Inspirations – Gabe Farnsworth
830nm-modified Canon EOS 5D, Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II, ISO 50, 1/50th second, f/5.6
It’s been some time since I took the image, so my recollections of the thoughts behind its creation are hazy. Lighting in canyons such as these can be difficult, aside from shooting explicitly at noon. Thus, I was looking for areas with more even lighting; I’d brought both a color-sensitive camera, and an infrared one, but I ended up predominantly using the IR camera during the hike.
The Fiery Furnace is essentially without trails. You are free to explore, but politely asked to avoid leaving signs of exploration. Walking on stone and loose sand is all that’s really allowed; one might assume this would make for a linear path through “The Furnace,” but this would be a mistake. The hike is a maze of dead-ends, steep drop-offs, and tunnel-like formations through which one must traverse. To really enjoy the Furnace, it’s necessary just to explore; to take every visible path to its end, attempting to leave “no stone unturned,” so to speak.
This image is of that mindset. Every visible path possible, I took. I did not deliberately lose myself in the maze, but I was, for several hours, lost. No sound or sight of civilization or humankind. Red walls of stone and bits of sage and juniper were all that was around, save the occasional deer or rabbit. I recall hiking over a small hill and seeing what appeared to be four or five different possible ways the trail could go. Instead of picking one, I chose all. I followed them all to their ends over the course of several hours; eventually, after some time, I arrived at this scene; hiking down into an area which was, for all intents and purposes, another “dead-end,” but a remarkably scenic one.
While many research areas prior to attempting to photograph them, I try to do the exact opposite. I try to enter these areas with as fresh eyes as possible; approaching without any knowledge of what others have composed, what others have seen. This may seem ignorant, as it’s possible that I miss out on more thoughtful compositions, but by the same, I often end up with images that are original from overly photographed areas because of this. Because I don’t have pre-composed images in mind that I’m trying to re-create; instead, I’m only capturing what I see, as honestly and skillfully as I can. ~ Gabe Farnsworth