Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Ista-Ode to Landscapes and Seascapes

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

I love action, adventure, lifestyle and portrait photography, but sometimes the landscape and the elements tell all the story you need to know. So this week I dove into the archive of my Instagram landscape pics and put together this little collection to check out.

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A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment someone contemplates it, bearing within them the image of a cathedral. - Antoine de Saint-Exupery El Capitan and the Cathedral Group. Yosemite, California. @thephotosociety @natgeo


jimmychin_insta_glaciers
This is my reason to #ActOnClimate. Glaciers world wide are receding at an ever alarming rate. The ramifications are far beyond the loss of their beauty. @whitehouse announced some exciting news today about taking action on climate change. Stay tuned. @protectourwinters


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Arabian Sea. Shot on assignment for @natgeo. #waterstudy @thephotosociety


jimmychin_insta_gulfofoman_sunset
Sunset over the Gulf of Oman. Shot on assignment for @natgeo. #dreamscapes @thephotosociety


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Jackson summertime goodness…


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On the move and missing the Tetons. On to another adventure…. @thephotosociety


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I know….another beach, another sunset….but sometimes it’s just #tooepicnottopost. @dontfightthefun @saytisntsoph - It ain’t Bali but it’s #goingoff #eastcoaststyle! #sailorsdelight #ny


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“Whether or not one can live with one’s passion, and accept its law, which is to burn the heart it simultaneously exalts, that is the question.” - Albert Camus A year ago today, the answer was yes. East Face of the Shark’s Fin. Thanks boys…@conradclimber @renan_ozturk #merufilm


jimmychin_insta_southhowsertower
Here’s a little something for your imagination….Mountains never cease to amaze me. South Howser Tower, British Columbia. #mistymountainhop #mountainarchitecture #happyplace @thephotosociety @thenorthface @gopro


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Indo perfection. Christian Sea photo from our evening session a few days ago. Thank you @dontfightthefun and @sayitaintsoph for sharing….


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The Torres. Beautiful and menacing. The two aspects to climbing in #Patagonia. Hoping all my friends down south are sending. #mountainportrait @mikeylikesrocks @thephotosociety @thenorthface #neverstopexploring


Dean Potter: The Modern Day Adventure Samurai

Monday, May 12th, 2014


Photo by Renan Ozturk

Photo by Renan Ozturk

Dean Potter has always pushed the edge. Whether that meant free soloing, slack-lining or BASE jumping—the 3 Arts, as Dean calls them—he’s had more than a few ground-breaking moments in his career, and some seriously close calls.

Dean is easily misunderstood if you don’t know him. Some of his peers even refer to him as the “Dark Wizard,” and he’s certainly endured a few controversies in his time. But, I’ve worked with him on a lot of pretty insane shoots over the last 15 years and I’ve always appreciated his strong opinions, unique outlook on life and his passion to get after whatever he sets his mind to. He’s always looking to change the game to the next level.

In an effort to get into his head and understand where his inspiration comes from, I caught up with him recently and got a download on some of his legendary accomplishments, his motivations, his take on life and the pursuit of happiness. Incredible. You can think what you want, but the guy gets it done….

1. You enjoy a variety of pretty intense activities: BASE-jumping, slacklining, free-soloing. What’s the common thread here, besides the adrenaline piece?

The common thread in my 3-Arts is pushing into fear, exhaustion, beauty and the unknown. I willingly expose myself to death-consequence situations in order to predictably enter heightened awareness. In times when I’m going to die if I mess up, my senses peak in order to survive, and I see, hear, feel, intuit in vast detail, beyond my normal, day-to-day consciousness. This pursuit of heightened awareness is why I put myself in harm’s way.

In addition, while doing my arts, I empty myself and function within a meditative state where I focus on nothing but my breathing. This manifests emptiness. This void needs to be filled, and somehow it draws in and makes me recognize the roots of my most meaningful ponderings and often leads to a feeling of connectivity with everything.

2. Much of what you do has been documented in film and photography. What’s it like to do what you do, and also have to perform to some extent?

I used to be uncomfortable with performing my Arts for the camera, and I still far prefer being alone in nature, undisturbed. I have had some very meaningful and fun times on film projects, though. What I’ve found is that filming and my pursuits have fundamentals in common. The primary connection is beauty. Being in a stunning location at just the right moment with the rising or setting sun or moon also brings me heightened awareness. I become overwhelmed with where I’m at, and I lose all else. Good filmmakers are often searching for this exact same thing, so we groove out as we are infused with the light.

