Day 25 – The Great Fall PHOTOGRAPHICS Road Trip Diary.

We are on the road for a month of Fall color. Not as long as the great 3 month winter tour, but no less epic for that. This time it’s yours truly Gavin Seim, my wife Sondra, our 3 kids, my brother and co-producer Nathan and his wife Allie. Yea, that means two cars and a lot of gas to pay for. So this trip has to be really good.

We’re filming the new PHOTOGRAPHICS Miniseries, making new pictorials and Super Camping around the west. (FYI you can check out our camping resource guide here). We’ve got 4×5 film, a cinema camera and the open road. We’ll bring you the play by play right here. You can also check out our travel map. Bring it on! Gav

Day 17-25 – Epic Hiking, Climbing Rock, and Death Camp

We’ve been on the move. Some very nice days in Utah. We were up as high as Ten Thousand feet near Cedar Breaks and down to Zion and one of the most amazing campsites ever. I finally got an image that did our secret view justice. Stay tuned for that. Nathan and I even hiked the Subway. 8 miles of grueling labor but the stunning scenery was more than an ample reward. The goods and footage are coming soon from that effort.

Nest we headed down through Vegas. We stayed most of the next day, but we didn’t touch the slots. We ran errands and did some rock climbing with a guy we met while looking around REI. It was really cool and we geared up a bit so we can climb on our own.

Next up was Death Valley. We camped on the ruins of an old trailer park on some BLM land just outside the park. Since it was so close we affectionately called it death camp. Desolation abounds, but so do interesting things. We spent a couple days there and now we’re moving on to Yosemite as we come into the final week on the road. Photographics is coming out beautifully and I have a selection of grand images that will make this trip well worth the effort.

Sondra Seim and kids

Sondra and the kids with me at sunset in Death valley. It’s a desolate place, but there is much beauty here.

We went climbing with an off duty promoted we met at REI. That promoted us to go out and buy some gear of out own. Good times.

We went climbing with an off duty Policeman we met at REI. That prompted us to go out and buy some gear of our own. Good times.

Zion hike, subway

Nathan rolling some stunning footage during a long hike. What a beautiful area.

Gavin Seim Shoes Tree

The shoe tree along US 50 in Utah. Apparently it’s a thing.

Gavin Seim truck

The great new sign on the tailgate. Just so people know who we are. 😉

Cedar Breaks Camping

Camped at 10,500 ft near Cedar Breaks. Neat area, but it was a bit cooler.

Day 8-16 The Wild Wandering Color: It’s been a good week. We’ve moved from Idaho, to Utah, to Nevada and Back to Utah. The color has been soothing to the busy mind and the filming we’ve been able to do in these locations is nothing short of stunning. We’ve pulled hours of footage in some of the most beautiful places on earth.

We’re catching up on email and supplies and then we’ll head into Cedar Breaks for some new views. After that, off to Zion, then down through Vegas to swing up to Death Valley and Yosemite NP. We’re about halfway through and the results are looking good.

here's a fun outtake from the filming we were doing up in the hills. Sometimes you can't help yourself.

Here’s a fun outtake from the filming we were doing up in the hills. Sometimes you can’t help yourself. You can pre-order the film here.

The secret is for the parent not to enter a situation whereby the children can see the playground from the car window. Once this happens the parent has few options for escape.

The secret is for the parent not to enter a situation whereby the children can see the playground from the car window. Once this happens the parent has few options for escape.

Nathan working hard as we film up on the Nebo loop.

Nathan working hard as we film up on the Nebo loop.

We found wild Ephedra Viridis which makes a great tea. The kids were having a blast.

We found wild Ephedra Viridis which makes a great tea. The kids were having a blast.

 

A free camp up in Great Basin National park. A little hidden gem in Nevada that's quite stunning.

A free camp up in Great Basin National park. A little hidden gem in Nevada that’s quite stunning.

 

Day 6 – 8. Braking Bad: We we made it down into Utah and camped at a favorite spot up by Ogden. You can see it on the maps.

Then we headed down to Salt lake area. Now along the way I realized that something as seriously wrong with the brakes on the camper. It was barely grabbing and that’s not a good feeling on those steep Utah hills. We parked at the Cabelas lot in Lehi and tore into them.

It’s taken us a few days of running for parts, but being in a big city helped. It was shot, drums scoured, magnets worn to wire. We totally replaced the entire brake system on all 4 tires and should be ready to roll in the morning with beautiful grippy brakes.

