciator, therefore the criteria is met and all I have to say is, congratulations Mr. Lik.

Either that, or the purchase was an inside job and this is all a well orchestrated and very successful publicity stunt…but you didn’t hear that from me.

Art or Not? What do you think?

5 Reasons I’m Focusing on ART This Year (and maybe you should be too).

Focusing on Art

As we come to the end of this amazing year, it’s time to reflect on the past and to make plans for the future. I feel fortunate to have had another year of success in photography and business, and am looking forward with a sense of optimism and freedom. As an independent artist I am fortunate to be able to pursue any avenue I can make sustainable. This year, I’m markedly moving my focus toward the creation and business of art, and I think there’s a good case for anyone in a creative field to start moving in this direction as well. Here’s why.

1. Personal Vision – There is really only one reason that I feel able to justify selling my work to private collectors or commercial institutions at a rate that affords a sustainable lifestyle. That reason? Personal Vision. If I can’t bring something unique and captivating to the table throughout my career, I’m just a commodity, easily replaced by a cheaper version. But if I’m in a constant process of refining a truly personal view of the world, then I’m the only one who can create the work that I create. Refined art from the soul is irreplaceable and has immense value.

2. Creative Freedom – If Personal Vision is the end, Creative Freedom is the means. As I look back on my body of work after three years as an independent artist, much of the work that speaks to me most strongly was created in the days before I had steady commercial work. It was created when I was on missions of exploration, self funded and self driven. I’ve had the good fortune to have collaborated with some fantastic, creative people at some great companies in the recent years, but one approaches the creative process differently when there is a defined deliverable and there’s cash on the table. My current mode is one of hunger to get back to a state of pure exploration, literally and artistically. From this wellspring comes my energy, my vision and my sustenance.

3. Safety – The wilderness can be a harsh and unforgiving place. Survival requires preparation, luck and a great deal of clarity. There are a lot of people who have merged the worlds of commercialism and adventure. There are big dollars attached to many a life-or-death pursuit in the outdoors. Projects built on this foundation are in danger of lacking that critical element of clarity that makes long term survival possible. I intend to continue to explore the rugged and remote places of the world, but my aim is to keep my plans liquid, my goals artistic and to place  the safety of myself and my partners at the pinnacle. When creating art, the experience, whatever that may be, is the destination. When working on assignments, ‘success’ is the destination. I seek to create art.

4. Longevity – Hardcore adventuring in the mountains with professional camera gear is a young person’s game. I train hard to keep up with the athletes I shoot, while carrying more gear and covering the same technical terrain. For the time being, this is a viable pursuit for me, but there will come a time when I can no longer hang with the fast kids. It’s just life. If my entire identity as a photographer is based on this foundation, then my career is a ticking time bomb. On the other hand, if my foundation is one of unique artistic vision, I can apply the vision to infinite subjects and it can evolve with me as my interests and skills change.

5. Permanence – If you’re in any way involved in the creation of content these days, whether it’s photography, writing or making cat videos, you have probably experienced disappointment around the fact that a piece of work that cost you blood, sweat and tears to create is just an infinitesimal blip on the screen. It will invariably be replaced almost immediately by the next photo, story or cat video with some mass appeal. This is neither the fault of the content consumer, nor the next creator who bumps your content out of the spotlight. It’s just the nature of a world wherein we have access to an unending stream of amazing work. But this impermanence has limits. Printed art beautifully displayed tends to stay put. Incredible photography books are not frequently replaced. Museums do not rotate their exhibits at the whim of an algorithm. Work that is elevated above the concept of ‘content’ and respected as art has a chance of leaving a lasting impression. I seek to chisel my way into this pantheon as I continue to refine my craft.

This is my framework for creating a lasting legacy. I’m interested to hear what you’re doing in your craft to play the long game and to stay engaged and relevant throughout your career. Holler in the comments, I can’t wait to hear your game plans.

Story Behind the Top 5 Grams of 2014 – #4

Behind the Gram 2014 – #4 Forbidden Peak Dusk, AKA, How I (Almost) Ruined Our Climb

Forbidden Peak Sunset

Caption: The soft hues of winter over Forbidden Peak on Saturday night.

Technical Details: Captured with the iPhone 6. Instagram LoFi Filter.

Story: Soon after pulling my bare hand out of my glove to snap a quick shot of the evening light on Forbidden Peak with my iPhone, during which it was instantly stung by the biting east wind and single digit temperatures, we had the tent erected and were inside ready to hunker down for an extremely cold night by Washington standards. All we had left to do was fire up the stove, melt some snow for water and cook up the dehydrated dinners. Then it was off to sleep for an early morning run up Eldorado Peak.

