Tuesday, November 18, 2008
The Ultimate Guide To Arches & Canyonlands
They may be two of the most photographed parks in America, but you still can get original images with a plan and the right astronomical tools
Dead Horse Point State Park lies on the same broad mesa that contains the Island in the Sky district. It gives visitors an awe-inspiring insight into the power of flowing water working patiently and inexorably for 150 million years. From the canyon rim to the Colorado River far below is a precipitous drop of 2,000 feet. This is primarily a sunrise location. For the warmest light, shoot between May 1 and mid-August, when the sun rises north of the La Sals, or from late October to mid-February, when it rises to the south. Don’t be a guardrail geranium—in other words, don’t plant yourself at the first spot along the guardrail that gives you a glimpse of the canyon below and remain rooted for your entire morning’s shoot. If you search along the canyon rim, you can find foreground elements that will give your images more depth and interest. I chose a lone Utah juniper, growing from a crack in the arid rock, that illustrated how tenacious life must be to survive in this harsh yet beautiful landscape.
First-time visitors to the Moab area, or those with limited time, would do well to concentrate on Arches National Park and the Island in the Sky district of Canyonlands because they are so accessible. Reaching the most spectacular arches in the Needles District of Canyonlands requires long day hikes or backpacking; exploring the Maze District requires a multi-day expedition on very long and difficult 4WD roads. Regardless of where you go, know the angle of sunrise and sunset, keep your compass handy, and remember that great lighting is the key to great landscape photography.
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