Hello All: As I've chatted with most of you already about my trip to Utah and I wanted to assemble a blog - if you will - with some of the pics and a narrative of our trip. With the exception of some poor travel experiences this ranks very near the top of my all time greatest trips - skiing or any other purpose. It seemed like the trip was a confluence of all the elements that make a great trip and I hope you don't mind me sharing these details. While I attempte to avoid my tendency of getting too wordy, I'll start with a little background on Amanda and I, skiing, and why we go to Utah. Amanda and I've been together for almost four years, prior to which she hadn't skied in almost two decades, and even so had never really gotten the opportunity to do much of it. In her on right Amanda is a phenomenal athlete and her winters as a kid on through college we're consumed by her basketball stardom. If it weren't for getting burnt out on the seemingly endless early mornings and summer days spent in gyms she might have continued on to her all time favorite team UNC. Fastforward to moving to Vermont and starting a fledgling relationship with me, she jumped right on the horse and learned how to ski, and I don't mean just carving groomers a handful of times a year, but she embraced being a full on Skier. Amanda is by all accounts an expert skier now and more importantly has fostered a remarkable passion for a sport that already means so much to me. Therfore taking a ski trip is an important part of our winter's cycle. The Utah license plate exclaims "The Greatest Snow on Earth", and I believe that is widely recognized as true. That's the short answer on why Utah, but the second part is my long time friend Justin has moved there and is always a gracious host. He is never going to be the 9-5 kind of person and has really been working on seguing himself into a career as a ski photographer if not at least building a reputable hobbyist portfolio. Justin also did an incredible job by tackling our wedding photography this past January. So with those details the cards were already stacked in our favor to have a wonderful time: good friends and great snow. Amanda and I take a lot of pictures, for everything we do, but especially on trips and while skiing. I titled this email Amateur vs. Professional, because while Amanda and I have really worked on taking good ski pictures the difference between our pictures and the ones that Justin took is remarkable. All Smiles and Ready to RollNot so fast: Delta leaves us stranded in JFK for ourfirst night of Vaca.Well after a night of sleep in 1hr spurts we made it to SLCwith only a mornings lost time at the mountain. We also were pleased thatdespite the flight SNAFUs our gear made it too.We head right up for the first of our five in a row days ofskiing. That first day we spent at Snowbird, which is a giant resort. The'Bird had received 20 some odd inches of snow a few days before we'd gottenthere so we spent most of the day hunting for the fresh patches stillremaining.A pretty serious arsenal is required to keep a hugeresort safe from avalanche danger after a storm.I've been to Utah for 6 years now, and I am still blown awayby the scale of the resorts out there. This year was no different. Fortunately Justin knows his way around and we were quite successful in findingsome stashes of pow. One of the most exciting aspects of this trip for mewas getting to work with a near pro photographer. Amanda and I pour overall kinds of skiing media each season and wonder how do they get that "perfect pow turn" picture. Well this trip we got to learn howthat works. It is a phenomenal excersice in team work, and you learn todo your part to the best of your ability and to forgive you counterpart if bothof your bests don't happen at that exact same instance.With good snow and good light we got right to it on ourfirst day of trying to take that Perfect Pow Pic.Amanda and Justin trying to get the stars to align. Note the washed out color of my amateur point and shoot camera.And now here is Amanda from behind the real lense:Powder Pic #1: Josh from the same spot as above.Very quickly as Justin clicked great picture after greatpicture, I realized the pictures we are enamored by every season aren't reallyabout the skiers (or boarders) in them at all: It’s the guy behind the lense(and the Light Room) who should be earning all of the credit.Powder Pic #2: Still Snowbird Day #1After almost backing down from a little cliff drop becauseof my "first day" nerves, I hollered down to my wife who returnedwith a "Send It" If she says so!Further down I caught an opportunity to catch the photogenjoying some fresh snow too.30lb bag and soft snow, now that is hard work, but