Hiking to the Lower Calf Creek Falls (Utah)

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The featured photo is from my latest trip to the Southwest where I had the chance to explore more remote and less popular destinations.

During the Utah leg of my trip, I camped not far from Bryce Canyon. The day I took the featured photo was entirely dedicated to exploring Utah’s famous Scenic Byway 12 as I drove from Bryce all the way to Capitol Reef National Park.

In the middle Escalante area, I stopped at Calf Creek Park to visit and photograph the Lower Calf Creek Falls. The only way to reach the falls is to hike at the bottom of the narrow canyon along the river. The hike itself is 10km round trip and is not very demanding at all.

Based on my research, I expected to see a lot of people swimming in the falls, taking selfies, and hanging out. But, I was lucky; during my hour-long stay at the falls, I met only one other person.

Since I did not plan to stay at the falls until sunset, I did not bring a tripod. All I brought was my camera and two lenses for a nice, light hike. The only disadvantage was that I could not take long exposure shots of the falls. Instead, I used my favorite technique of shooting a series of photos of the running water (10 to 20 shots) and later blended blend them together in Photoshop to create a long exposure effect.

Lower Calf Creek Falls
Loc: 37.829060, -111.419825


The main challenge was the limited space around the falls. The forest starts just about 10 meters from the water and it was not easy to capture the entire scene with one shot. I used the widest focal length I had in my possession (10mm) and it is still was not enough. I had to shoot from the sharp angle to make sure the entire falls and the entire wall made into the shot.

I took 10 consecutive shots, trying to be aa motionless as possible.

Editing & Processing

It was a single RAW processing workflow.

Lightroom (50%)

I cropped the photo slightly to make the composition a bit tighter. I kept the original aspect ratio of 3 x 2. I used the Cropped Overlay tool.

Next, I used Point Lobos preset from my Landscape Preset Collection as the base for Lightroom Rapid Editing. Then I used TOOLKIT to boost the Contrast and the Clarity.

The Lightroom Preset Editing Formula: Point Lobos (10, 13, 17, 32)

Photoshop (50%)

I merged 10 shots in Photoshop using the technique I outlined in my tutorial here.

Next, I used the Stamp Tool to erase my wife from the existence (bottom right corner) and removed some debris from the bottom left corner.

Plugins: DeNoise (noise reduction), Topaz Detail (local contrast boost).

Total time: 20 min

Before & After Transformation

  • I’m sure you didn’t mean that you erased your wife from existence, but just from the image.

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