The final day of the photography workshop that I have been at this week started dark and early at 0410 when our alarm went off. Under the barely blueish pre-dawn light we made our way up to Dead Horse Point State Park to photograph the sunrise. As I mentioned before, we photographers are a very rare breed. Not only do we like to get up for things like sunrise, we like to do it multiple times in the same week. If you think getting up before dawn and being out till after sunset is hard one day out of the week, try doing it twice! I am quite happy though as these “golden hour” shoots are something that I really wanted to do at some point here in Moab, so being with people who also wanted to do that was great!
Dead Horse Point State Park is an incredible place. My grandfather likes to describe it as a “mini Grand Canyon.” When you see it, it is not too far from an accurate statement. From the park you look out over a canyon carved by the Green River, though not as deep or as large as the Grand Canyon, the concept is similar. Sunrise yielded some amazing colors and views. It was also another time to experiment with shooting some HDR images. I am still trying to figure out what I need in terms of shots for HDR and what all the options do when you composite them in the computer. I have been able to turn out some interesting shots though.
This entire trip I have managed to find some precarious looking positions to shoot from. Sometimes you have to do something crazy to get the shot. This morning I was the first person to climb over the wall on the rim of of the park to set up for the sunrise shots. I think I actually spent a lot of time on the other side of the wall. I am told that my picking interesting places to plan myself led to a number of photos of me, though I have yet to see them. However, I did think to whip out my little P&S camera that I have been carrying around all week to grab a photo of me on the edge. It isn’t the best photo, so don’t look at it too big, but it will give you an idea.
This is me on the edge of the rim at Dead Horse Point State Park
After shooting for a while at the park we headed back into town for breakfast. Certainly a welcome thing to do. We got to the restaurant a little after 0800 which meant that we had already been up for at least four hours. Needless to say, even though we were eating at Denny’s, breakfast was good. We even almost had the whole group back together as the sickest member was finally feeling well enough to get out of the hotel.
From breakfast we went right over to Arches National Park again to walk through Devil’s Garden and over to Sand Dune Arch. The big thing to see in Devil’s Garden is Landscape Arch. Odds are, this will be one of the next arches to succumb to the relentless forces of gravity and erosion. Back in the 1990′s (’91 I believe) a large section of the arch fell. It is the widest known span in the park and it isn’t very thick. I don’t think that I have ever been able to do justice to shooting Landscape Arch before, but I think that I may have got a couple good ones today. It is a tough one to shoot because you can’t get that close to it, and it is really big. Also, if you don’t have a generally upward shot, there isn’t much contrast between the arch and it’s surroundings. You really need sky in the shot (or snow as I have seen in a few photos).
The last stop of the workshop (in terms of shooting locations) was Sand Dune Arch. In my humble opinion, not the most exciting to photograph. Of course today it was also complicated by high wind, tight spaces and too many people. It was really hard to find a moment to get a clear shot with no people in it. Couple that with the sand that was blowing around in the wind and the experience was just kinda blah. It will be interesting to see if any of the images I got there are worth writing home about. Having already played in the sand earlier at PIne Tree Arch, I think most of us were pretty ready to be done.
The workshop concluded with a wrap up classroom session back at the hotel before some people had to make their exit. Overall, I was very happy with the workshop, I feel like I have learned a lot. I learned how to really use my camera as the tool that it is and to interpret all the information and feedback it gives you. I learned a lot of new ways to think about composition and ideas for how to continue to develop my “eye.” Tuner was a great instructor, very knowledgeable and very helpful. We also had a great group of photographers with insight from all areas of experience and everyone was willing and eager to share. The biggest thing that I felt was lacking was sharing and critiquing our images. I would have loved to get the group’s feedback to see if I was actually doing the things that we were talking about throughout the course. In general though, a fun and educational experience.
Before really calling it quits from the workshop, most of us ended the week together at Buck’s. Every trip to Moab should include a dinner at Buck’s. On the outside it looks like it is just another road house, but inside it is actually a nice steakhouse. We had a great time, exchanged business cards, and said our good-byes. It is really wonderful how well we all bonded and how many members of the group offered their homes to anyone who wanted to come visit. I don’t think that I could have asked for a better time.
With that, I shall leave you with one more photo. This one is an HDR image from sunrise this morning. A fisheye view looking out over the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park from Dead Horse Point State Park. Hopefully no one reading this gets vertigo, and if you do, you have been warned.
Morning Needles ©2010 Alex Weisman
As always, comments and criticism are welcome. I would love to hear from you. I am sure that over the next week I will get through all of my images from the workshop and post them up at IceWolf Photography.