Zak Stone, a very talented photographer in the Pacific Northwest, was the perfect creator to celebrate this day with. We are constantly inspired by the photos that Zak takes and it is clear he knows what he's doing when it comes to any type of outdoor landscape photography. We love to see Zak give us the behind-the-scenes into his photo process on his Instagram stories as he is usually shooting in harsh elements like snow and other extreme climates.
International Mountain Day is a day to remind us to treasure the natural jewels of mountains around us. Not only are the mountains around us home to 15% of the world's population, but they have provided an escape for outdoor enthusiasts globally. From snowboarding, backpacking, hikes, and more, mountains allow us to take a break from society. Mountains are also the perfect setting for landscape photography due its diversity in shape, color, texture, light, size and more. Keep reading as we talk to Zak about his creative journey and what goes into his incredible photos.
How long have you been passionate about photography? When did you start to shoot?
It’s really been my whole life. As a kid I always played my any camera I could get my hands on. Video or photo. As a kid, I would make stop animation lego movies with the VHS style camera. In high school I took a photography class. I got an F. Haha. I failed photography. But it wasn’t until 1998 when I got my first digital camera from Costco. I still have it. Canon Power Shot 350. No zoom. 6mm lens f2.8. I taught myself how to shoot with that camera and that’s when I really feel in love with seeing the world in my own way.
What is your go-to Lume Cube product when it comes to taking photos and why?
I love the panels. The Panel Go and the Panel Mini. They work great for shooting product photos of food photos in low light. When I shoot for bars or restaurants I love setting their drinks on a panel and lighting the glass up from underneath. Really makes the drinks more fun to look at. But for the outdoor when I’m camping and shooting Milky Way photos it’s all about the Bluetooth waterproof Lume Cube 2.0.
How important has proper lighting been for shooting landscapes?
Landscape photography is all about the lighting. Since you chase sunset or sunrise to find the perfect light. It never last as long as you need. So you must be fast and know what you want to capture in those final moments of magic.
You have captured amazing landscapes and images of mountains through all the seasons. Have you ever had to really battle natural elements that can sometimes hinder getting the “perfect” shot that you envisioned?
All the time. Winter shooting is the most difficult. Besides your own self freezing. Your camera batteries never last as long. Your lens get foggy because of the dew point being so low. (Tip: rubber band a hand warmer to your lens. It helps keep it clear of fogging over). Wind also, making trees move and turn into blurry monsters in long exposure shots.
Any tips for beginners who have wanted to shoot landscape photography?
Shoot everyday you can. The more you shoot the more you learn. Try to wake up early and shoot the sunrise. The best camera to have is the one in your hand. From a simple phone camera to an expensive mirrorless camera. Oh and get a tripod.
"Shoot everyday you can. The more you shoot, the more you can learn." - Zak Stone
What has been your favorite shoot?
I’ve been blessed with opportunities to shoot photos from helicopters and airplanes. Those were definitely some of my favorite moments. I did get to travel to Kodiak, Alaska over the summer and shoot photos of Kodiak brown bears and have them walking 30ft away from me. That was a huge rush.
What is your favorite Lume Cube product?
I love my Lume Cube 2.0 lights. 101+ uses, besides lighting up a subject to shoot. Night hiking they are perfect for. It’s like a LED bar in the palm of your hand. I mount them to my helmet when I ride my OneWheel at night. At Halloween you can put them in your pumpkin. Or stick them in your child’s trick or treat bucket to light it up for safety. Great for exploring caves.
What inspires you to keep shooting?
What inspires me most to keep shoot is the beauty around me. Just yesterday I was driving home and the clouds opened up to let some sun shine through. It made beautiful beams as the light shot through the opening. Hitting huge fir trees below that lines the river. It made me want to pull over and take a photo. I have this feeling deep inside me that explodes every time I see these moments and capture it with my camera.
About Zak Stone
My name is Zak Stone. I’m from Salem, OR and I’m 44 years old. My wife and I have been married for 10 years and we have 3 awesome kids. I worked in Commercial Real Estate for over 20 years. And then about 4 years ago I stop and went full time photographer. I get to do something I love everyday and get paid. It still feels like a dream. My favorite part is working with awesome companies like Lume Cube that want to push the limits on creating. Follow Zak on Instagram here.