Saturday, January 9, 2010
Go with the flow
Looking to escape the fog shrouding the valley Alice and I headed out to Santa Clara County's Uvas Canyon Park for a trip along some of the best waterfalls in the area.
Last week's Donner Falls hike put us in the mood for more water scenes so we planned our trip to Uvas Canyon located on eastern slopes of the Santa Cruz mountains, some 16 miles from Highway 17 in Morgan Hill. The park is a shad,y damp place lush with vegetation that is set off from the freeway where only the locals and the hikers in the know head to. We visited the park once last year and we knew we had to return while the recent rains still had water in the park's Swanson Creek which feeds the falls.
I packed all my lenses for this hike and brought out my GorillaPod as I planned for some time exposures on the various falls. The park's most popular trail is a mild trek of about 3 miles round trip following the twists and turns of Swanson Creek. The water was running hard through the creek and we knew we would have lots of opportunities for some great pictures. We made a quick trip to a secluded set of falls hidden away on the path to the campgrounds before setting out on the main falls trail.
The hike trail may be mild but we have to do things the hard way. If you want to get good shots of the waterfalls you need to get close so we set off scrambling over the rocks and fallen trees where we could to get different views of the falls along the creek. The GorillaPod came in handy as crouched in the creek bed for our shots, my time exposures going as long as six seconds. There would be no way to hand hold that long a time exposure still enough so I was happy to have the support of the GorillaPod. I put in the creek several times and kept a close hand in case it started to tip over in the rushing waters. I managed to find the deep puddles of water a few times with my hiking boots but managed to keep the camera dry.
I also used the Live View feature on the Eos 40D for the first time out in the field. It was handy when the camera was a couple of inches form the water to be able to compose the image on the LCD screen on the camera back instead of kneeling in the water. I had a few balky moments where the camera and my 100mm macro would not cooperate in the Live View mode but it might be a good excuse to get one of Canon's new 100mm macro with Image Stabilization.
The time exposures were fun and gave me a surreal picture of the water pounding against the rocks and pouring down the creek bed. It was hard squatting near or in the creek trying to keep a watchful eye on the camera as the seconds ticked off on the time exposures and trying hard not to slip on the slick mossy rocks underneath the water's surface. I used the self time as much as I could to try and cut down the vibrations from pressing the camera release and was rewarded with some v sharp images of rocks and wood among the textures of the flowing water.
I didn't shoot that many photos this hike, just about three hundred because I spent so long on time exposures and composing the images on the Live View screen and adjusting the GorillaPods stance on whatever footing I could find. It was slow work but I was happy with the results. the pictures range from surreal to foreboding as they capture the life of the creek winding its way along.
It was another great hike and got us out of the valley fog for a few hours. I hope we can make the waterfalls at Mount Tamalpais before the rainy season is over. They would complete our winter trips to rushing waters on the trail.