Catch-up #4: Deceptive Waterfalls

Jan 01 2015 Published by under Autumn, Copeland, Wild Basin

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I realized this summer while hiking to Copeland, Calypso, and Ouzel Falls that my photographs of the waterfalls are deceptive. I go out of my way to avoid including people in any of my photographs, so they provide the impression of wilderness and isolation. This is made easier by starting in the pre-dawn, when most people are still asleep, but sometimes it is difficult to adjust reality to what I want. This photo, for example, looks as it could be taken miles deep in the trackless wilderness without another person for miles. In reality, there was a loud and overweight tourist standing atop the stone just to the right, taking selfies with her phone. I lowered the tripod slightly so that the stone on the left would hide another woman sitting on a distant rock painting watercolors. There were long pauses in my shooting while I stood in the stream and waiting for one group or another to wander aimlessly through the frame, quickly pressing the shutter during the clear gaps.
These photos were taken a quarter mile from a large parking lot and trailhead, so fully packed on this autumn day with people come to see the changing leaves that I was called to as soon as I stepped off the trail and began walking to my car, in hopes that I was leaving and opening up a space. My photos are deceptive because they never show the impact of the people who come to use this area, myself included. As the population of the Front Range continues to explode, I’ll have to be more and more careful when I take my photographs to preserve the illusion of wilderness.

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