While in town I picked up some other parts for the Super Camper and ran some errands, including a trip to Picture Line in Salt Lake where I dropped them a copy of the EXposed workshop to consider carrying in the store.

We also just released a brand new image from Idaho. Check it out. Tomorrow we move on and see what the open road brings.

Side 1 torn down. It's not as hard as it look. Replaced the entire system for about $400. We're talking backing plates, drums and all.

Side 1 torn down. It’s not as hard as it look. Replaced the entire system for about $400. We’re talking backing plates, drums and all.

Day 2-5 – It’s been a great ride already. We covered a good deal of miles and made it into far Idaho (from where I live, that’s SE Idaho). We’ll head down into Utah soon. We have two vehicles in our little caravan and we have been roaming all over. We left the interstate and found some Fall color in the Idaho highlands. We went up to Craters of The Moon monument and the stunning desolation that was there. Gavin even nearly got arrested in an encounter where he filmed a traffic stop and would not back down. It actually got a lot of news coverage. Some agree, some do not. But we can all agree that there’s nothing like a great American road trip.

We have have camped out in WalMart lots for the first few nights, but now we're fining the color. This stunning free campspot up by Bigwood river in ID gave us some great views and we pulled form neat footage for PHOTOGRAPHICS.

We have camped out in WalMart lots for the first few nights, but now we’re finding the color. This stunning free camp spot up by Big Wood River in South Idaho gave us some great views and we pulled some neat footage for PHOTOGRAPHICS.

 

Stunning textural lava flows at Craters of The Moon.

Stunning textural lava flows at Craters of The Moon.

We drove up to Creators of the Moon National Monument. It was truly a grand piece of barren desolation. But due to our lovley goverment shitting down it was closed. We managed to go back down the road and walk in from a pullout. Got some good visuals.

We drove up to Craters of the Moon National Monument. It was truly a grand piece of barren desolation. But due to our lovely government shutting down it was closed. We managed to go back down the road and walk in from a pullout. Got some good visuals.

Day 1

Loaded and ready. We did not hot the road tille about 6PM, but we drove none the less making it to a wal mart parking lot on Pendleton Oregon the first night. The secenmey will get better ;)

Loaded and ready on 10/7/11. We did not hit the road until about 6PM, but we drove none the less, making it to a Walmart parking lot in Pendleton, Oregon the first night. The scenery will get better 😉

 

 

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A Super Campers Guide to the Galaxy

A portrait of Gavin and his family by Ken Whitmire. Made while they were camped out for Wall Portrait Conference 2012. It hangs as a sixty inch print on canvas in Gavin’s living room.

A Super Campers Guide to The Galaxy!

If you’ve read stories like how we spend months on the road in a camper with our kids or seen our road trip journal, you’ll know we love Super Camping. This is about Independence exploration and taking on the world. Not loading up and heading to a resort with a pool and a waterslide. We camp in the wild for free at the most amazing places in America.

We generally do this 3-5 months a year. Traveling, exploring and working on new pictorials and films like EXposed. We usually camp off the grid in the middle of nowhere and it’s the best kind of camping. Better places, more privacy and more adventures. Here is my definition of Super Camping.

Super Camping – An independent style of camping that includes staying outside of developed campgrounds (Boondocking), usually for no cost. Super Camping generally uses a RV, tent or other rig that is prepared to function off grid with solar or battery power, food reserves, comms, medical and gear suitable for adventure, survival and mobile repairs.

Snapshot of the the crew hiking in White Sands New Mexico, March 2012.

How We Roll:

We load up everything we can fit including our kids into our 2011 Forest River 21SS that’s been tricked out as a boondocking machine. It’s pulled with a 2001 GMC 2500 Crew Cab 4×4 running a Duramax diesel. For those interested, this little trailer and all the upgrades we’ve installed in it runs up to about $27k. No chump change, but not much considering what we can do with it and truth told you could do it much cheaper with an older rig.

We’re compact but self sustaining with solar, extra batteries, and a  generator juts in case. With this we can also run sound systems and other logistics when out speaking or doing events of the liberty trail.  Combine that with water mods, good organization a rear hauling rack and the truck itself and we’re ready for the wilderness. The tanks and lines are also winter ready and we can turn on heating pads if things get chilly.

There’s nothing like finding the best places in the world to camp for free. – Boondocking in remote areas is the ticket if you want the best places. We’ve learned that sometimes you need a bit of Gypsy boldness to do this constantly. Being an activist on the side helps with that. We stay off private property without permission of course, but on public lands rules vary so you just need to learn the ropes. We research the area to which we’re going and or sometimes we just pull off on a side road and set up camp. We rarely cave to the “lets just pay for an RV park tonight” option and nearly always find a great campsite for free.

