LaSal Mountain Stream, Moab, Utah, USA by Bruce Hucko

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Picture Story

The forest floor is as important as the trees that people most often photograph for such an assignment. The floor is where trees go to rest and regenerate the forest. It's where streams flow in the summer, snow gathers in the winter and rain falls in several seasons. It's where insects and mammals thrive. This beautiful section of forest floor is in the La Sal Mountains that overlook the town of Moab, Utah. While on a hike I was distracted by the stream flow and the rather geometric lay of the downed trees. The contrast of rigid trunk lines and gentle curve of the water amidst the lush foliage kept me "off trail" for quite a while!

I was a few miles in on my hike and about half a mile back down the trail I'd decided to take the left branch of the trail; 1- because mountain bikes were allowed on the other and I don't enjoy meeting them on the trail and 2- because I wanted to follow the stream. This location was easily seen from the trail. Once my tripod and camera were erected on the rocky bank I had only to wait for the gathering clouds to cover the sun. There comes a time when a cloud blocks the sun when the shadows go away yet there is a wonderful luminance to the scene. I waited for that moment and did so several times to align the light with selected shutter speeds. When photographing water in motion and wanting to get the "just right" slow moving form I play a game where I try to gauge the required shutter speed based on the rate and descent angle of the flow. It's not a wild guess! I think it a calculated guess based on my experience photographing water under many conditions. It's an active exercise that keeps me mindful of the subject. The forest floor was particularly lush during this hike. That's not always the case. With global warming we have rainless summers even at mountain altitudes. One of the summer perks of living in Moab is that you can be driving at a cool 8500 feet and hike one of the peaks over 10,000 feet by taking an hour or less drive from your front door in Moab where it may be over 90 degrees.

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