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Archive 2013 · Sanctuary
  
 
Ben Horne
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p.1 #1 · Sanctuary


Last October, I went on my first backpacking trip with my 8x10 camera. I went with a buddy of mine, and it was a very painful and miserable experience. I was determined to learn from that experience, so I returned to the Southwest this past May on a solo backpacking trip. This time, it was an absolutely delightful experience.

A new backpack and sleeping pad made all the difference. My pack weighed in somewhere between 85 and 90lbs, but it was comfortable.

My destination for this trip was Neon Canyon -- a place I have read a lot about over the years. Though you can easily hike Neon Canyon on a day hike, it will be somewhere around 8 to 9 miles round trip over rough cross country terrain, and you won't have much time to enjoy the canyon. It's nearly a 1,000 foot descent into the canyon, and the hike out takes a lot of work. I spent 3 days there, and had a blast.

For the rest of the story, please check out my video journals. The following photo was shot on Day 2.

Trip Preview Video: http://youtu.be/DjOgmb3KfRY
Day 1 Video Journal: http://youtu.be/VqTvASRXaqQ
Day 2 Video Journal: http://youtu.be/X88ALySr3V4

Ebony RW810 | Nikkor 300mm | Kodak Ektar 100 8x10 (color neg film) | ~30 seconds @ f/64







Jun 17, 2013 at 02:49 AM
ben egbert
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p.1 #2 · Sanctuary


absolutely gorgeous


Jun 17, 2013 at 03:16 AM
alatoo60
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p.1 #3 · Sanctuary


Ben, I enjoy your picture very much! Love the green against red sandstone!

Sasha.



Jun 17, 2013 at 03:53 AM
dswiger
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p.1 #4 · Sanctuary


Wonderful light & color. Makes you want to see what's around the corner!
You're whetting my appetite
Thanks for posting.

Dan



Jun 17, 2013 at 03:55 AM
stanparker
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p.1 #5 · Sanctuary


Great shot, Ben. For years, I have been unwilling to make that hike, since I don't backpack and it is a tough day hike. Glad you had a better trip than the one to Coyote Gulch.


Jun 17, 2013 at 05:01 AM
Sneakyracer
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p.1 #6 · Sanctuary


Very nice deep colors. 8x10 is awesome. Any more??

cool videos btw!



Jun 17, 2013 at 02:06 PM
gdanmitchell
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p.1 #7 · Sanctuary


Ben Horne wrote:
My pack weighed in somewhere between 85 and 90lbs, but it was comfortable.


You tell yourself that, but there is no way that a 85-90 pound backpack is "comfortable," Ben! ;-)

Back in the day (when, as I like to put it, I was foolish in different ways than I'm foolish today) I carried packs of 75 pounds and perhaps a bit more on two-week long backpack trips, including some solo trips.* The first day was always, quite bluntly, agony. On the second and third days I began to adapt to the agony, and after that things became less difficult. But it was never comfortable.

Yet, somehow, it was still worth it! In fact, aside from the burden of the pack, it has always been a "delightful" experience, even on (most) days when the physical challenges were extreme - such as schlepping that 75 pound load up and over 12,000' passes. One of the truly special aspects of backpacking to do photography is that one can more fully live in the landscape, sometimes for days on end, and slowly and carefully come to know portions of it that we might otherwise pass through too quickly.

By the way, do you know that Ansel frequently used pack animals to get to some of his most interesting back-country locations? Did I just plant a seed? ;-)**

Dan

*BTW: I'm older now - duh! But I still carry loads into the backcountry for up to perhaps 9-10 days of photography. However, now I have "reduced" my load to "only" perhaps 15 pounds of photography equipment, and I'm more likely to go in and, as I think you did on this trip, stay in one place for several days before moving on. I have also transitioned my backpacking gear in more or less the ultralight direction - though that effort is effectively counteracted by the photo gear!