I’ve also realized that when working with the right film crew at the right moment, everybody on the team becomes elevated through the group energy. Additionally, we all subtly start communicating on a different level than normal. While free-soloing for the camera, I’ve often found myself reading the minds of the cameramen and understanding that they are reading my body language and thoughts as well. The exploration of these other senses within all of us is one of my primary focuses in life. I feel a connection with the mountains I’m playing with. It doesn’t happen every time, but in the rare moment that I’m with friends filming and making art in the mountains, even more variables line up and we are all lifted higher, even the eventual viewers.

3. What are you reading right now?

I am reading The Life-Giving Sword, by Yagyu Munenori. Translated by: William Scott Wilson.

4. Name your proudest accomplishment as an adventurer.

I still look back to my time climbing solo in Argentina in 2002 as my proudest adventure. During a three-week trip, I speed soloed Cerro Torre and free-soloed Fitz Roy two times, the second of which was a new, 7,000-foot free-solo route that I named “Californian Roulette.”

While descending off of Californian Roulette, I was struck by rock fall and barely crawled out of the mountains. During this time on my hands and knees, I realized there had to be a better way to descend safely. These thoughts led to my introduction to BASE-jumping, and I’ve never looked back.

5. What is your greatest fear in life?

My greatest fears in life are hurting the people around me, and not being true to my calling. The combination of these two aspects of being seems to offer challenges. We should think carefully about this.

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6. You and I both played parts in the book The Rise of Superman, which gets into the flow state. What part does fear play in flow, and how do you manage fear when facing a new challenge?

It’s great what Steven Kotler is doing with The Rise of Superman. He is defining emotions and struggles I’ve had for my entire life but have never really been able to articulate within myself and to the masses. In addition, Steven has shown me that I am not alone.

I practice the art of remaining calm. When fear creeps into me, I feel a surge of energy and if I can keep relaxing through this discomfort, a whole new world opens up (flow), and I see, hear, feel, intuit the world more clearly.

7. Do you have a favorite quote or motto?

Fly Free.

8. I imagine that your schedule keeps you pretty active, but how do you stay fit physically during those longer stretches of down time?

I don’t really stay physically fit in the short term during the longer stretches of down time, though I’m never totally stagnant. I always go on long walks with my dog, Whisper, and my girlfriend, Jen, and we spend much of our time outdoors. This time in nature – breathing fresh air and drinking pure water and relaxing my nervous system – seems far more important than continuously stressing myself when I’m not inspired. Sure, I could probably climb harder if I trained consistently. Lack of regimentation is a big weakness of mine.

Strength is essential for most of the things I do, and I’m thankful that I’m blessed with good genetics. Listening to the bigger picture of long-term health, motivation and happiness seems to be my higher calling.

I just turned 42 and have remained healthy and injury free for my entire life, so far. Sure I’ve had some sprained ankles and scrapes and bruises but I’ve never been debilitated. I think this is because I take long breaks away from each of my three Arts. For example, when my fingers are hurting from climbing, I walk lines or fly and visa versa. I try to enjoy these long breaks. My Arts are far more mental and emotional than physical. After a long spell of taking it easy, I come back with enormous fire and any physicality eventually falls into place with enough psych!

9. You’ve continued to push the limits of what most would think is humanly possible. What’s next for you?

This past summer in the Alps really changed me.

Close to 30 wingsuit BASE-jumpers died world wide in 2013. I still have never been on the scene for a fatal accident during my 28 years pursuing some of the most dangerous endeavors man can undertake.

Last summer, I started realizing that there is a flaw in the wingsuiting system. I started to become conscious of some basic safety rules that I’ve followed all my life that used to live purely in my subconscious mind. I realized that I haven’t just been getting lucky; there is methodology that has been helping to keep me safe.

I flew more than 200 wingsuit BASE-flights during my stay in Switzerland. One is the biggest wingsuit BASE-flight worldwide that only my partner Graham Hunt and I got to fly together. Many more were with Whisper dog. During all of these flights, I never felt on the edge of death. Many times, I walked or down-climbed out of the mountains and decided not to fly that day.

When I got home to Yosemite, I poured all of my energy into starting to redesign the wingsuiting system. All of my other flying buddies kept pushing it harder and harder. Though I did climb, walk lines and fly regularly throughout the autumn and winter, I definitely reduced my physical pursuits and enhanced my mental outreach with innovations. I tried to caution my friends about the unnecessary risks they were taking and they all looked at me weird and perhaps thought I was losing my grip. This past month, four friends died wingsuit flying, one of whom was my very good friend and wingman, Sean Leary.

