Looking down the canyon

A fisheye view of Echo Canyon in Zion National Park, seen from under “Weeping Rock:”

Looking down the canyon

This scene, BTW, is just a taste of the attractions in Zion. The place can get a bit crowded during the summer, but a shuttle bus service runs up and down the canyon, and many impressive sights are just a short hike away from a shuttle stop.

Olympus E-M1
Olympus M.Zuiko 8mm Fisheye lens
f/22, 1/100 sec, ISO 200

“Swelter Shelter” Petroglyphs

These petroglyphs were carved and painted into a sandstone wall (in what is now Dinosaur National Monument, Utah) about a thousand years ago by members of a semi-nomadic culture known as the Fremont:

"Swelter Shelter" Petroglyphs

This site, called the “Swelter Shelter,” was a seasonal dwelling for the Fremont, only used for part of the year as they followed available food and water.  But apparently conditions here were sufficiently hospitable that the Fremont had a little spare time for art.

Should you ever make it to Dinosaur National Monument, this is just one of a number of fairly easily visited sites along the Tour of the Tilted Rocks Scenic Drive, not far from the Visitor’s Center.

Getting to Delicate Arch

So on our recent trip to Arches National Park, I definitely wanted to revisit Delicate Arch. Sure, it’s a “marquis” attraction, so you generally have to deal with crowds. Oh, and you’ve got to take a long, dry hike to get to the arch from the trailhead parking lot.

But it’d been 10 years since I’d seen it, and now that I have some decent camera gear I thought I ought to do it justice, photographically. Oh, and I’d heard it’s particularly photogenic at sunset — so after the obligatory 90 minute hike, I did get this nice shot:

Delicate Arch at sundown

When I previously hiked out to see Delicate Arch, we made the mistake of going in the middle of the day, and compounded our mistake by not taking water. This time I discovered the hike’s much more pleasant in the late afternoon, and having a quart or two of water per person is a great idea.

Here’s a shot of part of the trail, taken fairly early (i.e., near the trailhead) — if you look closely at the big slab of rock (on the left side of the image, about mid-way up), you’ll see some little dots that are hikers:

2010-09-04 2010.09.04 Delicate Arch 11

Of course, I wasn’t alone when I got to the arch — I had a few “neighbors:”

Delicate Arch: your new friends

So you need to be patient to get the shot you want — lots of folks want to pose for pictures standing under the arch. Even then, you might need to use a little Photoshop magic to remove stray people from the shot you like best. Oh, and since you’re taking sunset shots, you’ll want a flashlight or head lamp if you linger very long after the Sun’s gone.

But of course, you already knew that, right?

Mesa Arch sunrise

So we recently returned home from an extended weekend trip to Moab, Utah and the surrounding area. If you’re unfamiliar with the neighborhood, “surroundings” in this case means Arches and Canyonlands National Parks.

Anyway, it’s been aeons since we last visited Moab — well before I had any decent digital camera gear, so I did my now-usual photographic research before we went. Turns out that one of the “must see” things in the area is sunrise at Mesa Arch in Canyonlands.

So here’s my first go at the sight (I’m still tweaking levels to make it look less-obviously HDRed):

Mesa Arch sunrise

In retrospect, it’s kind of funny how most images of this particular sunrise location focus heavily on the arch — when, from my perspective at least, the arch is best used as a nice frame for the incredibly layered scenery on the other side of it.

By the way, the layers come courtesy of local coal-fired power plants. Coal exhaust haze: lousy for lungs, great for sunrise vistas.

Anyway, from the looks of this, you can’t really tell just how small the arch is. Perhaps this helps:

2010-09-06 2010.09.06 Canyonlands sunrise crowd 7

Since the word is out about this arch, and there isn’t much room to set up in, you’re well advised to get there early (at least 45 minutes before sunrise) if you want a shot exactly at sunrise. At least, if you want to shoot over on the left side. Right side was less crowded the morning I went:

2010-09-06 2010.09.06 Canyonlands sunrise crowd 6

Go figure — the view’s just about as good from the less-crowded right side, too. FWIW, the tripod with the black and red leg padding (in line with the guy in white here) is my rig, firing away with an interval timer.

I scouted out the arch the day before in daylight and marked the parking lot on my GPS navigator — makes life a lot easier in the morning, when you’re driving in the dark with no visual cues. Oh, and bring a spelunker’s flashlight (the kind on an elastic band for your head) — makes it much easier to find the trail to the arch in the dark.

Keeping an eye on the neighbors

Looking down-canyon from Tower Point in Hovenweep National Monument:

Keeping an eye on the neighbors

We’re fortunate to have some good friends down in the four corners region, so occasionally when we drive down to visit them, we all take a side-trip to see some of the ancient ruins in the “neighborhood.” Hovenweep is one of the more off-the-beaten-path groupings, but once you drive there you’ve got some nice hikes waiting for you. Most of the sites are on a 2 mile self-guided trail that loops around Little Ruin Canyon — lots of great views, but make sure you take water!