There are only three months left in the year and I haven't been anywhere, or rather I've been to the same everywhere, which may as well be nowhere. There's a point in here somewhere. The point is (I think) that I've been negligent in visiting new places.
There's always a delicate balance between depth and breadth.
The best images almost always come from places I know well, not just because I'm maximizing my chances of having good light with repeated visits (but that certainly helps), but because there are no distractions. I know where things are. I know how to get there and how long it will take. I know what types of shots are possible for the given conditions.
The problem, of course, is that I think I know more than I actually do. I settle into a pattern. I stop being creative and start being reflexive. Reverence loses ground to disappointment. With experience it becomes easier to spot this trend happening and, if I'm lucky, to stop it. But the threat is always there and will sneak up on me if I'm not paying attention.
Which is why it's important to visit new places. To be overwhelmed and confused and in awe. To not know where to start or what to do. To lose any preconceived notions. To be inspired. To try and tame the chaos and also to fail so that you can get it right the next time, and most importantly, to piss off the locals by getting epic light on your first visit!
So I'm going to hit the road. I'll be visiting some places I know well (Yellowstone and Grand Teton), some places I only know superficially (Arizona and Utah) and some places I don't know at all (Colorado and New Mexico). I'll be trading the volcanoes in the Cascades for ragged peaks of the Rockies; the autumn vine maples, mountain ash, and huckleberries for the gold and crimson aspens; evergreens for sagebrush; wet beaches and waterfalls for the desert and sand dunes, and brown dirt for, well, red dirt.
Lessons I've learned in my familiar territories will still be applicable to these new places. The inspiration I get from these new places will allow me to see the old places in a new way.
There's really nothing to lose (except sleep, money, and gas - but I was going to lose those anyway). I'll return armed with memories, experiences, a huge backlog of photos that will take forever to process, and, if I'm lucky, no speeding tickets that I can't bribe my way out of.