Author Archives: jonathan

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A Life in the Clouds

This film highlights the work being done by Dr. Lisa Dabek and the Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program to understand the behavior and ecology of the endangered Matschie’s tree kangaroo in Papua New Guinea.

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Mile for Mile – Patagonia Trail Running

This is a story about perseverance, commitment, and conservation.  For the last 25 years Doug and Kris Tompkins have been working to preserve land throughout Argentina and Chile.  The highlight of their effort is the spectacular Patagonia National Park.  This film follows runners Krissy Moehl, Jeff Browning, and Luke Nelson on a 106 mile journey through the rugged and wild landscape of Patagonia.

 

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The Last Darkness – Patagonia Trail Running

The Owyhee Canyonlands encompass a remote and little-known part of northwestern Oregon.  This spectacular and wild landscape does not have any protections and faces significant pressure from cattle grazing and erosion.

This film follows runners Jeff Browning and Jesse Haynes on a 170 mile adventure through the rugged canyons and dark nights of the Owyhee Canyonlands.  Directed, filmed, and edited by yours truly.

Yosemite Meadow Fire Timelapse, September 2014 from MountainsRiversMedia on Vimeo.

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Meadow Fire Timelapse

Having been in the High Sierra for the weekend, repeating historic photographs of the Darwin Glacier, I was surprised to see a huge plume of smoke flowing away from Yosemite on my way home.  It turns out the Meadow Fire, which was started by lightning in Mid July, blew up due to high winds on Sunday.  While it’s now burning in high elevation lodgepole and granite and has slowed down considerably, it is somewhat unusual for this fire to have taken off at this elevation.  Most previous fires in this area were much smaller and less intense, but the combination of drought, warm temperatures, and high winds that day showed us that this is maybe the new normal for fires at this elevation.

Yosemite Meadow Fire Timelapse, September 2014 from MountainsRiversMedia on Vimeo.

Music:

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Star Trails Over Fitz Roy, Jonathan Byers, 2013
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Fitz Roy Star Trails

This is the story of this photograph, my first commercial success on the Patagonia website, and now as a poster.

It was January 2012. Ned and I had just finished climbing Cerro Tronador near Bariloche on New Years and repeating a few historic photographs in that area for Alpine of the Americas Project.

If you want to purchase a 20×30 print on Fuji Crystal Archive Paper, click on the button!



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“Rough Waters Ahead” in Earth Island Journal

This past April I spent eight days floating down the Green River in Utah with a small group including writers, water scientists, and activists.  This area is one of the most remote, rugged, and beautiful places in the lower 48, and well deserves its name – Desolation Canyon.  As our thirst for oil and gas drives us to drill and mine in increasingly inaccessible areas, the Tavaputs Plateau above the river this area is facing a large oil shale development and tens of thousands of new natural gas wells are being drilled in proposed wilderness areas.  We went down the river to see this place for ourselves and think about what the value of such areas are.

Read the full article written by Jeremy Miller in the Winter 2014 Earth Island Journal, and stay tuned for a short film of the trip I’ve been working on.

To find out more about these issues visit:

Living Rivers

Western Resource Advocates page on the proposed PR Springs Oil Shale development

Before It Starts – Keep tar sands and oil shale mining out of the USA


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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On Going Viral – Lessons from the Rim Fire

This past summer started off dry.  I was working for the National Park Service in Yosemite as a Physical Science Technician.  My work was to travel around the park collecting water samples from the rivers for analysis, and maintaining machines that monitored air quality.  The summer was pretty routine until late August when we heard a fire had started north of the Park on National Forest land.

Lesson #1 – Right place, right time

When the Rim Fire started in the Stanislaus National Forest we knew it was dry, but it we all thought that it was unlikely that the fire would reach the Yosemite boundary.  When the fire grew by more than 50,000 acres in a day, we knew it would be different.  I started going up to the Crane Flat Helibase, a short walk from the Tuolumne Grove parking lot, to shoot timelapses.  Working for the Park Service and seeing all the work that was being done to monitor the smoke impacts, I was mostly thinking the footage would be shared among park scientists.  When the NPS YouTube channel posted it, things quickly escalated.

Lesson #2 – Be Prepared

In this case, over a million people watched the video shared on the Yosemite National Park YouTube channel.  Despite most of this video being shot on my own time, I included content from a park service timelapse camera showing the smoke movement away from Yosemite Valley.  Having not had a plan, the only way people saw my info was if they watched all the way through the credits.  While this is how this one happened, I now know to be more active in promoting my website and the original footage on vimeo.

Lesson #3 – Always ask for more than you think you deserve

Corey Rich, now a very well known outdoor and adventure photographer has some great “stories behind the image” (here and here) about how being bold and asking for way more pay than you think you deserve pays off and more often than not the editor or whoever wants the image says “Yes”.  This advice isn’t so easy when a producer from CNN calls you and wants to use your image.  The first time that happened, I said yes to their offer, and as soon as I got off the phone was kicking myself for not asking a lot higher.

Moving forward, a lot of lessons were learned but in the end just getting beautiful content from unique perspectives.

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Gone for a Run

The way I learn new skills, especially in photography and filmmaking is through doing.  I had just gotten a GoPro Hero 2 and Adobe AfterEffects 6, and was looking to do some learning.  I headed up to the White Mountains for a weekend of running and playing with cameras.  I’d seen a few videos, particularly from Abe Kislevitz, using text that tracked with a point in the video frame, also known as 3D motion tracking, and wanted to learn how to do it.  Pretty straightforward and looks good.

It just so happens that the White Mountains are home to the oldest known living organism, the Bristlecone Pine, Pinus longavea, an individual of which in 2012 is dated at 5,062 years old.   An inspiring place to be sure, running amongst such ancient things, and a place I definitely plan on returning to.

The Run:

Running to the summit of White Mountain Peak (14,246), the third highest peak in California, is a well-worth-doing adventure.  After a long drive up from the town of Big Pine in the Owens Valley, you’ll reach the gate to the White Mountain Research Station at ~12,000 feet and follow the road.  Total about 15 miles round trip.  Well worth doing, now go do it!Screen Shot 2014-01-16 at 3.15.10 PMScreen Shot 2014-01-16 at 3.14.32 PM

Gannett Peak with EFD from MountainsRiversMedia on Vimeo.

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Gannett Peak with Everybody’s Favourite Dino

This short video was shot in 2012 on a late spring adventure to climb Gannett Peak in the Wind River Range of Wyoming. I brought along my mascot, a plastic triceratops, and somehow he ended up becoming the featured character of the video. My apologies for any offense caused by the narration.