I´m Joshua Cripps, ask me anything

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Hi everyone! Josh Cripps here. I’m a wilderness landscape photographer living in the beautiful city of Lone Pine, California. I live for hiking and backpacking, and my favorite place in the world to explore and photograph is the Sierra Nevada, in particular the Kings Canyon National Park backcountry.

In addition to the Sierra Nevada, I love exploring the desert landscapes of Death Valley, as well as the South Island of New Zealand. Two places that couldn’t be more different, but each has a special place in my heart.

One of my biggest passions in photography is photographing the moon, and many of you may have seen my photo of the annular solar eclipse and camel, which I photographed in a remote section of the UAE in 2019.

I recently opened my own fine art gallery here in Lone Pine, where I display large format prints of my work. It’s called The Mt. Whitney Gallery and I invite you all to stop by sometime.

Looking forward to spending the day with you. Would love to answer questions about hiking, backpacking, the wilderness, the moon, Death Valley, New Zealand, creativity, vision, printing and galleries, or whatever is on your mind. So go ahead, AMA!

Website: https://www.joshuacripps.com

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Hi Josh. Your videos helped a lot with my learning curve in processing my images. I still have a long way to go, but I’m wondering how you learned to use Lightroom and Photoshop. I feel like I need a computer science degree to understand some of the features.

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What preparations do u make before going out to shoot? Apps etc Have u already scouted and have a composition in mind. Thinking here about hiking the wilderness with excess weight versus taking the exact kit for a composition and having the exact conditions.


Hi Josh, What is your favorite non-camera gear you take when you’re hiking or backpacking for photography excursions? Example: sitting pad, etc. Bonus if the gear is ultralightweight or lightweight. Thanks!

Hi Joshua, such beautiful imagery! Can you describe your process for getting the dreamy water? What equipment you use, settings, filters, any special post processing workflow? Thank you!

Not a question just admiration for one of the really good guys out there. Josh, I admire your work but more importantly, I admire you as a person. Thank you for being the great guy that you are!


Hey Paul,

Great to hear from you. I’m so happy those videos helped you. I totally hear you on the complexity of those software packages. It seems like Adobe has ramped up their development and there’s a new feature set every few weeks. Regardless of the rest of this comment, I would bear in mind that you really don’t need all of these crazy features. One of my absolute best selling prints has two adjustments on it, a brightness increase, and a contrast increase. That’s it. No luminosity masking or crazy mid-tone contrast stuff or exposure blending or anything like that. In my opinion, a lot of times simple is better.

That being said, of course I think it’s good to understand what tools are available and what techniques are available. How I learned Photoshop originally was in college doing graphic design for fun. I would say the most important things you need to understand about Photoshop are adjustment layers and how to use masks. Everything else is pretty much an offshoot of those two core concepts. So that’s where I would start. Just focus on those two things.

As far as Lightroom, I was pretty late to the Lightroom game and I only started using it once I realized how cool it was to have a cataloging system paired to a raw processor. The great thing about Lightroom is that it’s an incredibly safe place to experiment. Take a raw file from your library view, hit the D key on your keyboard, and that will take you into the development module. Then start playing with all of the sliders that you see to see what it does. At any point you can always just right click and then select reset develop settings and it will take you all the way back to your raw file. You are never in any danger of screwing up the photo so to speak. You can also create virtual copies and try different ways of processing different versions of the same image. That’s an amazing way to develop your vision for processing and to get a sense of what types of adjustments you might want to apply to an image.

Also, bear in mind that there are about four ways of doing every individual task within Lightroom or Photoshop, so don’t get too hung up on what the best practices are. Just start playing around, don’t be afraid of doing things that are really wild. That’s how you begin to develop your processing style. And since you can always go back to square one, there’s no need to feel like you are doing something you can’t undo.

Hope that helps, and enjoy the rest of your day. Thanks for joining!

Hey Josh! Thank you for this opportunity; I’ve been a fan of you and your work for many years!
I’d love your advice on how to make a living as a professional nature photographer (beyond selling prints). Who hires you? How do you find such jobs? What does your pricing look like? If you can provide a few examples that would be super helpful. Thank you so much!!

Hey Josh,
Thank you for your work. What are your top 5 favorite day hikes in California, Utah, or Arizona? They don’t necessarily have to be for photography - just looking for some suggestions from an Eastern Sierra resident.

Josh - For landscapes when do you decide you need to focus stack versus just shooting at f/11-16 with your lens and do you use focus peaking?

