Wednesday, November 2, 2011
After spending two days in the narrows, I was hoping for a day of rest. Unfortunately, that was out of the question. A glance at the weather forecast was all I needed to see.
This was the last day of full sun until early next week. Tomorrow will be cloudy — and rain/snow is in the forecast for Friday. By the time this storm clears out, much of the fall color will be gone.
A stiff, cold wind swept through the canyon last night — sending plumes of leaves adrift high overhead. A fuse was burning, and my window to shoot fall color would soon slam shut.
With this in mind, Shane and I decided that today was our last opportunity to photograph Subway. There was no guarantee of clear skies after today — a requisite when shooting reflected light.
It was well before sunrise when we left the campground. The temperature was in the low 20’s on the drive to the Left Fork trailhead. Much to my dismay, we weren’t the first on the trail that morning. With heavy packs, we also weren’t the fastest — far from it.
We descended the cliff under headlamps, reaching the canyon floor under the first glow of morning.
This was my 6th time hiking to Subway over the past 3 years. It’s hard not to notice the various changes to the trail along the way. Often times, I notice fallen trees or eroded river banks. This year, I saw evidence of a large rock fall part way up the canyon.
The canyon walls narrowed as we encountered the first of several cascades.
Fall color along the left fork was poor at best. Many trees stood bare — others showed a dismal display. The creek was alive with swirls of yellow leaves, drifting over miniature rapids.
We rounded a corner, and Archangel Falls came into view. The trees surrounding the falls were thin, but still photogenic.
Several photographers were lined up, actively shooting the falls when we arrived. This is not the type of photography I enjoy. I don’t like shooting beside other photographers, or waiting in line to get the same shot everyone else is getting.
I prefer to have a location to myself. Working in solitude allows me to consider every aspect of the composition.
This was Shane’s first time to Subway, so I wanted to make sure he got his shot of the falls. I held off shooting, ditched my pack, and scouted a nearby maple forest.
When I returned, everyone in the group was done shooting. I setup my 8×10 with my 150mm wide angle lens, and captured a photo very similar to what I shot last year on my 4×5. I was satisfied with the composition last year, but wanted to have the image on 8×10.
I bracketed two sheets on Velvia 50. One was exposed properly — the other was overexposed by 2/3 stop.
Though both sheets of film look fine, I prefer the brighter of the two.
Unfortunately, Velvia greatly exaggerates blue tone in the water. This is something that required post processing to tame. Had I remembered to expose a sheet of color negative film, I would have had better tonality and color.
Technically, this photo is spot on. The exposure is good, and the details are sharp. All that being said, I know I can do better.
Next year, I’ll get an earlier start, and shoot this location on color negative film. Hopefully that will give me the shot I’m after.
After taking this shot, I headed up stream to meet up with Shane. He was at Subway photographing a beautiful afternoon glow.
Last year, I photographed Subway on Kodak Ektar with my 8×10. I’m satisfied with the results, and felt no need to capture another shot.
Subway looked great this year. The pools were deep, and the glow was strong. We stuck around for an hour, which gave me an opportunity to record some underwater video with my waterproof video camera. Just after 2PM, we packed our gear and headed back down canyon.
It was well after sunset when we reached the trailhead.
When I dropped Shane off at his campsite, we spilled out of the truck on wobbly legs. I was beat, but it was great to have several shots under my belt — especially with the impending weather.
A pair of headlights pulled off the road behind us. It was Bob Ross — a friend I hiked to Subway last year. He watched as my chicken legs wobbled and I staggered from side to side.
“Hi Ben!” He said. “So are you up for hiking the Narrows tomorrow?”