I feel fortunate that I listened to my gut and rational thoughts and “looked before I leaped.” I am more psyched for wingsuit flying than ever before. I feel passionate about advancing human performance, technological advancements in gear, safety and predictability. I am also locked onto safely and repeatedly flying and landing the human form.

10. Who is your greatest inspiration and why?

mm7955_100702_01081I wouldn’t say that I have one greatest inspiration but I do read and learn a lot from the teachings of Miyamoto Musashi. Musashi was the legendary samurai known throughout the world as a master swordsman, spiritual seeker, artist and author of the classic book on strategy, the Book of Five Rings. For Musashi, the way of the martial arts was about mastery of the mind rather than simply technical prowess.

11. What do you think is the most important characteristic in a person?

Being truthful and honorable combined are the most important characteristics in people I like to spend time with.

12. What’s your biggest weakness?

My biggest weakness is my tendency to go very high and then very low. More and more I’m learning to become balanced and more consistent.

Follow Dean across these channels to keep up with his adventures:

Website
Facebook
Instagram
Twitter

Insta-Pow: A Collection of My Favorite Ski Pics of the Season

Monday, April 28th, 2014

Another epic ski season has come and gone. I had a ton of travel and work this winter but still got out for a stack of beautiful days in the hills. It never gets old to be in the mountains with friends. Super grateful for everyday, every season.

Here are a couple of my favorite winter pics posted to Instagram this winter. To those who are still milking every last turn out of Spring, stay safe and enjoy!

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Is it time yet? Contrail by @jxnhende. @dynafitna #jhdreaming #inyourface #yespleasemayihaveanother #neverstopexploring @thenorthface @gopro


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The mountains are calling….. #chamonix @kitdski #winteriscoming #nofallzone @thenorthface #neverstopexploring


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Photo by Chris Figenshau
So stoked to get some soul food this week. Thanks for the pic @jxnfigs! - If you don’t recognize the name, you’ve probably seen his work in The North Face ads or in and Teton Gravity Research films. When the shooting gets tough, the tough call Figs. #stillfeelslikewinter #happyhunting @jimmyhartman


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Home sweet home. That was nice while it lasted. Sunset session w mi compa @jimmyhartman. @jacksonhole


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Kit DesLauriers making it look casual on the Grand Teton. The first run I ever skied w @kitdski was Central Coulior on Cody Peak, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. My second run w her was the Ford Coulior on the Grand Teton (pictured here). Our third day skiing together was from the top of Everest. We had a pretty good run there for a bit….


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The one and only Chris Figenshau going to his happy place. #tetons #homesweethome #iphoneglory — with chris figenshau.


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Higher elevations. @hilareeoneil and @lucasdebari pushing through the last 100m to the summit of Denali at over 20,000ft. An hour later, Hilaree on skis and Lucas on a snowboard, were both charging perfect pow off the top along w Sage Cattabriga-Alosa, Ingrid Backstrom, Conrad Anker, @acpictures #jimzellers. It was quite the shred posse. #thedenaliexperiment The North Face #neverstopexploring


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Wow….that was fun. Somewhere in there is @shroderbaker. #pitted Thanks Jackson Hole Mountain Resort! Always nice to be home. @jxnfigs @jimmyhartman


How to Start Your Photography Business [for Under $3,000]

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

JimmyChin_GearMost businesses require some investment at the outset. A photography business is no different. And while damn nice DSLRs are relatively affordable, adding lenses, accessories and memory can quickly drive that bill north of what you might be able to spend.

But a basic pro-level photography kit doesn’t have to be cost-prohibitive. I often get asked often what gear I would suggest to an aspiring photographer, and what follows are my suggestions.

First, let’s start with the stuff that won’t cost a cent.

The Free Stuff

Passion and motivation are free. These are the first things you’re going to need. I always tell folks it’s good to start out shooting something you’re passionate about. If you have an insiders perspective and deeper understanding of a topic or subject, you’ll be able to share something out of the ordinary. And if your passionate about something, the motivation will be there to get out early or to stay late for the good light, to carry a camera all the time, to pursue subjects, set up shoots, etc. I started with a DSLR and zoom lens, but more importantly I was passionate about climbing, skiing and being in the mountains. I had the idea of sharing my friends’ experiences - specifically, I wanted to share stories of expeditions in remote places. You’ll need passion for a topic, to travel, to find your perspective on the world and to share it. These things are free, but without them, you’ll be short on creative and motivational capital.

