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Happy Saturday Ramblers,

After two straight weeks of camping in less than ideal conditions I decided to hang around Tahoe this weekend. A tight achilles has me hesitant to push it too. Mt. Tallac, the highest peak surrounding Lake Tahoe, was on my list but will have to wait. So I must… relax? Unspeakable.

The pace in Tahoe has been refreshing. Until this achilles thing I’ve been getting my uphill engine back on the trails, exploring the national forest south of me, and started my quest into the Eastern Sierra. My company is doing ‘summer Fridays’ all July and August which means 3-day weekends. I plan on backpacking just about every weekend so staying healthy is a priority.

The city is starting to wake up for summer which is both good and bad. Energy emanates from all over now, the warm tenor of vacation filling the streets. Summer at the lake. But now that I can see what quiet Tahoe versus summer Tahoe is like, there was something special about shoulder season here—complete with random snowstorms and an empty highway 50.

New images and writing

While I haven’t sent a Rambler in a bit, I’ve been writing. This week my trip guide and film photos from the Laugavegur Trek in Iceland was published on Field Mag, one of my favorite online pubs.
 

Iceland’s Laugavegur Trail Guide: Tips, Photos & Gear | Field Mag


The film work from the trail is gritty and unrefined. It fits the experience well and works for those little moments and memories, but the landscape was so unbelievable it deserves some polished photographs. So I took the opportunity to re-visit my digital work from the trek as well and published a gallery on my site.
 

Gallery: Laugavegur Trek, Iceland


These are some of my favorite landscape photos I’ve ever made. Without context you could easily surmise many of them are from completely separate locations on earth, but they all fit in a 34 mile span in the Icelandic Highlands.

Editing as perspective

Editing them was a challenge. Colors were so vibrant but I don’t tend to enjoy HDR, hyper saturated images. So I spent a lot of time finding the balance between a true rendition of the place while keeping things soft on the eyes. Lowering clarity and texture, and messing with color luminance ended up being my go-to strategies.

I also ended up down a black & white path with a few images and that opened up a new side of the set for me. There were a few images where the color just wasn’t working and black and white proved to be the answer. I lean towards deep blacks and high contrast in my B&W work, and for these there were generally fewer highlights so I went all in on a gritty edit. Adding grain and crushing highlights gave these photos a personality I wasn’t finding in their color counterparts.

Now that my editing skills have improved I’m finding it a much more powerful tool in my work. Color and lack thereof is a subject in and of itself. Choices in color can shift an image between welcoming or intimidating, warm or frigid, relaxing or anxious. My black and white edits helped convey the wet, gritty, feeling I wanted. And my color choices hopefully pulled the scenes towards painterly magnificence rather than punchy shock value or moody cinematics. Iceland is a difficult place to resist going all in on moody cinematic looks. You can see the cloud cover in every photo, the deep shadows and intimidating landscape. But I felt my black and white edits held better space for that feeling and I wanted my color to feel a bit more relaxed. It works much better in some images than others, for instance the image below required punch. It couldn’t be helped, it was too intense of a scene. But for the most part, I shied away from this style—I’m curious if y’all can tell that or how you perceived the edits? Would love to hear your feedback if you have any. (Just reply to this email!)

Anyway, there’s your editing shop talk. I’m making more conscious decisions in my editing process and that feels good.
 

Editing as a godsend

I have another, more personal, essay for Wildland Trekking hopefully going live next week. From both of these pieces my main takeaway is: holy crap working with an editor is so helpful. All these Ramblers are created in a vacuum, which is great for building my unfiltered voice, but man an editor can elevate work in such obvious ways. Glaring issues or story gaps, points I think are obvious that need to be explained, redundant prose getting removed, all great for me to see with their help. The experience makes me want to find a way to get more eyes on my work more often, and the best answer I have so far for that is getting work published, for no better reason than to get an honest edit.

So I’m ruminating on more essay ideas and also learning how to pitch publications, which is another fun new experience.

There are loads more images from this year so far to share, more stories from Ireland and Scotland, and some travel topics I’m excited to cover.

I’m approaching a year on the road at the end of July and will likely have some things to say about that. But I’m curious if there is anything about this experience y’all want to know about? Anything from ‘why’ to ‘how did you fit everything in your car?’. Do y’all want to know about anything specific? I’d be happy to share.

As always, thanks for reading.

—Al

This is Rambler, a bi-weekly postcard from the road. Share with your friends via this link.

Copyright © 2022 Alex Eaton, All rights reserved.



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