Incredible! Otherworldly! Surreal! Like many who experienced the total solar eclipse on Monday August 21, 2017, those were the words coming to mind as I watched the moon slip past the entire sun. It was an experience I will never forget. Since I live about 4 hours from the path of totality, I decided last minute to drive up to Wyoming to catch the total solar eclipse. It's not that I hadn't planned anything prior, but my original plans with my husband sadly fell through (dang work!). After a bit of research, I found the perfect spot for a quick trip. I started driving around 3 am Monday morning and arrived at about 8:30 am. I found my spot and started setting up for the show. I was surprised that only a few people were in the area and that I didn't hit any kind of traffic on the roads. I felt like I had the whole place to myself! Even without the solar eclipse, this place was gorgeous. I just enjoyed taking in the beauty around me.
The "big show" was seriously incredible. Much of it can't be described in words or shown in pictures. It's something you must see for yourself. One of the craziest moments was seeing the shadow bands (see video below) before and after totality. It was truly psychedelic. Like nothing I had ever seen or experienced before. It was eerie and mesmerizing as it felt like I was seeing another dimension. While it was best shown against a white background, like on my Jeep in the video, it felt as if it was happening everywhere.
I felt lucky to have been able to photograph the event and feel as if I had plenty of time to enjoy it as well. It didn't last very long, but it had a lasting impression. Now I can't wait for the next one!
April 27, 2015
A regularly one hour flight took us eight hours. The Nepali man sitting behind me on the plane had been sobbing for the last hour. He had just found out about the death of a loved one. I put my hand on his shoulder, as if it would help at all, and whispered "I'm sorry."
We finally got off the plane around 0300 and walked down the tarmac passing groups of people evacuating the country in large military cargo planes. The humble Khatmandu airport was filled with people sleeping on any patch of comfort they could find, waiting for their evacuation flight. We grabbed our checked bags full of medical supplies and headed outside, not quite sure how we were going to get to our guesthouse. Miraculously, a guy with a van drove up and we hailed him down. He overcharged us for the ride, but considering the circumstances we didn't bat an eye. We passed families walking down the dark streets with suitcases dragging behind them. A few tents had sprung up in the open areas of the city, but mostly people were sleeping outside. Only a few lights from generators were actually working. We reached the guesthouse and met the owner outside. The lobby was completely full of people sleeping on the floors. We tiptoed through and headed to our rooms on the third floor. I felt so guilty taking up a whole room with people sleeping on the ground in the lobby. In reality, they were in a much safer area and closer to the exit, but I still felt bad.
To make room for medical supplies and camera gear, I had only brought one change of clothes. Not even PJs. So, to keep everything as fresh as possible, I stripped down to my underwear and crawled into bed. Not even a moment after turning off the light, I felt my first aftershock. It was enough to get the dogs barking. My bed shook and the sound of the building creaking made me worry. When it ended, I could hear moaning in the distance. The people were in pure fear. They had seen and felt the destruction, and with so many aftershocks, it felt to them as if the terror would never end. I realized this would be the first of many tremors, and by the time I left I had almost gotten used to them happening every night. After everything settled, I turned the light back on, put on my jeans and t-shirt and got back into bed to sleep a couple of hours.
Nepal is still in need of help. Please go to NepalRises.com to see what you can do to help, and watch our 20 minute documentary on the quake here: https://vimeo.com/131714723.
I can't believe the last time I wrote on this blog was a year ago...for this exact type of post (insert ashamed emoticon). That shows you how crazy 2015 was! And it tells me I need to set a goal this year to get my butt in gear and be more diligent about writing on my blog.
As some of you die-hard followers may know, 2015 was a different kind of year here at Lindsay Daniels Photography. It was full of international travel, long term documentary projects, and somewhat of a shift in the photography I am used to focusing on. Most of you know me as a landscape and adventure photographer, but sometimes projects come your way that affect you down to the core, enough to even change your vision as a photographer. That's what happened to me this year.
When I was asked to be the lead cinematographer for a documentary called Stolen Innocence, I'm not sure I realized how big of an impact it would have on me and my career. It was a dream come true, and something I had always wanted to do. I got to work with some incredible people; from the amazing film crew, to the NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) directors and founders, to the many girls and women who were willing to tell their stories of being trafficked into the sex trade. I'm a big believer in visual media making a difference in this world. I believe a photo can end a war. I believe a documentary can create policy change. I believe honest news can cause people to get involved. I wouldn't do what I do if I didn't believe this with all my heart. I've got a long road of learning and progress ahead of me, but the hope of doing good in this world has made a huge impact on me this year.
