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The Green Life: A Photographer Gets His Shot: David Huting’s Angle

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November 01, 2011

A Photographer Gets His Shot: David Huting’s Angle

Silverton FallsAt Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada, Silverton Falls draws nature lovers from all over the world. Torrents of white water fall through a series of drops and landings — hitting each level, splashing up spray, sliding off to the next — and finally driving deep down into the depths, 165 feet from the top. Transfixed by the idyllic scene in his viewfinder, David Huting inches closer to the edge. And in the split second it takes to grasp what is happening, his feet are already sliding away. He falls from the precipice.

Huting clutches frantically at the air rushing past. He is speeding straight down. And suddenly, the texture becomes rough again. His fingertips grasp a piece of the rock face. He struggles to pull his body up onto a small ledge. To the right is a 20-foot waterfall; to the left, a sheer drop. Scrapes all over, doused in mud, he tests the wall for a place to grip. But the black rock all around feels slippery, wet from the falls. Huting is not alone: He has a hiking buddy that day. Chris Ursaki tries to lower a tree branch down, but the slippery rocks won’t allow a rescue. Ursaki calls for help.

As they wait, Huting holds tight, and the sun comes out for a warm July day. His Canon 5D Mark II is still somehow strapped around his neck. He wipes off the mud, notes a dent, and puts his camera back to work: “I bet no one has that angle.”

Within 30 minutes, a Parks Canada ranger arrives with the necessary ropes and pulleys to rappel down and back up again. “Brad Lifesaver” pulls Huting up to safety. Huting will program that nickname into his phone contacts to mark the everyday hero who saved his life. Brad wasn’t surprised that Huting fell. But too often these rangers aren’t searching for a live person. “I know I should start worrying about my safety more,” Huting said. “It was a miracle I didn’t break a bone or lose my life . . . or my camera.”

Glorious Glacier SunriseHis camera is his world. Growing up in Iowa, Huting didn't leave the U.S. until his junior year of college. On his way to a study abroad in Tasmania, the plane stopped in Fiji. The islands inspired him to ditch his point-and-shoot for a DLSR. After college, Huting tried to suffer through a "normal" career.

It wasn’t long before he heard the South Pacific calling again. Huting got a one-year working visa, packed his bags, and flew halfway around the globe. He worked for eight months at a photo-printing shop, hoping someone would give him a shot. As he settled into Australian life, the shop sponsored him for a new visa so he wouldn’t have to leave. But he gave up on settling down under. Huting couldn’t resist the temptation to see — and shoot — it all. He was offered a new job, a working tour of Europe.

Now, at age 26, Huting has seen more of the planet than most. You can catch him bounding up rooftops in Mykonos or jumping into glacier-fed Lake McDonald at 5 a.m., not one to miss that brief window of sunrise light.

Being outdoors energizes Huting: “Cities drain me, but big redwood forests and waterfalls make me feel connected.” To see the natural world through David Huting’s eyes, visit his photography and videography websites.

--Carolyn Cotney / photography courtesy of David Huting

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