Dem HDR Vacay Shots doe

Good luck figuring out what I titled this thing, just sayin’.

Sometimes, you need nothing more than to spend a day or two away from the hustle and the bustle and get back into some sweet sweet nature. I got the opportunity last weekend to do just that when I took the family down to Durango, Co to meet up with my wife’s parents for a weekend of camping and fun. Her parents offered to put the kiddo up in their camper/5th wheel/whatever-the-hell-it-is so we could have some time to ourselves. Thinking this was the best news ever, I picked up what would quickly become the ABSOLUTE WORST TENT I HAVE EVER OWNED! Holy cow was this thing a total pile. I digress, that isn’t the point of this post, but it does however lead to a few life lessons that I think make for analogies towards taking pictures.


I say this given that on the first night the tent basically had all of its zippers fall off when I went to use the woodlands in the middle of the night. If you haven’t camped before, zippers are basically a top three ‘most important part’ of the tent as they allow you access while preventing things like bears, insects and man-eating squirrels from trying to kill you in your sleep. So without those working, my wife and I had to power through a 45 degree evening in a dumpster fire of a tent and pray for morning.

How is this analogous to photography?

It isn’t. I just needed to complain about an awful tent I bought at Big 5. The brand is Rugged Exposure and for some god forsaken reason they are pretty highly rated online (4+ stars in most cases). They’re junk. Buy a Coleman if you’re going to buy a tent.

2) Sometimes, saving money isn’t really a savings

This ties into the first point to some degree as the second night I went over to the office to inquire about getting a cabin so I didn’t have to sleep in wet-shoe-box two night in a row. Turns out it was $55 a night with tax. On the flip side, the camp site for our tent was $32 a night. So for twenty more dollars, I could have avoided a total three ring shit circus.

How is this analogous to photography?

I oftentimes find myself trying to find the best deal or a cheaper option. Whether it’s on a lens, or a bag, or an accessory. I don’t want to break the bank to get the things I want and need. It’s stupid. Much like anything else in life, you get what you pay for. Don’t go cheap for the sake of it being cheap. While that lens or camera body you really want is probably a few hundred bucks more than the one you’re currently scouting, there is likely a reason for it. It’s probably a few hundred dollars better. Save your pennies, don’t be a scrooge, and just buy the better gear the first time.

3) Just because you’re on vacation is no excuse to not be prepared

Pretty much anytime I was out and about I had my camera with me. While it was mildly inconvenient carrying my bag, it would have been infinitely worse had I gotten back home after two days in a gorgeous area with no photos to speak of. You never know when you’ll see something beautiful or fortunate, so keep your gear with you. This of course doesn’t mean you need to be working the whole time trying to get a perfect shot either. I spent the entire first night next to a campfire drinking. I slept through what likely would have been the best Astro opportunity I’ve ever had. Honestly, I’m not even that bummed. I had a great time and enjoyed laying down a lot more than I would have enjoyed freezing my butt off taking a few pictures.

How is this analogous to photography?

I feel like point three is pretty much about photography and not really needing any analogy work. So I’ll just add this for the sake of uniformity: It’s OK to take a break sometimes. It’s healthy. Don’t stress about always needing to be shooting 100% of the time or you’ll end up hating it.

Nonetheless, I did get a few nice shots and one HDR I had engineered based on a Trey Ratcliff tutorial which you can see below. The HDR image worked out pretty well, and the river was about as clear, blue, and beautiful as anyone could hope for.

Durango Cabin Lookout

All in all it was a great weekend and I look forward to getting to do it again before too long. As always, until next time, Thanks for reading!


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