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General Blog

Hunts Mesa: It Was Cold Up Top

Monument Valley
Phase One XF, 55mm Schneider, f11 @ 1/10 second, ISO 50.

 

Our plan next January is to arrive at the top of Hunts Mesa above Monument Valley a little earlier. Tony Hewitt and I are leading a small group of photographers from San Francisco to Las Vegas via half a dozen wonderful national parks (we still have room if you’re interested!). Access to Hunts Mesa is with a local Navajo guiding company and there’s no cappuccino at the top, although the fire-brewed coffee was every bit as good.

 

Access to all of Monument Valley is with local guides – it’s an industry for the Navajo and one I hope works well for both the locals and the tourists. Certainly, our guides were charming, patient and helpful as they set up our tents in the near dark. We had been naughty, spending too much time on the road taking photos and arriving much later than planned.

 

The result was we only had time for two or three 30 second exposures from the top of the mesa as the last of the light drained from the skies. On the plus side, we only had to wait until the morning for it all to happen again.

 

Interestingly, I struggled with this photograph. I also struggled with the post-production, trying to work out how to crop it for the best effect. The panorama is great, but there’s so much in it, but when you crop in closer, the compositions don’t quite work. So I’m back out with a wide view and the plan next time is to walk a little further along the mesa in search for slightly stronger angles.

 

So, how do you take a photo like this? As fast as you can! You set up your tripod well before dawn. I try to find a point without a messy foreground, but that can be challenging in the near dark. You have all your lenses ready and as the light comes up, you shoot like mad! When the sun finally rises, things go positively ballistic and a zoom lens is possibly a better option than a set of prime lenses. I shot this ultra wide, wide, mid-tele and tele, looking to capture the nuances of light and shade that only happen fleetingly at sunrise.

 

And at sunset, if we’d been there on time!

 

If you're interested in a photography workshop in the next 12 months or so, I have places left on trips going to Bhutan, South West USA, Antarctica and the Silk Road. Full details on the Better Photography website!

 

Peter Eastway Uses

Peter Uses
AIPP

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