Wide Open Spaces

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When you spend a lot of time photography outdoors, it’s easy to get caught up in the wide open spaces. When presented with a grand vista the “gut” photographic response is often to try and capture it all. I admit that I often succumb to the same instinctual practice of slapping on a wide angle lens and trying to frame the the ultimate shot. The problem with that approach is that from a visual perspective, it’s often overwhelming.

I was recently presented with such an opportunity. I was hiking, with my wife, in Zion National Park. We passed this ephemeral waterfall that dropped well over 100′ down into the canyon. My first instinct was to take a series of shots to stitch into a panorama of the entire fall. I played around with the scene and captured a dozen or so frames before continuing our hike….

A few days later, I downloaded the images from the trip and started looking at them. When I came to the group of images for the panorama I decided that I had, in fact, captured the essence of the waterfall. It also became clear to me that I didn’t need to stitch 6 or 7 images together to get it. All I needed was one single frame. This image tells the whole story of the waterfall.  The rest of the scene adds no value to the shot. It’s water, in a soft veil, dancing in front of the sandstone wall that it will eventually destroy.

I never did stitch together that panorama.

On to the details. This was captured with my Canon 5D with my Canon 24-70 f/2.8L attached.  The lens was fully zoomed to 70mm. The exposure was make for 1/2 second at f/18 and ISO 100. Ordinarily I stay below f/18 to avoid diffraction but in this case I needed the extra exposure time and the nature of the image hides the effect.