Rendezvous in the Woods

Over the weekend I attended my first Rivercane Rendezvous in Georgia. My friend David, whom I met while he was living in a wigwam in Virginia, told me about the week-long event several years ago but other obligations had always prevented me from going. He is a regular at several similar gatherings in the region and I was eager to not only see him again but also to get my hands dirty practicing some of the ancient skills that are central to these groups. Classes, taught by unlikely experts of all ages, range from bow and arrow-making to fire-starting and birdwatching

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As I do, I had my camera over my shoulder but I was intentionally not treating this as an assignment. I wanted to be an active, engaged member of the group to experience the things that brought this community together. They call themselves a family, and, as this was the 30th annual rendezvous, many of these people have literally known each other their entire lives. Although I only spent one full day in the camp, I felt immediately embraced by the community of conscientious, positive, free-spirited people from around the country. As I stopped by various lessons in progress, I inevitably I found myself in some special situations where I was able to make some photos; many, many more scenes ended up as mental snapshots. I thought, if only my school days had been more like this, where every class has a clear purpose, a tangible outcome, a passionate teacher and a warm breeze. (Class sizes were generally limited to 10, as well.)

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It’s always inspiring and humbling to learn about something you never knew existed, which happened frequently throughout my short stay. To me, any experience that offers a new perspective has value, especially one that does so in such a constructive and respectful way. If you are curious to learn more, there are earthskills gatherings around the country and they are always looking for new participants.
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600 Miles Later

The video is done! I wanted to hold off on this post until the video was finished so I could share the whole story all together. As this video hopefully shows, every day on the Appalachian Trail had its struggles and its rewards. The towns, people, and views we encountered all added to the experience. I could never capture or share all the memorable moments we had along the way but I tried to cut together a collection of scenes that give a feel for life on the trail.

Some of my favorite stills from the journey.

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A Change of Scenery

Today I am leaving my job at The News & Advance to hike a section of the AT with my brother, Samo. We’ve been toying with the idea for almost a year and I’m thrilled that it’s finally going to happen. My 3+ years at the paper in Lynchburg have flown by and I’ve learned more than I ever expected—about photography, about life and about myself. It’s no small decision to leave a great job, especially these days, but some opportunities only come once and I’m ready to start a new adventure.
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Bogotá, Armenia, Salento

Selection of photos from Colombia, during a week-long trip I recently took with my parents. Our long-distance friend, Diego Mendoza, was marrying Angelica Bonilla in Bogotá and they invited us to attend. We took the opportunity to spend a few extra days visiting Armenia and Salento, also hiking a day in the Cocora Valley. The food was wonderful, the weather cooperated when it really mattered, and the people we met were all very patient and helpful.

I took all of these with an iPhone or Canon G10, a refreshing departure from the 5-lb Nikon and bag that I haul around for work. I wanted to both test the range of those cameras as well as force myself to experiment with a different shooting style.

Powwow

On Sunday I literally happened upon the annual Monacan Nation Powwow in Elon, Va. In the back of my mind I knew it was happening this weekend but I never quite got around to planning a trip to see it. So when I saw huge signs advertising the powwow I immediately pulled in. Unfortunately, I was informed that there were only a couple dances left so if I was going to make some photos I would have to act fast. Enter Scott Strazzante and the iPhone. Let me explain. Chicago Tribune photographer Scott Strazzante has been pioneering iPhone street photography where he shoots from the hip and is able to capture very close-range candid shots of people on the street without disturbing them. I decided to try my hand at his technique. Although I would have loved more time to experiment, I was pretty happy to come away with the following photos, all shot from the hip with my iPhone except the second. This photo, of Lipan Apache descendant Robert Soto, I took after a brief but informative conversation with Soto about his elaborate outfit.