I can't really write about this year without mentioning the amazing people who were behind it:
To Casey Allred and Chris Davis, for giving me the chance to prove myself and learn so much along the way.
To my family, for all your prayers and your continuous support in everything I do.
To my fiancé, for believing in me and loving me for who I am.
To Urmi Basu, Smarita Sengupta and Rishi Kant (and all of those working with New Light, Destiny Foundation, and Shakti Vahini), for being the shining stars in the many lives affected by sex trafficking. You are true heroes.
To the Nepal Rises crew in Kathmandu, for answering the call when the people of Nepal needed it most.
And finally, to all of you. Especially to those of you who have started to spread the word about sex trafficking, and to those who donated to effect.org to help those affected by the earthquake in Nepal. You saved lives.
As I sit at my desk writing this I can't help but get emotional. I really can't thank you all enough. I am extremely humbled by your love and commitment to others. Keep striving for a better world. Happy New Year.
My Top 10 photos of 2015:
(in no particular order)
A man splattered in dyed water from the Holi Color Festival celebrations in Kolkata, India, March 5, 2015.
Hajra waits for her next client in Mumbai's oldest brothel, Kamathipura, April 17, 2015. During the day, Hajra volunteers with a local NGO to help prevent the spread of HIV and AIDS by handing out condoms and educating women who work in the brothels.
Family members of a missing girl are shown a photo to prove she is alive and well. Many had to see the photo over and over again to actually believe it. October 10, 2015.
A Muslim man stops in front of the Taj Mahal at sunset. Agra, India. May 13, 2015.
Clean up and recovery crews realize the daunting task ahead after the 7.8 earthquake hit Nepal. Kathmandu, Nepal. April 26, 2015.
Series of photos of a Nepali woman seeing the main part of her city in ruin, Bhaktapur, Nepal, April 27, 2015. Bhaktapur was one of the hardest hit cities in Nepal after the earthquake.
Rescue and recovery efforts continued through rain and aftershocks in the days after the first earthquake hit Nepal. Bhaktapur, Nepal. April 27, 2015.
Wildflower season in the Wasatch Mountains was one of the best I've seen. It's always good to come back to my hometown and enjoy these quiet moments in the mountains. July 18, 2015.
Bryan Jackman, my fiancé, overlooking our home in Salt Lake City, Utah from the base of Mount Olympus. September 8, 2015.
I was able to spend the end of this amazing year in beautiful Thailand with the one I love. This was not only one of my favorite spots in Thailand, but it is where Bryan asked me to marry him. Phuket, Thailand. December 16, 2015.
I can say 2015 was eventful, if nothing else. It was filled with extreme highs and depressing lows, and I wouldn't have it any other way. Cheers to a beautiful new year!
I know I'm a little late to the game, but I still wanted to share some
of my favorite moments from 2014. So here it goes,
in no particular order, MY FAVORITE MOMENTS OF 2014:
One of my personal favorite highlights of this past year was
getting to see Denali, in the flesh. Such an amazing experience.
I got to cover the Ice Festival at Bridal Veil Falls and learned
how to ice climb for the first time. It was so amazingly fun and addicting!
Big shout out to 12 Finger Adventure for putting on the event and
teaching me the magical ways of climbing ice!
There wasn't anything particularly noteworthy about this night,
other than being in Zion National Park, but it's probably one
of my favorite star trail shots of the year!
I learned a lot about whitewater kayaking this year.
With the help of my best friend and the amazing Utah Whitewater Club
I was able run some pretty sweet rivers with some pretty sweet people.
So many clients to be grateful for this year!
Specifically, Big Sky International Tents (pictured),
Chimera Snowboards, Palace Snowboards, Kahtoola,
Deuter Backpacks, Katadyn and Optimus, Watts Enterprises
and The Outbound Collective.
Thank you all for helping make my dreams come true!
Learned how to photograph underwater, and it felt
like discovering photography all over again! Can't
wait to hone my skills on this one and capture
some new perspectives.
