Sky High Basin

Over the last week I have been spent a significant amount of time working on the pictures from our hike on June 15th into the Sky High Basin.  The Sky High Basin is in the Marble Mountain Wilderness up a trail leaving from Lover’s camp.

ISO 200, 24mm, f/9.0, 1/160 sec, Polarizer

June 15th is my son Christian’s birthday, so even though the hike was going to be long 13+ miles round trip, I gave him the option of coming on the hike for his birthday.  Joining us on this hike was Don and Jennifer and their son Hunter.  The two boys were amazing on the hike, they didn’t complain and they kept up a good pace.  They also carried in their own water and food.

ISO 2000, 100mm, f/4.0, 1/100 sec

One section of the hike is called the stairs.  The trail is steep and so rocks have been place in the trail creating a stair system to help with hiking the terrain and to help prevent erosion.  I counted the stairs on the way down, I counted 321 of them!


 ISO 800, 24mm, f/4.0, 1/640 sec


At the top of the stairs is a great waterfall.  My estimate of its total height is about 40 feet or more.  I’m a waterfall junkie, so obviously I had to stop to take some photographs. To get a view from the front/side of the waterfall I had to traverse a steep side slope down off the trail.  One of my filters I find indispensable when photographing water is the variable neutral density filter.  My filter is an inexpensive one made by Polaroid, the MC Fader ND 77mm.  If I use the maximum density with this filter, I end up with color casting and uneven filtering. I find I can use it from the minimum level to a little over half.  Even with this limitation I enjoy the variable nature of this filter.  I can obtain focus with the filter at its lightest and then turn it darker to obtain the exposure I desire.  This is a nice feature because once darkened focusing is impossible.

On the way up the sun was shining on part of the waterfall which made getting a correct exposure difficult.

ISO 100, 24mm, f/5.6, 1/5 sec

On the way down I once again stopped to take some photographs.  Since the sun was low in the sky it was no longer hitting the waterfall directly, this made for a more even exposure.  I didn’t bring my tripod with me on this hike, but I did have my monopod which I use as a hiking stick.  Keeping the image stable on a steep side slope with a monopod is quite a feat mind you!

 ISO 100, 24mm, f/6.3, 1/4 sec

After I took this shot I took the camera off the monopod for the hike back up the slope.  Usually I hike with the strap around my wrist, so I just let go of the monopod….which proceeded to slide down the hill.  In my hurry to catch the monopod I slipped and slid down the slope after it!  Sigh, as if I didn’t have far enough to climb out, now I had to climb farther down to retrieve my monopod.

ISO 200, 24mm, f/6.3, 1/80 sec, Polarizer

 Once at the beautiful Sky High Lake, we ate lunch and relaxed for a couple of hours.  The boys spent a lot of time catching salamanders/newts and even Don went for a swim.

ISO 100, 38mm, f/4.0, 1/100 sec

The salamanders have this amazingly bright orange belly.  I’m not sure what the purpose is of the bright orange belly, but it looks cool.

ISO 640, 85mm, f/4.0, 1/640 sec

Although it is dry for this time of year the wildflowers were still amazing.  I took so many shots of just flowers I decided to include them in their own post later on.

I apologize to people coming after us, the boys had a lot of fun cutting down some of the skunk cabbage!

ISO 100, 62mm, f/5.6, 1/100 sec

ISO 250, 44mm, f/7.1,1/200 sec

If you’ve never been to the Marble Mountain’s you will be amazed at the marble.  As you look through the trees the white marble looks like snow on the ground.  It is hard to believe the amount of marble you are seeing as you look at the bare marble rim and this huge mountain range.  I guess it’s no different from the huge granite mountains of the Wasatch Front that make up the Salt Lake Valley.  By the way, also really cool mountains to climb and photograph.


ISO 400, 24mm, f/6.3, 1/60 sec

ISO 400, 120mm, f/4.5, 1/80 sec

Well, I’m working on the flower and other macro photos I took on the hike and should have another post very soon.  As always, I’ve included in this post the rest of the best photos from the day.  Enjoy!

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  1. Awesome photos as always! Looks like it was a fun day. I especially like the salamander pictures. I need to do more of that kind of stuff. I need to join you on one of your photography outings soon.

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