Saturday, June 18, 2011
I awoke before sunrise, and packed my gear for the wave. This is my third visit to this amazing location. Today’s forecast calls for partially cloudy skies with a chance of thunderstorms. I was excited to photograph this rock formation set against a backdrop of beautiful clouds. My previous visits to the wave were met with cloudless skies.
I strapped on my backpack, and hit the trail. It was now very familiar — hike through the wash, turn right. Hike over a sandy hill, turn right — then walk straight for many miles.
I arrived at the wave around 9AM, and stashed my gear in the shade. I set out to find a different composition — something unique.
I explored various angles, all the while envisioning how each lens would render the scene. I setup my camera and tried a few of these compositions.
I envisioned how the light would be during different times of day. Maybe evening? Late afternoon? These thoughts were streaming through my mind.
Nothing quite worked. In some cases, my lenses were not the ideal focal length. In others, there were distracting objects in the scene.
The wave is a very small area, and nearly all the angles have already been captured. Deep down, I knew that my composition from 2009 was among the best I could find there. There was of course no need to re-shoot it on 8×10. Truth be told, my 4×5 gives all the resolution I would ever need — even for large prints.
I soon gave up on the non-traditional angles, and placed my camera at the top of the bowl. I used a wide angle lens, and angled the rear standard to exaggerate the foreground.
Where were the clouds?
It was now late morning, and there were no clouds to speak of.
I retreated to the shade, and enjoyed a delectable lunch of Cliff Bars, GU, and Gatorade. I read a book, and enjoyed the serenity of this location. Of the 20 permits issued for the wave that day, I only accounted for 10 people.
A steady breeze swept through my location — I turned my head, and saw a solitary cloud drifting overhead.
I returned to my camera to check the composition.
The small puffy clouds withered and dissipated as they broke free of the mountain ridge. The uplift was not strong enough to sustain these clouds, and they were not within my composition anyway.
So much for the hope of shooting the wave set against beautiful clouds.
I prepared my camera, and took a “safety shot” of the scene in front of me. Since I lugged my large format gear all the way to the wave, I might as well take a shot — even if it’s not what I had in mind.
Truth be told, viewing this scene upside down on the ground glass was disorienting. I placed a lot of emphasis on the swooshing white line, but failed to understand the greater balance of the composition. I now realize that the right is cut off, and I should have taken a few steps into the scene.
In any case, the scene lacks interesting clouds, so it’s no big loss.
I paid a visit to second wave, and debated sticking around for sunset. During the winter, the sun sets low on the horizon — in a saddle-back between two looming mountain ridges. This time of year, the sun drops behind a towering mountain, well before actual sunset.
I enjoyed one last drink of water, then packed my gear for the hike back.
Clouds or no clouds, it’s fun to visit the wave. Though I didn’t walk away with a photo that I will ever use, It was great to return to this coveted location, and thoroughly scout it for new compositions.