Stand Here with Rodney Lough Jr.

 In Photographer Spotlight
Arca Swiss RL3d / Phase One IQ180 © Rodney Lough Jr

Capture Integration client Rodney Lough Jr. has released Stand Here – an invaluable app for the landscape photographer. Capture Integration has put together this brief Q/A session to learn more about the app. Learn more about Rodney and his work at his website and about his app Stand Here.

Rodney Lough Jr. has spent a lifetime traveling to the ends of the earth, weathering all types of climates, in order to find the best views of the most beautiful places on the planet. Now he’s sharing these special places with the world. Whether you’re a photographer, an avid hiker or just want to make your family vacation more special, these are places you need to see.

Stand Here Viewpoints are in locations ranging from Acadia to Zion National Parks, a slew of National Forests and even a few places you wouldn’t expect, like the heart of the San Francisco Bay Area. These aren’t just any hikes within just any parks; they’re the most spectacular places in the world.

Arca Swiss RL3d / Phase One IQ180 © Rodney Lough Jr

Stand Here gives you everything you’ll need to know to get to each of these locations, from what airport to fly into to detailed GPS-tracked maps showing you just where to hike. We also supply all the information you’ll need to make your trip a great one, including the best place to lay your head at night and the perfect places to eat in the morning.

From stunning spots just off the side of the road where you can watch the sun sink down into the ocean to flower-filled meadows deep in the mountainous wilderness, Stand Here will guide you every step of the way.  We suggest you create an account today and get off the couch.  The iOS app can be found in the iTunes Store here:

Why did you choose Capture Integration as your dealer of choice?

Truthfully, I chose Capture Integration because of Dave Gallagher – and the values that he holds for customer service. Dave has built a team of dedicated professionals around him which hold the same values that he does. In my experience in working with the team, every single individual has come through for me.

Why share your GPS coordinates for your photos? Some photographers jealously horde their locations because they felt they have worked for it more than others, and shouldn’t need to share. Why do you feel differently?

Perhaps the best answer would be, perspective.

I don’t know what it was like for you growing up, but for me it was filled with hiking, camping, fishing, and pretty much just hanging around in the great outdoors.

My father use to say to me, all the time, “Just wait, someday you’ll understand.” Now that use to drive me crazy because it always seemed a bit condescending to me. To be fair though, the years from 15-35, everything seemed like that to me.

The point he was trying to make, now that I’ve reached ‘someday’, is that history repeats itself. If you have lived long enough you know this to be true, if you haven’t, well…someday you’ll understand.

Early on in my career as a ‘professional’ photographer I was fortunate enough to get a few stunning moments on film at (what I thought were) hidden places. The images were turned into posters and we went about trying to get them into the National Park Visitor Center Bookstores. Many were accepted and I was ‘on my way, baby!’

Many years later I returned to one of these ‘hidden’ locations just to revisit and relive the moment.

I suppose I had it coming, because I had been guilty of the same sort of thing. You know, when you get to an area you go in and visit the bookstore(s), take a look at postcard, posters, even coffee table books – just to get an idea of what there is to see. With the advent of the internet and sites like Flicker, 500px, etc it has become even easier to do research without even leaving the comfort of your own couch.

Arca Swiss RL3d / Phase One IQ180 © Rodney Lough Jr

It was early morning, it was still beautiful, but not as stunning as it had been years before. My ‘hidden’ place wasn’t so hidden anymore. And it was obvious the place was being loved to death. The realization that it was mostly caused by folks in my own profession made the moment even worse.

Now for a simple mountain man from Oregon, it’s hard to put this out there in the public, but I started to weep. Out of the blue comes this young fellow, he came right up next to me and said “I know how you feel! It’s amazing isn’t it. We need to keep this place a secret!”

The realization of that moment, of what I had probably caused, by keeping my secret spot secret yet creating a poster which others could use as a road map back to that very spot hit me like a ton of bricks.

To the young man who had just come up on me I said “I’m not crying because of how it looks today, but because of how I know it looked thirty years ago.” To his response I had no retort, he said “That’s exactly why we need to keep this a secret!”

Let’s fast forward thirty years, when that young man has reached ‘someday’ and he’ll be the one standing there weeping. How much do you want to bet that at that very moment a younger fellow will come up to him and say “I know exactly how you feel! It’s amazing isn’t it. We need to keep this place a secret!”

Damn! My father was right!

