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.


  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: 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

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Mike “Mish” Shedlock