Justinmakes it look easy.Justin getting after it #2.Friday-Day 2 was a near duplicate of Day 1. Back tothe 'Bird, but with lots more sun, and not as much soft snow left. Westarted by crossing through the new 1.4M$ wonder of a magic carpet lift. Snowbird built a tunnel and this lift right through the peak of themountain two years ago to help get riders into the back bowl much quicker.Amanda smiling for day 2, with Justin trying to setup thereal shot.Our skiing on Day 2 was described best when Justin exclaimed"…this will be rather sporting." An expression he used todescribe a steep and tight chute we skied that day. We worked a ways to getover and into this thing only too find a difficult sun crust on the wet snowchoked chute.Amanda: wondering why do I let these boys get me intothese things?Although the lens is rotated a little bit, this is howsteep it felt.Here is a pic of that tight chute from across the way,it is the straight left edge of the large cliff band front and center.Amanda's chuteI've called that chute Amanda's chute, because on the firstday we skied it Amanda came away feeling like she could have done itbetter. On our fifth day she demaned that we go back so she could ski itstraight through without stopping. She admitted that having the mass ofrock omnipresent to your left the whole time was terrifying and kept her fromlinking turns right down the beast. On her second run she charged it withconfidence that left me so proud of her. She is awesome.Saturday Day #3: Storm Day.On saturday we awoke to a storm that would start latemorning and had the potential to dump up to 3" and hour. We went toAlta - where else? We'd decided to split up with Justin for this day sothat we wouldn't have to deal with conflicting paces. Amanda and I reallyworked on taking our Perfect Pow Pic and were really communicating well andusing what we learned from the two previous days. Compose the shot,signal to skier with a snow ball where they need to turn, skier turn, cameramanclick the button. So simple really, but our pics just don't quite fit thePerfect Picture Moniker.Josh and Amanda's Perfect Pow Pic #1: Okay I can turnthere.And There:Sunday Day 4: Solitude ResortThe storm from Saturday was starting to break by Sundaymorning, and although by Utah standards wasn't huge the North East windscreated pockets of snow that made the 11" of new snow ski like it was fardeeper.We only took a few pictures this day, because, well we alljust wanted ski and with the weekend crowds the freshies were getting trackedup quickly.Justin enjoying the Black Forest: this is one of myfavorite spots in all of Utah.Justin returning the photog favor and then some tocapture my turns:Then here's Amanda coming through the Black Forest: Notas scary as the name might implie.Day 5: Back to BirdAmanda and I did it! We got two really dynamit picturesof each other with just a lot of luck, a lot of bad pictures, and some good sun.Amanda's ripping…. now lets go back to that chute!Hey Babe, turn where I tell you! - I am learning I shouldALWAYS listen to my wife! Too bad the pocket police later busted me for havingevery single one of my pockets unzipped.We finished off our last day with some jumping. Mostof you know I love jumping, and I love doing it even more when I can fulfill myvanity by getting to do it in front of lens and preserve it forantiquity. Justin had hoped that he could get to practice taking picturesof people hitting jumps. Out in Utah I think most people don't waste timehitting man made jumps when there is so much great natural terrain to justski. Well, I live in the East so I can justify spending a whole dayhitting jumps. I was all too happy to oblige.Cloud Explosion: Tail Grab 360Justin was so excited about this next picture. He reallywanted to learn how to take a sequence picture, and well I really wanted to bein one. So while following the college age adage of "Go big or GoHome" here's the last jump of the trip. Justin had me wait solong to go so that no one else except my beautiful wife would be in thebackground of the shot.Tail Grab 540 a la 12 frames. Manual apperature, manualiso, burst mode - 4 frames / sec, and then use layers in Photoshop.Before flying home that evening we went to the Red Iguanafor simply the best Mexican food. One simply MUST go while in SLC.Here's a couple of ski-hippies glad to be heading home.I'd like to end with this absolutely awesome self portraitby the man of the trip. Justin Altman as scene by the rear window of hisToyota Tacoma.Thank you all for reading and looking. I hope youdon't mind me brag…. er… sharing the details of our wonderful trip. ThinkSnow! Thanks for looking!Sincerely,JoshPS This goggle tan was so epic that it had to bedocumented as part of this trip.