Sunday, December 17, 2017

Shooting Mesa Arch in August of 2017

During our most recent family trip out west, This Connecticut based photographer got the opportunity to shoot Mesa Arch in Canyonlands National Park in Utah. It is beautiful just about any time of day, but the crown jewel shot is the sun rising through the arch. Arches are rare in Canyonlands, but this pothole arch is spectacular sitting on the edge of a cliff facing east.  If you want to shoot the sunrise, get there early. I was there about 35 minutes before sunrise and this was the group of fellow photographers I had the pleasure of working with. Photographers etiquette - Please form a polite line out of everyone's shot in a situation like this. Everyone was super courteous and that made the experience better for everyone.

I found my spot among my new friends quickly and decided to set up for a lower angle. On this particular day, everyone formed a line well back from the arch, so I just went with it. I got there too late for blue hour light painting, which would have been spectacular. I was not too upset about this because I did not bring a strong enough light to paint the arch with me on this trip. A good strong light with gels is on my list for next time though. Because it was August, we had to leave our hotel room in Moab around 4:00 AM. Every time of year has pros and cons. I would be able to sleep in in January, probably have the place to myself and be able to frame my shot from multiple angles, but I would not be in my trusty grey t-shirt in the high desert in the winter. 

The result below is a five shot HDR. f11 at 100 iso on a tripod shot just before sunrise. Not a whole lot of extra post production, just tiny bit of structure. The second shot below is a single shot at f11, 1/6 second with a bit of shadows opened up.  

I was using a Cannon 5D MIII and a Canon 24-70 II L lens.

If you are going to go check this and other awesome sites out in Canyonlands, here is my gear list (I put a * next to anything I did not have this time, but would bring next time we go)

  • Full Frame (or largest you have) Camera
  • Wide angle zoom lens (I prefer primes, but in a situation like this you just can't move back and forward without impacting other photographers.
  • Sturdy Tripod
  • Headlamp
  • Trekking Poles There is no light out there and it is about a 1/3 mile hike up a hill
  • *Second camera for a time-lapse
  • *Strong Flashlight for light painting with gels
  • *Whistle - Not necessary in the summer, but if you are out there alone and twist an ankle, there is no cell service
  • *Snacks 
  • *Coffee!!!!

If you would like to see more shots from this and other trip out west, you can take a look here: