Early Morning Light in Slickhorn Canyon

Slickhorn Canyon, Utah.

Located far downstream of the tiny town of Mexican Hat, Utah, on the San Juan River is  Slickhorn Canyon.  Located almost in the middle-of-nowhere, and not far from where the San Juan flows into Lake Powell, Slickhorn is only accessible via a very long backpacking trip, or by rafting the San Juan. I arrived at Slickhorn via raft 3 days after leaving the boat-launch at Mexican Hat. There are no roads, and only one foot trail along this stretch of the river. The journey is slow, a peaceful float under the towering cliffs of the lower San Juan River canyon. This is wilderness.

Having spent several hours scouting Slickhorn canyon on day 3 of my trip, I knew where I wanted to photograph sunrise from on the following day. I awoke early and made the short hike in the dark from camp to this spot. As I waited in the darkness listening to silence of the canyon, I was alone, surrounded by the deep black of the canyon walls outlined against a cobalt blue sky.

As the first rays of sunlight began to paint the canyon walls in hues of red, yellow, and gold, I knew I only had a few minutes to create my photo. As the sun begins to warm the atmosphere, the cold air atop the cliffs will collapse into the canyon and travel along its bottom towards the river, just as water from a thunderstorm would. This cool morning breeze, while refreshing, would ultimately disturb the pool of water in front of me and this blur the clear reflection.

Title: Slickhorn Reflection
Date: May 2013
Camera& Lens: Nikon D800E & Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G
Exposure: 1/15 second at f/16, ISO 100.