Arches/Monument Valley Tour Report

Over the years I have visited south east Utah area more than any other.  The areas I visit include Arches National Park, Canyonlands NP, as well as Monument Valley, the Slot Canyons, and sometimes even Horseshoe Bend.  I never get tired of the scenery there and often revisit the same location over the years as light conditions are never the same.  Some of you will recognize the image above from the Green River Overlook in Canyonlands NP.  It is one of my favorite images of 2011 and that is due mostly to the fact that this had to be the best sunset opportunity I ever had there!  Re-visiting locations you have photographed before allows you the opportunity to improve on the images you already have.

I’ve spent over 100 days photographing in these areas so my collection of images from those parks is quite extensive. This is another perk of going back to the same areas and allows me to explore some lesser visited spots.  While I have been to the Castle Valley area pictured in the image above, on the scenic byway that runs beside Arches NP, the conditions and light came together and presented a unique opportunity.  The image below of the area near the LaSal Mountains was from a few minutes later as my group & I chased the setting sun.   

During the drive time to change locations from Arches and Canyonlands to Monument Valley, I try to include some HDR photo-ops to break up the trip.  One of my favorite locations that I visited on my April tour had gotten rid of the old cars that were on their property. It appeared they were doing renovations, so I hope they bring them back!  As we passed my other favorite location, some ominous storm clouds were quickly moving in.  The first image below shows the 5 image HDR that I did this past October tour. The image below that is from my April tour and shows a different angle of that same car.  That image was a 7 image HDR stitch and I also replaced the sky and top of the pole with one of my “sky files”.  My “sky files” are images of interesting cloud filled skies I use mainly for my macro backgrounds or when I want to replace a boring sky in an HDR image. 

The drive to Monument Valley brings us through the Painted Desert on our way to our motel in Mexican Hat.  The area always reminds me of Georgia O’Keefe and I was always looking to capture an image that would honor her amazing painting of the area.  As the storm clouds continued to follow us as we made our way there, I wasn’t too optimistic.  The last few hours before sunset we checked out some other lesser know areas chasing a few rainbows and even getting caught in a bit of a downpour.  As the storm clouds cleared, they gave way to some sweet light on Mexican Hat with the Painted Desert as a fitting backdrop.  The image below is from a few minutes of that light before it dipped behind another low lying cloud bank.

No tour of mine to that area would be complete without some night-time shooting.  I love sharing the tips and tricks from my book with my clients but as they have now experienced for themselves, often we are not the only ones out there!  The first night out, we encountered another group who was doing a horrible job of “painting” Balanced Rock in Arches NP.  They were trying to paint at the same time I was painting for my group so the efforts that night were quite unsuccessful and we decided to return another night.  When we returned a few nights later, we headed out to Skyline Arch with the intent to return to Balanced Rock later in the evening and hopefully avoid any crowds.  As we got out of the truck a few hours later, my heart sank as I noticed someone painting Balanced Rock.  We decided to head over anyway and as we neared their area, we shouted out to ask if we could join them.  Much to my relief, they invited us to join them. As the group was setting up, I introduced myself to the couple.  Imagine my surprise when the wife asked me if I was “the Roman” who wrote the night guide that they had just purchased!  I told them that indeed it was me and invited them to join us as I painted Balanced Rock for my group to which they readily accepted.  I spent some time showing the group some tricks on light painting and the grateful couple was thrilled as they were headed out the next night to try it on Delicate Arch the next night. The image below is of one of our those attempts at Balanced Rock and the one Below that is of Turret Arch even later that night.

I hope you can see how much I love the desert southwest and perhaps join me on one of my tours out to Arches/Canyonlands.  usual, I take only 4 participants. As of this writing, I only have 2 slots left for my tour in March and you can find more information here.  Remember that my price includes lodging (based on Double occupancy) and transportation after you arrive at the departure point of Salt Lake City Airport and as always, feel free to e-mail me at: rkurywczak@gmail.com with any questions that you may have.

Susan Candelario - Hey Roamin,
Great post. Interesting read and beautiful images to boot. I really like the variety of subjects and locations you include in your Photo Tours.
~Susan

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