Why You Place Your Tripod Holes

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San Gabriel Mountains Sunset Alpenglow Reflection in Pond, San Gabriel Valley, California

San Gabriel Mountains Sunset Alpenglow Reflection in Pond, San Gabriel Valley, California

A chimpanzee could follow the crowd, plop his equipment down in a well-worn tripod hole and get a good photo of Schwabacher’s Landing in Grand Teton National Park just like the millions of other photographers that have previously done so. Where is the essence of nature photography in doing so? Jousting for prime location at classic postcard spots with hundreds of others has never been high on my priority list and nor is that satisfying for the creative soul so I’ve spent the majority of my photography career to date making my own tripod holes. I’m not talking about obscure locations either. The above photo can be found smack-dab in the middle of a metropolitan area with 20 million residents yet I’m the only serious photographer out here doing this type of photography.

Color landscape photography rarely gets respect from the mainstream art circles but I’d argue it has more potential to be culturally significant than your average abstract painting. What I hope to prove is that nature photography is not just about traveling to some designated national park to get pretty postcards but to show that even over-developed urban jungles such as L.A. have beautiful land that is worth preserving. Millions see the San Gabriels every day during their commute yet it never occurs to them that maybe their quality of life would be better without all the tract housing and strip malls covering nearly every square inch in the suburbs. The only way this can be controlled is by carefully choosing who you elect into positions of power from your neighborhood all the way up to the Oval Office. Some people will have you believe that the only way to have economic prosperity is to support development at all costs but that usually only serves to line their own pockets. The question I’d like to pose is without having a place worthwhile to live, does anything else even matter?

See more of my San Gabriel Valley pictures.


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12 thoughts

  1. Excellent post Richard. If we ravage this home planet of ours beyond it’s ability to support us, all the economic prosperity in the world won’t buy another one. We’re screwed.

  2. Everything here is so well said, Richard. Remember that the reason most of those tourists follow each other around to the same postcard locations is that they are related to chimpanzees and they haven’t tapped more than their jungle love potential. Chimpanzees are probably more aware and awake to their surroundings. I agree with you one thousand percent about finding beauty right in the urban jungle or anywhere. It is all land that ought to be treated with respect rather than pooped on like primates do.

  3. And it’s not just tourists doing this but “professional photographers” that frequent these places and think they own the place then wonder why all those people get in the way. It just seems like photographing places like that require a different set of skills (diplomacy and people skills) as opposed to a sense of adventure and a connection to the scene at-hand.

  4. Great post Richard. It is why I live where I do despite growing suburban sprawl in the Detroit area. They at least seem to place the green places on a very high priority list. But when it comes to scare tactics about the economy, my hopes are constantly challenged when I hear someone mention something like needing to open up ANWR or some place similar. If a candidate cannot show they place some intrinsic value on such places, they will never get my vote.

    As far as photographing such places, I believe it should be a challenge to all photographers to visit these lesser known spots so close to home.

  5. Thanks guys. That is a great link, Mark. For business people, it is unfortunate they can only make decisions based on numbers but it is definitely a step in the right direction that they are even measuring environmental impact as a factor in their practices.

  6. Wonderful point Richard…my mind instantly jumped to the Sting lyrics:

    “Got no time for grand philosophy
    I barely keep my head above the tide
    I got this mortgage, got three kids at school
    What you’re saying is the truth, but really troubles me inside
    I’d change the world if I could change my mind
    If I could live beyond my fears
    Exchanging unity for all my insecurity
    Exchanging laughter for my tears ”

    Most people are to busy with tide of daily life to think about what is happening around them or even what they are doing with regards to the future impact it all has. Look no further than a Starbucks garbage can for evidence of that… I think we all can claim times when we all have or continue to do this.

    One can only hope that by practicing awareness of the now you can break yourself of the habit. And influence those around you as well…

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