As you probably all know by now, Moab, Utah and the surrounding area is one of my favorite places to photograph. The rugged terrain of Canyon Lands National Park and Arches National Park are within just a few miles of the town. There’s also Dead Horse Point State Park and miles upon miles of hiking and biking trails in some of the most beautifully rugged scenery in the world. Last week was my umpteenth trip to those places and the more days I’ve spent there the better the pictures. Exploring a place time after time allows for familiarity and that gives one the ability to find hidden locations off the beaten path and use creativity to compose better images.
After a seven hour trip, Wayne and I arrived at Arches about six in the evening. I found some out of the way petrified sand dunes to photograph, but more importantly, as it was getting dark, we spied some small collection pools left over from a heavy rain storm two days earlier. The water would make for perfect reflections of the surrounding cliffs and sky if we got a great sunrise the next morning. The photo hint here is to always be looking for places that might give you better pictures under different circumstances. About 8:30pm we found our way into town for dinner and after a short night of light sleep, I was on those pools with camera and tripod at 5:30am. Giving myself forty five minutes before sun up allowed me the time to see which puddles would set up for the best reflections. The dawn broke without a cloud in the sky and my hunch paid off perfectly. The mauves, burnt oranges and yellows of the massive sandstone monoliths and cliffs were captured brilliantly in those little ponds.
That afternoon we met up with a friend who mountain bikes regularly on the hundreds of slick rock trails around Moab and got some great pictures of him using incredible daring and skill on his cycle. If you can capture adventure scenes among the cliffs, you’ll get some great perspective of the size and majesty of the scenery. Use a shutter speed of at least 1/1000 of a second to freeze the blazingly fast action.
Our third day, the thermometer reached ninety which is still pretty mild when considering summer temperatures can reach over 100 degrees for days at a time. We had a guide (required) who led us on a four hour hike into a place called the Fiery Furnace. Inside the maze of three hundred foot cliffs, canyons, dead ends, poison ivy, slot canyons, reflecting pools and arches we found some spectacular photo opportunities. There were some pretty tricky trails to navigate for yours truly and I must admit that some puckering was involved when teetering on narrow, sandy ledges looking into dark crevices at my feet. Obviously and lucky for me I made it and was able to write this column. Off to the next adventure! Click