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The National Park Project

MS2085The National Park Service was first established on August 25, 1916. A time when we already had 11 designated National Parks within the borders our country. The creation of the National Park Service (NPS) was a monumental event in the history of our country as it became the unified governing body responsible for managing all of our National Parks, Monuments, Recreation Areas and other national treasures.  As an organization it is tasked with maintaining the difficult balance between preservation and exploration, conservation and exploitation of many of our greatest national treasures.  Treasures that are meant to be preserved not only for our own enjoyment, but as a means to learn, interact and inspire our lives.

MS868-HDRThe national parks have been a large part of my life the last 20 years and have become an important part of who I am. Growing up in the pristine Wasatch Mountains of Utah, my family never felt the need to visit any national parks. After all, we already lived in the granite mountains, surrounded by meadows, rivers and unlimited recreational opportunities, so why look elsewhere. Therefore, I never experienced as a youth what our national parks had to offer.  I never saw Canyonlands or Arches, Capitol Reef nor Bryce Canyon.  I remember only one time during my high school years visiting Yellowstone National Park for the day.  It was a much different park back then, but I still felt it’s magic and left with a single impression…more, please.

I vowed that when I had a family of my own, the National Parks were going to be a part of our lives.  As soon as Allison and I got married some 20 years ago, the National Parks became an integral part of our new family culture, and quickly became a treasured part of our lives.  It seems that every vacation, or free weekend availed to us, found us within the parks, hiking, learning, exploring and photographing.  It is within the boundaries of the parks where the pursuit of my photography was not only born, but truly discovered.  The parks have helped shaped the way in which I see the world, and ultimately helped me realize my own personal style of outdoor photography.

DS1017As our family has aged, and increased through the years, the national parks, both domestic and abroad, have always remained a part of our lives. My kids, now growing into young adults, genuinely enjoy the national parks and all the unique experiences they help create.  Okay, they sometimes complain about all the hiking, but once the view or experience at the end is realized, even they are inspired.  This should not be a surprise, after all, they have been waddling through the parks ever since they could walk.  As I look back over the years, I realize that as a family we have seen a great many of our national parks, but not all of them……yet!

AD280This leads to my centennial thought.  I have always wanted to see every park, so, as the National Park Service celebrates it’s 100 year anniversary, I think now is the time to complete this lifelong goal once and for all. My kids only have a few more years left at home, and I want to make sure that they see, and experience every designated National Park before they leave our nest.  They have been in many parks throughout their lifetime, but the caveat with this new goal is that they must remember, and have a unique memory of every single park.  If they can’t remember it, it didn’t happen, and is therefore back on the list to complete.  I have to admit, I am really excited for this next chapter of exploration. Excited to be immersed in my photography again, excited to see and learn more things, but most excited to see the memories light up within the eyes of my kids as they not only discover who they are, but continue to discover this beautiful and unique world that surrounds them.

If you want to follow our adventures as we complete this goal over the next few years, check us out on Instagram @jeffambrosephoto or on Twitter @JBAmbrose as I showcase parks we are currently visiting, or ones we have visited in the past.  If you want to buy some of my photographic prints from our national parks, please visit the Portfolio section of this website and help support a local artist.  Also, feel free to ask any questions or share any thoughts on your own national park adventures.

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Top 5 Inspiring Videos 2015

There are so many avenues to draw inspiration from these days. As a professional photographer for nearly 20 years, naturally I am inspired by the images created by others. It allows me to see a different interpretation to perhaps an otherwise common or familiar scene. Another means of great inspiration to me through the years has been music. That may sound odd as a photographer, but music has always infused my mind with images, ideas, and thus a driving force in making some of those images a reality. Finally, I have been finding the most inspiration from independent videos these days. Those moving pictures, built around music that in the end tell a story, share a message or encourage a change. Needless to say, I have watched too many hours of video this year, but in the process have discovered a few nuggets of inspiration along the way.  Well, inspiration to me at least, and towards my photographic and filming pursuits.  I thought I would share them with you…so buckle up, crank up those speakers, and enjoy the stories, messages, and fantastic filming.

#5 – The Chase by Mike Olbinski

I love time-lapse photography and how it shows motion. I particularly like the subject of clouds and their motion.  This short video captures a great sequence of storms, how they develop, and the beauty that can be witnessed amidst the American Plains.

#4 – Denali by Felt Soul Media

Those who know me, know that I am no lover of dogs. That said, many of my friends are. Regardless of my own thoughts, there is no question the companionship and loving bond that can exist between man and animal.  The message of this video, captured mostly in still images, is done so well, and has been so inspiring to me and to portions of my life.  We never know how long we will have with the ones we love…so you should go totally insane with joy.

#3-Merely Observations by Gnarly Bay

Gnarly Bay is honestly one of my all time favorite independent film makers. Their approach to filming, music and narration produce some of the greatest inspiration to me and my photographic pursuits.  Whenever I feel stuck, I just need to watch one of Dana and Dan’s films and I am once again inspired. Inspired to create something in the now.

 

#2-Timedrift II by Martin Heck

Like I stated earlier, I love time-lapse work, especially as it relates to clouds.  This short film is a great resource in watching the subtle movements of air, how they roll over the mountains, and across the valley floor.  I have been so lucky in life to fly my paraglider across these mountains, so perhaps they stir inside myself a unique set of memories. A reminder to keep watching, learning, and experiencing.

 

#1-Space by Gnarly Bay

No surprise, but the top of the list this year goes to Gnarly Bay. Their latest creation called Space.  Find a quiet place to watch this film, listen to the message, because the message is fantastic!  I hope you will be inspired by this film as much as I have. Each day the lights come on.

I hope this short collection of videos has inspired you in some way or another. They have inspired me.  As we begin a new year, my hope is to take full advantage of each day, to live life more fully, be observant, create; to be thankful, giving and full of joy. How lucky we are to be on this amazing earth, learning, experiencing and hopefully making the most of each moment we are given.

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The Alaska Project

Fourteen years ago today my wife and I were twenty something days into a very long voyage through the upper reaches of North America. We were living strictly out of our truck at the time pushing as deep into wild country as we could. Far from hotels, restaurants or running water for that matter. Just our trusty truck, stocked with food and film. It was a special time in life, one that taught significant photographic and more importantly life lessons that I am confident could have never been learned any other way.

 Why do I bring this up? Over the last twenty something days I have been reflecting on this past journey, retracting my journal and photographic collection day for day. Thus far it has been a very engaging mental exercise; one that keeps flooding my heart with memories and emotions I have not felt in years.

 I pause for a few moments, look out the window and see the clouds below rushing past our wingtips once again en route to the wild lands of Alaska. I realize today marks the exact day fourteen years ago that Allison and I first made our way into the southern reaches of Alaska.  Fitting, as I stare out the window.  I come for a different reason this time, but the mental anxiety and excitement of Alaska never seems to fade.

The allure of flying some fabric and string across some remote ranges of Alaska is too much to resist. We have been planning this adventure for some time, and it is thrilling to see it finally come together. This adventure is simply called The Alaska Project for now, but will likely morph into something more dynamic as it gets underway….these such adventures always do. As I continue to stare out the window and reflect on the life changing adventures of the past, I am energized to forge some new ones over the next several dayS. Stay tuned!