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Off-Piste Photography


Off-Piste Photography

Not to be confused with piste – off photography! Ha Ha! Forgive me! Those of you who have read my blog or follow me on social media have probably already sensed my dry sense of humor. Piste is a skier’s term meaning a compacted ski run. Off-piste is to ski off the main runs, through the trees or down a nice untracked powder chute. According to Google, off-piste also means ‘To deviate from what is conventional, usual or expected.’ Off-Piste Photography is exactly what this blog post is about.

The Pacific Northwest is a wonderful & beautiful place. I believe we have more than our fair share of Mother Nature’s spectacular scenery and certainly more than our fair share of landscape photographers to go along with it. With such a high concentration of photographers in a relatively small region, we often see multiple images of the same iconic locations created by hundreds of different photographers. When an iconic scene is so frequently photographed, it becomes very difficult to find a fresh composition that is different from all the others. Granted, these are all beautiful images and they do very well on social media, but for the most part, they are all carbon copies of the same old, same old, iconic tourist place.

Hoofin’ it!…

What I want to write about today is the effort to go off-piste and find new and unique locations for landscape photography. I have recently written about my backpacking experiences. I love backpacking, I truly do. It has qualities that I love for the same reasons I love photography. Both offer a one-on-one experience with Mother Nature. Backpacking is the means I use to get off-piste and go beyond the common landscape and into the wild and remote landscapes that few ever see. This is where photography and backpacking synergize. One enhances the other. Photography and backpacking are best when experienced together. They are better together than either one is apart.


Exploring off-piste is what lead me to this composition in the Leslie Gulch area of Eastern Oregon.

Take Your Time… Relax… Stay Awhile…

I realized the best way to plan my backpacking trips is to hike one day and rest one day, without hiking on. This provides many benefits. First of all, it helps my mind transition from the hustle & bustle of city life to the calm awareness of my photographer’s frame of mind. When I’m in that frame of mind, the quality and the variety of my images improve. I see better, not just with my eyes but with my heart also.

Staying the extra day doubles your opportunities for good color at sunrise and sunset. It gives you more opportunities to find the best compositions and more opportunities to photograph those compositions in the best light. Staying the second day means you will come home with a wider variety of unique images.

Lastly, staying the extra day provides the body a day of rest from the often-difficult hiking of the previous day. You can plan your whole trip this way, planning 2 nights at each spot along the way. It’s such a nice feeling not to rush!

I highly recommend taking the time to make the best use of your backpacking efforts. Stay awhile, enjoy the scenery, and don’t rush. It will only make your experience and photography better.

Considering hiking or backpacking with a camera? You might also enjoy my blog post, What Camera to take Backpacking 

You can find more of my photos and posts at oregonexposures.com
I hang out on Facebook at Lori Rowland Photography

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