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National Monument review and why we need to speak out

My National Parks personal project is kind of a new aspect of my work, that has been on pause as of late, it has given me the time to reflect on my photographic adventure. Along the way I have visited places like John Muir rock in Kings Canyon, and the Snake River overlook where Ansel Adams took his great image The Tetons and the Snake river. I spent a day trying to find the best place to shoot a shot that looked as close as possible and then had to come back when the light was right two days later to get this shot.

These places stir a reverence to times when the National Park Service was in its infancy and many of the parks we now know and love were not even conceived then. The Parks establishment took the dedication of men like Muir, Adams who became park advocates and countless others such as John D Rockefeller who bought land and donated which became part of Grand Tetons. They spoke out and convinced the presidents and politicians that these lands were sacred and should be kept undisturbed.

After 4 months on the road 24 National parks and countless national forests and monuments I found each has their own story of people who fought long and hard to protect each one. In March during my journey I saw the news of the executive order from our 45th president in which it would allow the sale of National Forests, monument and even park lands to be determined by a congressional committee. So with one quick whip of the pen he put in to motion the unraveling years of work by conservationists, scientists from many fields, philanthropists and artists. These lands not only hold beauty and wonder but many are Native American sites that have been there for hundreds and some thousands of years. Why would we sell these lands? All I can answer is greed. The push for oil in our country now knows no bounds oil rigs surround the park I visit most often Theodore Roosevelt National park.

Now many would say wow what a great image but this image is disappointing to me, as the yellow light in the background is not northern lights, a sunrise or even close city lights. The lights are from oil flares in the distance. People wonder why darkness in a park is even necessary well like humans animals have biological clocks and this intrusive light affects their normal routine. Not only are the rigs flares having an impact but this photo in the south unit shows just how close the rigs are to the park in some places.

On a trip to Glacier I swung into Theodore and got some great photos (in a future post), I stopped along the road and walked in about 100 yards to get this shot of  a rainbow which was rare this year as it was a big drought year. It was an ok shot but did not lend itself to any wide-angle composition as this rig and others would have been in the frame. I was so disappointed that just down and left of this beautiful scene was an oil rig.

The fence  is the park boundary and the rig is basically right next to it with another on the hill in the background. Now I can only hope this company is operating under strict EPA rules however the watershed protections have also been drastically reduced so they can put things like this closer to our parks and rivers. Not good, and especially if you look at enlarged section of this photo.
That is standing water next to oil holding tank and rig, granted this was after a rain of about an inch but it makes me wonder how safe it is next to a national park? Murphy’s law of what can go wrong probably will. So this president wants to loosen restrictions on watersheds and rewrite boundaries for parks and monuments that were made for a reason by past presidents.
The review board set up by Donald Trump results have not yet been fully released Ryan Zinke the department of interior has said that Bears Ears National, Grand Escalante, and Cascade-Siskiyou all are going to be affected. It is not a coincidence that each of these monuments all have resources that companies want. Fates of other parks have yet to be determined.
This landscape photo was shot in Bears Ears which contains uranium an extremely toxic ore to mine with radioactive waste that needs to be contained, Cascade Siskiyou holds many trees the logging industry is after, and Grand Escalante contains rich coal reserves. This administrations erosion of environmental water shed policies, border review have shown that they are not in this for the American public. If the money gained from these resources actually would do any good like providing healthcare, education for our youth, paying down our national debt some would argue it is a fair trade. I however do not believe this to be true they are merely looking to line the pockets of big business; and rob the American public of lands that for historical or conservation reasons have been set aside to be protected from mining, drilling and logging. Regardless of who put them there they deserve to be preserved and protected for the wildlife as well as for people to visit. The reasons these parks are large is because they are large tracts of land with no services and they are adjacent to many national parks or monuments. They serve as safe avenue for animal migration, and keeping the areas next to parks undeveloped and wild. In the case of Bears Ears there are many Native petroglyphs and ruins throughout the area. We should not have to see oil rigs next to a boundary of a park or worry about the water not being safe due to mining and drilling in national park watersheds. Let us also not forget that many of these lands were originally Native American reservation lands given by treaties which were broken, so now the government wants to break an agreement with the American public.
We love our Public Lands for many reasons hiking, camping, photography and in some forests and grasslands hunting and fishing and they need to be protected for the uses they were intended. Pristine wilderness is something that takes decades to bounce back from logging and mining should never be sacrificed we are moving towards a greener society and before we get there fully lets not sacrifice the places we have left for a quick buck. Do not let your voice go unheard speak out to your state representatives!

Six month photographic journey into the National Park System.

For two months I have stared at a blank screen some how waiting for the words to miraculously appear from a journey which some would call a futile effort, yet others would say it was the time of my life, but for me I think it will be the first of many adventures that cannot be summarized in a mere blog post. The range of emotions ran the gamut from the calmness and serenity of the sun setting in the desert, to sheer and utter terror on a four mile hike out through Chiracahua Canyon in the dark seeing large close-set eyes following me.