I must have dug through my backpack at least four times before finally being convinced that I had indeed left the stove in the car, some 5,000 feet of rugged climbers’ trail below. The stove that was going to cook our dinner, provide a warming beverage and, most importantly provide our water for the next day’s long mission, was very much out of reach.

It took me a second to come up with the words to share with my climbing partner, Matt Henry, who had carried the rope because I had the stove, and who was relying on the same Whisper Light for his comfort and joy. In the end I took the most direct path. “I left the stove in the car.”

And so began the process of creating water by any means necessary, the most efficient of which is to sleep with bottles of snow in your sleeping bag until it melts, at which point you add more snow, and repeat until the bottle contains more water than snow.

We’ve been having some odd weather here in Washington this year. Today, as I write this, it’s 15 degrees warmer than normal. On the particular day that I took this photo, it was about 25 degrees below normal, or, if I did the math right, about -5 degrees at the 7000’ elevation at which we were camped. Fine by arctic standards, but in the temperate Pacific Northwest, this is somewhat unusual, and serves as a shock to the system. All of which makes sleeping with bottles of slush in your 15 degree sleeping bag sound less than ideal, but such was our plight.

Two things of note happened in consequence. First, we tested whether or not a dehydrated dinner (Mountain House in this case), really needs to be rehydrated. We kept an open mind, but in the end must strongly recommend adding water, as per the directions…If you have that luxury.

Second, for the first time in my life, I slept in every single stitch of clothing I was carrying. My torso was covered with the following:

Short Sleeve Capeline Shirt
Long Sleeve Shirt
Thick Insulated Shirt
Nano Puff Jacket
Wind Breaker
Shell Jacket
Expedition Weight Down Jacket

The bottles of slush were the little spoon, and my camera gear (which was misbehaving due to the low temperatures) was the big spoon in the snuggle party that happened with my gear in my sleeping bag. A couple of damp ski boot liners down in the bottom of the bag rounded out the party.

In the morning we were able to spare some ice water for cold oatmeal and managed to summit Eldorado via the non-technical but uber-classic east ridge. The cup of tea I brewed up in the parking lot 10 hours later in the dark of evening was the best I ever had. Lesson learned. Double check the stove.

To follow the ongoing adventures follow @scottrinck on Instagram!

Story Behind the Top 5 Grams of 2014 – #5

Behind the Gram 2014 – #5 Bryce Phillips in Snoqualmie Pass Backcountry

Bryce Phillips on Guye Peak

Much of my work is consumed these days on Instagram (I’m @scottrinck), and it’s there that I find the most interaction in the online world. I also learn a lot about what images resonate with people and why. In looking at this info, I decided that it would be fun to take this time at the end of the year and share my 5 most popular Instagram posts of 2014 and give the story of how the image was created. This is the first of 5 posts. I hope you dig it.

Original Caption: Yesterday’s photo was half of the equation. Here’s the other half. Mountains are best experienced on foot. Runs earned with sweat trump ones earned with money every time. Park the sleds, leave the heli in the barn, let the chairlifts rust. Climb+Ski=perfection. Bryce Phillips in the Snoqualmie backcountry.

Technical Details: Captured with Olympus OM-D E-M1 with Olympus 9-18 4.0-5.6 Lens @ 9mm (18mm equivalent). Exposure 1/1000 sec, f/10, ISO 200. Color and contrast adjustments in Adobe Lightroom. Cropped and uploaded via Instagram.

Story: Bryce Phillips is one of the more interesting people you’ll find to take some turns with. He and I met at the beginning of the century when we were both aspiring pro skiers sponsored by K2. Bryce has since turned this youthful obsession into an incredible and complex vision, merging outdoor sports, retail, art, real estate, philanthropy, culture and design. His handiest title is CEO of evo, an outdoor sports retailer with a major presence online and stores in Seattle and Portland, but his worldview is far broader than the title indicates. If it’s future thinking and it’s happening in the northwest, odds are, Bryce is in on it. To get the whole debrief on the man, the myth, the legend, pick up the October issue of Powder Magazine and check out the big ol’ Bryce Phillips feature article, including photos by yours truly. All that aside, he’s still an absolute crusher on the skis, and we like to get out in the hills, snap some photos and rip lines like we did in the good ol’ days.

Bryce and I were recently back from a trip to Japan, and were riding a wave of stoke about skiing, so when a classic NW storm deposited a foot of stable, low elevation snow, we decided to run up I-90 to Snoqualmie Pass to make a couple quick morning laps in the nearby backcountry.

