Wednesday May 5, 2010
I woke up well before sunrise, and packed my 4×5 along with all the necessary shooting gear into my Gregory backpack. I planned on spending the entire day down in Buckskin Gulch shooting, exploring, and relaxing. It was going to be a warm day, so the shade of Buckskin Gulch would be greatly appreciated.
I hiked in through the wash, then made my way to the confluence of Wire Pass, and Buckskin Gulch. This area has been very productive for me during my February 2009 trip. Two photos from my limited series collection were taken down in this canyon. I hoped that a return trip might be productive for more photos.
I focused my attention on a wall with reflected light. Here, the desert varnish (dark streaks from water flowing down the surface of the cliff), made for a very interesting geometric pattern. I took 2 photos with different compositions. While setting up the shot, I needed to overextend the bellows on my 4×5 camera. This gives the ability to focus on a close subject. All you need to do is measure the new focal length, compare that to what the lens is rated for, and do some simple math to come up with the proper amount of exposure compensation to add.
The only problem was that I forgot my GPS or my iPhone — both of which have a calculator on board. I did all of my calculations in the sand. There’s nothing quite like doing long division in the soft sand of Buckskin Gulch.
From there, I moved further South in the Canyon. My goal was to find some interesting glows. This time of year, the light moves quite fast through the canyon. Buckskin Gulch does not produce glows that are as dramatic as Antelope Canyon, but if you are in the right place at the right time, it can be very impressive. This is due in part to the scale of the canyon. Buckskin Gulch averages about 15 feet wide, and can be easily over 100 feet deep.
I spent the rest of the day hiking up and down the canyon, trying to find out where to be and when for ideal glow shots. I made some notes, and made plans for the coming days. I also found a really neat shot that would require my 8×10 camera to photograph. One particular section of sandstone cliff had beautiful, pristine, desert varnish. The vertical lines made for a very painterly feel. I planned on shooting it on 8×10 film, then cropping it as a panorama. Assuming there were no clouds, tomorrow would be an ideal day for that shot.
I emerged from the canyon around 5PM with a couple shots in hand, and a plan for the coming days.