Ideas are also free. These days you can build a brand with your iPhone shooting photos for your Instagram account. It’s a pretty cool platform to get your work out or just to have fun with. It can certainly do both. San Fransisco art director Michael O’Neal basically launched his career using Instagram. Eventually his work was seen by Instagram and they started promoting him as a “suggested user.” Now he has over half a million followers and he routinely gets job offers because of content he posts to the social platform. (Check out O’Neal’s work here.) As cameras go, the iPhone is relatively cheap. The days of working your way into a magazine as the only way to share your work are over. Instagram and other social media outlets give you a platforms to get your work seen—potentially by a TON of people.

Sometimes motivation and passion aren’t enough. You’re going to need a decent Work Ethic, as in, get ready to work your ass off. Motivation may get you off the ground, and talent can get you noticed, but it’s your work ethic that will take you to the next level. Climbing is fun. Skiing is fun. Hiking is fun. But adding photography into all those activities—great photography—is hard work. It can be frustrating. It’s constantly challenging and there is a ton of talent out there who want the same thing you do. You can’t just rely on luck, good timing and talent to build a career or business.

Here’s some more free advice on adventure photography to consider before you open your wallet.

And now onto the shopping cart.

The Gear

As I said, I started with a single body and a zoom lens. The combinations available now are almost endless. I’ll be sticking to the camera body, lens and immediate accessories. I haven’t included a computer/laptop—which you’ll obviously need—as most people are already running with a machine that will suffice for those early days.

A nice DSLR body will set you back about $1,000-$2,000, and some of those packages will include a decent lens. But for the sake of keeping things under $2,500, let’s start you off with the Canon 7D, mainly for its versatility. You’ll get meaty stills with this body and a lens (below), but it can also serve up some decent video, too.

Camera Body: $1,299

A little while back I wrote a post about my all-time favorite lenses. Admittedly, a few of those just won’t fit into our budget. One will, though, and that’s the Canon 24-105mm f/4 L IS. It’s a very capable mid-range zoom that’s great for run & gun style shooting. Novices especially will benefit from a decent autofocus and solid image stabilization.

conradclimberLens: $1,149

I’d never weigh you down unnecessarily, but I couldn’t send you out into the field without a solid support system. Manfrotto has being consistent in their manufacturing of reliable, durable tripods and support for photographers and videographers. You can spend a lot of money on a tripod—but for now you’re better off spending a little extra on the lens and saving a bit on support. The Manfrotto 293 4-Section Carbon Fiber Tripod should be more than up to the task.

Support: $284.99

Lastly, you’ll need some memory cards to store your photos while on location. I’m recommending a handful of 32 GB SDHC cards from SanDisk. These are super fast (95MB read speed) and big enough that you shouldn’t run out of space during a day of shooting.

Memory: $149.85 (3 @ $49.95)

Grand Total: $2,882.84

Option #2

Fitting a nice lens to a DSLR is just one way to go about it. When I like to stay fast, light and connected I always throw my Olympus OM-D in the bag. One of many in the burgeoning mirrorless camera category, the OM-D is about a third the size of a DSLR but takes heavy-weight shots. It’s also weather-sealed and super compact (by comparison). An OM-D body/lens package will cost you about $1300.

Another great mirrorless camera to consider is the recently-released Sony Alpha a7. Like the OM-D, the a7 is a deal lighter and more compact than a DSLR, so it’s great for street photographer-type shoots, hikes and the like. A package including a FE 28-70mm lens sets you back $1999, which is still cheaper than the DSLR body/lens combo listed above. This gives you a little extra to spend on nicer support, accessories, etc.

So there you go. All you need to jump-start your photography business for under $3K. With either option you’ll still have some money left over to get some filters, a lens cleaning kit (which I highly recommend) or an extra battery.

But don’t get too hung up on gear. All that free stuff in the first section is what matters most.

Climbing, Filtered - A Collection of My Favorite Instagram Climbing Photos

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

I’m extremely grateful to have a job that takes me to all corners of the Earth and keeps me in the company of amazing athletes/friends. I love what I do and the people I do it with. But one of the best parts of this job is inspiring other people to get out there and explore this planet and to get out into the  mountains. I’ve been snapping climbing photos — and popping them on Instagram — for some time now, enough to feel pretty good about some of what’s been captured.

