Waterfall of Hope

Vertical photo of waterfall in Hope, Alaska.
Long exposure of waterfall in Palmer Creek Valley in Southcentral Alaska.

Alaskans just experienced a very hot and dry summer in the Southcentral and Southwestern regions.  Numerous wildfires burned over 2.5 million acres.  Homes and businesses were destroyed, and the scenic vistas that draw tourists were obscured with a smoky haze for months.  Historically, August is a rainy month in Alaska, but the rains never materialized where it was needed most.  Furthermore, Southeast Alaska, known for its temperate rainforest climate, has been in a drought for two years.  In some locations wells dried up or residents were asked to conserve water.  Lastly, passing through Keystone Canyon in Valdez in late August I saw something that I never thought I would see — an anemic Bridal Veil Falls with a couple rivulets trickling no more than a garden hose.  It did not look anything like a bridal veil for which it is named.  Any rain would be most welcomed to alleviate this extended drought and extinguish fires.

It is no surprise then, that this unnamed waterfall resonated with me.  The base is nearly one thousand feet below its origin which is two beautiful, turquoise tarns in the Kenai Mountains, near Hope, Alaska.  As it falls and cascades it cuts a winding path through the subarctic tundra covered in fall colors.  I have titled this “Waterfall of Hope” because we cannot see the source of the water, but we hope that there is enough left to sustain the flora and fauna in the valley below — including salmon habitat — until it is replenished by the coming winter snows.

A 10-stop neutral density filter was used to achieve the silky smooth water effect at a shutter speed of 30-seconds.  This created the streaks in the moving clouds, perhaps an ironic reminder of the fleeting cloud cover over the parched landscape this summer.

Canon 5DsR, EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM, 30 secs. at f/16 using 10-stop Breakthrough Photography ND filter.

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