Canyonlands National Park: Green River Overlook, Clearing Storm at Sunset

Feature Image Details

This is a panorama composite of 12 vertical images taken with a Canon 16-35MM F4 L Lens.

In my previous post I showed a “Green River Overlook”. It is the same “Green River” but a completely different overlook.

This one you can drive right up to with no problem, get out of your car, walk a short distance and take pictures.

But you do need dramatic light, clouds, clear air, and good technique.

I merged 12 different images into that panorama. The right hand side of the image was the most difficult part. Contrast between the sun and the sky was intense.  6 of the 12 images contained various exposures of the sun.

Here is my panorama split into three equal parts.

Continue reading “Canyonlands National Park: Green River Overlook, Clearing Storm at Sunset”

Canyonlands National Park: Along Shafer Trail Road to Potash

Dangerous Roads 

DangerousRoads comments on the Shafer Trail Road-Shafer Canyon Road.

Shafer Trail Road-Shafer Canyon Road is a 18 miles dangerous dirt track located in Moab, a city in Grand County, in eastern Utah, in the western United States. It requires extreme caution at the best of times for vehicles and mountain bikes, but especially so in inclement weather and at night.

This road has humbled many egos. It’s not for the sissies and shouldn’t be attempted by novice drivers. The road is in dreadful condition and requires strong nerves to negotiate it. It’s certainly breathtaking and it has a fearsome reputation. It still remains an adrenaline-pumping journey and is definitely not for the faint of lungs, heart, or legs. Words can’t describe the road and pictures don’t do it justice. This is a great trail for someone who is looking for an off road experience, but doesn’t have access a highly modified rock crawler. Virtually any four-wheel drive vehicle will succeed in navigating this well maintained road. Highlights of this trip include well marked Indian petroglyphs and amazing natural stone arches. You’ll also have an opportunity to tackle the Schafer Switchbacks, a breathtaking climb with expansive views of the surrounding canyon-lands.

I think the description is a bit over-dramatic, and contradictory. I agree with this assessment “Virtually any four-wheel drive vehicle will succeed in navigating this well maintained road,” provided the steep switchbacks don’t scare you to death.

I do not remember precisely what vehicle we had as it was a rental. All I remember was that it was a mid-size SUV, I believe with 4-wheel drive. Not a high clearance vehicle. I think any car could have done the road actually. I did not find it at all dangerous. But if you are not used to such conditions, I can see that it would have been scary. This road is about a half-mile from the visitor center. Just ask about conditions.

Caveats

  1. Do not travel this road in bad weather
  2. Drive from the national park to Potash, not the other way around. Nearly all the traffic is headed down, If you go opposite, not only will you have a horrendously steep climb, all the vehicles will be coming at you.

Feature Image Details

This is a panorama composite of six vertical images taken with a Canon 16-35MM F4 L Lens.

Here is one of the individual frames.

Continue reading “Canyonlands National Park: Along Shafer Trail Road to Potash”

Canyonlands National Park: False Kiva

Access to False Kiva difficult and the trail not well-marked in places. It’s a sacred, ceremonial site. The park will not tell you how to get there unless you know about the site and asked.

This site was on my bucket list for a long time. If it is on yours, forget about it.

Some idiots vandalized the site and it is now totally off limits as of August 2018.

Fstoppers reports Vandalism at False Kiva: Canyonlands Closes Access

The image by Ryan Smith is very similar to mine.

Feature Image Details

This is a panorama composite of six vertical images taken with a Canon 16-35MM F4 L Lens.

Not even a 14mm wide angle lens can capture this view. I took my sequence in April of 2018, three months before the July vandalism.

The light contrast inside vs outside was huge. The six frames were three pairs of two (one image was at 1/10 of a second,  the other at 1/40 a second). Thus there were two stops of light difference between the images. It a bit more complicated because the left side was better lit than the right, but you get the idea.

My goal was a milky way panorama but there were too many clouds.

There was also another photographer at the site with three clients. He had different view as to how to light the scene for nighttime images. He was there first so he got to choose (badly IMO, but there were too many clouds anyway).

His clients were novice hikers and one was very afraid of heights. The lead photographer himself was not in good shape physically. Thus none of them should have been up there.

He had one important thing going for him: He knew the trail better than I did. I was glad he was there because I did not want to walk out at night alone.

It took hours to get down. I had to hold the hand of one of the clients or she never would have made it down to the base of the cliff. The lead had difficulty on his own and was of no assistance to the others.

Other Canyonlands Images

Mesa Arch, Murphy Point, and the Grand View Overlook are all easy hikes.