It’s been a long time coming but I have realized, now that ‘someday’ has come, that the way you protect a place is not by keeping it secret. To protect a place you tell everyone about it, work to educate them on why this place is SO special and then get them to join a growing community of people who care about the place as much as you do and work to preserve and protect it for prosperity sake. Because without an active community of people dedicated to keeping hiking, exploring and protecting these places they will continue to be loved to death – and probably by us, the very people who claim to love these places to begin with.

Stand Here was born out of this very ideal.

We have begun by identifying many of the places I’ve visited and know about. That however is just a tiny fraction of the amazing and stunning places out there. Over time it is our hope that this will grow to a worldwide concern that will work to help protect these amazing places.

Stand Here has a significant amount of great information about National Parks, National Monuments, Wilderness, and what we like to call Other Beautiful Places.
All that information is free, for everyone. If however you would like to know how exactly to get to a specific Stand Here location, best time to go, what you might want to consider bringing with you, and and and…then we charge a very nominal fee of 99 cents. We take 10% of the net of that 99 cents and donate it back to the protection of that specific location. This over time will help to protect and keep pristine those locations which get the most visitation. Basically the places that get visited the most, get the most help, because they need it.

Arca Swiss RL3d / Phase One IQ180 © Rodney Lough Jr

How did you create the GPS coordinates for the app? Did you record them via a handheld GPS or through geo-tagging your photos?

The idea for Stand Here was thought up nearly a decade ago, but we needed to wait for the technology to catch up so we could do what we had envisioned. There are a number of existing other applications out there, specifically tailored to hiking. These applications give you, for a price of course, a lot of information on just about all trails that exist. Stand Here isn’t about being a trail guide, but rather a guide to the most stunning and spiritually natural places that exist. In other words we like

knowing that there’s something worthwhile at the end of the trail. We have having a reward waiting for us at the end.

Just about all the locations were created by me, by hand, either in the field with a GPS or later using something like Google Earth and satelite imagery software. So every single one of my images is geo tagged in this fashion. And while there are literally thousands of images in my image library, we focused on apx. the top 500 or so images. The images in the Stand Here database are highly edited for their stunning natural beauty.

Arca Swiss RL3d / Phase One IQ180 © Rodney Lough Jr

I see that the app has the ability to add user photos; do you think you may add in user submitted files for unique locations in the future?

The version that is uploaded and awaiting Apple approval (perhaps by the time of this writing it will already be up) allows many of these things. Hikers are able to Track-a-Trail and create their own trails (categorized & searchable) and share those trails with the community if they choose. Hikers can geo tag their own images and save them. Hikers can share their images on their social media outlets as well.

Beyond that, and more, hikers are able to suggest locations for submission into the Stand Here database of viewpoints. Not only will they be helping protect these locations for generations to come but we also give them photo credit and a link back to their website. The idea is that through the help of the user community worldwide, what started out as a few viewpoints from one person could end up putting viewpoint locations all over the globe.

Arca Swiss RL3d / Phase One IQ180 © Rodney Lough Jr

How has your photography changed over the years with the transition from film to digital? Do you feel like you’re lacking anything, or are you open to more possibilities now with the gear available these days?

I have heard the Ansel quote “The Negative is the score and the Print is the execution of the score.”, used many times by landscape photographers to justify the highly interpretive use so many of them use to ‘create’ their works today. What they might not realize is that black and white photography, and when Ansel made his statement he was speaking about B&W, is highly interpretive but color nature landscapes should not be.

The quote they oft seem to ignore is another one of Ansel’s “People may not believe what they see in a painting, but they believe what they see in a photograph.”

Regardless of the intent or disclosure this new style of photography, I call it Fantasy Photography, any ‘honest’ declaration is often missed by the general public and sadly many of them believe what they are seeing.

Personally I believe that landscape photographers have a duty to not erode the public trust by ‘creating’ nature images which simply could never be seen in real life.

For example, the milky way…I have been under the stars more than most and can tell you that no such vision as currently being ‘represented’ exists.

So how has my photography changed over the years with the transition between film and digital captures? I have had to be much more aware that the digital technology would allow me to misuse a natural scene and have to work much harder than before to ensure that doesn’t happen. It probably takes just as much work to keep something ‘pure’ as it does to fake it and ultimately might not be as ‘cool’.

Today I am still shooting film, with the limited 8×10 film stock I have left. However most shots these days are gathered using a technical 4×5 camera with a digital IQ180 back. You can think of it as a hybridized basterdization of technical field camera with a little Borg thrown in for good measure.

