Exalt­ed as a play­ground for the fit and brave, Utah’s desert gem, Moab, sits beside the Col­orado Riv­er, two nation­al parks, and a state park. Mean­ing “Promised Land,” the destination’s nomen­cla­ture denotes its unri­valed access to canyons, trails, river­ways, and rock walls. But to the dis­cern­ing eye, Moab’s oth­er­world­ly landscapes—think icon­ic red rock for­ma­tions back­dropped against snow-capped peaks—are more than an adren­a­line gate­way. They’re also the per­fect stage for bud­ding photographers.

The Clymb and Hud­son Hen­ry, a bonafide go-any­where, try-any­thing adven­tur­er, and cel­e­brat­ed trav­el pho­tog­ra­ph­er whose work has been rec­og­nized by Nation­al Geo­graph­ic, have joined forces to offer a five-day pho­to adven­ture. This fall, join Hud­son in Moab for a hands-on work­shop designed for any­one who wants to devel­op their cre­ative vision, best uti­lize the gear they already have, and learn tac­tics to bet­ter tell their own trav­el sto­riesinclud­ing advanced tech­niques like nightscapes and panoram­ic merg­ers. We first met Hud­son when we wrote about An Amer­i­can Ascent, an award-win­ning film for which he direct­ed photography.

We chat­ted up Hud­son about his pas­sion for teach­ing and love of Moab:

THE CLYMB: WHAT FIRST GOT YOU INTO ADVENTURE PHOTOGRAPHY? WERE YOU A TRAVELER OR PHOTOGRAPHER FIRST?

HUDSON HENRY: It’s always been about trav­el­ing and tak­ing adven­tures to wild and beau­ti­ful places and bring­ing back sto­ries to share with fam­i­ly and friends, and then from there it grew into a wider audience.

THE CLYMB: AND FROM THERE YOU PROGRESSED INTO TEACHING?

HUDSON HENRY: I’ve always been about shar­ing the adven­ture, bring­ing back visu­al sto­ries to share with oth­ers of places they would oth­er­wise nev­er see. It start­ed with show­ing my 90-year old grand­moth­er what it’s like to climb Kil­i­man­jaro. Over time my pas­sion evolved into shar­ing adven­tures with oth­ers while teach­ing them to cap­ture their own visu­al sto­ries. I get a lot of sat­is­fac­tion from “ah-ha!” moments when some­thing clicks for a student.

THE CLYMB: WHY MOAB? WHAT MAKES IT A GREAT ADVENTURE PHOTOGRAPHY LOCATION? 

HUDSON HENRY: It has real­ly good weath­er and the high desert environment—it’s ridicu­lous­ly scenic. All these shoot­ing locations—Fisher Tow­ers, Arch­es, Bal­anced Rock—they’re just a hop, skip, and jump from this com­fort­able lit­tle town with all these fun restau­rants and ameni­ties. And the lack of light pol­lu­tion gives real­ly good abil­i­ty to do stuff with stars.

THE CLYMB: WHO SHOULD ATTEND THIS WORKSHOP?

HUDSON HENRY: It’s for any­one who loves a good adven­ture and wants to bring home bet­ter pic­tures to share. This work­shop is great for any lev­el of pho­tog­ra­ph­er who is into shoot­ing action, wildlife, and land­scapes to tell a good sto­ry about a place and cap­ture the essence of a trip. I lim­it my work­shops to small groups and they tend to be all along the spec­trum from peo­ple who are just get­ting start­ed to those who are refin­ing advanced tech­niques. The goals of the work­shop are to devel­op your own cre­ative vision, to bet­ter use the gear you already have, and inter­act with each oth­er, maybe even form friend­ships that last beyond the workshop.

THE CLYMB: YOU’VE HAD GREAT SUCCESS WITH HIGHLY TECHNICAL PHOTOGRAPHY METHODS. WHAT ARE YOU TACKLING NEXT?

HUDSON HENRY: I am work­ing on a book about advanced panoram­ic pho­tog­ra­phy. I’m exper­i­ment­ing with under­wa­ter pho­tog­ra­phy with kite­board­ing and light­ing tech­niques. Also, time laps­es of stars mov­ing through the sky. I’m work­ing on the holy grail of time lapse: fol­low­ing the sun­set through the Milky Way back to sun­rise. And video and drone stuff. I’ll have a drone at the workshop.