Nearby

If you are at the Canyonlands Island in the Sky district, then Arches National Park is nearby.

For most, it’s probably the reverse, visiting Arches then going to Canyonlands as a side trip.

Arches National Park Images

Equipment List

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Canyonlands National Park: Grand View Overlook Clouds and Full Moon

The Grand View overlook is a short walk from your car.

Visually, it’s a fantastic view any time. Photographically speaking is another matter.

Plan the Shot

I was at Grand View hours after sunset. My goal was to capture a moonlit scene. Continue reading “Canyonlands National Park: Grand View Overlook Clouds and Full Moon”

Canyonlands National Park: Murphy Point Rainbow Sunset #2

Murphy Point is a 3.6-mile round trip hike with excellent views off the western end of the Island in the Sky. The trail is downhill most of the way with only 150 feet of elevation to contend with.

I started hiking with with clouds brewing and they kept getting darker and darker. When I got to the overlook, I looked around and found a small ledge I could duck under if needed.

I needed.

Winds soon started howling at perhaps 40 miles per hour and would have blown a sturdy tripod with a my camera on on it had I not held on to it.

It started raining and sleeting so I ducked under the ledge I found. Sand was blowing all around like mad. Sand got into my camera and tripod despite the shelter and despite me attempting to shield them from the wind.

The wind, rain, and sleet lasted about 5-10 minutes. Then it became dead calm again.

I came out from the shelter announcing “there should be a rainbow”. And there was, right in front of me.

Plan the Shot

Just be at Murphy Point at sunset. Good luck with the clouds, light, and rainbow.

Curiously, I was at the visitor center about two hours earlier and asked the ranger if he could deliver a rainbow for me that evening.

Feature Image Details

These clouds were exceptionally low, discounting fog, the lowest I have ever seen.

This was a a simple shot.

I emerged from the shelter and started shooting with a fairly standard range zoom.

I used a Canon 24-105MM F4 L Lens at 60mm, F16, for 1/4 second at ISO 200.

My general lens of choice for most landscape photography is the Canon 16-35MM F4 L Lens.

Rainbow Math

To find the apex of the rainbow, look 180 degrees from the sun. In this shot, there is no apex. just a very low end of a bow due to the low clouds.

At noon, in the summer, the rainbow will be beneath the horizon unless you are up in a plane or a high elevation looking down. From a plane, you might actually see a full circle, especially at sunrise or sunset.

On a double rainbow, the colors are inverted. Note that red is on the left in one rainbow and the right on the other.

The primary rainbow is on the inside. A secondary rainbow, on the outside, is caused by the light being reflected twice on the inside of the droplet before leaving it.

A secondary rainbow appears about 10° outside of the primary rainbow, with inverse order of colors.

Memory Trick

Roy G Biv

The colors are always in this order, one way or the other: Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet

More Rainbow Details

Wikipedia has more Rainbow Details including this interesting tidbit.

A spectrum obtained using a glass prism and a point source is a continuum of wavelengths without bands. The number of colours that the human eye is able to distinguish in a spectrum is in the order of 100. Accordingly, the Munsell colour system (a 20th-century system for numerically describing colours, based on equal steps for human visual perception) distinguishes 100 hues. The apparent discreteness of main colours is an artefact of human perception and the exact number of main colours is a somewhat arbitrary choice.

Newton, who admitted his eyes were not very critical in distinguishing colours, originally (1672) divided the spectrum into five main colours: red, yellow, green, blue and violet. Later he included orange and indigo, giving seven main colours by analogy to the number of notes in a musical scale. Newton chose to divide the visible spectrum into seven colours out of a belief derived from the beliefs of the ancient Greek sophists, who thought there was a connection between the colours, the musical notes, the known objects in the Solar System, and the days of the week. Scholars have noted that what Newton regarded at the time as “blue” would today be regarded as cyan, and what Newton called “indigo” would today be considered blue.

Hmmm.

Roy G Cbv is not that easy to remember.

There are many other interesting facts in the above link.

Other Canyonlands Images

Both Mesa Arch and Murphy Point are easy trails.

Note. This post is conceptually the other end of the rainbow in the second link above.

It is much wider as lighting conditions changed. The right portion vanished.

Nearby

If you are at the Canyonlands Island in the Sky district, then Arches National Park is nearby.

For most, it’s probably the reverse, visiting Arches then going to Canyonlands as a side trip.

Arches National Park Images

Equipment List

Those interested in my equipment and recommendations can find it here: Mish’s Equipment List.

