May 15, 2011

Ask Dave, May 6th - Backcountry Photography

Ask Dave, May 15th
'Ask Dave' week Thirteen… I get tons of questions each week, I respond as quickly as possible, and this is week number thirteen of answering them here too. If you have questions you can email me at

From... Sorry I can't remember your name.
How many of your "real good" images from Yellowstone come from "backcountry" spots.

My answer was not a good one; but here is what I had to say:
"I would guess that a normal trip has 10-20 real 'select' or 'keeper' images, lots of other fine images that I can use for stock; but 10-20 'real keepers.' Of those 10-20 less than one is typically from a backcountry camping trip. When I am really in the backcountry I am there for the experience, less emphasis is on photography for those trips; but I still always bring a camera. That said many consider 'backcountry' to be anytime that one leaves the roads or developed areas by more than 100-250 yards and I would say that 5-10 of the 10-20 'keeper' images come from more than 100 yards from the roads (in some months it is more like 15 of 20)."

I felt bad about my answer; but luckily for me I had a chance to ask a real expert on Yellowstone/Photography/Backcountry (Tom Murphy) the same question. I presented for the Photographic Institute of the Yellowstone on Saturday and Tom Murphy was the keynote speaker, so I took the chance to ask him the same question, and his answer was very similar to mine. "Well... my overnight trips really are more about getting from place to place and I don't get to spend the time needed to shoot really good images (he gave some examples); but most of my images come from more than 100 yards from the roads. I would say 75-90% of the images in those books (referring to his YNP books) were made away from the road; but not from overnight trips." (That is my best summary of his response, I did not record it)

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