Friday, March 23, 2012

Walking Along Park Avenue

Walking along Park Avenue.  After spending almost a week up in Canyonlands, I moved over to Arches National Park to work on some of the areas there.  A nice walk with some great rock formations is Park Avenue.  It is about a mile and the road passes by either end.  So if you are not wanting to walk two miles (one of which would be up hill), you can get someone to drop you off at the top , walk down to the bottom and get picked up.

I parked at the bottom and started walking up hill.  I was scouting for potential sunrise locations and also using the opportunity to make some black and white images.

I had not gone far when I saw this scene. 

I liked the sandstone monuments.  I also liked the rocky stretch this trail was on.  I thought they both might make good images.

First I set up with the longer view and the sandstone bluffs.  Went with the 210mm to make the image more the rock formation.

Once I had that one, I went wider for the sweep of the rock leading up Park Avenue.

The film of choice was Efke 25 that I would get processed at DR-5 into a B+W chrome.  Most folks who do black and white use film and make negatives.  I use a standard B+W film but through the DR-5 process you get a black and white positive.  I find them outstanding.  I can "read" a positive much easier than a negative and there is always the wow factor from any chrome on a light table.

This is one of those locations where there are image possibilities everywhere and even when looking at both of these shots, I still cannot decide which one I like more.  The only "more" I really know is I want more time out in locations like this.

See more images from Utah on my website galleries:

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Mesa Arch Sunburst

My favorite park in Utah is Canyonlands National Park.  It has incredible scenery and low visitation.  Those two combine to make it my must visit place when I am around Moab.  On my last trip there I stayed up there for six straight days.  It was finally needed both fuel and water that made me drive to town.  The rest of the time I had Island in the Sky to myself.

One of the areas I made a couple of visits to was Mesa Arch.  This is the classic Canyonlands image and one I got a really nice one of on my visit in 2008.  I wanted to see if I could do a little better this trip.  

The most important factor for a good Mesa Arch image is clear sky.  It goes against what I normally want as a photographer but clear sky gets you that wonderful glow just after sunrise.  The other big factor is crowds.  In 2008 there were easily 45 photographers there one morning all jockeying for tripod positions.  This trip it was much nicer.  One day had 20 or so, which is still very crowded but my second day it was myself and two others.

By camping in Canyonlands I have a huge advantage over the folks who drive up from Moab.  They have a 45+ minute drive.  I have about a 90 second drive from the campground to the trailhead.  So while most people are trying to convince themselves to get up and go, I am already on location.

Being the first one there also means I get my pick of spots and when you have a large format camera to fiddle with you need time.  I had already planned out my image and set up my tripod and camera in the dark long before daylight.  I do not have to focus yet, I just got the spot.  The glow happens after sunrise so I have plenty of time to compose and focus.

Luckily when only two other photographers showed up it was easy to get all the images you wanted. 

For me the ideal image of Mesa Arch is one that captures the glow, that you can see the Washer Woman Arch in the distance, has a sunburst, and excludes most if not all sky.  Remember that you are usually here on a clear sky day and what you will see is many people compose very wide and get a great deal of sky in the image.

I was using my widest lens too, a 75mm (about a 24mm for those who shoot full frame digital), but by getting there early and knowing where the sun would rise I was able to leave only a small gap of sky there and have the rest be rock and canyon.

Compose right.  Focus.  Set to f/45 and wait for the sun.  When it made it's appearance I fired off about 10 sheets.  This was one of the best.

You can see the set up and location.  Then you can see my final result.  This was a 4x5 chrome on Velvia 100F.  For comparisons I have my 2008 attempt at this as the banner on my WildernessPhotographer Blog.

WildernessPhotographer Blog

The 2008 version was on Velvia 50.

I like them both, but is either one better?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Overlooking the Colorado River at Dead Horse Point

One of the ways I have been wanting to make some changes in this blog was to show not only my camera on location but also what was the shot I got when I was there.  This being the first such example and is from a trip out to Canyonlands and Arches National Parks near Moab, Utah.

 One clear morning I left Canyonlands NP early and made my way over to the nearby Dead Horse Point State Park for the classic view it offered of the Colorado River.  I got there early, as always, and set up in the dark.  That helps get you a good spot and it gives me time to set up the 4x5.

Since it was my first time there, I stayed in the area most other photographers stayed.  Yes, it is a popular overlook, but it is popular for a reason-the view is awesome.

Since it was clear I set up to have little to no sky in my images.

Once there was light but long before sunrise I was able to confirm composition and focus.  A couple of test shots with the digital confirmed that the predawn light was already picking up nice color on the rocks and so I started making images.

Stayed at that spot until sunrise and continued making images.  By sunrise many other photographers had arrived and they all went crazy after the sun hit the rocks.  However, I think they missed the best light as the predawn glow on the rocks was much nicer.  The sunrise brought harsh light and deep shadows.  Certainly tough conditions and lack of clouds made it tougher.  I actually only took a few images after sunup.

Here you can see a couple of views of the Arca-Swiss set up on location.  One taken in predawn light and another towards the end of my shooting after the sun was in the canyon.  While the sun might have made a great B+W if there were clouds, I just was not sure anybody was getting anything great by then.

Finally there is the image I made on film at the top of the post.  Used my longer lens-the 210mm so I could exclude the sky and just pick up the canyon and river.  Film was Velvia 100.

If you make it out to Moab, do yourself a favor and do the drive up to Dead Horse Point for sunrise, but get there early if you do.