Friday, March 5, 2010

Carr Creek

Last Friday's hike to Manzanita Falls whetted my appetite for water photography, so I decided to make a short recon of Carr Creek below the falls. When it's running, Carr Falls is visible from town and audible from the Indian-named streets of the foothills. Water leaps out into empty air and free falls almost three hundred feet before crashing to the rocks below. By some counts, 19 hapless souls have followed the same trajectory with similar results. As a consequence, there are unsightly warning signs and fencing at the top of the falls.

I didn't cross the fence or see the dire signs today; I parked at the bottom lot and walked up to the one-lane bridge that crosses Carr Creek, then followed a trample-trail alongside the creek. I let the sound of the water guide me to likely photo ops. A certain volume and pitch of churning indicates that the water has encountered what could be an interesting obstacle. When I heard that telltale sound, I made my way to the creek and set up my camera and tripod.

The pictures I got today are slightly more to my liking than the Manzanita bunch, primarily because of Carr Creek's northern exposure. In the gloom of the shadow cast by the Huachuca Mountains I could stop the camera all the way down and get a shutter speed of one-quarter to one-half second. This relatively long exposure caught the flowing, foaming water as patterns of motion, rather than simply recording its momentary appearance. This is a standard trick of water photography, but it's hard to accomplish in broad daylight. Hence the rather mundane look of the pics shot at Manzanita Falls, and the somewhat artsier appearance of these.

So where's the fabulous shot of Carr Falls itself? It was barely running today, just a garden-hose trickle against the background of a darkly stained cliff. Today was a rehearsal for the day(s), soon to come, when the snow up there starts melting in earnest (or a warm rainstorm comes through and washes it downhill). When that happens, I'll be ready.

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