The Green River in Utah
Sometime last spring my son Mike asked me if I wanted to go on a raft trip in July on the Green River in Utah, the Grays and Desolation section to be specific. He said there would be his family and a bunch of friends, altogether 17 people in three rafts and several kayaks.
I told him, "Sure, I'll be able to get some good pictures." That seems to be my first reaction to anything these days.
Unfortunately, I seem to be like all the other professional photographers I know; we all tend to be very obsessive, single minded people. All we can think of is photography; all we can do is take pictures. My wife and the rest of the family tend to think this is pretty limiting; I really have no idea why.
It had been a long time since I had rafted Desolation and Grays. The last time was at least 30 years ago when Mike was 13 and his younger brother Jeff was 6. That was the trip when Jeff and his mother Joan topped a high curling wave in their raft and dropped unexpectedly into Surprise Rapid. That was the moment Jeff renamed the rapid for all time as "Holy-Shit-Mom-Rapid." It had been a good trip and I was ready for a replay.
My first thought was that I didn't want to take my good camera; it was sure to get full of sand and water and ruined before the trip was over. So I decided to take my trusty Olympus C-8080. As described in another article, I had good luck handholding it in the Wind River Mountains of Wyoming the previous summer and I thought it would be perfect. It was.
I have always had trouble shooting tight narrow canyons like the one the Green runs through. I have problems capturing Zion Canyon and I have problems even in the Grand Canyon. Everything seems to be right on top of you and there isn't any room for close foreground with a distant background which is a favorite shot that I tend to overuse. Somehow this favorite shot never seems to work in these tight canyons.
This time however I was using a very light camera without a tripod and I decided to just let myself go and shoot whatever looked good, whatever seemed beautiful and not worry about the right way to do it. I would just shoot and have fun and sort it out later.
This actually worked out pretty well. It wasn't long before I was shooting a lot of close up detail on the beaches and in the grasses and rocks along the river. This was different from what I had done before and I liked it. I was actually feeling liberated without a tripod and huge camera and I was getting pretty creative, at least for me.
Below are a few of the shots I took along the eighty miles of the Green River that Mike and I and family and friends ran last summer. None of the Green River images I took this summer are up on the website yet; they will probably appear sometime next spring. I shot almost 800 pictures on the trip and ended up with about 100 good ones. I was really quite happy with them. This was the trip that really sold me on learning to shoot cameras hand-held rather than on a tripod.