**Near the end of this upcoming summer, for the first time in my life, I will succumb to an invitation from photographer friends to travel into a somewhat remote area of the southern Sierra by pack animal for about a week and half of photography. I've joined these friends before, though I've previously toughed it out and carried my own gear in my backpack. I think that my first slip was two years ago when they offered to take my food canister on one of the pack animals... and I gave in! Of course, the place we go to this summer - a location I've backpacked to before - is 15 miles in, over two almost-12,000' passes and then up and over one more ridge... in a single day.



Jun 17, 2013 at 02:38 PM
andyjaggy82
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p.1 #8 · Sanctuary


I love that area, and this captures it nicely. That is some extreme dedication carrying around an 8X10, makes me feel like a wimp since I have gone mirrorless for my hiking/backpacking trips.


Jun 17, 2013 at 02:55 PM
Fred Miranda
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p.1 #9 · Sanctuary


I knew this was your image just by looking at the thumbnail.
The composition, deep colors and the complementary palette sets it apart.
Fred



Jun 17, 2013 at 04:18 PM
Timmeh
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p.1 #10 · Sanctuary


Fantastic color, texture, and everything. I bet the lack of wind in canyons makes taking photos of trees at f/64 much easier

Tim



Jun 17, 2013 at 04:51 PM
 

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Ben Horne
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p.1 #11 · Sanctuary


stanparker wrote:
Great shot, Ben. For years, I have been unwilling to make that hike, since I don't backpack and it is a tough day hike. Glad you had a better trip than the one to Coyote Gulch.


If you get an early enough start, you'll be able to spend a few hours in the canyon before having to head out. I saw maybe 5 or 6 people each day in the canyon many of which were German. It's a totally doable hike for a day hike, but if you do it, make sure you bring plenty of water. I was hiking with a lot of weight so it's tough to estimate how much water I would need with a lighter load, but I consumed 2 liters of water getting to the canyon, and another 5 liters on the hike out of there. Of all the canyons I've visited in the Southwest, Neon ranks near the top of the list.



Jun 17, 2013 at 05:24 PM
Ben Horne
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p.1 #12 · Sanctuary


gdanmitchell wrote:
You tell yourself that, but there is no way that a 85-90 pound backpack is "comfortable," Ben! ;-)

Back in the day (when, as I like to put it, I was foolish in different ways than I'm foolish today) I carried packs of 75 pounds and perhaps a bit more on two-week long backpack trips, including some solo trips.* The first day was always, quite bluntly, agony. On the second and third days I began to adapt to the agony, and after that things became less difficult. But it was never comfortable.

Yet, somehow, it was still worth it! In fact,
...Show more

My last backpack was a Gregory Whitney 95. Though it isn't much smaller than my new bag (Gregory Denali Pro), the harness of my old bag wasn't as comfortable. It would push the waist line of my pants (very thin synthetic material) against my hips, and bruise them. This become difficult after a few hours of hiking. When I wear the same pair of pants with the new bag, everything is fine. I think it's because the foam on the new belt is segmented, so it better contours to the shape of my hips. Though the weight is certainly very noticeable at first, once I get under way, I essentially forget how much I'm carrying. Sometimes I forget to duck when walking under tree branches, or I misjudge my own lack of agility when negotiating rocks or other obstacles. At that point it becomes abundantly clear that I have a monstrosity on my back.

After the hike both into and out of the canyon, my feet were just fine, and my back was just fine. My feet were fine, and nothing was even sore. I know I won't be able to keep this up forever, so I figure I'll hit the trail as much as I can while it's still possible.

The thought of using pack animals would certainly make life much easier though!



Jun 17, 2013 at 05:34 PM
Ben Horne
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p.1 #13 · Sanctuary


Timmeh wrote:
Fantastic color, texture, and everything. I bet the lack of wind in canyons makes taking photos of trees at f/64 much easier

Tim


Thanks Tim. The wind was very calm when I shot this, but that isn't always the case. I was at the foot of a giant Cottonwood tree, and there would often be gusts of wind that filled the sky with tiny white cottonwood seeds. Also, small drops of sap would rain down on my camera and the surrounding area. I still have plenty of tiny drops of cottonwood sap on my lens. Thankfully they dried hard instead of remaining sticky. It is very interesting to pay attention to the wind though. The moment even tiny cloud blocks the sun, the wind will kick up, then it will be mostly calm when the sun returns. It's all a matter of timing. Some of the leaves are in movement in this shot, but it's very gentle, and the vast majority of the branches are still.



