Mesa Arch – Canyonlands, Utah

Mesa Arch – Canyonlands – March 8-9, 2015

After leaving House On Fire we headed to Moab where we planned on shooting Mesa Arch in Canyonlands National Park and various locations in Arches National Park over the next two days and nights.  Unfortunately, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky that afternoon so we checked into our room and headed straight for Tom Till’s Photography Gallery. If you are are visiting the Moab area, I highly recommend stopping there. You’ll see Tom’s stunning photography and will often meet people full of helpful suggestions for photographing the area. Tom wasn’t there (he was actually in our neck of the woods photographing frozen Niagara Falls), nor were some of the regulars, so we just spent some time enjoying Tom’s work.

We rose early the next morning and headed for Mesa Arch. Mesa Arch is a beautiful little arch in the Islands Of The Sky Section of Canyonlands National Park. It is impressive any time during the day but the real show happens at sunrise when the rising sun lights up the bottom of the arch a brilliant red.  We  arrived at the parking area well before sunrise and hiked the short trail to the arch. We had both been there when it was a mad scramble to find a spot for your tripod and were pleasantly surprised when we realized that we were the first ones there.

We both have the “classic” shots showing the arch lit up by the sun with the canyons, buttes and La Sal mountains in the background. We wanted to improve on our existing images and then get creative with non classic shots.  At different times of year the sun’s location will change creating totally different compositions.

Metering is tricky at Mesa Arch. You will find a great deal of contrast and may have to use HDR. For some of these images I shot seven different exposures and then created a HDR image in Photomatix Pro. For photographs with less contrast spot meter on the sky just above the arch. You will have to work quickly having only have 15 to 20 minutes to capture the reds and oranges on the bottom of the arch.





– Ed Welch

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