Nate Arrants uses his camera as motivation to venture off the beaten path and as a tool to help others.

He started taking photos three years ago with his iPhone 5 but he was disappointed because it didn’t seem to capture what he saw. So with money he earned from part-time jobs and a little help from his parents, he bought Canon Rebel T6i for $950.

Since then, Arrants’ passion for photography has taken him from Mount Katahdin, the highest mountain in Maine, to Mount Mansfield, the highest mountain in Vermont.

Whether hiking, kayaking, skiing or mountain biking, he often gets up early and goes to bed late. He got a favorite shot of Nubble Light in York just after midnight, then returned at 3:30 a.m. to shoot the lighthouse at sunrise.

“My camera pushes me to go where most other people don’t,” said Arrants, 18. “Landscapes and night photography are my favorites right now. Capturing what the naked eye can’t see – the Milky Way and the way the stars can pop – I live for that.”

For his senior community service project at Falmouth High School, Arrants made and sold photo calendars that raised $1,500 for the Preble Street Soup Kitchen in Portland. “It was fun seeing people receive my work so well and knowing it was for a good cause,” he said.

Arrants also exhibited his photos at Elizabeth Moss Gallery in Falmouth. One was purchased by an executive at The Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor. “That really motivated me to create more,” he said.

An honor roll student and top soccer and lacrosse player, Arrants was a leader of the Civics Club, founder of the Investment Club and co-founder of the Sports Photo and Video Club. With advanced math skills, he was a geometry and algebra tutor and a statistics teacher’s assistant.

His volunteer work included serving at the soup kitchen, coaching summer soccer camps and helping to lead summer recreation camps. He has been a clerk at L.L. Bean for a year and previously worked in food prep at the Town Landing Market, and as a referee for youth soccer and lacrosse leagues.

Arrants credits his parents with giving him and his younger brother a deep appreciation of nature by regularly taking them camping and on other outdoor excursions. They also supported his growing interest in photography, which he plans to maintain as a hobby to preserve the sense of adventure and pleasure of it.

Arrants plans to study economics, environmental issues and leadership at the University of Richmond in Virginia, in preparation for a career related to environmental policy.

“I’ve seen nature at its best and I want it to stay that way,” he said.