Colorado Plateau Trip: Day 4

Four Square: Closeup view of Desert Varnish (Toyo 45AII | Nikkor 210mm | Velvia 50 4x5)

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.

Texture and Tone (Toyo 45AII | Nikkor 210mm | Velvia 50 4x5)

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.

4 Responses to “Colorado Plateau Trip: Day 4”

  1. David Patterson Says:

    Ben… you write very well, with your words helping take the reader along with you on your adventures, but now that you are adding the video diaries… exceptional! Thanks for sharing your stories and the experience of Buckskin Gulch… between the stills and the video… makes me want to be there for myself. Isn’t that what image-making is all about?

    • Ben Horne Says:

      Thanks David. I enjoy doing the video journals because it gives me something to do. It’s kind of like bringing a friend to a favorite place of yours that you are familiar with, and explaining the surroundings. On Day 6, I started to have even more fun with the videos by exploring some different video techniques.

      When I’m on the trips, I look forward to editing the video together just as much as I enjoy getting the film back from the lab.

  2. Jose Says:

    Love the video – makes me want to go there tomorrow!! How about the next time out you video your camps? I always like to see camp shots and what the surroundings are like. Keep them coming!

    Great images too!

    Best,

    Jose

    • Ben Horne Says:

      Thanks Jose. I do have some videos of my camp, but I haven’t included them thus far. I’ll include some in the next round of videos. I also have some still shots of my 4runner complete with film changing tent in the back. It’s the perfect height to stand there, and load film while listening to the radio.

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