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Spring Trip to Utah – Day Five in Moab

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Utah Spring Trip - Day Five

This final morning of our trip comes with feeling of fulfillment, excitement, certainly some tiredness from 6 mornings up before dark thirty and a bit of the pang knowing this is our last day of the trip.

For the morning we headed back out to Canyonlands NP to a location at Grand View Overlook. The air was cool, the sky was clear with some haze, the haze requiring a little extra work in post to mitigate the effect of it on my vision for the photos. Unlike Mesa, the morning was still and quiet with only our group present with the view of the canyons below reaching out before us. Similar to the Mesa Arch location the sun was to rise over the shoulder of the La Sals.

For my sunrise image I anchored the left side of the scene with the wood of a beautiful tree providing a line leading off to the canyons below. I was able to catch a sunburst as the sun rose and I like the first rays catching the desert flowers under the tree.

The second image was taken just a few minutes after the first after shifting my tripod just a bit.

I set about to wander around and explore the rest of the canyon rim and found a few new vistas. Shadows play on divots of erosion in the foreground of the next photo.

Morning Vista is the final photograph I worked on for the morning. I took a short hike across the the top of the mesa and discovered this view opening up in the opposite direction. With no interest in the sky I set my preview for a panorama. There was quiet drama in this scene as the sun rose to shed light on the Utah desert. This is one of my favorites from the trip. I love the deep black of the shadows balanced with the rocky slope in the foreground and bluffs beyond.

Afternoons offer an option to the sunset shot in Utah. If you can find a canyon where one of the walls catch direct light from the sun reflecting it back onto the opposite wall that has no direct sunlight hitting it, you are set for one of the most wonderful of light conditions available for photography, reflected light’. These conditions can expand the day for a photographer into the times of the day where the light is typically too harsh. The reflected light carries with it the hues of the canyon walls and in our case this day, reds and oranges that literally made everything glow. We ventured into a small canyon a short distance from the Colorado river to enjoy some of this beautiful light.

At the first stop we found some still water with a nice grouping of trees at the end for some reflection of the trees and canyon walls in reflected light.

While my mates explored another reflection pool I wondered around the corner of the canyon where the light became unreal. The sand was glowing! I found this grouping of rocks surrounded by luminescent green foliage and set up the 4 x 5 with a 125mm lens. I exposed two sheets of film. The primary exposure was with Velvia 50 as this was the perfect film to capture the extraordinary light and saturation of colors. I also exposed a sheet of Ektar 100 as a back-up and out of curiosity to see how it would render the colors. The Ektar exposure rendered the greens with way to much saturation in a very unnatural way. It was somewhat bizarre to look at. The image shown is the Velvia exposure with very minimal processing and really captures the essence of the scene. I love this photograph and a large print made with Canson platine fiber rag hangs on our living room wall. The print glows!

The next image of a beautiful cottonwood tree shows the reflected light on the bark of the limbs and the canyon wall beyond.

Sculpted Sandstone was my last composition of the trip. Working free-hand with the GFX 50s, I was pulled into and captured this really cool abstract.

With the gear packed up it was time to hike back to the cars where I couldn’t resist a little iPhone photography of some of the wildflowers in the canyon, I wanted to send a few of these to Lisa and my sisters.


Back in town we headed over to the brewery for a last chance to hang out together. This trip has seared into to me lifelong memories of being quiet and still during an extraordinary time in my life as my Mom was breathing through her final days. We were together somehow the whole week with our shared love and I celebrate her extraordinary life with these photographs.

Thank you for taking your time to share in this with me and I would love to hear from you if you’d like to leave a comment below.

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5 thoughts on “Spring Trip to Utah – Day Five in Moab”

  1. Beautiful beyond! I enjoyed reading the detail of how you were able to capture these awesome images of God’s amazing creation. Your patience & creative eye paid off! I know that this was an incredible time for you as you knew Mom was taking her final journey into eternal peace & joy. I loved your photos of the wild flowers & your kind thoughts of me. They were beautiful. Love you

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