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 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

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

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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

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Arches National Park: Double Arch Sunset

Arches national Park is a red-rock wonderland in Southern Utah. The park has over 2,000 natural stone arches, in addition to hundreds of soaring pinnacles, massive fins and giant balanced rocks.

Double Arch is in the very popular Windows section of the park.

All the literature that I have read suggests one cannot get a “sunset” image from this location.

But there it is. Double Arch at Sunset.

OK but …

Yes, the sun is not in the image.

Does it matter?

I estimate that 85% of the time the best image at sunrise and sunset are looking away from the sun.

In this case, I had spectacular light in the East opposite the Sun.

Feature Image Details

This is not an easy shot. It is a blend of 8 images of varying exposures some for the inside of the arch, and some for the clouds.

I also used a Canon 11-24 F4.0 L lens at 11mm, not exactly a routine piece of equipment.

But equipment is not the point of this article.

Thinking contrary to popular opinion is.

Two Tips

  1. At Sunrise Think West
  2. At Sunset Think East

If possible, I go for both, but choose the one that makes the most sense.

Well over half the time, and perhaps up to 85% of the time, it makes no sense at all to shoot towards the sun.

Yet, I constantly observe people shooting in the wrong direction.

Arches National Park Images

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Arches National Park: Delicate Arch Sunset

Arches national Park is a red-rock wonderland in Southern Utah. The park has over 2,000 natural stone arches, in addition to hundreds of soaring pinnacles, massive fins and giant balanced rocks.

The hike to Delicate Arch is a 3.1 round trip hike with a 480 foot climb. It’s rated moderate.

The hike is very popular and you will almost never have the place to yourself.

If your mission is to have a great hike you cannot go wrong in any kind of reasonable weather. But if your goal is to get a great image things are much more difficult. You need good light with good clouds. You need to be at the top about an hour before sunset.

Hopefully there will not be too many people milling around or you have to edit them out in Photoshop.

Wait. There’s more. The arch is in shadow of mountains at sunset starting mid-April.

I took this panorama on April 13. You can see the shadows closing in to the right and in the foreground up to the base of the arch.

Feature Image Details

I took 8 images, overlapped heavily, and stiched then together in Lightroom.

I used a Canon 16-35MM F4 L Lens at 28 mm, F16, for 1/13 of a second.

One Vertical Frame

Normally I do not chop off the key element like this but it really doesn’t matter. I can crop the Panorama however I like.

The Featured image is significantly cropped. Here is the full panorama.

Pano Tip

It’s far easier to cut out what you do not want than add what you didn’t capture.

Since you are combining images, you will end up with a huge number of pixels even when the final result is cropped.

I frequently take vertical images to make what looks like a horizontal image.

Arches National Park Images

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Bodie Ghost Town – Boone Store Shell Station and 1927 Dodge Graham Pickup Truck

The Bodie State Historic Park is a genuine California gold-mining ghost town.

Visitors can walk down the deserted streets of a town that once had a population of nearly 10,000 people. The town is named for Waterman S. Body (William Bodey), who had discovered small amounts of gold in hills north of Mono Lake. In 1875, a mine cave-in revealed pay dirt, which led to purchase of the mine by the Standard Company in 1877. People flocked to Bodie and transformed it from a town of a few dozen to a boomtown.

Only a small part of the town survives, preserved in a state of “arrested decay.” Interiors remain as they were left and stocked with goods. Designated as a National Historic Site and a State Historic Park in 1962, the remains of Bodie are being preserved in a state of “arrested decay”. Today this once thriving mining camp is visited by tourists, howling winds and an occasional ghost.

Access

  • Winter hours 9am to 4pm (November 4th to April 15th)
  • Summer hours 9am-6pm (April 15th to November 3rd )

In the winter, you may need a snowmobile to get in. The road is not plowed.

The only access at sunrise, sunset, and the interiors of the building is by permit. The cost is steep. My wife Liz and I went on a photography tour at $800 a pop.

The tour gave us access at sunrise, sunset, and the interiors of the building at mid-day.

Feature Image Details

I used a Canon 11-24 F4.0 L lens at 17mm, F16, ISO 250.

The light at sunset does not match the light on the 927 Dodge Graham Pickup Truck. This is a blend of two or more exposures.

Here is an image facing the opposite direction.

That’s what a Shell Gas Station looked like in the late 1920s.

Additional Bodie Images – Wide Angle and Tilt-Shift Discussion

  1. Bodie – California Ghost Town – Wheaton and Hollis Hotel – Sunset.
  2. Bodie – California Ghost Town – Wheaton and Hollis Hotel – Interior

Those articles discuss the importance of very wide angle lenses and tilt-shift lenses for photographing Bodie and the interiors of buildings in general.