A ton of the credit goes to the talent in the frame, of which there’s no end: Conrad Anker, Alex Honnold, Mark Synnott, Hazel Findlay and a bunch of other top climbers have slowed down long enough for me to catch them in action. This little collection is my salute to their achievements, for inspiring me to always get after it in climbing and life. Hoping it rubs off a bit on some of you….

In no particular order, here are some of my favorite Instagram climbing shots:

jimmychin_condaranker_5faveclimbing

Here’s Conrad Anker at 20,000 feet ascending a fixed rope on overhanging terrain. Every time I think my respect for Conrad has maxed, he goes through the ceiling again. Meru, Garwhal Himalaya, India.


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The recent issue of National Geographic featured a story I shot on exploratory climbing and deep water soloing on the Musandam Peninsula. Here I got Hazel Findlay going for a swim. Hard to find anyone with her same level of grit and focus. Oman.


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No collection of climbing photos would be complete without one of Alex. Alex is an enigma. Despite being happiest living the “dirtbag” life in a van, he still somehow manages to feature in countless short films, adventure articles and climbing photo galleries throughout the year. Here he is soloing Separate Reality, Yosemite.


jimmychin_timkemple_tetons_5faveclimbing

This one is actually a shot of me scrambling around on Mount Owen. Renan Ozturk snapped this one on the GoPro Hero3 when we were playing around in the Tetons during a The North Face shoot.


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I love this shot of Japanese climber Yuri Hirayama “thinking lightly” of himself in Geyikbayiri, Turkey.


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Another one of Conrad Anker, this time in the Bugaboos shooting part of the Northface Unearthed series. This was a rest day, (a Conrad type of rest day) which usually still meant climbing something. This pic is of Conrad on Pigeon Peak above Base Camp “resting”.


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This overhanging big wall route on Mount Kinabalu in Borneo was one of the most outrageously positioned walls I’ve ever been on. That’s Mark Synnott rappelling back to our hanging portaledge camp, basically over the South China Sea.


My 6 All-Time Favorite Lenses

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

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I’m not one to play favorites very often, but there are a few lenses that I reach for far more often than most. I’ve assembled this short list of my six personal favorites, with a few notes reserved for application. I think most photographers will agree there aren’t many “magic bullet” lenses that will kill across any and every situation, so I’ll try to be as specific as I can.

As a side note, I suppose it’s just coincidence that five of the six lenses are Canon. I’m not sponsored by Canon, nor do I receive any compensation for using their lenses, or including them in this post. They simply happen to be the lenses that I’ve experimented with and found that I quite liked.

If you have some favorites of your own, by all means sound off in the comment section below.

In no particular order, my six favorite lenses are:

canon-ef-24-70mm-f_28-ii-usmCanon EF 24-70mm f/2.8 II USM

Yes, the older version had its issues, but the new edition (released in early 2012) is great. It’s a workhorse for me, and though it was designed with the Canon full-frame bodies it’s not limited to those.

Anyone who is upgrading from version I will notice a few things, particularly less weight, sharper optics and a bit more plastic.

Cost: $2,199.00

Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L USM

This is always in my arsenal for shooting climbing, skiing or snowboarding. (That’s the 70-200mm I’m holding in the top photo.) As much as adventure photographers try to get close to the action, sometimes situations/geography forces us to keep our distance.

It costs half as much as the IS II because you’re dropping Image Stabilization and a little bit on the AF side, but you don’t need IS when shooting action stuff like skiing or snowboarding or if you’ve packed a tripod.

Cost: $1,449.00

canon-24-105mm-f_4-l-isCanon 24-105mm f/4 L IS

I use this lens for film paired with the DSLR. It’s a mid-range zoom with decent optical performance. If you’re getting into run & gun style shooting, I highly recommend this lens.

This lens is probably the most useful for its great image stabilization and, if you’re the autofocus type, really fast and accurate autofocus. Runs a little on the heavy side.

Cost: $1,149.00

Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM

The 50mm 1.2 is a beautiful lens for portraits and for film. It shoots great in low light and you get incredible bokeh and control over depth of field. Very fast autofocus, but you get the manual override even when in auto by simply grabbing the ring.

Cost: $1,619.00

canon-35mm-14Canon EF 35mm f/1.4 USM

Like the 50mm 1.2, the 35mm 1.4 is also a beautiful lens with incredible bokeh. I find I end up using this a ton on lifestyle commercial shoots. It’s especially great when shooting backlit images.

