Have you ever photographed a deep forest, a huge lake or an enormous mountain range and when you looked at your images later they just didn’t seem as “grand” as you remember? This happens a lot in landscape photography since the camera itself has no way to record a sense of scale.
Take this image of Santa Elena Canyon in Big Bend National Park for example. It’s over 1500 feet from the river to the top of the wall but no shot I took could really capture the sense of scale I felt the first time I visited. Even my trusty 17-40mm ultra-wide zoom lens just wasn’t up to the task of conveying just how big this place really is.
Now look at this image of the Burro Mesa Pour-off, a geological feature less than 300 feet high. With Jack (my trusted guide) in the frame, the image somehow looks much larger than it did in person. It’s up to you as the photographer to create this sense of scale, which is why many professionals prefer to shoot landscape and travel images that include people.
The hike to the Burro Mesa Pouroff in Big Bend National Park is an easy 1/2 mile stroll through 26 million years of geology. Getting there is an easy drive along the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive and right down the road from the beautiful Sotol Vista and the Homer Wilson Ranch.
The pour off is a long narrow shoot that drains from the top of the mesa during the rainy season. Most of the year it is a dry wash exposing the unique rhyolite layers found on the western slope of the Chisos Mountains. Watch out when it rains however. During a summer shower this narrow pour off and dry wash can flood quickly, catching hikers off guard. Looking up at this incredible wonder it’s easy to imagine all that water cascading down from above.