William B. Umstead State Park Hike

December 13, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

Umstead 2Umstead 2 Located in Raleigh NC William B. Umstead State Park is a great park with 22 miles of hiking trails that are well used.  The park is situated in Raleigh and the town folk use it a lot for hiking, trail running, Biking ...   Umstead 3Umstead 3 The 22 miles of trails give you access to most of the park and vary in lengths from short to long trails.  Me and a couple of my photography friends went up there to do some hiking and get some exercise.  Of course being photographers we had to document the event.   GOPR2757GOPR2757DCIM\101GOPRO We had a great time and fellowship and also had a little foot problems by one of the guys that I'm sure will be corrected by our next hike.  Please enjoy the video from the link below!


Umstead State Park Hike Video

Hiking Gear

December 09, 2016  •  Leave a Comment


As a Landscape and Nature Photographer hiking is kind of second nature.  You have to get to great locations to get great shots that everyone else does not have.  The further your hikes go the more importance to what you bring is.  Weight matters!  My everyday/hiking kit I try to keep as light as possible.  The kit I'm going to show you is right at 7lbs.  My big professional Nikon D800 camera and one lens weighs in at 5lbs. Thats only 1 lens no tripod filters or anything else just camera. My hiking kit consist of 4 lenses and (I have other ones in the wings to switch out if I need to) Tripod, filters, and lots of other goodies.  Here is a photo of my stuff and a itemized list.


1. Camera Sony A6000 (crop sensor) with Pentax 28mm f2.8 vintage lens which I used on a film camera about 30ish years ago. With the crop sensor the lens is at  a focal length of about 42mm good for close photographs like a walk in the woods.

2.Wide Angle lens Sony 10-18mm f4.  Gives me a focal length of 15-25mm with the crop sensor. Super sharp lens for Big Landscapes like the Mountains.

3. Mid Range Telephoto- 18-105mm.  This one gives me a focal range of 25-150mm. This is the lens that gets swapped out a lot with other lenses. This is a great all in one lens and has given me some great photo's depending on where Im hiking this may or may not be in the bag sometimes swapped out for a vintage 35-70mm f2.8 lens.

4. Telephoto Pentax 80-200 mm f4.6. Gives me a focal range of 120-300mm. This is a cheap plastic lens that I got 30 years ago but its lightweight and pretty sharp. This is the range that I use the least.

5. Peak Design clip.  This allows me to put my camera right on my backpack strap to keep my hands free but gives me quick access to my camera.

6. GoPro Session 4 on a hat clip.  The GoPro is the newest addition to my camera kit I used to use my phone for everything video wise but this is a great piece of kit!  I can use for biking also and its water proof.

7. Peak Design Leash.  Love this for this small camera gives me a sense of security when its strapped to my wrist!

8. Batteries and Charger.  Mirrorless cameras can eat up batteries so I carry 2 extra and odds and ends in this case.

9. Polarizer Case. I Carry circular polarizers for most of my lenses

10. ND Filters. I carry a variable circular natural density filter and step down rings to fit most of my lenses.

11. Anker 10500 mAh.  I use this to charge GoPro, Camera Batteries, iPhone.

12. Bag for GoPro and cleaning clothes for lenses

13. Joby Gorilla Pod for GoPro

14. Stick Pick Mount. Allows me to put GoPro on my hiking stick like a selfie stick.

15. Trail Pix Ultra light Tripod.  Im able to use this with my hiking sticks with one from a buddy and create a tripod that will handle up to 7 lbs.

16. Altoids , Advil, Tums, moist lens clothes for my glasses and or lenses.

17. Outdoor Products Hydration Pack.  I got this from Walmart for 40 bucks and it works great for this small load.

18. Fleese Skull cap, Neck warmer, Waterproof gloves , and bandana.  For keeping warm and such.

19. Kelty Trekking Poles.  This is probably one of the best kept secrets in hiking. Trekking poles will save your knees and save your butt from falls they are great long trips.

20. Emergency Poncho, wet wipes.  Poncho is for rain showers .  I got caught in the rain once on a hike and just got drenched and since then I always carry a emergency poncho.  And for those emergency bathroom breaks without a bathroom the wet wipes or toilet paper is a must.

21. Finn the Explorer, Sunglass Case, Lens Brush .  Finn the Explorer is new and he travels with me and I try to take a photo of him when we go to a new place.  Sunglass Case and lens brush are self explanatory.

Charleston SC Photo/Camping Trip

November 19, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

_DSC7397_DSC7397 In August my wife and I took a weekend trip to Charleston SC.  We took our Teardrop trailer and stayed on Joint Base Charleston. Joint Base Charleston is a base comprised of Air Force and Navy and we stayed on the Navy side for a very reasonable price.  If you are military or Retired military don't forget to check out military bases for camping spots they are very reasonable, clean and safe.  Charleston is a big place with lots to do and you can't see it all on a weekend. _DSC7375_DSC7375  My suggestion is to divide it into smaller trips to really get a good taste of Charleston.  That's what we did.  We decided to just go to the historic downtown area of Charleston and take a guided tour of the city from the back of a horse drawn carriage. Beside the downtown there are many things to see in Charleston. There is the Air Craft Carrier Yorktown that is a floating Museum that I really want to go see.  There is Fort Sumter with all of its Civil War History which I think you  have to take a ferry or water taxi to get to.  There are  _DSC7405_DSC7405 museums and an aquarium that you can go see if the weather gets rainy.  Folly Beach isn't far with all the beach things that you come to expect from a coastal community.   _DSC7347_DSC7347 There are old Plantations that you can visit like Magnolia Plantation.  There is the Angle Oak Live Oak tree that is estimated to be over 500 years old located at Angle oak park.  So you can see that there is lots to do and oh yea! Charleston is known for its fine restaurants! Lots to do and see and eat in Charleston!


