Vineyards and Wheat Fields by Roark Nelson in Walla Walla

Roark Nelson is a master at capturing light in his nature and night photography. We love his dreamy foggy shots, as well as his portraits and sports photography. Follow Roark at @roarknelson.

Name:Roark Nelson

Place you live: Walla Walla, Washington

Place your Instagrams were taken? Walla Walla

Can you sum up Walla Walla? Walla Walla is surrounded on all sides by vineyards and wheat fields. Just outside of town to the east is the foothills of the Blue Mountains that continue on into Oregon.

What is a perfect day in Walla Walla? I really love when fog moves into the town. It provides the opportunity to drive into the Blue Mountains and shoot over the fog, which appears endless. It generally is very sunny over the fog and the juxtaposition of the foggy town and the sunny overlook is exciting.

How long have you been using Instagram? I have been using Instagram for a couple of years but it has only been in the last five months or so that I have really focused on populating my feed with my photography.

Do you shoot with your phone or other cameras or both? I don’t ever shoot with my phone anymore as the camera on it broke a couple of months ago. I do shoot all of my images now with a Canon 5D Mark II.

What is your editing process? I edit mostly in Lightroom. I try not to edit the images too much by only doing basic tonal and color correction. I like to take some time in between editing and posting images. I find that taking a step back and coming back to the images really helps me look at my edits as a whole. Often I find little things that I would like to change slightly such as a little more contrast or bringing the highlights in slightly.

Do you create images outside of Instagram? Yes. I also use the National Geographic Yourshot where a photo of mine was recently chosen to be the National Geographic Photo of the Day.

Has Instagram/phoneography affected how you shoot? I wouldn’t say it affects how I shoot, but Instagram has really helped in encouraging me to shoot a lot more. Photography is a lot like other skills and the more work you put into it the more you get out of it.

Can you give a couple tips to aspiring Instagram photographers? The biggest thing is just to keep shooting. Look at your photos and really take in what makes the photo good and also what makes the photo bad. I have so many photos that I wish I could go back and change something I did, but it’s knowing what makes a photo good and bad that prepares you for the next shot. Another thing is to try and get into photo workshops, critiques, or internships with pro photographers. I traveled with Keith Ladzinski on a National Geographic Student Expedition and just being able to work on photos with him and get his input on shooting more meaningful photos was amazing.

Who are your three favorite Instagrammers?

For adventure photography definitely @ladzinski. He shoots for National Geographic and works daily with some of the best climbers in the world.

For night photography it would have to be @shainblumphotography. His feed is filled with tons of milky way photos and time lapses from around the U.S.

For photography in a general sense, @thepeoplescreatives curate a very diverse feed. They provide inspiration for portraits, landscapes, fine art, adventure etc.



Name:Roark Nelson

City:Walla Walla

Best place to eat:


Best place to drink:

Laht Neppur

Best outdoor activity:

Camping and backpacking.

Must do:

Take a scenic drive up into the Blue Mountains around sunrise or sunset.

Local tip:

Watch out when driving near Whitman College, those guys cross the street at the oddest times.