As for what is lacking in equipment today, HA, more pixels, larger sensor, in-back focusing, better low light and long exposure options at lowest ISO 35 settings…this list though is probably more specific to my personal needs than those of the general public.

Anything (gear or software) you wish you could see that’s not available on the market yet?

And the great and mysterious Oz says…wait for it…the things I would want no one in their right minds would ever create. Why? Because they’d have an audience of one. And that’s not really cost effective. 😉

What’s your average gear load out look like when going hiking these days?

If I plan on doing a lengthy back country trip (three weeks or so) I will start off pushing between 100-120lbs as a mix between camping, clothing, food etc., and camera, lenses, tripod etc. If there is someone coming along then I will either pawn off some gear onto them or ask them to bring a secondary camera and systems, like the 8×10. 😉 How much can you carry?

As a hiker and photographer myself, I’m always looking to cut pounds off my load out. What are some of the tips you would suggest to the budding landscape photographer?

This is a GREAT question! Well I think the first thing I would try to get across is that less is more. This is not only true about camping/hiking gear, but is especially true for camera gear. Most of my work has been done using two lenses and most is done with only one of those. I have three lenses. Do I need more? I don’t think so. Most of the work is done with just one. For backcountry I’d suggest taking a wide angle and also a slightly wide angle (just a bit wider than normal) lens. The rest becomes a personal question of what do you ‘really’ need to have along? For me it’s simple: camera, two lenses, storage, soft edged split graduated ND, carbon fiber tripod, and enough batteries to last the entire trip.

For hiking gear, usually the more expensive means lighter and higher quality. I don’t like using a tent and prefer using a bivy instead. I take prepackaged dry goods using something like a mountain house mountain oven, they’re tasty (especially when you’re hungry) and they’re lightweight. A change of clothing with typical layers, etc. My kit is very modest, but highly effective.

Ansel Adams was also a huge proponent for environmental conservation, with a well known association with the Sierra Club as well as meetings with Presidents and Congress. How do you feel our current generation of photographers is doing to carry forward that mantle and responsibility?

This year marks the celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the signing of the Wilderness Act. Last month Washington DC put on a host of events marking this historic year. I was asked to come as a guest of The PEW Charitable Trust and speak at the unveiling of the exhibit Wilderness Forever at The Smithsonian – National Museum of Natural History. This marked the second time one of my images was being inaugurated into the museum and this time the image will be used to represent Wilderness in relation to this historic event. It is truly an honor to know that my image will be used to represent the very thing I love so much, wilderness and wild places, for generations to come.

I had an opportunity to meet a number of the mover and shakers in the Wilderness circle while in DC. One of them happened to be Michael Brune, current executive director of the Sierra Club. We had a chance to discuss Stand Here and what it’s true purpose is. Since then he has reached out to me to try and work together to get it more known, more out there, more available. Because he believe as I do, the larger the community of people who seek to take care of wild and beautiful places the better chance they stand of surviving over time.

How though, do I feel our current generation of photographers is doing to carry forward that ‘mantle and responsibility’? I have great faith that they will indeed carry the torch onward to even greater things. However I am reminded that faith without works, is dead. So I continue to try and educate and explain and teach so that what I have seen and learned over these many years is not lost. That is why I created Stand Here.

Arca Swiss RL3d / Phase One IQ180 © Rodney Lough Jr
With the Parks service changing laws regarding photography (for example,  new permitting regulations and restricting drone usage) in order to help preserve national parks, what else can photographers do to help keep a low impact on our environment?

The current laws regarding photography in the public lands, be it National Park, BLM or Forest Service for non commercial purposes does not effect most of us. Nor, do I believe, will it ever. Any law put in place to subjugate the general population or take away their constitutional rights will not stand. We see this today, as the the NFS seeks to amend their regulations. The people are not standing idly by waiting for their rights to be dismantled. They are speaking up. As photographers, especially landscaped photographers, we have a duty to protect – not destroy. We must never forget that. Sadly though I have personally witnessed the callas disregard for the frailty of nature by other photographers. Perhaps I should rethink adding a baseball bat to my back country kit?

In closing I would like to submit this idea to our community…Good is the enemy of great. Do not be good. Be great. Take a moment and reflect on your actions before acting because what you personally do reflects onto all of us.

We can leave the world in better shape than we found it. I mean, what else you got planned today?

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