Byron Neslen Southwest Fine Art Photography


Swirls at the Sierra Anchas

The Sierra Anchas is one of my favorite places to photograph in Arizona especially in the fall. I have photographed in the Sierra Anchas for quite number of autumns and only twice before had I caught the leaves moving in pool of water in a circular pattern. This particular day I came across this pool of water in which the leaves where moving in several circular patterns. Right above and around the pool was several maple trees that had bright red and orange leaves, and many of the leaves had fallen into the pool.

I set up my view camera and started to expose my film. I was using my 65mm and 90mm lens, which are wide angle lens for 4 x 5 view camera. I had to stop down the lens to f 45 or f 64 depending on which lens I was using for depth of field. When you stop down a lens to those apertures you have a very small opening for the light to come though. When that happens you have to increase the time the shutter is open to expose the film. I figure that the time for my expose because of the light level was about five minutes. From previous experiences I knew that leaves were going to make a swirl pattern on the film even though they were moving very slowly in the pool. I took three different set-ups that afternoon before it got dark. I went back the next morning to shoot more of the pool, and the leaves were along the edges of the pool and no longer moving in a circular pattern in the middle of the pool.

I have gone back other years since and the leaves have not made those circular patterns in that pool. Other pools I have found later on in various locations have, and some year after year but never the same pattern. So each image is unique and can not be duplicated because of that.