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Canyonlands National Park: Murphy Point Rainbow Sunset

Murphy Point is a 3.6-mile round trip hike with excellent views off the western end of the Island in the Sky. The trail is downhill most of the way with only 150 feet of elevation to contend with.

I hiked in with clouds brewing but wanted to get to the end by sunset. Winds all the way but the clouds kept getting darker and darker.

I looked around and found a small ledge I could duck under if needed.

I needed.

Winds soon started howling at perhaps 40 miles per hour and would have blown a sturdy tripod with a my camera on on it had I not held on to it.

It started raining and sleeting so I ducked under the ledge I found. Sand was blowing all around like mad. Sand got into my camera and tripod despite the shelter and despite me attempting to shield them from the wind.

The wind, rain, and sleet lasted about 5-10 minutes. Then it became dead calm again.

I came out from the shelter announcing “there should be a rainbow”. And there was, right in front of me.

Plan the Shot

Just be at Murphy Point at sunset. Good luck with the clouds, light, and rainbow.

Curiously, I was at the visitor center about two hours earlier and asked the ranger if he could deliver a rainbow for me that evening.

Feature Image Details

This was a a simple shot.

I emerged from the shelter and started shooting with a fairly standard range zoom.

I used a Canon 24-105MM F4 L Lens at 29mm, F16, for 1/6 second at ISO 200.

My general lens of choice for most landscape photography is the Canon 16-35MM F4 L Lens.

At 29mm I could have used either lens. I went with the one on my camera given the sand that was all over everything.

Nearby

If you are at the Canyonlands Island in the Sky district, the Arches national Park is nearby.

For most, it’s probably the reverse, visiting Arches then going to Canyonlands as a side trip.

Also see Canyonlands National Park: Mesa Arch Sunrise

Both Mesa Arch and Murphy Point are easy trails.

Arches National Park Images

Equipment List

Those interested in my equipment and recommendations can find it here: Mish’s Equipment List.

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Canyonlands National Park: Mesa Arch Sunrise

Mesa Arch is a Mesa Arch is a spectacular stone arch perched at the edge of a cliff with vast views of canyons, rock spires, and the La Sal Mountains in the distance.  It’s on the eastern edge of the Island in the Sky mesa in Canyonlands National Park in northern San Juan County, Utah, United States.

This hike to Mesa arch is level, easy and only 1/2 mile long.

Canyonlands is adjacent to Arches National Park. The drive from Moab, Utah to the arch takes about 50 minutes per Google and about 40 minutes if you drive like me.

The nearness to Moab and the short easy nature of the hike makes this an extremely popular site.  You will not have this location to yourself except maybe at 2:00 AM and perhaps not even then if Milky Way shooters are out and about.

Plan the Shot

To get this shot, you need to be at the arch no later than 45 minutes before sunrise and that’s likely cutting it close.  There are 5-7 prime spots (elbow to elbow) and there may be 25 people or more at the arch at sunrise. If there is a photography workshop going on, forget about it, unless you beat them to the spot.

Assuming you get to Meas Arch in time to get a good spot, you still need clouds. And you need to have an idea of what exactly you will be doing. You might have a minute or two to get it done, at most.

Feature Image Details

This is a panoramic blend of several different exposures. One set was just before sunrise and one just after sunrise.

Normally, I take vertical images to make a horizontal panorama but I knew the light would be changing extremely fast. To reduce time, I took two horizontal frames instead of my usual six vertical frames.

I also used a Canon 11-24 F4.0 L lens at 24mm, not exactly a routine piece of equipment, but that was not necessary. Any 24mm lens would have worked.

The 11-24mm lens produces an exceptional starburst pattern. So does the Canon 16-35MM F4 L Lens.

The Canon 24-105MM F4 L Lens doesn’t. It has to do with the number of diaphragm blades in the lens. An even number of blades produces that number of rays. An odd number of blades produces double the number of rays.

  • The 11-24 has 9 blades producing 18 rays
  • The 16-35 has 9 blades producing 18 rays
  • The 24-105 has 8 blades producing 8 rays

If I am shooting towards the sun looking for a starburst, the 24-105 lens is out, unless I need to be over 35 mm.

My general lens of choice for most landscape photography is the Canon 16-35MM F4 L Lens.

So why did I then use the 11-24?

I planned on doing this one shot, then changed my mind. Two shots is double the number of pixels minus any overlap.

If you are at the Canyonlands Island in the Sky district, the Arches is nearby. For most, it’s probably the reverse.

Arches National Park Images

Equipment List

Those interested in my equipment and recommendations can find it here: Mish’s Equipment List.

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More Canyonlands National Park images coming up.

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Mike “Mish” Shedlock