Hiking Havasu

Recently I went on a trip to Havasu Falls located on the Havasupai Indian Reservation just south of the Grand Canyon. I had seen pictures of beautiful waterfalls and red canyon walls, and thought it might be a great location to test out the Phillip Bloom Pocket Dolly I had just purchased on some time lapses.

To give you a little bit of an idea of where the falls are located, here’s a brief run down on what it takes to get there. The easiest way is to fly into Las Vegas, and then drive four hours to the trailhead at Havasupai Hilltop. The trailhead is located in a remote area 60 miles from the nearest supply of Gas & Water (so make sure you have a good supply if you decide to go). Upon arrival you must then hike down 2000 ft in your first ¾ of a mile. After another challenging 8.8 miles, you will reach the scenic Havasu Falls that resemble something from a tropical paradise.

My goal while I was here was to test out the pocket dolly I had just bought. To turn it into a time lapse motion machine, I used a few different products:

Canon 60D w/ Magic Lantern – Magic Lantern is a free firmware upgrade that allows you to access several advanced user functions on your 60D. For the time lapses, I took advantage of the expanded HDR capabilities, the silent shutter mode, as well as the built in intervalometer. (Please read the warnings on their site before you update your firmware using Magic Lantern)

Phillip Bloom Pocket Dolly – A sweet little slider that is 3’ long and comes in a great travel size.

Monfrotto DV Tripod Head – This is an inexpensive tripod head that runs around $124 that works great with the pocket dolly to give it a nice range of motion.

ElectraDrive Bundle w/ Basic Controller – This package includes the remote that allows you to set the speeds at which the camera will move over a duration of time, the very heavy battery that lasted the whole trip, and a 200 speed motor to give me the suitable speed for timelapses I was looking for.

With all this equipment, and the gear I needed for camping my bag weighed 60lbs! After the exhausting hike down to Havasu Falls, I was able to capture some sweet time lapses throughout my stay, which you can view on my Vimeo page.

The first time lapse in the sequence is of Havasu Falls. The bright blue water is a result of the lime concentration. When the sun hits the canyon, all the colors become way more vibrant! To capture all these colors on camera and depict them, as I was able to see them, I used a camera function called HDR. This allows me to take multiple pictures (I used three) at different exposures to make sure all areas of the photo are properly exposed. To break it all down, every three pictures equaled one frame, and every thirty frames equaled one second in the time lapse. The scenes following that are various parts of the river that passes through the falls leading up to the star time lapse at the end. All the flashes in the beginning are from heat lightning, which timed out perfectly as it went away after the camera passed under the log. Since there were no city lights to compete with, I was able to use a 15 second exposure versus a 30 second exposure I would have to use in Tampa (which gives you motion blur because 30 seconds actually picks up the movement of the earth rotating).

Overall everything turned out pretty well. I wish I would have had more time shoot some more night time lapses, but i’m happy with what I have :) . Please let me know if you have any feedback/questions/comments.



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