The 35mm 1.4 produces tack-sharp and beautiful images. In fact, I just did a Roxy shoot and used this lens for more than half of the shoot.

Cost: $1,479.00

Zeiss 15mm Prime

Great lens for those moments when you need something a bit wider. I don’t usually like the look a very wide lenses, but sometimes you need it and this one shoots beautiful imagery and has great rectilinear correction. It is a manual focus, so take that into consideration. It’s also big and pricey, so it might be a better rent option (around $200 for a 3-day rental, depending on where you go.)

Cost: $5,700.00

So that’s what I roll with. I’m always excited to try out new lenses, but for the moment these are my go-to six. What are you shooting with?

Best of 2013 - My Instagram

Monday, December 30th, 2013

To celebrate the year that was, here are some of my favorite pics from 2013 Instagram feed.

Thanks for reading in 2013.

Alex Honnold doing what he calls “scrambling” or “technical hiking” (or what most of us call free soloing) during our Musandam expedition in Oman. Editing is always a tough process. This is another one that didn’t make the cut.

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Kasha Rigby….always in the right place at the right time.

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Arch of Bishekele, Ennedi Desert, Chad. Always nice to have a solid tent in viper and cobra infested territory.

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My next big adventure….Welcoming Marina Yen Yen Vasarhelyi Chin to the world. Can’t wait to ski climb surf and play with her! Probably a few more diaper changes before then….

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The boys at Sherpas Cinema putting on the final touches to Into the Mind. I was proud and honored to collaborate with them on such an amazing project. Corked sunset grab by Tom Wallisch.

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Alex doing what he does best on Separate Reality. Yosemite, CA.

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Christian Sea lining up on another Indo beauty. I jokingly call him the Mer-Man. The guy can surf any board, charge barrels switch, go down spearfishing and come up w two huge fish on one breath. He basically has gills. A true waterman and a helluva nice guy. And yes, he’s surfing a 0 mil wetsuit.

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“The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion” - Camus

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Always nice to find some forgotten moments in the archives. Mark Synnott rappelling over the South China Sea while climbing a new overhanging big wall route on Mount Kinabalu. Borneo. Definitely one of the most outrageously positioned walls I’ve been on.

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Penthouse suite. Kevin Jorgenson and Tommy Caldwell hanging out on El Cap.

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I’d like a table…for 1000. Thanks Summit for making the reservation!

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Hanging out at the office. Rob Frost having a high angle kind of day in the Bugaboos. All in a days work.

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After two months of fighting bitter cold, massive storms and an avalanche that swept most of the climbing route on the Lhotse face, Dave Hahn, Kit and Rob DesLauriers make a late post monsoon summit bid on Everest. This shot of the team climbing above the Balcony at over 27,000ft with Makalu (the fifth highest peak in the world) in the background was one of the few frames I got that morning due to a frozen shutter. We were the only team on the mountain that season, a rare experience to have on Everest these days. Besides not having to deal with crowds, we chose to climb in the post monsoon for the best chance of having enough snow coverage to attempt a ski descent of the mountain. That ended up both working in our favor and against it.

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Last look for Renan Ozturk after a couple epic days in the Tetons. It’s not a real shoot unless you had to hack out a bivy ledge in a storm.

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Ennendi Desert, Chad. Still life.

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The Rise of Superman: Flow State and the Adventure Athlete

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

There is an effort being made to unravel the mystery of the “flow” state, often experienced by athletes — extreme or otherwise — where time slows down, decision-making becomes an almost unconscious act and moments of athleticism take on an almost superhuman quality. This “source code of human performance” is explored by author Steven Kotler in his upcoming book, The Rise of Superman: Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human Performance.

I am humbled to say that I have a small role in the book and also played interviewee a ways back for a promotional vid of the book, which you can see below. The role of the Flow state in the life and career of an athlete fascinates me. Kotler does a great job describing a state of being that many of us have experienced but — as you can see — sometimes struggle to put into words. Time slows down. The future is perceived. Life-saving decisions are made almost without conscious thought. But Kotler doesn’t stop at athletic pursuits. Flow plays a huge role in creativity, too. Who can’t relate to snapping out of a writing/painting/music session only to discover half the day has disappeared? Or looking back at some creative turn and wondering where on earth the idea came from?

Watch a few of us athletes and creatives try to get to the heart of Flow and read more about the project here.

