This past November I visited and photographed one of the Southwest most beautiful locations, the Subway in Zion National Park. It wasn’t my first time. About ten years ago I camped down in the Right Fork of Left Creek and spent two days hiking to the Subway from my camp. It was an amazing experience to say the least, and one that is burned in my memory. On that first trip, I ran into a total of four other photographers between both days. On this trip, however, I would run into more photographers on that single day than I usually do in a months worth of being in the field. It was no surprise, and I knew it going in. I also knew that if I was going to create a unique photograph I would have to work very hard to come up with a different way of seeing the locations in this famous place. I knew the light, and where it would be throughout the day, but I needed a way to make my images stand out a little differently from the rest. For this I choose perspective. In advance of my trip, I scoured the web looking for images from this place and studying them in-depth. I needed a way to make my shot my own! I found it, low and close, really close!!
To get the perspective for this image I had to get really close to the foreground cascade. The lens ended up only being about six inches from the immediate foreground. This low perspective combined with an ultra wide-angle provided the look I was hoping for, hopefully one that will allow this image to stand on its own among the thousands of ones already out there. Also, I wanted the line of the sandstone up front to sweep out of the left hand corner of the image space and move the viewer deep into the image. To do this was simply a matter of moving my tripod position around enough until it was right. Because I was literally so close to the foreground, I knew depth of field was going to be a problem. Even stopping down to F22 would not be enough to make the image sharp from front to back. To solve this dilemma, I used a technique called focus bracketing. Same as exposure bracketing, but a matter of changing the focus point between two or more images to get maximum DOF in the final blend. Because the light in the scene was pretty even, I was able to use a single exposure to capture the dynamic range from brightest light to almost pure black. Once back on the computer, I choose the two files both shot at F11 but with two different points of focus and brought both images into the Adobe RAW converter. Selecting both, I simultaneously made the RAW adjustments to both files and saved the results. I then used Helicon Focus to blend the images together for a single file with corner to corner and front to back focus. A little extra work indeed, but worth the time and effort to come away with something just a bit different!