Jun 17, 2013 at 05:38 PM
Ben Horne
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p.1 #14 · Sanctuary


Fred Miranda wrote:
I knew this was your image just by looking at the thumbnail.
The composition, deep colors and the complementary palette sets it apart.
Fred


Walking through this canyon for the first time was a very cool experience. It was also very intimidating because there was so much beauty around me. I walked right past this scene on the first day because it was cloudy and the light was flat. Later that day when the light was better, it really stood out to me because it had all the elements I was hoping for: Desert Varnish, an inviting pathway, and lush trees. I knew there would be some glows in the canyon, but I didn't realize how vividly green the leaves would be when backlit by the orange glows. I was more captivated by them than the glows on the canyon walls.



Jun 17, 2013 at 05:42 PM
Ben Horne
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p.1 #15 · Sanctuary


andyjaggy82 wrote:
I love that area, and this captures it nicely. That is some extreme dedication carrying around an 8X10, makes me feel like a wimp since I have gone mirrorless for my hiking/backpacking trips.


The thing I liked about this area was how all the elements came together. The area just down canyon from this also has a great glow in the morning, but I had a hard time finding a composition that unified the scene. Though I can carry the entire 8x10 setup with me, I'm certainly very slow. I know I won't be able to do this forever, but it is very fun!



Jun 17, 2013 at 05:44 PM
Ben Horne
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p.1 #16 · Sanctuary


Sneakyracer wrote:
Very nice deep colors. 8x10 is awesome. Any more??

cool videos btw!


I do have one more photo from this trip, but I haven't scanned it. I'll be posting that one next week once I'm done editing the next video journal together. It has a much different feel to it, though it has many of the same elements.



Jun 17, 2013 at 05:46 PM
Ben Horne
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p.1 #17 · Sanctuary


dswiger wrote:
Wonderful light & color. Makes you want to see what's around the corner!
You're whetting my appetite
Thanks for posting.

Dan


Thanks Dan. That's one of the things I love about photographing canyons --- I love producing images that make people want to walk down the path and see what's around the next corner. It provides a sense of mystery. In this case, the scene around the next corner is pretty awesome, but difficult to photograph so I didn't shoot it on this trip. Once you get that 4x5 up and running, I think you'll learn to appreciate shooting canyons. They're very friendly for LF. :-)



Jun 17, 2013 at 05:49 PM
Ben Horne
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p.1 #18 · Sanctuary


ben egbert wrote:
absolutely gorgeous


Thanks Ben. There's something about this Canyon that made me feel like I was walking on sacred ground. It's a very cool place to visit.

alatoo60 wrote:
Ben, I enjoy your picture very much! Love the green against red sandstone!

Sasha.


Thanks Sasha. In the past, I've shot a lot of cottonwoods with fall color in the canyons, but I think the lush green here works best with the red sandstone. Also, these leaves were very fresh and new, so they were extra green!



Jun 17, 2013 at 05:51 PM
Kee Woo Rhee
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p.1 #19 · Sanctuary


I truly enjoy your "bold and beautiful" photos! How can you say "85 and 90lbs" is comfortable?? OMG.
Thanks for the wonderful picture. I enjoyed your video.
Kee

Edited on Jun 17, 2013 at 05:57 PM · View previous versions



Jun 17, 2013 at 05:54 PM
ckcarr
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p.1 #20 · Sanctuary


This is a great shot Ben, I really like it. Nothing super dramatic, just the beauty of a Southwestern canyon, the desert varnish, the sandstone, the sweeping arc upwards. All the colors are right on. It's like I'm there again...



Jun 17, 2013 at 05:55 PM
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