Grayson Highlands State Park Va

November 17, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

Sugarloaf OverlookSugarloaf OverlookMax Stansell Photography Grayson Highlands State Park in Virginia is a must see if you live in the Southeastern US.  This lovely park Perched high in the Virginian Appalachians, in the Jefferson National Forest, this state park is home to grassy pastures and meadows, 5,000+ foot peaks, wild ponies, and crystal clear mountain streams lined with rhododendron tunnels. Providing a variety of unique sights, trails, and boulders, there’s something here for everyone. Creek CrossingCreek CrossingMax Stansell Photography Activities include hiking, bouldering, primitive and RV camping, and horseback riding. My wife and myself took our Little Guy Teardrop trailer there this summer in hopes to see the wild pony's there.  We hiked up to the Appalachian Trail that travels _MSP1283_MSP1283Max Stansell Photography through the park to find them but we didn't have any luck.  The park is high enough in altitude to keep the hot weather away and it was a very pleasant temperature while we were there.  Our teardrop trailer did exceptionally well and we really enjoyed our trip.  My trusty Sony A6000 was my main camera and it performed well.  I love this park and have already gone back from the time The "AT' Grayson HighlandsThe "AT' Grayson HighlandsMax Stansell Photography we took this trip for a little fishing trip.  Caught some local brook trout and had a great time in the area. If you like camping the outdoors and great scenic views this is the park for you.

2016 Fall Colors Workshop

November 15, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

_MSP2088_MSP2088Max Stansell Photography Yet again I have had a long break between Blog Post.  Mostly because of my Laziness I guess. Life gets in the way me and my wife have been taking trips in our teardrop camper, work , and all sorts of things seemed to get in the way.  My biggest  photoshoot of the year has been on my photography club's fall colors trip to West Virginia this year.  It was a great trip on the heels of Hurricane Matthew.  We went to places that we haven't been before which made it new and exciting. Seven total of us went with 5 of us the whole time.  We stayed in a great cabin in Davis WV and drove every day somewhere new.  I think we logged 2000 miles for the whole trip.  The colors at our cabin seemed to be the most vibrant from all of the places we visited. I also took a GoPro Session 4 with me to record some of the actions and have made some short youtube videos to watch that I will link you to.

Day 1:Blackwater State Park WV/Swallow Falls State Park MD

The first day took us to Blackwater State Park WV which was about a 20 min ride from our cabin. Actually I would almost consider this our second day because the first day consisted of driving to WV from Goldsboro but this was our first day of shooting.   _MSP2370_MSP2370Max Stansell Photography The colors at Blackwater State Park were very nice and the waterfall was great.   We were here on a Monday and there were not too many clouds. After the waterfall we went to a overlook that looked into the valley that had some great views. From  here we traveled to Swallow Falls State Park in MD where we were greeted with some great falls and a small hiking trail.  The drive to and from Maryland was a beautiful drive with lots of farm houses.  Here is the link to day one Video.  Day 1 Fall Colors Workshop Video

Day 2: Babcock State Park WV and New River Gorge Bridge National Park WV.

Day two took us to Babcock State Park home of the famous Glade Creek Grist Mill.  If you look up West Virginia you'll see this mill.  It was a fairly long drive but we left early _MSP2491_MSP2491Max Stansell Photography and after a small detour made it to the mill.  We spent a couple of hours taking photo's of the Mill and then went to lunch.  After lunch we went back to the park so Tim could fly his drone then we were off to New River Gorge National Park. I believe when it was built it was the first or second largest suspension bridge but now I think its third regardless it is a big bridge and we spent the afternoon taking our time photographing this large structure. Here is the link to day two video.Day Two Fall Colors Workshop Video


Day 3: Seneca Caverns, Seneca Rocks, Dolly Sods WV


We started our third day underground with a tour of Seneca Caverns which took us 150 ft underground.  We had a great tour guide and enjoyed our time underground with some interesting photo's to boot. 2016-10-12-MSP-0512016-10-12-MSP-051  After the caverns we went to Seneca Rocks which are a number of Large Rocks that go along the ridge of a mountain.  And then we were off to Dolly Sods .  Dolly Sods was a beautiful mountain top with great views all around but takes about an hour long dirt road drive to get there.  Dolly sods wasn't very far from our Cabin so it was a good place to end the day. Here is the link to day 3 video.Day 3 Fall Colors Workshop Video

Day 4: Harpers Ferry, Antietam National Battlefield WV

Harpers Ferry WV is a very historic place and a lot more bigger than I thought.  I had always seen it in hiking videos and it looked like a sleepy little town and I wasn't expecting it to be connected with a National Park.  We drove to Harpers Ferry and met one of our photo buddies there and enjoyed the day wandering the streets of Harpers Ferry.  We then drove over to Antietam and went on the battle field tour and really got some good photo's of the surrounding area.  We then went the the National Cemetery at 2016-10-12-MSP-1412016-10-12-MSP-141 Sharpsburg and had great light to get some moving photo's. Then we drove back to our cabin. Here is the link to Day 4 video.Day 4 Fall Colors Workshop Video


Day 5: Cass Scenic Railroad State Park WV

Day five took us to Cass Scenic Railroad State Park in WV and some of our group had been there before.  I wasn't really expecting much but was pleasantly surprised to find lots of photo ops and had a good history tour from our tour guide.   _MSP2974_MSP2974 We rode the train on a 2 hour trip and they have a 4 hour trip also but I recommend the two hour instead of the longer one.   We had a great time had lunch there in the park restaurant and really enjoyed the whole experience. Here is the link to Day 5 video.Day 5 Fall Colors Workshop Video