As the country was being divided by the media, and a President who sought to unravel works of former administrations of protecting places for our enjoyment and the conservation of ecosystems that support diverse life. I was envisioning fulfillment a dream that had built in my soul since I saw the works of Ansel Adams the amazing photographer, and advocate for the National Parks.

There I was with my 40th birthday soon staring me in the face and little I had planned to carry out by 40 actually finished. Which I suppose is what most of the people feel when they hit 40 since most of their great things in life probably weren’t planned at all. I read Kerouac’s On The Road many years ago and it rang so true in certain parts. The excitement of the open road the dotted lines flying by, the T in the road with an arrow in either direction that you just ask yourself for the answer, or when it comes down to it a flip of the coin. So I started to set the plan in motion to rid myself of the chains I had wrapped myself in by society telling me I needed the newest things, a nice apartment, a great paying job, and a hefty savings to enjoy my life when I retire. As I begin to rid myself of things and wants or expectations of what my life should be, I found a greater understanding of what makes my life fulfilling to me.

So this is the first post of many about my travel, and the places I have seen, and hopefully my skills as a landscape photographer can get you some enjoyment and a feeling that our National Parks, National Monuments, and national forests/grasslands need to be protected. You may say wait a minute these places are Federally protected. Well there are many things that threaten these places as well as our environment in general. I ask you to join me here and to keep checking back as I post experiences and photos over the last 6 months. A journey through our great American shrines to the beauty that brought our immigrant ancestors to this land and shaped generations of conservationists, artists and scientists to ask questions and fight to save them. These are the places we think of when we try to explain the beauty of our country to others.
landscape, national parks, Grand Tetons National park, Oxbow Bend
This is Oxbow Bend in the Grand Tetons National Park. When we visit serene places like this we can take in the view and gain perspective of trivial problems and hit the emotional reset button. In our lives we have been conditioned to distance ourselves from nature so we can be closer to Modern conveniences, cell coverage, shopping, restaurants, a comfortable bed and wifi. The understanding I have gained in my travels, that although these things are nice they distance us further from our natural place on this earth and the connection we have with it. This is the first to come of many so stay tuned you can follow me on twitter, fb, linked in just click link on top right.

Beautiful Country wedding in Mercer, North Dakota with Morgan + Mitch

I traveled to Mercer, North Dakota for a wedding two weeks ago. It was a such a pleasure to photograph a great couple. This country wedding was blessed with great weather, a setting that was very special to them, and a lot of friends and family who helped make this day so very special. Morgan + Mitch were high school sweethearts and the backyard where I photographed their first look was the same place where they used to sneak out and meet each other years ago. Here are some highlights from this great country wedding filled with good times.

country wedding, travel wedding photographer, DC Baltimore Maryland

country wedding, travel, wedding photographer, DC, Baltimore, Maryland

country wedding, travel, wedding photographer, DC, Baltimore, Maryland

country wedding, travel wedding photographer, DC Baltimore Maryland

country wedding, travel, wedding photographer, DC Baltimore Maryland

country wedding, travel, wedding photographer, DC, Baltimore, Maryland

country wedding, travel wedding photographer, DC Baltimore Maryland

country wedding, travel wedding photographer, DC Baltimore Maryland

country wedding, travel, wedding photographer, DC, Baltimore, Maryland

country wedding, travel, wedding photographer, DC, Baltimore, Maryland

country wedding, travel, wedding photographer, DC, Baltimore, Maryland

country wedding, travel, wedding photographer, DC, Baltimore, Maryland

country wedding, travel, wedding photographer, DC, Baltimore, Maryland

country wedding, travel, wedding photographer, DC, Baltimore, Maryland

country wedding, travel, wedding photographer, DC, Baltimore, Maryland

country wedding, travel, wedding photographer, DC, Baltimore, Maryland

country wedding, travel, wedding photographer, DC, Baltimore, Maryland

country wedding, travel, wedding photographer, DC, Baltimore, Maryland

country wedding, travel, wedding photographer, DC, Baltimore, Maryland

country wedding, travel, wedding photographer, DC, Baltimore, Maryland
Congratulations! I wish the best for Morgan + Mitch and I was honored to share in this special day to remembered!








Feel free to leave comments below, tell me what you think.

Boston Strong! by Boston photographer Joel Geist

This week has been hard for the Boston area. First off my heart and thoughts go out to all the People injured and the families of those who were lost in this tragedy and law enforcement who worked so hard and gave so much to apprehend the suspects. I am not going to go through details that you have already heard what I am going to attempt to do is show you how the city is trying to get back to some state of “normal” although it is clear to see it will not be forgotten.

