Proxy Falls, Oregon, USA by Bruce Hucko

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Picture Story

I've "headed west" from Moab, UT to the NW coast 5 of the last 7 summers. There, the ratio of visible rock to visible foliage is inverted to what it is in my canyon country home. It's becoming more and more comfortable, especially areas of sandstone meeting the ocean and water, wherever I find it. The allure of water for me is great. My Slovak last name is derived from a term roughly translating as the "sound of water," which is music to my ears! On a homeward trip a few years ago I spent a few days in the area of the McKenzie Highway in mid-Oregon. The area is a delight (shhhhh!) and with a few maps in hand I took my chances on hiking a few trails. This falls was one of them. Whoa! Like a lemming I followed the main trail to the log-crossed base of the falls, where mist soon dampened my clothes. How to photograph directly at the falls when the mist was coming straight at the lens? I grumbled around for a little bit and then decided to walk up one side of the falls. "Walk" doesn't not really describe it.

While not a climb demanding special gear it was steep. A thin wet path led between boulders and over and under massive (for a desert boy) tree trunks that had fallen randomly from the forest's edge. Gradually I made my way to a small, horizontal, rock "porch" that was right at the edge of the falls. I was 3/4 up the falls so little mist fell here. There was a wonderful angle at the somewhat distant main falls while many little trickles made their way downstream among the moss beds close at hand. On the other side of the falls stood the dense and dark forest. I chose the 24mm tilt/shift due to the sharp angle of the falls from the left/near to the right/far side of the scene. Once I had a pleasing composition set I took detailed note of the light. I quickly noticed the "light daggers" that would come and go as the setting sun would pierce the dark forest illuminating the mist for a brief moment and then would be gone again. I found it fascinating and made sure there was space for that light show in my frame. While that was fine, the close mossy area was not receiving much light. It was surely darker than I wanted it. I could lighten it up in LR later, but I prefer as much of a "show of nature" as possible. I chose to wait, but did, off and on, expose a frame for insurance purposes.

After maybe 20 minutes I saw a few patches of light appear among the moss. They nicely balanced the light on the falls. I watched them come and go for about 15 minutes making about a dozen exposures. And then it was all gone. The sun had set behind the distant, tree-shrouded rim. Weeks later in processing I was able to emphasize the light daggers and even out the lighting on the moss. I was pleased. I must have spent 90 minutes there, working that one picture. I packed up, hiked out, got to camp and poured a glass!

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