Take Only Photos, Leave Only Footprints

Take only photos, leave only footprints is a popular Leave No Trace saying. The trick is how to take a meaningful photo of that awesome rock, florescent green moss, field of wildflowers, or story-telling artifact. Here are a few photo ideas that I’ve used:

During our recent trip to Caribou Basin I was mesmerized by the pattern on these rock slabs; to me it looked like petrified wood. To be honest I did look for a souvenir rock to take home, but none of them captured what had me mesmerized. That’s when I got this photo, rock Neapolitan in the foreground, amazing backdrop, and one adventure pup thrown in for scale.

PhotoFootprintI can never seem to capture how mystic a moss-draped tree is. However, a mosstache can make any hiker look distinguished. Find some moss from the forest floor or loose moss on a tree, tuck it between your nose and your upper lip while making a duck face – voila mosstache.

MosstacheCloseup detailed wildflower shots are always an option, but I prefer the ones with a sense of place. Perhaps get the wildflower in focus up front with dramatic landscape out of focus behind. Try vice-versa. And if all else fails…insert an adventure pup!

WildflowersDuring my first backpacking trip we found a mountain-man hide out that included probably one of the original Mountain Dew cans. Rather than taking it home to gather dust on a shelf, I pretended to drink some of the soda “made from flavors specially blended in the traditional hillbilly style” for a photo op.

Mountain Dew ArtifactHere’s a little fine print for you, Leave No Trace is not a set of laws, it’s a set of guidelines that challenges you to do your best to take care of nature. While LNT isn’t law, there are some laws that protect some items that seem tempting to bring home. The Antiquities Act protects artifacts – including that Mountain Dew can. The International Migratory Bird Act protects migratory bird, their feathers, and such. Please check with your local or federal land management agency for more information.

How do you capture memories while exploring nature?


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