115 What Will I Do with Six Months Off Work?

What will I do with six months off of work? A part of me simply can’t believe it’s even happening. Listen in for the details I have planned thus far for my sabbatical experience of 2021. This is Latitude Photography Podcast, Episode 115 for May 11, 2021


A lot of great pics are coming in for the new topic for May: #SpringFlowers

Please get those in the facebook group or email them to me.

Facebook changed topics to hashtags.


Starting in mid-June I’ll be off work for my regular summer break. Being a teacher definitely has its privileges. However, I applied for and was awarded a sabbatical for fall quarter. Under normal circumstances I’d be going back into the classroom starting in late September, but this year, with my sabbatical, I’ll be returning to the classroom in January 2022.

First Sabbatical: Summer of 2016. Design in Northern Europe. Went to Poland and Germany. Also went to Photokina as my conference attendance that year.

This year my schedule works out where I am putting a class I normally teach on hiatus for a bit as I move it to a different quarter, and we have a lot more adjuncts that can cover classes for me, and a very supportive department chair, which means I get to take a sabbatical during the fall quarter. 

However, it’s not just time off. I have to do something that furthers my teaching, so I wrote a proposal of what I’ll plan to do and it got approved.

In short, I’ll be visiting a minimum of four less popular national parks. There’s a total of 63 parks in the national park system. But there’s over 400 that are managed by the national parks system. One of those is just 5 miles away from me, Whitman Mission National Historic Site. But my goal is to visit national parks.

I will then camp/hike/backpack in these parks and photograph the items that make the park special. However, I also want to not focus on the icons, but rather, the back trail items that you see when you’re in the park itself for more than a few hours.

Once I’ve done the photographs, I’ll then create a series of posters somewhat inspired by the historic national parks posters. If you simply do a search for historic national parks posters you’ll see a lot of what I mean. You won’t find much of the original posts, but others who are doing their own take on the idea. Of all the things I teach, custom illustration is my weakest skill, so I’ll be focusing on that once I return. I’ll use the photos as a foundation for my posters and then I’ll design the posters and host a gallery showing of the photo prints and the poster prints.

Of course, I’ll cover everything here on the show as well so you can vicariously tag along and learn a few creative processes as well.

Planning the journey

I’ve looked at a lot of different parks, but have so far settled on Isle Royale, Theodore Roosevelt and Badlands. I may also get down to Great Basin, but my fourth park is still not completely decided yet. Additionally, I left the proposal open enough to not lock me in to national parks only. And, I can go international if travel opens up a bit as time goes on. So we’ll see on that front as well. As it is now, Croatia is taking US tourists with a negative Covid test, but you have to have your accommodations fully pre-paid before you show up which seems like an odd requirement. I suppose they want to be able to track you and know exactly where you’ll be. Anyway… let’s talk about a few of these locations I’ll be heading off to.

Isle Royale, NP

Book from Amazon: https://amzn.to/3eu5S24

Isle Royale Fast Facts: https://www.nationalparked.com/isle-royale

Part of Michigan, even though it’s closer to Canada and Minnesota.

About 45 miles long and 9 miles wide

The main island and roughly 400 smaller outlying islands.

Became a national park in 1931

Only 26,410 visitors in 2019

I’ll take the ferry from Grand Portage, MN. 

I’ve read the book I purchased and found a great trail that is the perfect length for what I will be carrying and I have a good chance at seeing some moose. 

The mosquitos should be gone or vastly decreased by early September. 

I’m already planning my camera carry system because I’ve not been on a full backpacking trip with my camera in tow in over 15 years. And that was a disaster as I didn’t have the right pack back then.

I’ll be on the island for 7 days with four full days and two half-days for hiking and shooting.

I’ll start driving from home in NE Oregon and it’ll take me three days to get there. I’ll then take the ferry from MN, and then hike around and photograph for 7 days. I may even rent a canoe depending on availability. There’s a few campsites that are on the smaller islands. I really want to do that, but I’ll just have to play it by ear.

The trail I want to go to has a regular campsite along the way and I like that idea of setting up a base camp and being able to take day hikes around the area. 

I will be without power for these seven days so I plan on getting a Goal Zero solar charger. There’s just so much to learn and research for this trip. I’m very excited, but also, there’s just so much to do as I’ll also be preparing much of my own food now that we’re on the farm and we have a dehydrator. I’m already preparing some foods to test some recipes for calorie and vitamin packed meals. I’ll do everything I can to document those items as well, but they may make it to my YouTube channel, or my wife’s channel. If I do videos, I’ll certainly mention it here on the show.