Holiday Gifts for the Adventure Photographer

Friday, December 13th, 2013

Some people are impossible to shop for. But the Adventurer/Photographer need not be one of them. To take some strain off your Holiday gift-giving I’ve put together this list of approved gifts for that special someone in your life who also happens to getting outside AND taking photos/videos. Some of these items are near and dear to my heart. More than a couple are with me on almost every trip I take, in order to stay light, fast and connected. I’m not one to give in so readily to the materialism that often runs rampant this time of the year, but I also acknowledge that in this profession/hobby, there are things that are really nice to have and some things that are nice to wish for. You’ll find a little of both below.

Happy Holidays to everyone!

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1. Olympus OM-D

Yup, I’m starting off with big-ticket. The Olympus has been in my trusted ally in so many situations that it would be unjust not to include it. When I can’t pack heavy, I pack my OM-D. It’s weather-sealed, super compact (about a 1/3 the size of a DSLR) and yields super nice photos, especially in the right hands.

The mirrorless camera category is really taking off, but despite some recent entries by big players, the OM-D still remains one of the top dogs. A shame you didn’t have it for Christmas Card picture time but I guess there’s always next year. Definitely on the pricier side as this gift list goes, but worth every penny.
Price: $1,399

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2. inReach SE

Do you get nervous when your loved one departs on a trip? Give yourself a little peace of mind by giving the inReach SE satellite communicator. It fills in the cellular coverage gaps (which are enormous) to provide service anywhere on the Earth, from the tallest peaks to deepest canyons.

I’ve highlighted the inReach in a recent post about travel safety and it’s another one that I don’t leave home without. It’s as close to a get out of jail free card as you’re going to get in real life.
Price: $299.95

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3. GoPro Hero 3+

Forget adventure photographer. The GoPro Hero 3+ will make the sweetest stocking stuffer for pretty much anyone in your life. Literally any trip taken can become an awesome visual story by bringing a GoPro along. It’s also great for shooting just about everything else in your life including your baby or kids growing up.

One of the best parts about having one is becoming part of the huge GoPro community of users who share sick edits and vids and constantly push the envelope on what this magical camera can capture.

Price: $399.99

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4. Goal Zero Nomad 7 Solar Panel

There’s a harsh reality we face when heading off the grid for a few days with electronic devices that need to stay charged. You start looking at battery power the way a desert wanderer looks at his water supply. The relatively inexpensive Goal Zero products lessen the harshness of that reality.

We do a fair amount of timelapse shots on the projects I’ve been involved with, and the Goal Zero provide assurance that the batteries aren’t going to quit during the money sunset shot.
Price: $79.99

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5. NOLS Course

I taught for NOLS right out of college in my early twenties. I know personally that NOLS builds an incredible foundation for a life in the outdoors. The best part about NOLS is that they offer courses for all ages and across a spectrum of disciplines, including mountaineering, rock climbing, skiing/snowboarding and backpacking, to name a few.

They’ve got locations all across the world, with a whole slew on the West Coast. There’s nothing like the gift of experience!

Price: Varies

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6. Black Diamond Headlamp

A nice BD headlamp is always useful for adventure travel or to keep in the hiking backpack, backcountry ski pack, car for emergencies, etc. Having a back-up is never a bad thing, either. I can’t imagine heading out the door without one in my pack.

I didn’t specify a model because they’re all really quite nice and there are a couple features here and there that may work best with the person you have in mind, like waterproofing, running-specific, and so on.

Price: $49.95 (for pictured)

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7. Leatherman Wave

No, there is no shortage of multi-tools to choose from. I have tons of experience with the Leatherman Wave, however, so I stand by it. And it has stood by me. 16 tools, one-hand accessibility, compact and light. Remember those “must-haves” I was talking about? Yup, this is one of them.

Between the skis, bindings, camera equipment, climbing gear and various and sundry items that are routinely on my person during an adventure shoot, having one tool that can rule them all is pretty sweet.

Price: $80

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8. The North Face Power Guide ABS Vest

Big ticket, I know. But NOT a luxury item. This is a life-saver. I can speak first-hand to the power and unpredictability of an avalanche. The ABS vest not only gives you a great chance of surviving one, it also distributes your backcountry kit weight nicely AND keeps you warm. Looks kinda badass, too.

In all seriousness, I would recommend anyone doing skiing or snowboarding in avalanche-prone areas to have some kind of avalanche airbag system on their person.

Price: $1,397

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9. Dynafit Vulcan TF

I consider the Vulcan the perfect combo / Holy Grail of backcountry ski boots. It’s lightweight, super stiff and manages to be all about both the up and the down. These say “I love you. Period.”

