March 11, 2017

Escape to Crater Lake: Experience More with Andy Best

After traveling the world to photography incredible people and far off places, Andy Best ventures home to Experience More and explore Crater Lake.

It’s important to dream big while trying to stay centered. Life is chaotic, after all. Sometimes my only option is to escape into my backyard and work on personal projects, shooting stills and time-lapse photos that require me to venture into the trees to recalibrate my mind.

Choosing the location is essential and Crater Lake National Park never disappoints. This deep blue wonder houses a variety of my vivid memories. From insane weather and frigid cold, to a calm breeze and a sky full of stars, I can’t get enough.  

Crater Lake National Park

Most journeys to the Lake begin the same. I prep the night before by laying everything out, charging batteries, cleaning lenses and having nearly as much fun as I do on the adventure itself. The excitement grows with every bit of gear that is gathered. Then I have a terrible night’s sleep because I just can’t wait to get up and get out there.

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Upon arrival, I immediately gear up and study my surroundings. It never happens quickly enough, but as I step into fresh snow and scan for my shot, my senses grow keen and I depart from the noise of the world. There’s so much peace in the hunt and when I finally locate something worth capturing, it’s the ultimate rush.

Andy Best snowshoeing

The frame can be anywhere and that’s half the fun.

Then there’s the time-lapse, which takes a great deal of patience, conceptualization and math. Thank goodness for my phone when it comes to the math part. However, it’s the ritual of the setup and going through the checklist to make sure everything is just right that allows the big dream to take flight. There’s only one chance to nail it and every step counts. As the stage is finally set, I sit back and watch the show as stress begins to drift off my shoulders with the passing wind. It’s just me, my gear, and the grandeur of the great outdoors.

On one such journey to Crater Lake I found the frame and the moment I’d chased for years. After snowshoeing a few miles around the rim, I decided to post up for my favorite, astrophotography. This requires a lengthy window sitting in one place, so I needed the right gear to keep me dry and warm. Each photo can take from  30 seconds all the way up to 15-20 minutes (depending on the shot). Meanwhile the time-lapse needs around 2 hours to capture enough images to create a substantial video clip.

Andy Best camera gear

Once it was all set and images were being recorded, I was hit with utter euphoria and a sense of accomplishment like conquering some epic climb or nailing a daring route. The shutter closed and my smile emerged.

But there was still a journey through darkness back to my truck. I love to stop periodically, turn off the lights and let my eyes adjust to the surroundings. It’s a lot like fishing: you have to reel in slow, as you never quite know what might bite. Then I load up the truck, crank the heat and disappear down a random road to find a place to pop the tent. And finally, the last moment of the day I have a warm meal in a warm sleeping bag, just before lights out. I welcome this process day after day, as often as possible.

reflection of Crater Lake

There’s freedom out there; the chance to get out and explore new places, meet new people, and to call every place I visit home for a day. And we all have a chance to share our experiences with the world. There’s the hope that others will seek what’s out there, and fall in love with a similar place or experience in their neck of the woods.

The adventure is never-ending, and the more I play outside, the more fulfilled I am within.

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