Drum roll … my #1 image from 2013

(remember clicking images in my blog provides a larger image)
“Mighty Thor”
Arca Swiss rm3di, IQ180 back, Rodenstock 70mm HR
¼ sec at f/16, iso 35, 8 shot pano stitch
(It’s Superbowl Sunday, and as someone who grew up in Denver and has been a life long Bronco fan, I look forward to the game.  It seemed like an appropriate day to wind up this years series – but don’t ask me why because I really don’t know. 🙂 I guess my logic is that many will be perusing through Facebook feeds today so they may notice this final image and want to take a closer look.)

Thor’s Hammer in Bryce Canyon National Park is another one of those iconic locations for landscape photographers when they visit Utah.  While not as well known or visited as places like Mesa Arch, it’s  on many photographers “bucket” list when they visit this part of the world.  Using the rising sun to highlight it and give the hammer a “glow of power” is also a pretty typical treatment.

Before visiting this place for the first time I had seen many images of it. Most of those  I liked were vertical compositions, emphasizing the height of the formation.  When I visited there last March I was struck with the surrounding walls and background, and envisioned more of a horizontal pano effect … sort of a coliseum with the hammer featured in the center.  I discovered that getting the power glow wasn’t that easy because during most of the year the formation is below the horizon when in front of the rising sun. While the time frame the shot can be taken is longer than my last years #1, “Scripps Pier Window”, (which can only be taken on two days of each year), for this effect it’s best to be there within a week or two  of the summer solstice. I’m not exactly sure how close you need to be to June 21st, but  I do know you can’t get this effect March when I was there to try it the first time. My return trip to get this specific shot was on June 26th and it was no problem keeping the horizon below the “hammer”.

I had recently purchased a program for my iPhone called PhotoPills, and it worked great to position myself for sunrise. PhotoPills has an augmented reality mode which uses the camera to show you the scene in real time and overlays a “sun” or “moon” which you can move through the sky based on calculated times … very cool and easy.  The first morning I found I was exactly where I needed to be.  The second morning I was a few feet off, but not a problem because you can work on getting the shot for 15 or 20 minutes after the sun comes up. Some try to get a sunburst on the side or even in the little hook on the top right side of the rock which is a cool effect … almost like a burst of light from a metallic hammer.  I wanted more of an all around glow … more like energy being emitted from the “hammer”.

When shooting this image you set up on a path leading down to the bottom of the canyon which is on the side of a pretty steep slope made up of red dirt (you can see that in the bottom corners of the image). It’s like a large bowl, and sunlight is reflected back into the formations, somewhat similar to the glow on the bottom of Mesa Arch.

As I looked at my work for the year, this image was number one from the start.  I’ve liked it since I first shot it.  Part of that is the satisfaction of pulling everything together including planning a trip to fit in a specific time frame, and then creating the image I had in my mind since my first visit there three months earlier.  As a photographer I try hard to visually see the image I’m after, using my training and knowledge to know how to capture the image as well as finding the right circumstances so I can portray the image I have envisioned.

So until next year, that does it with my top ten.  I hope you enjoyed them – if so click the like button.

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3 Responses to “Drum roll … my #1 image from 2013”

  1. I knew it…. An amazing image! It was a very good year.

  2. Derek Fox says:

    Good choice for number 1! I really like them all but this one was amazing!

  3. Chip Wesley says:

    Unreal! Great picture!