This was one of my all time favorite sunsets ever.
I had just finished setting up my backcountry camp
and with the cloud cover thought sunset might be a dud.
Little did I know, it was just about to blow up!
Another last minute sunset that I nearly missed!
I was just about to pack up my gear when a beam
of light crept into my frame. This is a place I'm vowing
to explore more of.
I was as giddy as a school girl when I realized what I was seeing.
Light green clouds danced in the sky and I must've stood in silence
for a good five minutes before I started shooting. Seeing the Northern
Lights for the first time was definitely one of the best moments of my life!
A spring backpacking trip that turned into a winter
backpacking trip. Gotta love the Wasatch Mountains.
I got to work for the SLCC Globe newspaper for a bit this year
and really loved the diverse subjects I got to shoot. This
was one of my favorites; covering the Holi Festival in
Spanish Fork, Utah.
This image took three years in the making, and 2014
was the year that had all the right ingredients!
I was so pumped to finally experience this phenomenon in person.
I may not be the best crack climber, but I sure had a blast
photographing these amazing climbers in Indian Creek, UT.
Nothing better than exploring the mountains I call home.
So stoked for a new year, and all the upcoming projects.
Happy new year and happy adventuring!
When I start showing my photos from a recent trip I sometimes feel like Aunt Patty and Aunt Selma forcing the Simpsons to sit through another one of their vacation slideshows. Hopefully you don't get that vibe here... I do my best to show the cream of the crop instead of torturing you with a whole bunch of boring images (yes, professional photographers have those images, too). Or worse, a full slideshow of selfies (I may have included a few...don't judge). So, I narrowed it down as best I could. I think I can say this post is at least better than getting a shirt that says, "My friend went to Alaska and all I got was this lousy t-shirt". So, without further adieu, here are the Alaska pictures.
P.S. Hover over the image if you want a little backstory.
This was my first morning in Denali. I woke up to a heavy layer of snow on my tent, but I couldn't have asked for better light. Me overlooking the Toklat River. My tent had already gathered a fine dusting of ice, but the northern lights were calling. I nervously walked to the road not sure what I was going to see. But there they were. The northern lights! The northern lights over Sanctuary River. My first night in the backcountry! That's bear spray on my hip. My beautiful campsite in backcountry unit 10. In the backcountry of Denali National Park. This is probably one of my favorite photos from the trip. The northern lights and the big dipper sure were trying to break through the clouds. A bull moose and the fall foliage. This is my second backpacking location. Unit 33. I did a little more exploring to find this campsite and it definitely paid off.
Sunset in the backcountry of Denali National Park. I felt incredibly blessed and lucky to be there. There were definite ups and downs, but this day was pretty magical. The moon over the Alaska Range. It's incredible to think how much higher Denali (Mt. McKinley) is. Denali is 20,322', the tallest mountain in North America. I hiked back to the road the next morning and waited for the bus to take me to my campground at Wonder Lake. Not a bad place to have to wait for the bus. Denali is in the middle of the frame. Luckily, I never saw any bears while I was hiking, but I saw plenty of signs that they were near. This bear was hanging around the Eielson Visitor Center. There are so many mountains, many of them are unnamed. A road with fall colors leads to Denali and the Wonder Lake Campground. Can't complain with a view like that! Wonder Lake Campground in the fall. MT. MCKINLEY -- THE HIGH ONE -- DENALI The Super Moon Panorama of the Alaska Range. Denali is hiding in the clouds. A grizzly desperately tries to find food before winter. The light was incredible for my last morning in the park. This is Polychrome Point. I found some climbers! They were just outside of Anchorage on my way to Seward. I hiked in the rain to get to this river in Seward. The amount of green and moss was amazing. Saw this little guy on the trail overlooking Exit Glacier. If you haven't seen the YouTube video of "Teddy Eating Corn" google it right now. Exit Glacier. So many mushrooms! Sailboat in the bay. Seward, Alaska. The coastline in Seward, Alaska. It was super windy and water was splashing up on my camera, but this was one of the coolest moments of the trip. Portage Glacier and Portage Lake. Ice from Portage Glacier in Portage Lake. Ice from Portage Glacier. The Seward Marina at Sunrise.
The Gear Series: You see, it can be hard to choose just the right gear.
These purchases are investments, and you want to be able to use them for years to come.
