I've been asked to write a follow-up piece after winning the trip report contest, and I figured I'd go into my process a little bit.
Trips. For those of us who don't live in an adrenaline junky's paradise (like those with the Tetons on the horizon), trips are required (for me at least) to get a satisfactory escape from everyday life. I find when I don't have a trip planned, my mood deteriorates and I start ruminating on what "my purpose" is and getting frustrated by my inability to come up with any semblance of a satisfying answer. I get that "quarter life crisis feeling" and then feel even worse when I realize it's probably more accurately a "one-third life crisis." It's a bad place.
When I finally do plan an escape from the daily grind (thanks everybody who voted!), a purpose does come to mind: I want to have a great time, and I want to document it well so I can share my experiences, and to a greater extent, preserve them so I can go back and experience them later. It'd be nice if I could convince myself that I should keep that as my goal all the time, but day jobs, traffic jams, and daily chores seem to be effective deterrents for me. When I'm not on a trip or seeing a show, my camera pretty much gets ignored these days.
Because of the fleeting nature of these escapes from reality, I take particular care in capturing the experiences I've had. It's all worth it when I can look at a picture from years ago and it suddenly brings up a memory of the conversation I was having with my friend as I took the picture, or the burning sensation in my legs from climbing up the mountain I was on, or how good that sip of post-ride beer felt. I can't help but feel that those memories would be lost if it weren't for these pictures.
The Best Camera is the One You Have With You.
You might have heard that before, and it's a particularly true statement for those of us with adrenaline addictions. We tend to do cool looking things in cool locations. Sometimes we want to capture those moments, and most of the time a bag full of professional camera gear isn't an option. Most of us aren't sponsored by Red Bull. You can get by with a GoPro or Action Cam of course, but that constant viewpoint and lens distortion can get old fast when you're trying to put together a nice compilation video; and the photos, while okay, aren't that great. Previously my attempt to get around this involved sacrificing a large part of whatever pack I had on to my comparatively giant DSLR and a few lenses. For hikes and short bike rides, this worked, but was inconvenient. To get the camera to fit in my pack, I'd have to take the lens off every time. This meant any time I wanted to get a shot, I had to stop, take my backpack off, unzip it and pull the camera out, put the lens on it, power up the camera, and then begin framing my shots. When I was done the whole process needed to be reversed, and whoever I was hiking or riding with was bored or frustrated that they were watching me fumble with my camera instead of doing their thing.
When I got invited out for my last vacation out west, I knew something had to change. I realized the perceived hassle of fumbling with the camera every time I wanted a shot was actually stopping me from getting those shots. I'd stop myself by asking "is it worth it?" and saying "no." too many times. Additionally, we were going to be doing the hardest ride I'd ever done to date: 4 segments of the Colorado Trail. I needed all that extra pack space for water and food and a spare tube or two. So I began researching alternatives.
iPhones have gotten consistently better over time. Here's a picture I took in Zion National Park with an iPhone 5:
While cellphone cameras can be a fantastic addition to GoPro footage, I still felt limited by the lack of zoom, and the inability to shoot pictures in RAW format so I can tweak things after shooting.
After way too much boring research, I ended up finding the Sony RX100 m3. The sample photos I was looking at blew me away and seemed comparable if not better than what I was able to take with my camera 5 times the size. It ticked all my boxes and a few I didn't even know about. It shoots in Raw. It has a pop-up electronic viewfinder so I can bring the camera up to my eye and frame shots exactly like I would with my DSLR (great in bright sunlight). It takes unbelievably good 1080P video. It has a well thought out timelapse function that I ended up using extensively. And the lens quality is simply absurd and allowed for great low light performance. The RX100 and a little Lowepro case that could strap to the armstrap of my backpack were my solution.
With this setup I was able to see something I wanted to capture, reach towards my shoulder, whip out the camera, and be getting shots within 10 seconds. It was awesome, and made documenting the trip easy and convenient. And after spending some time with the footage, I was able to share this experience with a ton of other people, and have a nice little clip to replay every now and then when stuck behind a computer screen, grinding away until my next trip.
I really look forward to sharing this next adventure in Park City with you, and hopefully this little rant about how I'll end up doing it pushes you to do the same. Thanks again for the opportunity!