In an area of Canyonlands National Park called, "The Island in the Sky", you will find the popular and well visited Mesa Arch. This amazing arch clings precariously to the side of a looming 1000 foot cliff and frames up a truly spectacular east view overlooking the sprawling Colorado river carved canyons below.
I wanted to experience the sensational sunrise event that takes place every mostly clear sky morning. Arriving at the arch the night before, I began photographing and surveying the surrounding area including the arch from different angles and elevations. By nightfall, I had chosen a couple spots that I wanted to image the sunrise from. I stayed up most of the night to get shots of this amazing arch at every time of the day... but I knew that I had to be right on time and game to get the sunrise images that I wanted. Timing was critical because each morning at Mesa Arch, a large crowd gathers to see the surreal under-arch glow. In fact, entire buses of people are sometimes unloaded - and they are not photographers. This means people are everywhere! Under the arch, on top of the arch, and in front of your camera! But the biggest obstacle - other photographers that squeeze in a push your camera tripod to the side. It’s fierce! Even though I stayed up until 3:30am photographing accompanied by a tiny amount of sleep, another photographer still beat me back to the arch and staked out his space at 4:00am!
In the companion photograph, "Stargate", I let the sun strike right into the lens of my camera - but in "Canyonfire", I moved a little closer and waited a few minutes for the rising sun to be partially blocked by the arch. Being back into the shadow, I began capturing a totally different feeling to Mesa Arch. The tricky lighting of this setup caused the shadowed areas to be exposed in an unintentional lavender color-cast that starkly contrasted with the glowing orange underarch! When you see how the camera can capture elusive lighting like this, it makes all your artistic efforts worth while.
Canyonlands National Park, Utah USA
2013 opening presentation of The International Exposure Award Exhibition, New York Gallery.
BetterPhoto Editor Pick
Finalist See The Distance Contest, Nov 2014
IPA Intl Photography Awards Panoramic Honorable Mention 2017
BetterPhoto Staff Favorite and Finalist 2018