Yes, you’re likely dropping more on a pair of boots than a pair of skis, but no one is going to argue that the boot makes the biggest difference in the backcountry experience. Or at least I’m not going to argue.

Price: $1000

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10. GoPro Telescoping Pole

POV shots with the GoPro are essential, but since the subject of the video is YOU (or the person you’ve given the GoPro to), the camera has to be turned around from time to time. Enter the telescoping pole. I went with the GoScope® Extreme – GoPro Pole 2X Telescoping pole because they are sturdy, light-weight and durable in saltwarer, freshwater and snow.

Best of all, it may just fit in the stocking when collapsed.

Price: $54.95

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11. DJI Phantom

I wouldn’t call the Phantom a GoPro accessory, but it was designed with the little camera in mind. It may seem like a hefty price tag, but it’s about as budget-friendly as you’re going to get in a drone, and the aerial footage yielded will put any amateur video over the top.

Note that I also wouldn’t call the Phantom a toy. It really is a tool first. Yes, flying it is fun, but it should always be done responsibly, and these control belong in responsible hands.

Price: $479

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12. TNF Super Diez Jacket

The Super Diez from The North Face is one of the nicer jackets I’ve ever worn. I love this jacket. Packed with 900-fill down, it’s ultra lightweight, packs down and is sooooo nice to put on. Great Winter coat that will last the years.

If the Super Diez isn’t the right style, check out the Supernatural. 950-fill goose down! It’s the highest fill down in the world. Plus a super weight-to-warmth ratio. Only available in limited supply.

Price: $349 ($449 for Supernatural)

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13. TNF Kelvin Glove

The Kelvin was made for mountaineering but makes a great, warm ski glove. It’s what I ski in all winter in super cold Jackson conditions. It’s waterproof and breathable and provides great movement even when things get really frosty. You don’t have to worry about losing grip on your poles, axe, etc.

Despite the abuse I give it, the Kelvin holds up nicely, so though you’re investing a decent amount for a glove, it should last well into next season and beyond.

Price: $165

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14. Canon 24-70mm 2.8 USM

If you’re a Canon shooter, Canon’s latest 24-70mm 2.8 is probably one of the nicest zoom lenses I’ve used. Beautiful bokah for a zoom and sharp as shit. I don’t like to admit it but I’ve found that I’ve been shooting with less primes since I got it.

It’s sealed and gasketed against dust and moisture — super important for any adventure photographer heading out into the wilderness. Great for digital and film shooting. Nice, fast AF.

Price: $1,399

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15. Armada JJ skis

The JJ’s might seem like an unlikely ski to consider for backcountry use but they are my favorite because they are light for hiking or skinning and are awesome for shredding pow.

They’ve got great floatation in the soft stuff but still handle great in the crud.

Price: $674.99

At the Intersection Of Artist + Athlete

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

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It’s hard not to be a fan of Travis Rice. He’s a Jackson Hole local and is considered one of the most influential snowboarders of our time. Despite always having several major projects firing and some serious sponsorship face time obligations, the man refuses to rest. Travis is always looking to take things to the next level and gets after everything he does, whether that is with his snowboarding, building inner tube race tracks for his annual party or finding people to collaborate with in his relatively new Asymbol initiative.

Having long been inspired by photographs (or paintings) of mountains and fascinated by the art that graces snowboards, particularly art created BY athletes, Travis founded Asymbol as a way to recognize the artists who have been inspiring his kind for so many years. On the Aysmbol site, you can go from prints by Jamie Lynn and Hydro74 to photos by Chris Brunkhart and Danny Zapalac. There’s some seriously beautiful work found on Asymbol.

Which is why I’m honored to have some of my work up there now. Asymbol reached out to my good friends at TheGoodLife and forged a collaboration to feature some pieces by a few TGL artists — Dean Blotto Grey, Cole Barash and Laura Austin. My shot from Charakusa Valley in Pakistan (pictured above) made it into the co-curation initiative, alongside the photos you see below.

The Charakusa pic is from one of my first rolls of film shot on a proper SLR camera. In a lot of ways, it marked my start as a professional photographer. At any rate, pop over to Asymbol and check out the artists and work featured there. It’s a rabbit hole worth jumping into.

Dean Blotto Grey, Lift Station db_lift_station

Laura Austin, Road to Nowhere la_road_to_nowhere

Cole Barash, Untitled cb_untitled