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Hiking (and photographing) Little Death Hollow — Part 3

Updated: Jan 29, 2023

Deep within a narrow canyon, walking is nerve-racking (will I get stuck?), but the photography is interesting. Also: a short video of walking through a slot canyon.

In this section of the narrows of Little Death Hollow, the walls are water-sculpted and less than an arm's width apart, the canyon floor is level, and the light is not too harsh. Photo: © Donald J. Rommes

In the deepest part of the narrows, the light can be very harsh—especially if it is receiving direct sunlight. But with the canyon running largely east-west, light in the canyon is usually reflected. This makes for light that is less harsh, but light that has picked up some red color from the Wingate sandstone. That will put a pretty intense red color cast on everything. Film will look far too red unless color filters are used, and digital files will also look too red and will have to be corrected.

Photographing in Little Death Hollow is otherwise pretty straightforward. Apart from selecting the composition, the challenges are technical and involve controlling color (as alluded to above), exposure, and depth of field. Bracketing both exposure and focus is often necessary to ensure uniform sharpness and to control the level of contrast. That means lugging a tripod down the canyon.

In some places, the narrowness of the canyon floor makes it impossible to spread the tripod legs. In that case, wedging the tripod legs between the walls may work although that can put the camera at odd angles and make it difficult to look through the viewfinder. A flip LCD screen is useful in that circumstance.

Deep in the narrows of Little Death Hollow. The depth of field from the near wall to the far one is extreme, So is the brightness range. Both exposure and focus bracketing were used to make this photograph. Photo: © Donald J. Rommes

Looking up in Little Death Hollow. Focus is manageable here, but there is an extreme brightness range, from deep shadow to bright sunlight. That is best handled by using a tripod and bracketing exposures that will later be "blended" together in the computer. Photo: © Donald . Rommes

A short cell phone video showing what it is like walking through a slot canyon


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