"Autumn is the second spring when every leaf is a flower."
Albert Camus, French journalist and philosopher (1913 - 1960)
What a difference a few months makes, particularly given the dramatic change of seasons. Last Spring, we hiked and photographed the West Fork Trail at Oak Creek Canyon, near Sedona, Arizona. A dusty path bordered by lush greenery, with Oak Creek supporting vibrant plant life. Such a sharp contrast to our Autumn visit, just a couple of weeks ago.
This time, we found our familiar trail transformed into a celebration of Fall color, with golden leaves visible in every direction. The leaf covered path was particularly enchanting, forming a rich visual treat and endless photography opportunities. To top things off, we were greeted with the distinct scent of autumn. For me, the strong sensory overload brought back warm memories of crisp Autumn days in my home state of Michigan, family and friends.
NIKON D800E,f/22 @ 17 mm, 2.5s, ISO 200
Reflecting back on this memorable day, I did not shoot as many photos as usual. I lost some time cleaning lenses and adjusting my digital SLR settings, something I should have done back at home. Also, I took a bit more time than usual with composition and exposure, striving to capture the essence of the Autumn scenery from some fresh perspectives. Beyond that, I really enjoyed hiking and conversation my daughter, Katie, her husband Todd and their precious puppy, Lily, on her first major outing.
Just a few notes on the photography and hiking:
- This was my second opportunity to experiment with a "hyper focus" technique, shooting a series of images of the same scene at different focal points to capture the maximum depth of field. The photos are captured using manual focus. The approach requires that the camera be mounted on a sturdy tripod (with no movement in the scene) and that the exposure be locked in at a single setting for the complete series of images. Using Helicon Focus software, the stacked images are combined to create a composite image with full depth of field. The second and third photographs shown here were created using the Helicon Focus software, combining a series of six photos for each final image. The first image is a single photo taken directly from the camera.
- Even though the forest seemed dark and we had indirect lighting a good part of the day, use of a circular polarizer was imperative to eliminate glare on the damp leaves and rocks.
- In attempting to photograph the leaf covered path and tall trees, I found myself drawn to vertical format images most of the day.
Nikon D800E f/8 @ 28 mm, 1/13, ISO 400 - composite image
- A few miles into West Fork is a wonderful "narrows" area, with tall canyon walls on both sides of the Oak Creek. Venturing into this wondrous area requires a bit of river walking in extremely cold water at this time of the year. We've found that neoprene socks and water shoes can make this freezing water a bit more bearable, but the walk is still quite a shock to one's system.
And most importantly, we've learned "the hard way" to put cell phones, car keys and other electronics in our upper shirt pockets and backpacks when hiking this wet stretch ....
All in all, another fabulous day in Sedona, enjoying the fellowship of family and exploring new photography approaches in "the field." More to follow on the hyper focus technique ....
- Marcus W. Reinkensmeyer
For more on photographing Fall colors in Arizona, see Autumn Colors: Hart Prarie Road.
Nikon D800E f/5.6 @ 22 mm, 1/40, ISO 200 - composite image
Landscape photography techniques, photo expedition travel planning and hiking tips.