Behind The Shot: “Rock And Fire” By Michael Dalberti—Moe’s Valley, Southern Utah


“Rock And Fire” By Michael Dalberti

You never know when conditions are going to be perfect.  I find the best shots are the ones I don’t expect.  I learned early on that if I go out to take pictures and expect to come out with the best shots every time, I’m going to be disappointed.  Sometimes you have to enjoy yourself first then take pictures second.

I ventured out to a famous bouldering location near Moe’s Valley in Southern Utah.  The clouds were very interesting, so I knew I wanted to find some untouched climbs on higher ground so I could get some great shots with Pine Mountain in the background.  I found quite a few that were promising, but time was definitely lacking.  I probably looked really funny running with my bouldering pad on my back and my tripod/camera combination in my other hand while I was trying to avoid tripping over the rocky terrain.

That’s the humorous thing; I may find many promising spots and subjects when adventuring, but when it’s crunch time, you never know what’s going to look good. There are too many factors!  That’s how it is for me. I can’t predict which clouds are going to look best when the sun decides to reveal her colors, I feel almost frantic.  I love and hate the feeling when I have an opportunity to take one of the best shots I could possibly take. I know conditions are perfect…how many times are we out shopping when the perfect sunset happens and we’re saying to ourselves, “I wish I had my camera!”  That’s why I get anxious during these conditions.

I was set up at a “boulder” that had promising clouds behind it.  I could stay there and take a solid shot, I knew that, but something kept nagging at me that there was a boulder that I saw earlier about 10 minutes away that had a better background with the mountain in view.  I couldn’t get it out of my head.  As colors started to slowly show, I thought, “screw it,” grabbed all of my gear and ran back down to the other location.

I was sweating and my hands were already sore from climbing earlier, but it didn’t matter, I would do anything to get a good shot with how things were unraveling.  I finally made it, checked the settings on my camera, tossed my phone to the side because the self timer application wasn’t working and set up my tripod.

I climbed this spot earlier so the “holds” would be authentic when climbing; not purely posed. That being said, I am glad no one else was around to watch me run back and forth with the 10-second self timer.

You never know when things will come together, the only thing that matters is that you’re putting in the effort.  I wont forget the fantastic display in the sky that evening.

Equipment & Settings: Canon EOS 6D, 16-25 f/2.8L, Manfrotto 486 tripod head with Redged legs. F/10, ISO-800, 1/8 sec.

To see more of Michael Dalberti’s work, visit his website at and follow him on Facebook.