Hello Josh,
I’m a big fan of your work and I’ve been a hobby landscape photographer since middle school. So I am always looking for ways to improve my work. One thing I’ve been wondering is how do you manage to backpack into the wilderness with your necessary camera gear plus all your camping paraphernalia? It’s not something I’ve done much of but I do see myself doing much more backpacking/photography trips in the future. Do you have some tips for keeping your backpack to manageable size/weight when on a solo backpacking trip?
Thanks for your time.

Hello Joshua,
Lately I have had a hard time taking photographs at night without high noise destroying my photos. Now 7 years of digital photography I am finding it difficult to get crisp pics. Can you run me through your process of shooting low light photography outdoors in the Sierras.

Hi Josh,
Judging from your Instagram posts, you have been a very busy guy the past couple of months. Feet not touching the ground?Thanks for taking the time to squeeze this in with NPN.
My question is about print proofing. :hushed:Do you have any advice regarding proofing in Lightroom vs Photoshop vs Canon Prograf software? Also size and doing multiple proofs at once (like a contact sheet.) Plus figuring out what paper or other medium you want to print on?
Thanks, James

Great Questions. You may know the camera and gear that you would like to take, honesty you need to first decide what you expect to be photographing. I always pack to much camera gear and my backpacking gear, and my pack weighs in about 45lbs for a 5–6-day excursion. I am always looking for ways to reduce weight of my backpack, and how to manage carrying my camera in a way that I can easily access it while hiking. Josh looks like he is great shape and this is no problem for him.

I’m having my Nikon z6ii converted for astro photography. My understanding is that I can simply photograph an 18% gray card, outside, in bright sunlight and create a custom white balance in order to take normal photographs. Some advise that the colors will not be precise, especially for portrait work (which I do not do).
The other option offered was to buy a special filter that restores the normal state to the camera.
I do a lot of night photography so an astro conversion should work for me, but I do use the Z6ii for other stuff.
Your thoughts, please

Hi Josh, I will be traveling to New Zealand south island for the first time in late March to mid April in 2024. What are your favorite areas or regions to hike and explore as all day hikes? Do you have any tips for a first time visitor to the south island.

Thanks Steve

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I love your grand vistas. I’ve heard several different ways to focus and where to focus. Some say focus 1/3rd of the way (Hyperfocal distance), others say to get your Hyperfocal distance and double that while others (Heaton, etc) say just focus on the farthest subject. I know it depends, but for most photos , what do you do?

Hi Lorretta! Welcome to the AMA.

Regarding hiking and carrying weight, this is something I’ve struggled with for years. It’s hard to load 3 extra lenses into your pack when you don’t end up needing them. But it’s even worse when you leave the lenses behind and then you want them!

So my approach to solve this has been 3-fold over the years:

  1. First, I’ve spent a lot of time (and $$$) getting the rest of my gear as light as possible. My backpack is from HMG, my sleeping quilt from Enlightened Equipment, and my tent from Zpacks. They hardly weigh anything, which allows me to bring more camera equipment without getting overloaded.

  2. I’ve also focused on my fitness. I try to do as much hiking during the winter as possible so that my legs and lungs are strong for alpine hiking season.

  3. Mirrorless cameras! I was a holdout on switching to mirrorless until I realized I could save around 3 pounds by switching from a Nikon D850 to a Z7.

Fully loaded, including camera gear, my pack weighs anywhere from 25 pounds for an overnight trip, to around 40 pounds for a weeklong trip.

Now to answer the other part of your question:

I don’t try to prepare too much in advance for the photography I think I’ll encounter in the field. The one exception is planning for a full moon shot. Other than that, I try to let the scenes unfold to me organically. I’ll use an app like PhotoPills to know the direction and time of the sunrise/sunset/moonrise/moonset, but usually I just enjoy each moment and if I see a photograph I take it! I find too much preplanning makes my vision too narrow, and sets my expectations too high.

All the best with your hiking!

Hey Ann, great question! Supplemental gear can add so much to our experience in the wilderness.

I’d have to say my choice would be Merino wool socks and underwear. Incredibly comfortably, temperature regulating, and odor-resistant! I once wore a pair of Feetures Merino wool socks for 8 days in a row while hiking in Spain, through sun, wind, and rain. They kept my feet comfortable the whole time, no blisters, not too cold. And the socks didn’t even smell bad after. :open_mouth:

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Hi Josh - looks like my old Macbook Pro is finally needing to be replaced. Do you have recommendations on laptop and monitor primarily to be used for photo editing but also the usual tasks we do on our computers now. Thanks a bunch for your thoughts!