Early in the summer of 2014, we asked the award-winning outdoor photographer, Adam Cornwell, to photograph some of our gear. He went on some amazing adventures and came back with great images. We talked to him about his photography career and shooting gear for Sea to Summit.
Adam, tell us how you got into outdoor photography?
In 2007, my wife and I vacationed in Yellowstone National Park and I thought it was the coolest thing seeing a grizzly bear. The following year, we spent time in the backcountry of Denali and Katmai National Parks in Alaska. I only had a point-n-shoot camera at the time, but I was very fortunate to have two professional wildlife photographers, Don Brown and Jim Brandenburg with me in Denali. They were both kind enough to give me pointers on the gear, which I promptly purchased when I got home.
What was it like shooting for STS?
As an avid outdoor photographer, I was excited to be asked to spend a summer shooting STS gear. It was like Christmas morning when the giant box of gear arrived. It came just in time for a backpacking trip to Indian Heaven Wilderness in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. For that trip, I brought along the Rapid 26L DryPack, X-Cup and X-Bowl, Pack Tap, Delta Spork and Knife, Aeros Premium and Ultralight Pillows, and the incredibly tiny Spark SpI sleeping bag. I was excited to try out a sleeping bag that rolls up to be not much bigger than a softball and weighs less than a pound—very impressive!
Later that summer, I summited Mt. Adams with the X-Cup, X-Bowl, Delta Spork, and Rapid 26L DryPack along with all my camera gear. The people on the summit must have thought I was nuts to slog all that camera gear with me, but that’s all just part of getting “the shot.”
Tell us about the making of the waterfall rappel shot featured on the Sea to Summit homepage?
First, I needed to find adventure models for the shoot. Luckily, my business partner, Brian Lawrence, is an experienced rock climber and mountaineer and was on board with the idea.
The next step was finding the perfect location. Ultimately I selected Wiesendanger Falls and Ecola Falls which are located above the famous Multnomah Falls in Columbia River Gorge, Oregon. Brian recruited his climbing buddy, Gary Hicks, to help with the shoot and the three of us set out early one morning.
The Ecola falls shoot was a little sketchy. I was perched on a tiny ledge on the face of a cliff about 40 feet above the rocks and water below. The ledge was so narrow that one tripod leg had to be positioned on a tree growing out of the cliff face. It was very exciting and I did what I had to do to get the perfect shot. I like a little danger when I’m photographing—be it bears or being perched on a cliff. That element of danger is what makes it a shot few others will ever get. We had so much fun doing this shoot that Brian and Gary want to go back for some more repelling. They both agreed the Hydraulic Dry Pack (the featured product for this shoot) is the perfect pack for this type of adventure.
What was the craziest STS shoot of the summer?
The backpacking trip to Indian Heaven Wilderness. We didn’t expect to come across snow, let alone get lost in it trying to find Junction Lake. The sun was going down so we had no choice but to make camp in a stand of trees. Camping in the snow wouldn’t have been a big deal, except I brought the Spark SpI sleeping bag which is rated to 46 degrees and we were going to be down in the twenties. I put on my layers of clothes and curled up in the Spark and it got me through the night. I still can’t believe how small and lightweight that sleeping bag is. I was so impressed; I now own my own Spark.
After having the opportunity to try a bunch of STS gear, do you a favorite item?
As an outdoors guy I have a lot of gear, as do my friends, so it’s a tall order to impress us. First off, I loved the collapsible dishware. Lightweight and small, perfect for my backpacking and paddle trips.
For years I’ve been using a foam roll-up pillow that I hate because it’s bulky (even rolled up) and it gets hot at night. The Aeros Premium and Ultralight pillows were just plain awesome. They weigh almost nothing, they’re about the size of a stack of a half-dozen Oreos when rolled-up, and best of all, they didn’t get hot at night. They also didn’t lose any air! I had to say goodbye to my old foam pillow after discovering this new technology.
All in all, I really enjoyed using and photographing the top-notch gear from Sea to Summit and feel very confident recommending their gear to other outdoors enthusiasts.
Adam Cornwell is an award-winning outdoor photographer whose images have been featured in galleries and magazines. His work can be viewed online at adamcornwell.com. He’s also a partner at North Ridge Wealth Advisors, a firm that provides investment management and financial planning for members of the outdoor community. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.