I feel like I got lucky with a lot of my purchases, but I was also doing A LOT of research.
I want to be able to share my first hand experiences with gear I've come to love,
and steer you away from gear I wish I never bought.
This is, The Gear Series.
Clik Elite Backpacks. Where to start? I guess the best place to start is the beginning, when I decided to buy a Clik Elite bag. After stalking so many of my favorite photographers and seeing what bags they used, I thought I would give them a try. I mean, if the PROS were using them, then they had to be good. I purchased the Clik Elite Obscura 30 and never looked back. That was about two years ago. Since then, I've dragged it through muddy running shoots, thrown it in the back of my car on countless road trips, and scraped it along sandpaper-like granite on multi-pitch climbs. To put it simply, it has been my ultimate workhorse of a bag. Despite a scuff here and there (which really only gives it more character), it still performs as if I bought it yesterday. I use every bit of the pack, and always have room for a rain jacket and extra food.
My go-to kit is using two Canon bodies (5D Mark II and the 7D) with the 17-40mm on one and 70-200mm on the other. My 7D+70-200 combo goes in the side entry portal. It's easy to access and fits completely and securely. My 5D+17-40 combo is in the internal lens pouch, which sits high on my back and distributes the weight more evenly. The internal lens pouch also holds my 24 TS-E and either an external flash or an extra lens.
My Gitzo 2531 tripod and BH-3 Ballhead combo fits perfectly through velcro openings in the mesh outer pocket. It can be hard to get any bigger items in and out of the mesh pocket with the tripod attached. I usually just keep a headlamp and thin gloves in there and haven't had any problems getting them in and out, even with the tripod attached. The top pocket keeps my keys clipped in (I can't tell you how much time this has saved me from having to dig around to find my keys) and little things like CF cards, remote trigger, business cards and iPhone all within easy reach.
With all that, I still have the main compartment in which I carry my filters and a rain jacket. When approaching a climb, I have my harness, shoes and gear in the main compartment with my helmet attached to the four reinforced accessory loops. If I'm carrying the rope, I tie it to the grab loop at the top and, if needed, strap it down with the two compression straps on each side.
Grab a Different Bag:
Other Clik Elite bags I'm looking at:
I hope this gives you an idea about Clik Elite bags and their awesome quality. And just in case you're thinking about purchasing one for yourself, I've got a little incentive for you --> 10% OFF ANY CLIK ELITE PRODUCT WHEN YOU USE THIS PROMO CODE: CEA4910.
You won't regret it!
There is a story behind every image.
Last week, I did a little overnight backpacking trip to Red Pine Lake in Little Cottonwood Canyon.
Here's the story:
I hiked past Lower Red Pine Lake, hoping the Upper Red Pine Lake would be more scenic. The snow was soft in the afternoon sun, and every step felt as if I were taking a half step back. As I got closer to the top of the large snow slope, I heard an unsettling 'whumpf' under my feet. At this point, I was completely exhausted. Pure adrenaline kicked in and I ran the rest of the way up. Thankfully, it was only a bluff. I caught my breath and looked at my watch. I had gained 500' in 1/4 mile.
I set up camp under White Baldy and decided to cook some dinner on my homemade stove before I shot sunset. For some reason, either the cold or the altitude (although neither were extreme), my alcohol burning stove would not heat up my water. I tried four times before I just completely gave up. The only ready-to-eat food I had with me was a clementine and some chips. I was just glad it was only an overnighter.
The temperature dropped as a storm cloud crept over the mountains to the south. As a photographer, I get excited about clouds, especially storm clouds. Unless, of course, they block out the sunset entirely, and drop tons of rain on your camp. This time they served as dramatic sunset clouds, cleared up enough for star shots, and didn't drop any moisture. I definitely lucked out.
By this moment, I realized the drama was happening on the opposite side of my camp. I wanted to get sunset shots with my tent in the foreground. So I ran to get me tent...
I picked up my tent with everything still in it, ran to the light, set it down in position and shot away. Once again, luck was in my favor. The light gave me one last chance to get the shot before the color quickly faded away.
As the light waned, I dragged my tent back to its original campsite and turned in for the night.
I ate the rest of my chips, wrote in my journal and listened to the silence surrounding me.
