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The Alpha Collective

On the road with @sonyalpha and the #AlphaCollective

Story by Dave Krugman September 29th, 2016

In our interconnected age, creativity can be a collaborative pursuit. If you‘re united by a common cause, you can form a system of support that helps you go further, and see more. This summer, Sony Alpha brought together a diverse group of artists bound by a common goal- to travel through the national parks of our western states, pushing our cameras, and ourselves, to the limits. This is the story of the #alphacollective.

We started our journey in San Diego- where we packed and loaded gear before sitting down to dinner with the Sony team, aligning our intentions for the busy week ahead. The buzz of energy and excitement was palpable as we loaded onto the bus that we would call home for the next 8 days. We closed our eyes in California, and opened them at the gates of Zion National Park. The first thing you notice about Zion is the sheer scale of things. Wide rock faces stand like sentinels, and guard the cavernous amphitheaters that ring with echoes like the halls of great cathedrals.

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An instagram based campaign

Social Media is an extremely effective way to communicate in realtime with an engaged audience. We used our Instagram channels to share our experience as we went through some of the most beautiful parts of our country. Click through to see more of the actual campaign, or visit me on Instagram at @dave.krugman.

Excited to be on the road as an inaugural member of the #alphacollective- a group of photographers brought together by @sonyalpha. We've been tasked with traveling through the west over the next week, stopping to document some of the beauty of this majestic part of the world. Yesterday we hiked to Angels Landing in Zion National Park- a precarious climb with an absolutely beautiful view at the top. Check my story for behind the scenes, and the tags in the photo for the rest of our crew! ✌🏻️📷

A photo posted by Dave Krugman 📷 (@dave.krugman) on

The long climb

Our aim was to find a perch on the top of Angel’s Landing for sunset, so we wound our way up the switchbacks, ever higher, and pulled ourselves hand over hand along the chain that hugged the ridge-line. At the top, a breeze blew gently by us and the clouds popped with color thrown by the last breaths of the fading sun. We hiked back down through the muted tones of dusk, and though we could have spent days in Zion, we sped off to Salt Lake, in a race against the break of day.

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Reflections at Antelope Island

In Salt Lake, we arrived as the sun spilled over the horizon and illuminated the expanse of the salt flats. Reflections stretched before us, and the morning light painted a world beneath our feet. We set up long portraits, working with the mirror like surface of stilled water. As the sun rose higher, we loaded back on the bus and sped off to Jackson Hole.

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Jackson hole, wyoming

In Jackson, we parked under the shadows of the Grand Tetons- and had the opportunity to see things from an entirely different perspective. The landscapes of Jackson and Yellowstone are majestic as is- but viewed from the air, a new landscape is revealed. Natural patterns stretch to the horizon. Rivers cut their winding paths through deep stands of pine, and the geothermic wonders of Yellowstone held colors and textures that seem alien to the brown and green tones of the western wilds. On the way home, we flew past the jagged peaks of the Tetons, which cut a stark relief against the pure blue sky that stretched from one horizon to another.

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views from the skies

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Grand prismatic Spring

Grand Prismatic Spring is the largest hot spring in the country. From above, it looks like the surface of some distant planet. Steam rose off the aquamarine water and left long white trails that cast shadows across the barren landscape. For a sense of scale, observe the walkway and people on the left of the image below.

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BACK DOWN TO EARTH

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After soaring through the skies, we came back to eye level and explored the ponds and lakes that surround the Tetons. Beavers swam through the foreground, pushing ripples through the reflections of the setting sun- it’s beams shooting over the tops of the mountain range.

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Yellowstone on horseback

The next morning was cold enough that frost gripped the forest floor and a thick layer of fog lingered in the first light of day. We saddled up in the darkness of dawn and prepared for a five hour horseback ride through the forest. The morning mood muted the normal hum of nature, and the silence was punctuated by occasional calls of birds and distant elk. With cold fingers, we snapped frames of this fleeting feeling, attempting to capture whatever we could of the golden hues and frost covered isolation of the first light in Yellowstone.

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@zachallia IN YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, WYOMING.

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Deeper into yellowstone

We spent the next few days wandering the expanses of this geothermal wonderland- geysers erupted around us while eagles soared above- their sharp eyes taking in the same beauty that filled every corner of our vision. Waterfalls rushed through the canyons, while steam rose from hot springs and caught the golden light of sunset.

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@jnsilva in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming.

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a silent sunrise

The first bit of light brings color to the clouds, and steam rose off the warm streams while elk grazed in the silent stillness of the early morning. As quickly as it came, the color left the skies, but with photography, we can preserve an instant for eternity.

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the power of nature

Having seen these features from the air, we were excited to get close, to see the details and rushing energy that boiled up from miles beneath the surface. The rising steam allowed us atmosphere for portraits, animals watched from distant perches as we explored the otherworldly textures that time itself had carved into the landscape.

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Old faithful is always on time

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Onwards to GLACIER

No matter how much time we had here, it would never be enough. We packed our gear and headed towards our final stop- the snow capped majesty of Glacier National Park.

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Glacier was the perfect cap to a week of mind-altering beauty. The landscape there seemed ripped from fantasy. Mountains stacked upon mountains, deep, still glacial lakes sit in the valleys like giant mirrors, waiting to catch the colors of sunsets that illuminate the clouds above. Once the sun went down, the stars were pinpoints in the dark fabric of night, and the moon lit the landscape in a cool white glow. Mountain goats gripped the sides of these steep rock faces, perfectly suited for this harsh environment, and water cascaded down any incline, seeking equilibrium. We spent time at Swift Current Lake, watching the steam rise off the calm water in the morning, and watching the clouds grip the mountain peaks above the tree line in the evening. One morning, a line of horses walked through the frosted trees at sunrise, and we felt transported to another time.

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It was a fitting way to wrap up our #AlphaCollective trip, a weeklong creative expedition. The lightness of the mirrorless system was a boon to our efforts, the adaptability of the Alpha let us bend ourselves in new directions, and the resolution of the photographs alone allowed us to make images within images. To have the support of @sonyalpha enabled us all to go further, to forge new friendships and a deeper understanding of photography and the natural world. We left with inspiration, energy, and a renewed purpose to bring our ideas into reality.

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Footnote: All images were shot on a Sony A7RII, on assignment for @SonyAlpha
United States