Pic of the Week 6/27/19
“North Prong Gateway”
Date taken: 6/15/19
Location: Caprock Canyons State Park
North Prong GatewaySoft light paints the sandstone buttes and mesas along the North Prong canyon of Caprock Canyons State Park. © Ben Jacobi
Back on another adventure in west Texas. This time I was introducing my lovely girlfriend to another favorite state park of mine—Caprock Canyons State Park. Ashlee has done very little exploring in western part of the Lone Star state and its been nice sharing some of my favorite locations with her. Caprock Canyons State Park is located in the quaint town of Quitaque, TX about three hours from Wichita Falls. This state park has been a long time favorite of mine to photograph and explore red canyon territory without having to drive all the way out to Amarillo. I normally go out there to photograph the night sky, but we would have a full moon during our visit and that would damper any attempts at astro-landscape photography.
Originally, I was supposed to leave with the Red River Photography Club, but I was unable to get the time off. Not to let a good weekend (or so I thought) go to waste, I decided to arrive one day later. Unfortunately, all the club members had already left and were on their way back to Wichita Falls by the time we headed out. Still, its nice to get away from it all and just be in nature and there are very few places that offer the rugged canyon landscape like Caprock Canyons State Park. We arrived at the park around 6pm Saturday evening. The plan was to get in the park, find our campsite, and quickly locate a good view for sunset. There was one small factor I didn’t anticipate and that was the weather. Severe thunderstorms were rolling in and were quickly encompassing the park. We could see storms off to our north, west, and south of our location; some even developed right on top of us! This weather can sometimes bring about epic sunset light and colors. Needless to say I was excited at the prospect.
The storms eventually cleared out and after getting soaked with some pretty good rain we moved on into the park. Driving down the twisting and winding roads after a fresh soak was a new experience for me. I’m not sure what it is about Caprock Canyon, but every time I visit I seem to have trouble with getting good light. We pulled into our campsite and decided to go ahead and set up for sunset. There was a small mesa I had been eyeing as a potential sunset location. Normally we would shoot in the South Prong canyon, but I wanted to try something a little different. We made the short drive to the North Prong parking area and climbed up the small mesa. On top there were grasses, brush, and cacti on the rocky ledges but the mesa did present us with a nice view of the much larger mesas that guard the North Prong canyon. I like to refer to them as “The Gateway of North Prong”. Hiking this area is always a real treat with the colorful red sandstone walls and surrounding rock formations.
I explored the top of the mesa looking for compositions and once I found one I decided to lock it in. My hope was that the dramatic sunset light would illuminate the cliffs in bright orange glow, but sadly lower clouds came in and blocked out all the dramatic light I was anticipating. This did put me in a sour mood, but I was determined to come back with something. We watched as sunset turned to dusk and blue hour and the clouds above us took on some nice texture. There was short time where the sun indirectly shone on a cloud near the horizon. A soft yellow glow was sent across my scene, but the light was so diffuse and indirect the only thing that reflected the light was the buttes and mesas in the background. I made several exposures during the “peak” light and this was the best one I came back with. Sure, there’s not a lot of dramatic light, but the soft color palette works with the image. I did take a little creative license and boost the magenta in the upper right corner to contrast with the strong greens of the image. The result is a much more pleasing color harmony in the image. I left that shoot that evening feeling a little defeated, but once I got the images back home I could see a lot of potential with the image. We would go on the next day making up for the lack of good photography with a wonderful 10 mile hike through the canyon wilderness. Maybe when I visit during the fall and winter I will get the good light for photography.