The next morning, I opened my tent door, breathed in the crisp air and thanked God for creating such amazing beauty, and for giving me the drive and ability to get to these awesome places. I am, most definitely, blessed to be alive.
The elusive wildflowers in Caineville, Utah.
So much of photography is about patience. Whether you're waiting for the right light, or waiting for mother nature to cooperate. If you're not patient, you might as well just give up on becoming a landscape photographer. I'm not saying there isn't a bit of luck involved, but patience sure has a lot to do with it.
A few weekends ago, I had a bit of both patience and luck work out for me. I had been scouting a specific event in nature that is elusive and unpredictable. I may have mentioned my search in previous posts seen here: Caineville 2012. For two years, I have gone to Caineville in hopes of capturing some elusive desert wildflowers, and this year, I had nearly given up hope. On a stroke of luck, just before I headed to Green River for a whitewater kayaking trip, I happened to see a Facebook post by the one and only, Guy Tal. He had posted a recent picture of the actual wildflowers.
Finally! The flowers were in bloom! I conned my best friend, who was going on the whitewater kayaking trip with me, to make a detour for a sunrise session in Caineville.
Driving into Caineville that night, I was a little skeptical about these "so-called" wildflowers. Was I in the right place? Were the images I had seen fake? I got up early the next morning hoping to find even just a patch. As I walked out into the desert, I started seeing them under my feet. These things actually existed! I started to tread lightly, and with a bit more of a hop in my step I continued on as they were still few and far between. The desert was full of mini canyons that I'd have to traverse, and at one point I was able to get on higher ground to look out in the area I was hoping to find the flowers. In the distance, I spotted a yellow patch, but I wasn't sure if it was just the color of the dirt or my mind playing tricks on me. Could've been either, really. But it was worth a shot. There was no going back now. As I got closer and closer, I realized it was them. This is what I had been searching for, for so long. For the past two years I had been chasing these flowers, and here they were. Right in the middle of this arid desert. It was one of the most relieving and gratifying moments in my life.
Caineville Wildflowers and Factory Butte
Caineville Yellow Wildflowers
So, the lesson here, my friends, is to keep at it. Never give up, and always remember to be patient. The old adage is true: Good things come to those who wait.
The desert was calm. The sun slowly raised over the distant butte, warming my face from the chilly morning. Indian Creek was waking up, and I was beyond excited to start climbing. Our start-of-the-day, unfortunately, began searching for the rest of our party we were to meet up with the night before. Without them, there was to be no climbing. We searched all morning, leaving traces on message boards strewn across the area, hoping to communicate our location. My excitement turned to frustration and back to excitement, when miraculously our driver spotted our lost party's truck and sped after them. It was like a scene out of a James Bond movie. We passed several cars before we got close enough to nearly rear-ending our friends. After what seemed to be a minute of honking, flashing and hollering out the window, they finally realized it was us. A sigh of relief came over us all; we were finally gonna get to climb.
Sleeping in at our desert camp. Indian Creek, Utah. The approach to Way Rambo. Indian Creek, Utah. Jordan Gans sorting gear at the base of Technicolor (5.11+). Indian Creek, Utah. Erik Nordstrom taping up at the base of Technicolor (5.11+). Indian Creek, Utah.
Once at the wall, we were able to forget all about the crazy morning. It was all about climbing now. Everyone focused their attention to the preparation of crack climbing: Sorting gear, taping hands, mentally psyching each other up. It was time to forget all our worries and just climb.
Erik Nordstrom sending "On the Up and Up" (5.10+). Indian Creek, Utah. Sam Finco leading "Way Rambo" (5.12-). Indian Creek, Utah.
Reuben Cousin leading "On the Up and Up" (5.10+). Indian Creek, Utah. Erik Nordstrom leading "On the Up and Up" (5.10+) overlooking the dirt road. Indian Creek, Utah.
I quickly learned that crack climbing is a very different sport than face climbing. I had a friend describe it once like this: Insert hand, break wrist. Insert foot, brake ankle. As I learned the technique, I couldn't help but laugh; that's pretty much exactly what it feels like. So why do people do it? I'm not sure I can explain it, but I know I kept wanting more. There's a feeling, much like the feeling I had when I started climbing a year ago, when you are hanging on a wall that you shouldn't be hanging from, and you realize you got there under your own strength and ability. That's an incredible feeling.
