Of all the gorges at Karijini National Park, Hancock Gorge was my favorite. The rock formations, colors, narrow spaces, and pools created a near infinite number of photographic possibilities. Despite capturing the many faces of Hancock during my two excursions into the gorge, a small handful of images stand above the rest. This is one of them.
A bright orange rope and several signs warn hikers not to go past this point without an accredited guide. While anybody can get to this point, continuing on into the Gorge requires abseiling experience, ropes, pulleys, and knowledge. Going forward without those things will likely result in grave personal injury; while it's hard to see in this image, the water flows down a near vertical path, and one small slip will likely end in disaster. In essence, this part of Hancock Gorge is forbidden.
I crossed the orange rope to set up my tripod near the top of this fall. It was still early in the morning, and the light was soft and warm. The challenge in this environment is capturing enough detail, both depth of field and the overall scale. Standing at this point I was awed by the sheer size of the gorge: the depth I'd already encountered and the additional depth I could see in front of me, the height of the gorge walls, the intricate natural patters created over millennium as water eroded the Western Australian rock, and the colors exposed by that erosion. How does a photograph capture all of it?
In this case I chose to capture a panoramic image so I could show the scale. I also wanted to capture a near infinite depth of field, so everything would be in focus. Lastly, I wanted to use a long exposure to smooth out the running water. The result is a 13 image, focus stacked panoramic image, which displays the beauty and scale of Hancock Gorge. It took a lot of work to capture and process the image, but the result is one of the best images I've ever crafted.