My son Evan has successfully completed all sorts of emergency/rescue training over the past two years. In addition to having become a fully licensed paramedic, he’s obtained diving certifications, high-angle and swift-water rescue certifications, sawyer certifications (yep), specialty medical emergency certifications, and who knows what else.
For his birthday we bought him a rappelling rope so naturally he got it in his mind to take his family rappelling. Off we went to the Barton Creek Greenbelt in search of scary cliffs to hang from. Evan scouted out a nice spot for us — a cliff ~25′ high, with a hollow cave-like area halfway down the wall which you had to rope past without having the benefit of using your feet.
Three of my girls and I learned how to tie a Swiss Seat — the poor-man’s harness — and were then schooled on how to attach the “eight” to the rope and to our harness. We practiced rappelling and belaying from a ledge about 6′ off the ground (none of us had ever rappelled). From the standpoint of the mechanics it really couldn’t get much simpler. With a little practice one learns to control their descent relatively smoothly.
On to the top of the cliff…got a little scarier up there. Out loud, I quoted (roughly) Rizzo the Rat from Muppet Christmas Carol — “There are two things I hate: heights…and jumping from them”. Now, I’m not *really* that afraid of heights and am fine looking over the edge of a cliff or climbing extension ladders, etc. However, the thought of backing myself over this cliff (rope or no rope) was making my stomach turn and my hands shake. I honestly haven’t been afraid like that since I was a little kid. I did it though. Walked back, pretended to be a cool cat. After all, I was encouraging my girls to overcome their fears and do this as well (all three did the 6′ ledge and two of them did the cliff). It was awkward going over the edge since the rope had no leverage point except a tree 20′ away, but once I got going and the rope resting in the cliff’s edge it was a piece of cake.
We glanced over and noticed my 3 year old attempting to tie a Swiss Seat — it was hilarious to watch. He was as serious as ever. I’m sure he’ll be rappelling down cliffs before long. I had to include a shot of that.
Since we were in deep shade I placed a remote-triggered (via an Elinchrom Skyport) flash on the ground while we were up on the rocks. We were busy climbing so I couldn’t always place it optimally or adjust the power but it worked pretty well for many of the shots.
Located west of Austin, TX (about 20 miles from downtown as the crow flies), Hamilton Pool is a favorite swimming hole for many Austin-area residents. It’s formed at the point where Hamilton Creek pours over a 50 foot waterfall into an incredible grotto.
Jim Nix (http://www.nomadicpursuits.com) invited me to go shoot at the pool this weekend. I’ve lived in Austin for 19 years, 9months, and some-odd days and I had never been to Hamilton Pool. Because of this fact (and of course because Jim’s a great guy) I took him up on the invite and had a great time going after some images. Got a bit of exercise too.
You can see Jim in the photo below. I saw him standing near the falls and I plopped down my tripod right where I was to capture an image which included him. I had seen incredible images of this pool but they didn’t have anything as a reference point to convey the true size. Including a person in the frame gives the viewer a real sense of how big this grotto is.
3-exposure HDR, center exposure 18mm f/14, 1/2s, ISO 100
On the drive out the skies were looking promising for HDR (lots of texture) but by the time we were there and set up they seemed to have turned almost to plain, gray overcast. I didn’t end up with decent skies in any of the shots I’ve processed at so far.
I’m not super happy with any of the images so far but they’re good enough for me to at least enjoy them. I was on a semi-strict timeline that day but I came away with some angles I’d like to explore further on my next visit. My hope is to visit again on a *partly* sunny day (want some awesome clouds to include in the shots). I would also like to visit in the spring when there are some leaves on the (currently bare) trees.
Here’s another shot of Jim working on some compositions. The foreground is busy with all those branches but I still like the shot because of how the focal length compresses Jim and the falls in the frame.
3-exposure HDR, center exposure 70mm f/20, 1/2s, ISO 100
And one more, a spot along the creek with some interesting water, trees, and reflections. I might have played with more angles here if it were not for my schedule.
3-exposure HDR, center exposure 24mm f/13, 1/13s, ISO 100