Photos from the Road in 2015

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Looking back on 2015, I’ve discovered that I did some of my best photography while traveling. While I have one more trip to the Badlands National Park (this weekend), I thought it would be interesting to look back at the photos that I took while on the road this year. This collection of images includes some of the pictures that I took from each destination.

Sanibel Island, Florida

I spent a couple of weeks on Sanibel Island, Florida as a vacation. When I’m on vacation, I don’t like to shoot photos, especially not the type of photos that I normally take and share with the public. You can see in this small collection of images some of the subjects that I like to shoot when I’m on vacation. On Sanibel, those subjects include birds and historic items. These aren’t my specialty, so I don’t often share them even though I have 100s and 100s of photos like these. If I’m going to shoot while on vacation, I’ll often limit myself to one lens. For much of the vacation, I used Nikon’s 20mm f/1.8 [Amazon link]. Nikon loaned it to me for several weeks. I really liked the lens, so I ended up adding one to my camera bag.

Badlands National Park

I spent about five days in the Badlands National Park in the early spring. I like it out there when the grass is still brown, because I think the color pallet is subtle. In May when I was there, the grass was just beginning to green up and that was pretty cool, too. The clouds were awesome, which is one of the advantages of going there in the early summer. Next year, I’m offering a five-day Badlands and Black Hills Photography Workshop in June, which is at the height of the thunderstorm season. You should come. These images were all taken on the photography workshop that I ran out there. I also do an Early Winter in the Badlands Photography Workshop. I’m heading there to teach that workshop this weekend.

Western Nebraska

I’ve been out to western Nebraska on several trips now. On this trip, I visited the northern part of western Nebraska and went to Fort Robinson State Park. The terrain is a mixture of plains with buttes and hills rising out of it here and there. When I was there, I was in a snowstorm.

Black Hills

I spent some time in the Black Hills as well. Whenever I’m in the Black Hills, I feel like I’m coming home. I lived in Rapid City for a short period of my life and fell in love with the area. My favorite parts are Spearfish Canyon — I learned to ice climb there — Wind Cave National Park and Custer State Park. On this trip, I hiked and camped in Wind Cave, but spent most of my time photographing Custer and Spearfish Canyon. I love driving the Iron Mountain Road, so I drove it several times. Once just to photograph, Mount Rushmore at sunset and into the blue hour.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park — North Dakota Badlands

I visited the North Dakota Badlands twice this year. I wasn’t expecting to fall in love with Theodore Roosevelt National Park as much as I did with the South Dakota Badlands, but I did. It’s a different more subtle terrain. When I was there, the grass was brown, which is the look I love, and the cottonwood trees were budding out in that eye-catching spring green. Teddy Roosevelt National Park has a herd of wild horses. I found it interesting watching the different bands of horses roam around. In the spring, they were closer to the road. In late summer, it was hard to find them. I was also pretty amazing to stand in the cabin of President Theodore Roosevelt. He’s one of my heros. He did more than anyone to create the lifestyle that I enjoy. Without his conservation efforts, I suspect much of our beautiful national parks and national landscapes would have been sold to the few (see: Wilderness and Public Lands: You Own Them).

It’s not what we have that will make us a great nation; it is the way in which we use it. – President Theodore Roosevelt

Grand Teton National Park

It was my second or third visit to Grand Teton National Park. Back when I was a climber, I had always wanted to climb to the top of the Grand, but I never did. This year I spent a week there on a scouting trip and working vacation. The goal was to find enough locations to offer a future workshop there. I opened a workshop up to former students and filled a five-day workshop within a day. Then I added a second one. There may be space available in the second one. I’ll open it up to the public in January. I have always loved the Tetons, but this visit made me fall deeper in love with them. I really had the best conditions that you can get, which is somewhat luck. Even the worst morning, turned out to have an amazing sunrise. One of the things that I did notice about the park was that you really need lots of filters if you’re going to shoot the sunset. It was challenging to get sunset images there.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

I returned to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park for my annual Fall in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park Fall Photo Workshop. I love the Smokies and have backpacked 100s of miles in the park and returned there for at least 14+ years. My first visit was when I hiked the Appalachian Trail from Maine to Georgia. While it’s hard to narrow down the best terrain on the 2159+ mile journey, the Smokies did stand out as a highlight. The Smokies are huge as well. The park contains 522,427 acres. It’s also America’s most visited national parks and one of the most biologically diverse places in the world. It’s amazing. I have just begun to sort through images from that visit, so I’m just posting a few of the highlights. The color was unreal this year. Some of the best fall color I’ve seen in my life.

I feel extremely lucky to have done the amount of traveling that I’ve done this year. Hopefully, you’ll enjoy the images that I made and if you didn’t get to one of these locations, hopefully, my images will make you want to go. I’m a strong believer that the more people we can get into the parks and wild areas of America, the more people will want to protect them for the generations yet unborn.

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Showing 5 comments
  • Janet Omundson

    Perhaps, what you call your best photography is seen with “new eyes.” One can’t turn their head without seeing beauty in our region…beauty that you are used to seeing every day that you’re “home.” When I go to bed each night, I look out at the “High Bridge” and the lights that outline that part of Superior…and it’s different every night…same thing in the morning…it’s different. I try to look at it with “new eyes” and drink it in so that I will never forget the beauty of that moment. I know you do, too, because your photography shows it

    • Bryan Hansel

      I called it “some of my best photography while traveling.” That’s different than best photography. I tend to try to live in the moment, and take advantage of whatever situation I’m in. I’m not sure if that means I see things with “new eyes.” It could, but I haven’t really thought about it.

  • Lana

    Thanks for sharing your newsletters Bryan, your work (whether at home or afar) is very inspiring and the information you share is appreciated. Also living near Lake Superior and having taken a few road trips to the Badlands and Black Hills area myself (quite a few years ago now), your images challenge me to do better with my own at home – while the memories associated with this newsletter (in particular) inspire me to roam. Keep them coming & enjoy wherever you are off to next.

  • Shirley Page

    What a thrill to have watched your great photos this evening! Twice. I have visited many of those places and I “went on a little trip myself”. You had so many beautiful photos that were unique as well. Thank you so much for sharing such beauty from the ground up to the beautiful stars and the “shooting one”. I hope you have a great year in ’16 and I am looking forward already to your trips!

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