Jordan Gans uses his first-aid kit after a painful try of an unknown 5.12 finger crack at Technicolor Wall. Indian Creek, Utah. Sam Finco leading "Way Rambo" (5.12-). Indian Creek, Utah. Erik Nordstrom placing gear on "On the Up and Up" (5.10+). Indian Creek, Utah. Sam Finco nearing one of the cruxes on "Way Rambo" (5.12-). Indian Creek, Utah. Reuben Cousin placing gear on "On the Up and Up" (5.10+). Indian Creek, Utah. Sam Finco takes a rest to get some chalk on "Way Rambo" (5.12-). Indian Creek, Utah.
By the end of the weekend, with new stories to tell and battle wounds to show off, we reluctantly left The Creek. I now see why so many climbers flock to this area. It seems to beckon, as if to say, "Try me". It all depends on if you're up for the challenge.
Around the campfire. Indian Creek, Utah.
Ever wonder how photographers can get such deep focus from something really close to something really far away? Here's a spoiler alert for you: We use Photoshop. I know. Photoshop gets such a bad rap. But why? It's a tool just like anything else in a photographer's kit. Without ranting too much about the use of Photoshop, let's get back to the reason why I started writing this post. Focus blending. I should note here that many professionals, including myself, also use a tilt-shift lens in order to get both the foreground and background in focus. It takes a lot of practice and patience, but it can offer some really amazing results. But what if you don't have a tilt-shift lens? Or you don't have it with you? Or the tilt-shift isn't giving you desirable results? Enter focus blending.
Before I go any further, I use Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop as my main post production tools. You may use something different, but these are what I know. The same steps should be pretty similar across the board, but as far as I know*, these steps are the best way to blend focus.
Final focus blending image. Snow Canyon, Utah.
How to blend focus in Photoshop:
1. Find a scene and set up your composition. Make sure to use a tripod for this step. Once you've got the exposure the way you want it, focus on the foreground object and take a photo. With the same settings (remember to use Manual mode) focus on the background and take a photo. This step can include several focus points, depending on the scene. Take as many photos you think are necessary. For this example, I will only be using two photos.
2. Import into Lightroom (or your editing software of choice).
3. Highlight the photos you want to blend (hold down command and click on the photos you want to include in the focus blend). Right click, choose "Edit In" and then click on "Open as Layers in Photoshop...". This action will open Photoshop and prepare your selected photos as layers.
4. Once in Photoshop, click on the eraser tool. Then highlight the top layer where it shows the photos on the right. The bottom layer will remain hidden until you start erasing the top layer. Don't forget to select the top layer before you start erasing or you might just erase the bottom layer without noticing. You can switch the layers by dragging and dropping them in a different order. The top photo will always be the top layer.
5. Use the eraser tool and start erasing the section that is out-of-focus. In this case, my top layer is the photo where the flowers are in-focus and the mountains in the background are out-of-focus. My bottom layer is the photo where the mountains are in-focus, so when I erase the out-of-focus mountains from the top layer, the in-focus mountains show up from the photo in the bottom layer. Make sure your opacity is at 100% and flow 100%.
6. Once you've erased the large sections, zoom in and start focusing on the details. This step is where the world "blend" comes in. You want to make the transition between the two photos are as seamless as possible. It takes some practice, but this is a critical step that definitely needs attention.
7. To see what you've actually erased, and to make sure you erased everything you needed to erase, click on the eye next to the layer. I clicked on the eye next to the bottom layer so I could see what was remaining of the top layer. Remember, the top layer is what I was erasing. Everything that is showing will remain on top of the bottom layer.
8. If everything looks OK, go to File>Save. This will save a new file, leaving the original files as they were, and automatically bring it into Lightroom.
9. Back in Lightroom, you can finish up the edit and get it ready for export.
You can use this same method with numerous layers. Just remember the basics. The possibilities are really endless. I've used this same process to blend exposures, and although it's not my favorite end-result, it has opened up the possibilities for me in Photoshop.
If you learned something, feel free to share this.
*Full Disclosure: I am not a Photoshop expert. Not even close. If you know of an easier or better way of doing this, please share. I won't be offended.
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© Lindsay Daniels
Travel photographer and videographer based in Salt Lake City, Utah. Available worldwide. Ready for hire.