Colorado Plateau Trip: Day 6 (Part I)

Friday May 7, 2010

This was to be my third consecutive day in Buckskin Gulch. It was now a familiar ritual — Wake up in the dark, make a warm gooey breakfast, then drive to the trail head.

Day hikes in Buckskin Gulch do not require an advance permit.  Just place $6 in the provided envelope, fill out a short form, and drop it in a collection box.

Based on yesterday’s trip into the canyon, I learned where and when to stand to photograph a fast moving glow.  Buckskin Gulch is a wonderful place to shoot, but don’t get me wrong — it is not equal to Antelope Canyon.

Antelope Canyon is known for its radiant glows, and flowing sandstone walls that resemble the brush strokes of a master.  Well, that and the huge crowds of flip-flop wearing, point and shoot yielding cattle — errr, people.

You certainly won’t find the massive crowds in Buckskin, but you also won’t find the same quality of light. Even the best display of reflected light in Buckskin Gulch will not rival an average display in Antelope Canyon. That being said, Buckskin can be quite impressive because of its massive size — you just need the time to scout the canyon, and find a good place to shoot.

The location I chose would be ideal for shooting around 9:50, and would be gone just after 10:00. All I had to do was get there a bit early, setup my camera, and wait.

Those who know me are well aware of the fact that I can’t sit still on a shooting trip. Unless I’m lost in a book, my free time is spent wandering around and checking out the area. In that same fashion, I didn’t want to stay in my truck for 2 hours. I’d rather get an early start, and figure out how to kill the time once I was there.  By 7:30, I had arrived at my shooting location.

Canyon on Fire: Toyo 45AII | Nikkor 210mm | Velvia 50 4x5 | 30s @ f/45

Just like clockwork, the glow appeared at 9:50, and direct light spilled into the scene just after 10:00. I bracketed my exposure by 2/3 of a stop.  I am confident in my spot metering abilities, but bracketed exposures give me peace of mind.

The image above was scanned on my Epson flatbed. I did my best to include the shadow detail, but some of it was lost. If I choose to drum scan this transparency, I’m sure the tonality will be more impressive. This scan represents the entire image area, but I have been experimenting with some crops that further emphasize the glow.

When I was done, I packed up my gear, and hiked back to my truck. I had spent enough time in Buckskin Gulch on this trip, so I was ready to move on to my next location. With campground reservations in Zion starting on the 8th, I made the decision to spend the night at White Pocket.

To be continued…

3 Responses to “Colorado Plateau Trip: Day 6 (Part I)”

  1. Ron Richins Says:

    Awesome shot you captured. I’ve really enjoyed your video diaries about Buckskin Gulch. I’ve yet to be there, and I’ve always wondered what it’s like. Thanks for providing a bit of perspective.

    • Ben Horne Says:

      Thanks Ron. I feel as though I can walk away from Buckskin Gulch with a cool shot every time I go there. There are just so many variables ranging from time of day, to the time of year. I highly recommend it. Just make sure you give yourself at least 2 days there. It can be very frustrating chasing the glows, only to have them fade as soon as you setup your camera. It’s like a game of whack-a-mole.

  2. Zion 2010: Day 7 (Subway II) « Ben Horne Photography Says:

    […] in May, I dreamt I was hiking through Buckskin Gulch one afternoon, and I became tired. I decided to take a nap within the canyon. When I awoke from the […]

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