Saturday, September 11, 2010

Photographing Mesa Arch

Many have seen the epic pictures that have been captured over the years at Mesa Arch, which lies within Canyonlands National Park.  (Even windows 7 shipped with a Mesa Arch desktop background picture.)  The whole Canyonlands National Park is a majestic place, and I think watching the sun appear beneath the arch is something that everyone should experience.  It’s also seemingly become a bit of a rite of passage for landscape photographers to make the trek and capture that gorgeous orange light.
Mesa Arch lies is about a 45 to 60 minute drive from Moab Utah in the Island in the Sky district of the park.  In our case that meant a 3:45 AM wake up to be on time for the roughly 6:00 AM sunrise experience.  My photographer's assistant wasn't a very happy hiker.  (In August 2010, the turn off to the park on SR-313 of the main highway wasn’t marked headed northbound on Route 191 - Google says this is about 15 miles on 191 from Moab).

We arrived at parking lot (left hand side of the park road) for the arch, and made the short hike down to the arch itself.  I had plenty of time to spare to get setup, and amazingly I was the first photographer.  Apparently I was one of a handful of people that were crazy enough to wake up so early..

As for shooting the arch, I used my widest lens for 99% of the pictures I took, and remember to stop down if you’d like a sun star (f22?).  For me, I was happy with the soft orange light which in my case lasted for twenty minutes to half an hour.  I’d also suggest looking for alternative angles.  I’m actually really happy with the picture below, because it’s an angle you don’t see as often as some others.
If you'd like to see more check out my pictures of Canyonlands National Park.


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