As we reached the summit of our peak, an amazing mixture of sun and clouds rendered incredible depth in the textures of the new snow on the almost vertical east face of the peak. Bryce was kind enough to hustle up the final pitch of the climb in order for me to catch the shot. If the day had ended right there, I would have been pleased, but that was just the start. We were still atop one of the best steep skiing destinations around, and the snow was PERFECT.

Bryce Phillips East Couloir

Bryce opted for the uber-classic east couloir, while Brian Fletcher and I clawed our way into one of my favorite lines of that year, a face of incredible complexity and joy, the shot of which landed on the Powder Magazine Intro page. Here’s the video of the rest of the descent (hit refresh if the video doesn’t load).

Beyond pleased with our morning thus far, we put the skins back on the skins and headed up for another lap…and then another. These are the days when it all comes together.

To follow the ongoing adventures follow @scottrinck on Instagram!

Inspired by Jim Harris AKA Perpetual Weekend.

Inspired by Jim Harris
I’m inspired by Jim Harris. Jim is a photographer and adventurer based out of Salt Lake City, Utah. His company goes by the name ‘Perpetual Weekend’, and his work is fantastic. I already knew all of the above, and while I have followed and enjoyed Jim’s work, that’s not what has been the source of inspiration.

The true inspiration I’ve found from Jim comes from an inauspicious place. Earlier this month, Jim was badly injured. This from the webpage setup to raise funds for his evacuation from the mountains: ‘Jim Harris suffered spinal and cranial trauma from an accident while preparing for a Trans-Patagonia expedition in Punta Arenas, Chile.’

So far, so not good. That is until you started to see the outpouring of support for Jim. From all corners of the globe, people wrote, called, tweeted, visited and otherwise raised their voices and opened their coffers in support of Jim in this crucial time. Apparently Jim not only knows everyone on earth, he’s also loved by every single person with whom he’s interacted. It seems that his karmic account balance has been growing for quite some time, and now that he’s had to make a withdrawal, there’s more than enough love to go around.

Jim is back in the states now, and the prognosis is good, but he’s still involved in some major surgeries and the family is still seeking help with the costs. You can learn more and donate via this link: http://www.youcaring.com/medical-fundraiser/let-s-bring-jim-home/269288

I haven’t yet had the pleasure of meeting Jim. Perhaps I never will. But I think it’s far more likely that we’ll cross paths at some point, and if past performances are any indication of future success, we’ll have a grand time and will remain good friends regardless of any distances between us. But until the time that we finally do cross paths, I’ll do my best to be like Jim, stacking karma points in the game of life by spreading friendship and love across the globe. That is, I gather, how Jim rolls.

Heal soon, we’re all pulling for you Jim.

Photoshop is a Great Place to Play

After Photoshop

There are shots that are created as God intended. Where the conditions, the subject, the technical elements and the composition all line up to create perfection at the moment of capture. Anyone who is an accomplished photographer has experienced this synergetic beauty, and strives to recreate the magic as often as possible.

I’m no exception to this aspiration. I like to think that I’m just as likely as the next pro to make it happen on a regular basis. On the other hand, there are plenty of times when most of the elements line up, but there’s something missing. Maybe it’s a blown exposure, perhaps the subject is making a goofy face when they’re supposed to be stoic, or perhaps, as in this case, the composition is safe but far from captivating.

When I get a shot that’s almost super but not quite, I’ve found a happy solution; throw out the rules and play. Tweak the exposure, add some noise, go grayscale, blow some highlights, block some shadows, rotate, crop and otherwise hammer on the composition.

There are two things that can happen after a bit of playing. One, I’ll look at a bunch of convoluted versions of an average image and still declare that it’s less than stellar and move on to the next image. Or, two, I’ll fall in love with a couple of elements in the image and find a way to highlight these elements while removing distractions.

Before Photoshop

Before Photoshop

In this case, I knew that there was good movement in the foot drag and that the light was fantastic, but I wasn’t in love with the composition, and didn’t find myself overly attached to the colors.

When I cropped into a tight horizontal, so many of the distracting elements were eliminated that the eye now automatically goes to the dragging foot and the dynamic rock and dust explosion. A crop this significant definitely begins to generate potential image quality issues as it takes the 16MP of the Nikon D4s and reduces it to a 6MP file. To combat this, I threw the idea of a technically perfect image out the window and embraced grit. I also generated a black and white conversion that creates a filmic look, therein reducing the expectation of digital perfection. I even added some grain to prove that I’m not messing around. I wanted this image to be dirty.

Whether or not you dig the end result, the primary point stands. You only get a millisecond to capture an image, but you’ve got all of the time in the world to experiment with the results. Why not have some fun and see if you can create something better than before. The creative process for imagery doesn’t end until someone hits print or publish. It’s good to keep playing.

How do you feel about using Photoshop as a creative tool?