Monument Valley – Utah

Monument Valley, Utah – March 10, 2015

The next stop on our itinerary was Monument Valley. We had reservations at The View Hotel. The View is a Navajo owned business within the Navajo Tribal Park at Monument Valley. It is aptly named as all rooms face the grandeur of Monument Valley. All rooms on the third floor are referred to as StarView rooms with unforgettable views of the stars and valley from your private balcony.Our excitement was only dampened by another cloudless day. As beautiful as the area is, a photographer hopes for some wild skies. We would have been happy with a few puffy clouds! As we approached the famous Mile Marker 13 nothing above us materialized but we still stopped to get the classic shot.


Classic shot from Mile Marker 13

We spent the afternoon touring Goulding’s Trading Post and Museum  a must see stop if you are in the area. That night after a great dinner at The View Restaurant and well after sunset, we got set up for some night photography on our private balcony.  The situation couldn’t have been more convenient. Once we set up we decided to let the cameras shoot continuous 30 second exposures for a few hours. The headlights in the photograph are from cars driven by the Navajo who live in Monument Valley. You might also notice gaps in my star trails. A few tips so this doesn’t happen to you. 1. check your batteries. I had a newly charged battery in the camera. 2. Make sure your memory card is new or has room for all of your exposures. I hadn’t checked to see which memory card was selected on my Canon 5D MarkIII which has two memory slots. Fortunately after about an hour I looked out and saw that my light was off on the camera. I quickly selected the other memory card and resumed. If I had selected the correct card when I started, there would be no gaps in the star trails.


Clear skies were again forecast for the next day but as we were packing our car for the next leg of our journey, we looked up and saw the first clouds we had seen in three days! We had about 20 minutes before sunrise to get all of our equipment set up for the sunrise shot. Fortunately one of the best locations for sunrise photography in Monument Valley is right at the end of the parking lot. We hustled over there and had a great 45 minutes of photography.


About five minutes before sunrise



The bottom photograph is an HDR photograph comprised of five different exposures from -2 to +2. I use Photomatix Pro for my HDR work. I find it easier to use than Photoshop and I like the results better. While we were only in Monument Valley for less than 24 hours, it turned into a very productive and worthwhile stop.

– Ed Welch


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