THE CLYMB: IF YOU COULD GIVE ONE PIECE OF ADVICE TO ASPIRING ADVENTURE PHOTOGRAPHERS, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

HUDSON HENRY: The thing that dri­ves me is look­ing at pho­tog­ra­phers bet­ter than me—Sebastião Sal­ga­do is a favorite. There’s con­stant­ly room to improve. Every year you should be improv­ing. It’s more about cre­ative­ly find­ing ways to com­pose your images and using light than the lat­est and great­est equipment.

Get hands-on train­ing and explore Moab with Hud­son. Learn more about this exclu­sive five-day adven­ture pho­to work­shop.

©istockphoto/zlikovec

©istockphoto/binabinaOut­door sports are about action. But action is fun­da­men­tal­ly dif­fi­cult to cap­ture. Deci­sive moments—the leap of a ski­er off a slope, a kayak­er sus­pend­ed in midair, the ner­vous glance of a climber on a knife-edge ridge—only last a frac­tion of a sec­ond. Most action pho­tos are blur­ry, bor­ing or miss the action entire­ly. Here are some tips for dis­till­ing adren­a­line into visu­al form and tak­ing your action pho­tog­ra­phy to the next level.

Big Gear Wins
Bad news for die-hard iPhone pho­tog­ra­phers, but big DSLRs with a wide range of zoom lens­es are what you still need to cap­ture the action. Noth­ing else gives the pho­tog­ra­ph­er the com­bi­na­tion of speed, cre­ative con­trol, image qual­i­ty and range of per­spec­tives. Even the newest mir­ror­less cam­eras don’t mea­sure up. Small portable cam­eras are small and easy to use—but not much else. You’ll hate car­ry­ing an SLR and your gear up the moun­tains, but you’ll be glad when the time comes.

Eye Lev­el
The com­mon per­spec­tive is a bit above your sub­ject, the cam­era held con­ve­nient­ly at the photographer’s height. That’s easy, but easy sel­dom cre­ates a com­pelling image. I start by get­ting down to the par­tic­i­pants’ eye lev­el, what­ev­er that is, and adjust from there. Eye-lev­el shots cre­ate a much more inti­mate expe­ri­ence between the view­er and the sub­ject. You can also make great images by get­ting very high or low—but most images at your nor­mal eye lev­el are well, nor­mal. And nor­mal is bor­ing when it comes to creativity.

Ren­der Motion
Use your sense of cre­ativ­i­ty to decide how you want to con­vey motion. Motion, after all, is the core of all out­door sports. Do you want motion stopped, show­ing atom­ized water droplets or snowflakes? Or blurs that con­vey the sense of smooth move­ment? You’ll only get this lev­el of con­trol with a dig­i­tal SLR (and usu­al­ly a tri­pod) and it takes some under­stand­ing of expo­sure, but the results are worth it.

Use Con­trast
Most out­door sports take place in the mid­dle of the day. Typ­i­cal­ly, this is when light is harsh and direct, and many pho­tog­ra­phers avoid shoot­ing. But sports pho­tog­ra­phers sel­dom have many choic­es. Use that mid­day con­trast to your advan­tage for the one thing it gives you: dra­mat­ic con­trast. Deep black shad­ows and bright high­lights don’t make land­scapes look great—but they can make the action look dra­mat­ic. Fine-tune your expo­sure to avoid blown-out high­lights, and make con­trast your friend.

©istockphoto/SportstockGet Close
War pho­tog­ra­ph­er Robert Capa famous­ly said that if your pho­tos aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough. It’s less dan­ger­ous in our pho­tog­ra­phy than in his. Get close and zoom in on facial expres­sions, beads of sweat, the tex­ture of fresh snow, the mud on a cyclocross racer’s face. Crop the edges—it adds a sense of ten­sion and unfin­ished business.

Pho­to­graph the Back Story
Don’t just focus on the action high­lights. Turn the oth­er way and look at the spec­ta­tors, peo­ple wait­ing to com­pete, the breaks in the action when peo­ple relax and exhale, the stress of anticipation.

Hide The Scale
Deprive your view­er of scale. In this image of kayak­er Paul Kuthe descend­ing a water­fall, the view­er has vir­tu­al­ly noth­ing to pro­vide any sense of size, or how the sto­ry ends. Cliffhang­er moments cre­ate antic­i­pa­tion. Keep the view­er guess­ing enough to feel sus­pense, but not so much that they’re just confused.

Try and Try Again
You’ll only improve your action shots but shoot­ing action more and more. There will be tri­al and error, and the more you exper­i­ment, the faster you’ll learn. Time to get out there and shoot.