Whether it’s a photography project our out standing the line for liberty and and enhancing patriot resources, the super camper gets it done. The rest of this article is a resource that I maintain. It contains all the best resources and tools we’ve gathered over the years. From places camped to maps, gadgets and resources we use to make it go smoothly. if you want to do some Super Camping or have an RV, you’ll want to read 0n.

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The Perfect Sunset – Clear Lake California

 

Perfect Sunset - Clear Lake California-3

The Perfect Sunset, Above Clear lake CA, Winter 2013 by Gavin Seim

There is nothing quite like sunset in the forest above Clear Lake. Here lies small group of towns nestled around the water in the remote hills of California. There is nothing like it. Driving up into rolling high hills to camp, each sunset is a wounder of color and shadow, storybook trees and glowing foliage. Perhaps it’s partly the warn memories of camping here with my family combined with the fresh air and quiet atmosphere. Whatever it is, this place represents as perfect a sunset as I can imagine.

We’ve camped up here a few times and even did some scenes here for our new PHOTOGRAPHICS film. This beautiful view is actually just off the forest read leading up. Each night the sun falls behind the hills that circles the valley and fades into the magenta hues of rolling shadowy hills. I rarely shoot into the sun because it’s rare I find a situation that it really works in. But I timed this image just before sunset to maximize the glowing light and this is was it feels like to stand here and watch the sunset. It will make a beautiful print.

Release details: Prints Available. Order Open Edition originals above.. Master prints and Signature Limited Editions are listed below and can be ordered by contacting gallery.

Released prints….

 

For Photographers. How it was made…

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Raising The Bar on Photography by Studying the Master Painters

 

    Gavin Seim at Seattle Art Museum - Original of Puget Sound on the Pacific Coast, by Albert Bierstadt in 1870. It measures 82” x 52.5”

Gavin Seim at Seattle Art Museum – Original of Puget Sound on the Pacific Coast, by Albert Bierstadt in 1870. It measures 82” x 52.5”

Does this art make me look small? I hope so.

 

Last week the family and I made the final day of the European Masters exhibit at Seattle Art Museum. It was a collection from the Kenwood House and many of these originals had never left England. Most were paintings that exemplified both human subjects and landscapes. Works such as Miss Murray by Sir Thomas Lawrence – Anne, Countess of Albemarle and Son, by George Romney – Self-Portrait with Two Circles by Rembrant –  The Cherry Gatherers, by Francois Boucher – Greyhounds coursing a Fox, by Gainsborough and many more. Most of these originals were larger than I was and I must warn you that seeing them in person is the only way to get the true impact and inspiration they offer.

Sadly the European Exhibit itself was closed to photography being on on loan. I believe this is a poor choice part of the Kenwood House who owns it. These images are long out of copyright and as pieces of history, they should be spread far and wide and allowing photos of them will only raise awareness to their beauty. But I won’t rant. This image here was in the SAM permanent collection which does allow photography. It’s a real beauty and showcases the type of beautiful work were seeing. It’s also a work from the Hudson River School era, which is a favorite of mine for landscape inspiration. It was indeed something to see originals and much as 400 years old. There’s much to be learned from history and it’s something we’re covering in more detail in my new film, PHOTOGRAPHICS.

I’m a photographer who tries not to emphasize photography itself – Meaning that while I enjoy and teach the science, history and craft of photography, it’s not what my work is about. The medium doesn’t matter nearly so much as the result. When I make an image I’m seeking the grandness that the master painters produced. When I get my mind away from the gadgets and focus on my visualization it gets easier. We must understand the craft and science of our medium so we can work unobstructed by it, but I make furniture for walls. That’s my work. That’s what I need to focus on. Not hundreds of “good” images or how many I can post onto my website.

Photographers tend to think of themselves as lesser artists. The idea of the Wall furnishing is something we seem to struggle with – It’s a topic I recently talked about in this video and that I looked at in this article. Most of the few photographers I know who truly relate to me on this are fellow alumnus of Wall Portrait Conference. I have a hard time getting people to truly accept the idea. I don’t think people believe that their work is heirloom quality. Maybe it’s not. But it can be. Photographers are so set in the idea of snaps, 8×10’s and pics, that even when printed large they still think of them and produce themas such. More posters than heirlooms. It’s not only about the size – When you don’t truly value your work, it reflects in your finished product. When you don’t plan to make an heirloom, you usually don’t. Something to consider.