My story starts at the starting line in Hopkinton Massachusetts where this feather flower was placed along with others along the road.
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As I started to shoot I happened upon this quote from Benjamin Franklin along the starting line and I got to thinking about the history of Boston and how I didn’t really feel like I was a part of it, as the adjustment to the area has been slow. I took it upon myself to try to tell this story as I see it and I had hoped I somehow would come out feeling more a part of it.
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While the days events of Friday unfolded everyone was told to stay inside and the city was basically shutdown to insure the safety of the public. There was an all clear put out and people ventured out. Then shortly after a David Hennebury tipped off the police, sirens and gunfire rang out through Watertown Massachusetts. It had not dawned on me the impact this would have on the public until the next day.
I hit the T in the morning to go into Boston to do my photography walk, the subway was packed full with Fenway traffic. The Copley station was closed due to the proximity to the blasts and there were armed guards in the station. Unfortunately I was not prepared for that as my camera was still in my bag. I got off the subway and headed to the memorial sites.
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This last photograph I felt was very powerful. This little girl was writing a message on her own, to put up with the rest of the messages on the memorial. When schools are closed and parents have to explain why, the level of fear this could impart to our children of the future is scary to think about. Yet this little girl is telling us to stay strong, and the she hopes Boston will be safe.
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I saw everyone holding there children a little tighter and snap to attention when there was a siren as if on high alert. It may take some time for people to get over some of that anxiety when they hear a siren, but Boston is not the city to give into terror and stay in their homes. I started searching for ways that people were trying to move on from this tragedy. There were multiple locations where people had placed notes, but a local sports store Niketown Boston had placed chalk on their sidewalk for people to leave messages.
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Others looked for places to shop and have lunch these two were having what looked to be a quiet normal lunch at first glance, but if you look in the background you can see the crater where the second bomb was detonated, and signs posted on the barricades.
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Others just needed to do something to show how happy they were the suspects were arrested and the mayhem was over. Walking through the city on three occasions I saw people bringing gifts as a way to thank law enforcement and National Guard personal that were dispatched.
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Acts of kindness and gratitude are often overlooked in a large city but nonetheless they are out there if you look for them and one way for Boston to stay strong is to pull together and make them happen more.

Boston is a proud town and many people take pride in their homes here and I met Jeff who was working on a landscaping project. I stopped and chatted with him for a bit. We talked about his project and the history of the his house that was built for John Quincy Adams family before he became the president.
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This image is close to the western memorial site where ladder 15 company fire department house has stood in front of every Boston marathon. It was built in 1888 and is still in use today and I just felt the look of the older gentleman is as classic Boston as the firehouse he was standing in front of.
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113th running of the Boston marathon was the center of the attack but it is clear the tradition will carry on and next year I foresee more runners than ever. As I walked along the route on the way to another steep tradition. I saw a man running holding the flag running towards the finish and snapped this image of him. As I walked away I could hear loud cheers as he neared the crowds of the memorial.
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As I headed further down the course, I heard the cheers in area that have been there in summertime since 1912. This is Fenway! Home of the Green Monstah.

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The tradition and pride housed in this green cathedral of our American pass time can not be matched. It is the oldest stadium in Major League Baseball and there is a unique feel to the stadium. The fans came out in force on the day after the suspects were apprehended to show that this city will not tremble in fear. There was an intensity as they beat the Royals and everyone was leaving. It looked like just as many came as a show of support to the city maybe more than to see the game, they were decked out in full Boston Gear and American flags were abundant in the crowd.
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There was a sense of pride some showed but there was also something different in the air, you could feel people were on alert and parents seemed to grip their children’s hands a little tighter.
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In the end the kids were happy to go to the game, get a win for their Sox and spend a day with their families.
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This week will live in the memories of many and the Bagpipe player on the way to the T station was a perfect ending as I was trying to layout my story in my head. His song rained sad somber notes, I was curious if I could do this story justice? Just then the tune changed to a more upbeat music as if to give a sense of hope and reassurance to all passing by and to my question.
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Everyone had different ways of mourning and bouncing back, mine was to do this piece. Some lives will be changed forever, it may be a tough road and that is why it is important to….
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Boston-Strong-Photographer-Joel-Geist
Boston-Strong-Photographer-Joel-Geist

BE STRONG, BELIEVE Boston will get through this and grow stronger as a city, and NEVER FORGET!

Blizzicane Nemo 2013

Nemo, welcome to Milford Massachusetts. Its 19 degrees the wind is blowing at 15mph with gusts of 79mph and has brought us fifteen inches of snow and we are only halfway through it. For the record Nemo, you are not a happy go lucky tropical fish anymore. So what is the best way to spend a cold blizzard night?? Stay inside and with a blanket and movie is probably option A for most. I probably picked option 2013 after all letters in the alphabet were exhausted on most people’s list. So after 8 layers of clothing I grabbed my 5dmkII and my 35mm lens and headed out. Instantly I knew this was definitely not even my definition of fun anymore… Determined to comeback with something I ventured into the empty streets; after the governor declared a travel ban on all roadways. I got going, but kept thinking this is not worth it. I quickly realized why this storm was being called a blizzicane, it was dumping as much snow as a blizzard with the gusting winds of a hurricane as well as an eye of one. Kudos to all of the plowmen and women and rescue personal that were out in this. Here are my images from my frozen photo freestyle.


Three faces of Nemo, Look closely and you may see them.

So more to come tomorrow the aftermath..

Well it was not as bad as they were claiming it was going to be, impressive nonetheless. The large amounts of snow at one time were problematic for some but not for local kids.