MN North Shore

When I get back, I’ll take a brief rest and then I’ll get at it along the Minnesota North Shore. I decided to host a workshop focusing on waterfalls and fall color. The workshop will happen September 19–24. At the time of this recording I’ve already got my first seat of 8 total sold.

By the way, it’s $50 off until Sunday, May 16, 2021. https://brentbergherm.com/workshops/minnesota-waterfall-and-fall-color-workshop/

I talked about it quite a bit in the last episode, so I won’t take too much time here. Although I must say, I really do love y’all. I had a listener write in saying they’d love to help give some info about the location. They live in Minneapolis and I was just so impressed that someone would like to chip in like that. Thanks so much.

I will be scouting beforehand so when you show up for the workshop you’ll have the confidence that I’ll have already seen what the options and opportunities are and that I’ll know where we’ll have a better chance of getting good images. There’s also the hiking component. I’ll be able to ascertain the lay of the land with the participants and their hiking abilities.

I didn’t mention in the last episode that I will also be hosting pre workshop and post workshop sessions. The pre workshop session will allow us to chat for 30–45 minutes. I’d love to look at a few of your best images and this session will help me to customize your shooting experience as best as possible. The post workshop session will be about an hour long and we’ll look over your images and we’ll talk about what’s working and what you might want to continue working on. If possible, we’ll do a group session where I will go over some post-processing items as well.

Theodore Rooselvent NP

70,466 acres. 691,658 visitors in 2019. Made a national park in 1978.

Grasslands are the most common feature of the park. There’s also an impressive petrified wood deposit in the park as well. 

Made of three units, the North Unit, South Unit and the much smaller Elkhorn Ranch Unit. My plan is to spend three days in the North Unit, and two days in the south unit. But as is a common refrain, my research is ongoing and I may decide to stick to one unit over the other. I have a National Geographic map that I’ve yet to fully study and figure out what I will be doing. I also bought an informational book on the park and have yet to read it too.

I’ll then spend a day or two in Rapid City on the way to shoot the Badlands. 

Badlands NP

970,998 visitors in 2019. Made a national park in 1978. 

Name comes from the Lakota who called it “mako sica” which translates to “land that is bad.”

The park is divided into the North Side and the South Side. The South side also has the Palmer Creek Area which is a separate piece to the east of the main South Side unit. I’ll be sticking to the North Side as the South Side is also part of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and at the time of this recording it is closed to visitors. I’ll be visiting in late September, but there’s enough to see in the North Side, and that’s the part that is most recognized anyway. I know I want to try and stick to the lesser seen parts of these parks but there comes a point where I just have to go with what’s more accessible and easy to plan. I’m planning on 3.5 days of shooting in the park which may not be enough, but by limiting myself to the North Side only I should be able to get something worth while.

Heading Home

Once all that is finished I’ll head back home with a night over in Bozeman, MT. A part of me hates to drive past so many awesome places but I’ll have been on the road for five weeks at this point and I’ll certainly be needing to be in my own bed quickly. I reserved a room in Bozeman with a jetted tub. The only time I’m really splurging 🙂

Other National Parks Fast Facts

In 2019, the 10 most visited parks were:

Great Smoky Mountains National Park: 12.5 million

Grand Canyon National Park: 5.97 million

Rocky Mountain National Park: 4.7 million

Zion National Park: 4.5 million

Yosemite National Park: 4.4 million

Yellowstone National Park: 4 million

Acadia National Park: 3.4 million

Grand Teton National Park: 3.4 million

Olympic National Park: 3.2 million

Glacier National Park: 3 million

The two parks I really WANT to visit:

Virgin Islands National Park

National Park of American Samoa

As time rolls on and I still have early December open, I may find myself in one of these parks, or a park elsewhere, like in Central America or Croatia. One can dream…

Links to resources I’m using to plan my trip

Badlands Map: https://amzn.to/3f4TIvt

Theodore Roosevelt National Park Map: https://amzn.to/3uATNxJ

Theodore Roosevelt National Park Book: https://amzn.to/3beF2ZO

Isle Royale National Park Book: https://amzn.to/3tsGrSI

Minnesota Waterfalls Book: https://amzn.to/3txS5Mi

Reminders & Links

View the latest in the Lightroom Quickstart Bootcamp: https://youtu.be/fxnbt6r5prE

Get some free resources here: https://brentbergherm.com/info/resources/

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