Top 10 of 2013 … and 3rd place is ..

130224_MesaArch-003307-Edit2_blog“Winter at Mesa Arch”
PhaseOne DF with IQ180 back
Phase/Schneider LS 55mm, 0.4 seconds at f/16, iso 35

Mesa Arch in Canyonlands National Park near Moab, Utah is certainly one of the most iconic locations a landscape photographer can shoot.  While arches in general are great to photograph, this arch is unique in that it hangs out over a cliff face of a few hundred feet which is slightly angled, and faces east.  As the sun peers over the horizon, the light hitting that cliff face reflects up into the bottom of the arch, giving it an amazing glow – breathtaking to witness in person. This is the second year in a row an image from this amazing place has ended up one of my top 10.

I’ve always wanted to try a shot of this arch with a little snow contrasted against the red colors of this part of the world, and while at a workshop led by my friend Andy Biggs in Feburary, mother nature obliged with a pretty generous snow storm leaving  several inches on the ground.  I decided  a visit to Mesa Arch the next morning on the way home may be worthwhile.

I didn’t do a great job  calculating the drive and hiking time to get to the arch and was a little late.  It wasn’t like I missed sunrise, but there is almost always  a pretty good crowd there and many are willing to get there up to an hour or more before sunrise to secure their “spot”.    This is an angle I’ve shot before and which to me is interesting because you still get the effect of the arch and the glow, but because you can use a little longer lens  the landscape in the distance is much more prominent, especially the “washer women” formation.  It’s almost always available  unless you are very late and you find 20 or 30 waiting to get a shot.

I would have been able to try a few other angles, but unfortunately the cloud cover thickened, and there was only about a 5 minute window to shoot and get the effect of the glow.  This shot has the sun partially obscure which softens the light in the distance while still bright enough to light up the underside of the arch.  Just about the perfect combination.

I was considering another Mesa Arch shot I took later in the year.  Moab had a major snow storm in early December (I was told by some locals it was the most they had ever seen).  I was trying to get a shot of Green River Overlook, but decided to check out Mesa Arch an hour after sunrise or so.  Often this is a great time to shoot the arch, you still get some glow but the distance doesn’t get blown out by the harsh sunrise. Usually everyone is gone by then so you have the place to yourself, although with the severe weather it appeared only a couple people had trekked through the snow in the past few days. This allowed me to get a little further away and use a little longer lens.  The perspective change lets the shot emphasize LaSalle Mountain range was well as the “Washer Women” formation.  I like the other image better, but I like this one as well.

131205_DeadHorsePt-005836_blog“Winter at Mesa Arch 2”
Arca Swiss rm3di, Phase One IQ180 back
Rodenstock 70mm HR, 1/60th at f/22, iso 35

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