Once we realize that the medium is incidental to the finished and focus on making that result as spectacular as it can be, everything changes. One reason you see me post fewer new images than in the past is that my standards have increased. If I just make a nice photo it might make it to my Facebook page or a travel journal, but I don’t focus too much on it. I move quickly forward, pausing only when I get an image that I feel truly excels. Something like Sunset at the Celestial City that I can get serious about putting on a wall.

I’ve learned all these ideas from modern masters like Ken Whitmire and Michal Fatali and by studying the master painters spanning hundreds of years.

My concept is this – The most relevant and profitable painters and photographers are making furniture for walls. It’s not about paper or gear, except where those effect the quality of the work – The finished image on the wall is what counts. The bottom line is that studying where we came from and how painters did what they did will make us better photographers – If we can look at their work and learn how to use those ideas to make and sell our own, things take on a grand new light. It’s not easy, but we can Raise The Bar.

Some think I take this too far. That these are small things. It’s true that everyone is different and there are many types of work to be done in our industry. Not everyone must agree with me, but just take time to look at the painters and think about who is still getting noticed hundreds of years later.

There is an endless procession of good work today –  But simply having work does very little to make you stand out. Raise The Bar.

Gavin Seim

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What’s It’s Like Coming Home – After 3 Full Months on the Road

Sunset at the Celestial City. One of our best from 91 days of light hunting – Read more about it here.

 

Read the full journal here to see lots more stories and photos – You can also pre-order the PHOTOGRAPHICS film on Kickstarter.

Gavin-Seim-Family-Portrait-2012-880x476

The family camping – Portrait by Ken Whitmire

It’s bittersweet as I drive down the hill towards familiar grassy slopes and familiar cities on the map. We watch a Spring sunset and flowers spattering green hills. Three full months on the road we’ve been. An adventure of that won’t be forgotten. Yet a part of me feels somehow less for it coming to an end. Like my spirit of adventure is fading because I long for that slow hot shower, a bed where my toes do not hang over the edge and where my wonderful wife’s elbows do not hit me in the side every time she rolls over.

The last few days lacked the grand adventure you look for at the end of a long trip. The kids got a stomach bug and did what you do when you have that. Sometimes we had two going at once – The miles were long and we needed to get home soon for Wall Portrait Conference. We drove hard that final day. Perhaps longer than we’ve ever done. Over five hundred miles from Twin Idaho to Ephrata WA. It took us about twelve hours between breaks, gas and pauses to clean up the mess from sick kids in the back seat.

“What a lousy way to end such a grand adventure” I thought – But somewhere along the road I stepped into the sunlight and realized it was not. Sometimes we get sick, but it passes. Sometimes things go wrong, we have to make repairs, or we come in late. All of those things happened on this trip. More than once. But they’re part of the memories, part of the adventure. They’re surrounded by moments of laughs and wide eyes glistening at the wounder of creation.

The moment I pull in I’m starting a new vacation. We worked hard on this trip. We played hard. It was a gamble too, but our new film PHOTOGRAPHICS is already showing in the black and the trip is all but profitable both emotionally and fiscally. All that time on the road, but so happy to have a place to call home.

We walk in after 91 days on the road and switch on the lights. The house is still here, warm, waiting. Nearly as we left it but for a few extra cobwebs. A bed, a shower, a late night movie with my wife after the kids are finally asleep. We really are home. Next it’s time to process the film, repair the gear, make the prints and get organized.

On Sunday we’re off for a week again to learn and teach at Wall Portrait Conference. But really we’re home right now. It’s only a couple hours away and among people we know. That home feeling is back. It’s odd. Truly surreal to walk down the isle at the store and for once in so long see people you know. Get a hug from your mom when you walk thru a door, or see neighbors wave as you drive down the street. I honestly feel strange not being the stranger here. But that passes and fades into tales of the adventure and silent longing for more.

As the sun shines on our first day home, a breeze blowing, spring flowers popping out, I realize that the world is still alive and that both home and away are something grand. Appreciating your adventure is how you look at it. There’s nothing like a place to call home, but there’s also nothing like the open road, your wife riding shotgun and kids kicking the back of your seat as the road rolls by. This is living, all of it.

Until the next trip, Gavin Seim.

Coming down from the Death Road new Zion. Amazing views.

Read the full trip journal here for lots more stories and photos.

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