Visual Vibrance

Hello. I am very honored to bring you this week’s Outdoor Pursuits blog post. My name is Taylor Humphrey, and I work on the OP staff as the Film and Photo Man. I love this job and the opportunities it has brought me. If I had it my way, this would be a multi-decade career that I end up retiring from. Unfortunately, my college experience will be coming to an end in May 2016, and I will have to move on to something else.

I have been working at Outdoor Pursuits since Spring 2014. During my time at OP I’ve been able to travel to all sorts of beautiful and inspiring places with a camera in hand, trying to capture the true essence that our planet embodies. These epic places include: Mt. Hood, Smith Rock, Horsethief Butte, Indian Beach, Nehalem Bay, South Sister, and the Canyonlands of Utah just to name a few. We are so lucky to be living in the limitless playground that is the Pacific Northwest.

Smith Rock Spring 2014

Shortly after being hired, the Single Pitch Rock Climbing Class took a trip to the expansive Smith Rock State Park. I was on the trip independently as the videographer. I was intending on getting some radical rock climbing photos and using them for advertising the program. On day one I woke up early to capture a time-lapse of the sun lighting up the golden basalt rock faces. I walked a few hundred yards out into a frosty meadow. I set up my tripod, then took out my camera and mounted it on the tripod. I put a battery in the camera and turned it on. The camera monitor showed a beautiful rock face graced with morning light. The monitor also had the words printed across it: “NO SD CARD”. But surely the SD card would be in the bag, I thought. I searched the bag thoroughly. No SD card. I then realized that the first paid filmmaking job of my life I had just completely messed up. I walked back to the camp defeated. Dreading how I would tell Phil Friesen the Program Director how big of a mistake I had made. I returned to camp and told him. His response was completely positive and uplifting. What a relief. Phil and I then prepared breakfast together. I’ll never forget cutting those onions. Thank you, Phil, for not firing me on day one.

Lesson Learned: SD Card’s are crucial to capturing beauty in the outdoors. I’ve been to Smith Rock numerous times since the SD Card blunder. Since I joined OP I have spent a lot of time rock climbing and learning various systems. This has helped me to get on climbs and take photos of people while climbing. This is a craft in and of itself and experimenting with it has been an adventure. Early this fall, I did a multi-pitch climb on a route called Spiderman. I did this route with Ted Wogan and Bryce Fowler. On the second and third pitches, I was the second climber, which allowed me to photograph Bryce climbing towards me. On the third pitch we were over 100 feet off the ground and I was able to hang on top rope as Bryce climbed up. A year before I wouldn’t have had the wherewithal to set up this shot and capture this moment.

Bryce and His Forehead
Bryce Fowler ’17 hanging out on Smith Rock.

Being able to progress and learn more every trip has been one of my favorite parts about this job. For every trip I go on, I sit down and review all the footage I took with a very critical eye. I notice things I did right and things I could work on. So when it comes to my next filmmaking expedition I try to apply those things I learned from the last trip. I feel like I have made my greatest strides as filmmaker in this way.

 Below are Ted Wogan and Bryce Fowler, respectively, on 5.10c route Walking While Intoxicated. 

Taylor among the rocks.png
Me atop a climb called Bunny’s Face. I have three different cameras with me. A GoPro Hero 3 which took this shot, a Canon 5D for photos, and a Panasonic AC160.



South Sister Fall 2015

I joined the Outdoor Leadership class on their mountaineering trip to South Sister. I brought with me a Canon 5D camera, a 50mm lens and a 24-105mm. The 50mm lens creates a beautiful image. It also has 1.4 f/stop which allows for incredible low light photography. I knew that we would be departing for the summit at 3:30am so this lens would be very important to capture the rich morning light. This photo was before sunrise with the 50mm.

Broken Top.png
Broken Top is the featured mountain, and Kenny Pyne ’17 is the featured mountaineer.

The 24-105mm is a very well rounded lens that gives you zoom options. The Canon 5D camera is small and fairly light, so I could carry it on my chest. This gave me a lot of freedom to hike ahead and capture things how I wanted, not being overwhelmed by heavy equipment. This camera also handles exceptionally in cold weather; it can work up to -20 degrees. The only problem is keeping the batteries warm. When they get cold they can lose all their juice. I made sure my batteries didn’t suffer the cold, so I wrapped them in my fleece jacket and put them in my warm sleeping bag for the night.

We woke up to a crisp morning. We made breakfast (oatmeal and hot chocolate powder) and departed by 3:30am. I started off using the 50mm lens. For the first few hours it was very dark outside. Our headlamps and the stars were the only signs of light. The wonderful thing about being a photographer on a trip like this is the freedom I have to move ahead and fall behind the group to capture the shot. As we moved up the lower snowy flanks of South Sister I hiked ahead to capture a vantage of the group coming up the mountain. Behind them a moonrise had begun. A crescent moon followed by a bright and shimmering Venus had risen above a silhouette of the rigid and stern Broken Top. A group of headlamps moved up towards me. As the moon travelled higher into the sky, the golden morning light began to encapsulate the valley. What an epic and tranquil moment we were all sharing. Just before the sun rose, I switched to the 24-105mm lens. At this point in the morning their was a lot of light so the 50mm wasn’t as needed. This also allowed for me to have a wider angle (24mm), and be able to zoom to a tighter angle (105mm) at will.

Our Summit attempt ended up falling short, but our journey that day was like nothing I had ever experienced.


Outdoor Filmmaking

I have always loved cameras and nature. The combination of these two things is a great passion in my life. I was inspired from a young age by my father and all the great outdoor photographs he had taken on his various journeys. I was also inspired by a number of other outdoor photographers and filmmakers. One of them in particular: Galen Rowell. Galen has been able to capture everything from the hardest rock climbs in the Sierra’s to the most mystical moments in Tibet. His commitment to craft and passion towards what he loves has always inspired me to be the best photographer I could. He says:

“You only get one sunrise and one sunset a day, and you only get so many days on the planet. A good photographer does the math and doesn’t waste either.”

This quotation speaks to photographers and lovers of life because, as we all know, forcing yourself out of your comfort zone is often the most rewarding moment. Something else I take away from this quotation is the power in outdoor photography. The outdoor photographer is always trying to capture a fleeting moment, which to me really makes this art form magical, whereas many photographers working in studios or on locations with lighting set-ups don’t have that special moment to capture. Their composition has been more planned and does not feel as genuine.

This is why I love to be in the outdoors capturing people in their element with planet Earth. The photographer finds him or herself in a unique moment, as does the subject.

Taylor Humphrey ’16 is a senior staff member here in Outdoor Pursuits who spends his time running circles around the rest of us with high-tech camera gear. He is a film major and all around lover of life, adventure, and laughter. 


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s