I decided to make use of a four day weekend and head up to Moab, UT to photograph the beautiful natural arches and landscapes in the area. I planned all of the locations around the best times of light for photos which is always sunrise and sunset. I was fortunate to borrow an extra camera and tripod from friends so I was able to make the most of the time and have different vantage points using different lenses.
After driving 7 hours from Phoenix, I arrived at Canyonlands NP just before midnight. I slept a few hours in the car and set my alarm for 5:00a.m. The arch is a very popular spot so I had to arrive almost 2 hours before sunrise to claim my spot under the arch. The trail is only .25 from the parking lot so it was an easy hike. I wasn't the first to arrive, four other photographers already had their tripods set. I snuggled in and set my two tripods up and waited for the magic to happen. The bottom of the arch lit up at sunrise and I was able to get that classic shot that I wanted! I set a narrow aperture of F22 to get that sunburst effect. Great start to the trip!
The first evening I headed to Delicate Arch for sunset and star photos. The hike up was difficult (1.5 miles uphill with all of my gear) but I made it plenty early to catch the sunset. Clouds moved in and created a little drama in the sky. The light at sunset hit the red rock and gave it a beautiful color. As it started to get dark, I began asking around to see if anyone was staying for star trail and milky way shots over the arch. I found a hand full of guys that were staying and after a few hours, the clouds cleared and the fun began. We used LED flashlights and a pop of flash to light the arch during our 30 second exposures. I also set up my other camera for a star trail which ran for over an hour. It was a fun night of shooting and I met some great photographers from all over!
I slept again in the car for a few hours and headed to Dead Horse State Park for another sunrise. This location showcases a turn in the Colorado River with the rock turning a golden red as the early light rises. I was able to find a nice Juniper Tree also in the light for a nice foreground.
The following night was the most anticipated shoot of the trip. It is a hike with a viewpoint featuring a false Kiva. The location is not well known and is not included in park maps in attempt to preserve the area. I found directions online and was able to locate the trailhead and begin my hike before sunset. I reached the inside of this cave area halfway up a gigantic cliff just before sunset.. what a view!
As darkness settled in, the other photographer (who also found the location) left. I was alone in the middle of no where with this amazing view of stars and the milky way ready to POP! I used small tea candles to light the inside of the ritual circle and a few behind me along the arch. The soft glow from the candles gave the images a very warm look. Eventually, the milky way shot down straight down the middle of the arch. Awesome! In one photo I even captured a shooting star! The hike back in the middle of the night by myself wasn't ideal and it was a relief when I arrived back at the car!
The sky was so clear that night I headed back to Arches after getting the Kiva shots. I was up until 3 am shooting milky way and star trails inside Arches NP.
I had one last sunrise location before heading back to Phoenix. The shot in Arches NP of the Turret formation through the window. It was worth getting up early!
Had to break up the ride home with a stop at Monument Valley!!!
I highly recommend visiting these national parks, Utah is beautiful!
Hope you enjoyed this blog! Next stop..... Havasupai Falls! :)