Big Spring: 4 Miles into the Narrows

Big Spring Virgin Narrows Landscape photography
Big Spring:  a difficult and beautiful destination in the Virgin Narrows
I hiked (and swam) to Big Spring in the Zion Narrows.  I love the Virgin Narrows in Zion National Park and hoped to finally go all the way to a special spot 4 miles upstream where fresh water copiously pours out of solid rock.  I went in September.  Rain had fallen about a week earlier which muddied the river more than I expected.  I walked up in liquid that resembled chocolate milk.  At one point I even had to swim through a deep section!

Big Spring is a lovely destination.  Three different flows come out of the rock with beautiful ferns and trees adjacent.  Photographing this beauty required a wide-angle lens and a polarizer.  The fast flow of water rattled my tripod when I shot in the river itself, making me keep a hand on it at all times.  I climbed up on the spring to shoot these ferns up close but it can be quite slippery (remember, this is called "slickrock") so watch out.

This hike took much longer than a typical 8-mile trek because of the water and the Zion shuttle.

Landscape shot of Big Spring in Utah's Zion Narrows
Big Spring in Zion
Virgin River at Big Spring
Big Spring stands at a curve in the Virgin River
Zion Big Spring comes out of sandstone and falls into the Virgin River
Big Spring pours straight out of the Cliff
Big Spring flows into the Virgin River Narrows
Big Spring and the Muddy Virgin River
Gordon's hike rating:
Hike Difficulty:                   ★★★★ Strenuous
Trail Condition:                   ★★★ Moderate
Trail Hazards:                      ★★★ Moderate:  slippery boulders everywhere, 1 deep swim
Trailhead:                             Zion:  Temple of Sinewava
Time Required:                     Most of a day, (minimum 7 hours)
Distance round trip:              8 miles
Off the Beaten Path:             ★★★ Yes if you travel this far upstream, 3 Stars
Scenery:                                ★★★★ Excellent, 4 Stars
Photographic Potential:        ★★★ Great, 3 Stars

Cavern Cascade: 270° Photo Stitching

cavern cascade of watkins glen new york
Cavern Cascade in Watkins Glen State Park
I wanted to photograph Cavern Cascade from behind from the moment I walked underneath the falls.  This is such an exciting experience to have, I hoped to capture the feeling of being there.  My camera lens is simply not wide enough to capture the path coming down on the left, passing behind the waterfall and then continuing on to the right and then down into the light of the canyon. 
behind the waterfall at Watkins Glen state park
I took the photograph by standing behind the waterfall and,
using a tripod, took many photos in nearly every direction.
Immediately I thought of stitching multiple photos together.  Adobe Lightroom make this a much easier process.  I shot more than 20 frame in a portrait orientation at different exposures to allow for the darkest shadows and the brightest rays of morning light.  Then I walked away with hope of salvation in the digital darkroom. 

Back home, Lightroom (LR) could not stitch it together.  Some images are a little too dark or unclear for LR.  I turned to Photoshop (PS) for answers and help.  PS came to the rescue and was able to make this kaleidoscopic image come to life. 

Please look through the image at original size to see all the amazing detail that comes out in this shot.  You might feel the mist of the waterfall too.  :) 

New York: Sacred Grove

A yellow leaf on the ground in the sacred grove
Fallen Leaves in the Sacred Grove with Green Trees lit up
I visited the Finger Lakes of New York in Autumn and explored some of the nearby attractions.  There are so many, it was hard to choose.  One worthwhile stop if the Sacred Grove in Palmyra.  This special grove of trees is where Joseph Smith saw God the Father and Jesus Christ.  Held sacred by the LDS faith, this lovely spot is ideal for wandering and reflection.  I arrived just as leaves were falling yet the trees still had plenty of green foliage.  To capture my best pictures, I got quite low to the ground and focused on one or two colorful leaves while aiming the camera up to catch the tall trees.
walking path through the sacred grove where joseph smith prayed
Typical path through Palmyra's Sacred Grove
sacred grove pathway with wooden bench
Rough wooden benches allow time to sit and reflect
Gordon's hike rating:
Hike Difficulty:                   ★ Easy
Trail Condition:                   ★ Flat, maintained
Trail Hazards:                      ★ Minimal
Trailhead:                             Joseph Smith Home visitor center
Time Required:                     1-2 hours
Distance round trip:              1-2 miles
Off the Beaten Path:             ★★ No, but not crowded either, 2 Stars
Scenery:                                ★★ Good, 2 Stars
Photographic Potential:        ★★ Good, 2 Stars