Whimsy & Wilderness

A Colorado Adventure Blog

Why I Wild - Vol III

Baby’s first hike.

Baby’s first hike.

If I was asked to describe Nate Luebbe it would be a wizard with a camera. He could take a photo of a sand box, and it would come out resembling the Great Sand Dunes. He makes the rest of us muggles look bad. I first discovered his sorcery a year ago on Instagram. I was drawn to his aesthetic of dramatic landscapes, clever captions, and affinity for bears (more on that later). We eventually exchanged nerdy banter, and became fast friends. Nate is currently an ambassador for Sony Alpha, and a freelance photographer. We met Irl at a Be Alpha community meetup in Boulder. It included a catered lunch, gear to try, and a hike in Nederland. I was finally able bare witness to Nate in the wild, which coincidentally is his Instagram handle.


While discussing his youth (his first bath was in a Volkswagen bus at a national park), it’s easy to see why the moniker fits him. Born in Montana, and raised in Colorado, he was exploring summits before he could walk. For which he gratefully credits his nature loving parents. An early poignant memory? Salmon fishing, and catching one, on his tenth birthday in Alaska. His childhood is sprinkled with similar tales of enviable adventures. Not much appears to have changed, as he hasn’t stopped roaming the mountains on which he was raised. We sat down to chat about his passion for landscapes, wildlife, and grizzly encounters.

Nate in the wild.

Nate in the wild.

How would you describe your personality using an outdoor element? A sunrise. Because I’m generally very optimistic and bubbly, and a huge early bird.

What thus far has been your most memorable experience? The first time I saw the Northern Lights had a massive impact on me. I also I had an incredible day shooting Grizzlies in Alaska last year, which is my favorite thing in the world. But the first time I saw the Northern Lights was an incomparable experience. I’ll never forget the first 30 seconds I saw it. It felt as close to magic as you can get.

Have you every been in a situation in which you were scared? I’ve been so close to a grizzly I could touch its face. He was sitting on the side of the trail eating berries, and I had gotten up early to catch the sunrise. I rounded the corner, and thankfully he was super content chowing down. We locked eyes and I slowly backed away. But there’s always scary stuff outdoors, it’s the assumed risk.

Why do you wild? I just like it. {laughs} It’s peaceful. The world is beautiful, and it’s crazy we got to live on this out of all the trillion planets. It doesn’t have to be more complicated than that.

Finish this sentence, The wilderness is… Freedom. To tack on to it my favorite quote by William Shakespeare, “Now my soul hath elbow-room.” That’s pretty much how I feel out there.

What is the best advice Nature has given you? It reminds me how small I am. And that’s something I think is very important for people to keep in mind.

Speaking of advice, what tip would you offer to someone interested in exploring? Don’t get sucked into what’s popular, and go to where you want to go. If that’s discovering a town in Venezuela then do that or if it’s the North Pole do that. Everyone will have an opinion, and tell it to you.

What your favorite object to photograph? Bears. Sorry, I’m so one dimensional. {Laughing} Landscapes are my passion, it’s accessible. But I get SO excited about wildlife photography, because it’s not guaranteed. There’s no promises of seeing anything even if you know where to find them. You can’t stage the shot, it’s just really fun. It’s unpredictable. It’s not always about being good, sometimes it’s about being lucky.

What do you hope to project through your images? I try to project the experience. At any moment I want people to look at it, and imagine their favorite time outdoors. Landscape photography is my public face, but it’s probably only half of the photography I do. I do a lot of food photography , portraits, and downtown scenes for tourism boards. In those I try to capture the spirit of being in that place.

Since our meeting Nate was able to photograph more bears, this time Polar, in Manitoba, Canada. He’s also heading to Norway in February to co-lead a workshop on the bewitching Northern Lights. If you’re lucky enough to run into him in the wild, you’re in for a good laugh, and plenty of adventure.

You can follow Nate’s journey here, and see more of his stunning work here.