Falling in love with Big Sky Country (via my Canon film camera and my iPhone digital camera)

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Glacier National Park, August 2016 (shot with 35mm film)

I’d been wanting to visit Glacier for what felt like forever, but in reality was probably just a little more than a year. That’s the weird thing about the narratives we tell ourselves about our Selves – before actually going to Montana I often said, “I’ve been wanting to visit Glacier for forever,” but then I had to step back and remind myself that for a long time I was a city girl living on the East Coast who barely had a respectable pair of gym sneakers, let alone a whole hiking shoe/sock/gaiter system to maximize comfort and minimize blisters on 10+ mile trails. I had not been wanting to visit Glacier for forever. But it felt like I had to the Me I was then, last August. So when Alley and I had the opportunity to take a week-long vacation together, I suggested Montana immediately. Lucky for me, Alley agreed easily, and Diana had time off too, so she joined us. And just like that, I was going to Glacier National Park – a place I had wanted to visit for forever, you know?

Montana is the most beautiful place I have ever seen in my entire life. I used to be one of those New Yorkers who was obsessed with the city and refused to believe anywhere outside of the five boroughs was worth visiting at all, let alone writing home about, but I know now that the version of myself I was then was an idiot. Or at least, it was idiotic to think that one specific thought. No shame to the folks who love New York above all else, but I’ve lost my heart to Big Sky Country. I knew I would fall in love with Montana and I did: swiftly, easily, entirely.

It’s been seven months since that short visit and I’ve been meaning to blog about it every day since returning home. I’ve gotten caught up in preparing for and blogging about the Pacific Crest Trail, but I didn’t want to leave on this upcoming adventure without blogging a bit about my last favorite adventure first, even if it’s mostly a photo essay without any captions.

I was actually reminded about the desire to write this post while thinking about which camera I would take on the PCT – that’s been one of the choices that I’ve been fixating over, but ultimately, I think I am going to suck it up and take my heavy-ish film camera, at least at first. I love shooting film so much, and I think I will really regret if I don’t have the option to do that on the PCT. The film photos I took at Glacier are different than the iPhone photos I shot – it’s not that the digital images are bad (quite the opposite – I am very proud of them, in fact, and there’s also a strong argument to be made that because of its ease of use and close proximity to my hand at all times the iPhone camera is actually the “better” of the two) but the film ones just make me feel something specific, something special.

I started shooting film seriously in high school; my dad bought me my first SLR camera in 2003. It’s the same one I shoot with today, the one I used to take all the film photos in this post, the one I will carry on the PCT. It’s a simple Canon Rebel, and these days I mostly load it with the cheapest Kodak color film I can find, though I used to almost exclusively shoot black and white film. I knew I would love photography before I ever shot my first portrait session, before I printed my own contact sheets, before I spent hours upon hours in the darkroom that saved me from the drama that was high school. I knew I would love photography before I really fell in love with it, just like I knew I would love Glacier and Montana before I even got there. That’s a weird thing that I do, I guess – knowing when I will fall in love, or predicting accurately. Photography and hiking go together, for me. Two of my biggest loves.

Here are some photos from my trip to Glacier National Park in August 2016. It’s been too long since arriving home for me to usefully write a trip report; if you have questions about visiting the park I have lots of suggestions and anecdotes, but my brain can’t sort them into a tidy post anymore. That’s something for me to keep in mind when recording my experience on the PCT, too – I’ll have to find a way to keep a concise record in real time, otherwise I know I’ll forget and by the time I’m done hiking I won’t be able to remember it all, at least not in as much detail as I’d like to… Anyway! Feel free to comment and ask me about Glacier – I’d love to share some of my thoughts and tips about Big Sky Country!

The following photos were all shot on 35mm film with a Canon Rebel SLR:

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The following photos were all shot on my iPhone SE and edited lightly with Instagram:

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