Mountain Meditations

Just being there, observing, appreciating, and learning

aerial view of colorful sky over snowy mountain pass

Sometime around 2002, I borrowed a friend’s underwater digital camera and edited some video footage. I recall using Windows MovieMaker, making a title screen, adding music, and I’m certain there were some cool cross fades reminiscent of bad 80s TV mixed in. But it wasn’t until 2011 that I picked up a camera that could even record video. By then I was a “Photographer” and couldn’t be bothered by video. That was then and this is now. Video continues to grow in the photo industry and the world of “content creation”. I shudder to think of myself as a content creator. I’m just a guy who points his camera at pretty things that inspire me. As a result, I hesitated to get into any type of video work. The prospect of learning new software held me back as well. Yes, I was becoming the “old dog” and new tricks were easier to avoid than to embrace.

I recently spent some time in the mountains of northern Washington just a few hours from home. Hoping to find golden larches and hiking trails to explore, instead I was surrounded by fresh snow and half naked trees giving up their color for the long, cold season ahead. Not to be deterred, I took to the air and flew my drone to check out the scenery. I had recently found this area to be “ok” for drones as it is outside of any wilderness area or national park. After a few flights, I decided to set up for some time lapse footage on land while I focused on videos, stills, and panoramas in the sky. Having never flown here previously, a new world opened up. I love new worlds. They heighten my sense of exploration and awareness. I’m laser focused and my observational skills are on full blast. Landscape photography forces one to observe, analyze and process light, texture, detail, angles, depth, spatial relationships, and more. And when flying a drone, time is limited. But I’m used to that. Sunrise and sunsets only last so long. SCUBA diving for many years, I’ve become accustomed to 30-60 minute windows of opportunity. Drone flying and SCUBA diving are so similar in this regard. Stay to long underwater, and you die. Stay too long in the sky and you crash your drone. Ok, they’re not exactly the same, but you get my point (hopefully). With each new flight, I discovered new angles, learned where the light would be for sunrise and sunset, and continued to be inspired to capture more stills and video.

pink alpine glow light on snow capped craggy mountain peaks
Snowy meadow with ice flow and mountain at sunset

The images and video in this post were created in the span of just two weeks. My first trip in mid-October 2020 led to another and then another. Three straight weeks visiting the same area provided with focus. Something that can help any landscape photographer is revisiting the same location multiple times. You experience more deeply, and you “see’ something new each time. After three visits, I had created about ten time lapse sequences and spent 5-6 hours in the sky with my drone.

But I still needed to do something with all this footage! The old dog finally needed to start learning those new tricks. I settled in for a full day at the computer with Adobe Premiere Pro open and a browser to Google search my questions as they came up. Instead of banging my head against a wall, I sought immediate answers to my questions. And you know what? It worked! Of course, questions begat questions, and there is still so much to soak in, but I am happy with the results so far. Check out the video below. Be sure to put it at the best quality of 1080p if you’re on a computer.

If you’d be interested in a photography workshop to this area, whether it be a group or private, let me know. As I continue to learn time lapse, drone still and cinematography, as well as video editing, I will be eager to share this knowledge for those seeking it. Until next time!