So far this year, I'm working with a lot of local models on repeat -- and that's OK. I like the mix of new talent and people I've worked with before, and enjoy getting to know the folks in my own community as much or more than meeting traveling models who are just passing through.
You'll remember Tiana Marie from the rope and forest shoot we did earlier this year. They liked the results well enough to request a second venture, and this time we decided to meet at Carbon River. It was a beautiful Saturday, the first really nice weekend in a long time, so there were people everywhere, parked all along the road outside the park, and hiking in groups up the Carbon River Trail. Fortunately we had a different goal, which was to get up into the forest on the side of the canyon, up in the temperate rain forest.
I had several possible locations in mind, among trees and cliffs, but Tiana and her partner latched onto a waterfall about a mile and a half up the trail that people hiking down said was really special, so we made that our goal. A warning for anyone who might follow in our footsteps: it's steep! The trail meanders on the level through a marsh for a quarter mile, then abruptly starts climbing in tight switchbacks, gaining about 1200 feet in 1.3 miles to the falls. It's relentless. The trail continues beyond the falls to what the trail sign marks as a ridgetop, as if there's a view there: there isn't. And even the waterfall is only incidentally a destination. You see, this is the "Boundary Trail," so named not only because it's along the boundary of the national park, but because its sole purpose is to provide access to the park boundary for patrol rangers watching for poachers in the fall. So viewpoints and waterfalls are not the goals, only to stay as close to the geographic boundary as possible, and that means climbing straight up the sides of the ridges and bisecting cataracts along the way.
This waterfall isn't even named. From the trail crossing, you can look upstream and see a 30-foot plunge followed by a hundred feet of cataract; and below the trail it cataracts another two hundred feet, probably. The forest presses in close on either side, so it's hard to find a spot where you can even get a good view. But after some exploring, I found a small rocky beach alongside the creek where I could get a decent image using my widest lens. Tiana climbed down to join me, and their partner kept watch.
For the most part, where we were, we could shoot undisturbed, though we did wait a bit until a group with teenagers had moved on. Tiana quickly got into a groove, a flow state where they were at one with the water. That's a remarkable thing to witness. I've seen it many times with models. And Tiana afterward described it almost like being in subspace after a rope tie. They found it exhilarating and restorative.
We shot for quite a long time, despite the canyon being about 20 degrees cooler than the surrounding landscape; in fact, we saw patches of snow in a few sheltered spots. And despite having only limited room in which to move around, both Tiana as the model and me as the photographer, we still captured quite a variety of great images. Toward the end, a hiker came along who braved crossing the snowmelt-swollen stream, and you can see his progress in the background of our photos. Tiana didn't even know he was there, since he was about 40 feet behind and 20 feet above, and any sound was drowned out by the roar of the stream. And I'm not sure he even noticed us, either, so intent was he to keep from falling or being swept away by the water. He certainly showed no indication of being any way phased by the nude model and photographer working nearby -- an attitude I've found consistently on the occasions when people have stumbled across us in creative action.
So here are a few favorites, along with a stop-motion video I assembled. Kind of fun to see the whole shoot in sequence, including the hiker carefully moving across the top of the frame at the end. You can see a few more images here.