Saturday, September 1, 2012
The Dream Chaser
Michael Routh finds inspiration in the solitude of the less-explored backcountry
Routh: I do use graduated neutral-density filters. I use those tools, but an important distinction for me is that I don't do HDR, and I don't do photo blends using multiple images. I've experimented with HDR, but I think the results don't look natural. You have straight photography, you have fine-art nature photography, and then you have photo art. I consider myself a fine-art nature photographer, with my wildfire work being photojournalism.
OP: You've said in the past that the Four Corners region of the United States is among your favorite areas to photograph in the country.
OP: You're taking advantage of your physical ability to get to a location that might be inaccessible to others. Galen Rowell was an extreme example of that approach.
Routh: I don't do anything to the extent of Galen Rowell. He was in a league of his own. I'm a scrambler, not a technical climber. Physical fitness is such a big part of life, in general, and for me, it's an integral part of photography. I photographed Clouds Rest in Yosemite, which required a 14-mile round-trip hike carrying a 40- to 50-pound pack from Tuolumne Meadows to 10,000 feet and hiking out after sunset.
I drove up to the top of Wheeler Crest in the Eastern Sierras, which is a Rubicon-class trail. I'll wheel to a very inaccessible location, then hike in from there and see what I can find. Some photographers are half scientists, and they're going to the noaa.gov website, and they're looking at the sun moving here and there, and I do an amount of that—you have to know the weather—but for the most part, I just try and "feel" where the photograph is.
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