Eastern Sierra Area

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This is just the beginning of my Bodie series.

There is much more coming up: Sam Leon’s saloon, the morgue, the Methodist church, a Shell gas station, the schoolhouse, the barbershop, other buildings, and milky way shots at night.

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Mike “Mish” Shedlock

Bodie – California Ghost Town – Wheaton and Hollis Hotel – Sunset

The Bodie State Historic Park is a genuine California gold-mining ghost town.

Visitors can walk down the deserted streets of a town that once had a population of nearly 10,000 people. The town is named for Waterman S. Body (William Bodey), who had discovered small amounts of gold in hills north of Mono Lake. In 1875, a mine cave-in revealed pay dirt, which led to purchase of the mine by the Standard Company in 1877. People flocked to Bodie and transformed it from a town of a few dozen to a boomtown.

Only a small part of the town survives, preserved in a state of “arrested decay.” Interiors remain as they were left and stocked with goods. Designated as a National Historic Site and a State Historic Park in 1962, the remains of Bodie are being preserved in a state of “arrested decay”. Today this once thriving mining camp is visited by tourists, howling winds and an occasional ghost.

Access

  • Winter hours 9am to 4pm (November 4th to April 15th)
  • Summer hours 9am-6pm (April 15th to November 3rd )

In the winter, you may need a snowmobile to get in. The road is not plowed.

The only access at sunrise, sunset, and the interiors of the building is by permit. The cost is steep. My wife Liz and I went on a photography tour at $800 a pop.

The tour gave us access at sunrise, sunset, and the interiors of the building at mid-day. We went with Jeff Sulivan. Michael Frye also does tours at Bodie.

I was not that interested in instruction. Rather, I paid for access. If you need help, and many did, the instructors are there.

Jeff Sulivan did help me light paint an image at night that I may not have gotten correct on my own accord.

These tours are worth it, especially if you need tips and guidance.

Feature Image Details

I used Canon EOS 5D Mark IV camera coupled with a Canon TS-E 17mm f/4L Tilt-Shift Lens. This is a straight-up image.

It’s not easy to explain precisely how a tilt-shift lens works unless you have seen the movements of an old large-format camera that could tilt or shift the focal plane while keeping the camera fixed.

It’s easier to describe the effect. When you point a camera up to take a picture of a tall object, the edges point in. The tops of trees and tall buildings appear to bend to the center of the image. The shift function provides a range of correction to prevent this undesired artifact.

We got lucky. There were good clouds at sunset. Then in the evening, for night photography, there were no clouds at all.

There were about a dozen on this tour with a couple of instructors. I was off on my own for this shot. I am certain I am the only one who captured this opportunity, but I do not know what I missed elsewhere. Light like this seldom lasts long.

Photography Notes

  1. For the interiors, you need wide angle lenses. The wider the better.
  2. I heavily made use of a Canon 11-24 F4.0 L lens often at 11mm.
  3. My second most-used lend was the 17 mm Tilt-Shift lens, for perspective control.
  4. My third most frequently used lens was a Canon 16-35MM F4 L Lens
  5. For details, I used a Canon 24-105MM F4 L Lens but I could easily have gotten away without it.

You get the idea: wide angle.

Eastern Sierra Area

  1. Mono Lake, California, Eastern Sierra, Sunset for my favorite Mono Lake image of the trip.
  2. Mono Lake, California, Eastern Sierra, Sunrise
  3. Panum Crater Shadows, Eastern Sierras
  4. Chemung Mine – Ghost Town – Masonic California – Milky Way
  5. Chemung Mine – Ghost Town – Masonic California
  6. Bristlecone Pines – Patriarch and Schulman Groves – Milky Way – Inyo National Forest – California

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This is just the beginning of my Bodie series. Much more coming up.

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Mike “Mish” Shedlock

Mono Lake, California, Eastern Sierra, Sunset

Mono Lake is a large, shallow saline soda lake in Mono County, California, in the Eastern Sierras. The lake formed at least 760,000 years ago as a terminal lake in an endorheic basin. The lack of an outlet causes high levels of salts to accumulate in the lake. These salts also make the lake water alkaline.

Mono Lake has two major islands, Negit Island and Paoha Island, plus numerous minor outcroppings.  Among the most iconic features of Mono Lake are the columns of limestone that tower over the water surface. These limestone towers consist primarily of calcium carbonate minerals such as calcite (CaCO3). This type of limestone rock is referred to as tufa, which is a term used for limestone that forms in low to moderate temperatures.

This desert lake has an unusually productive ecosystem based on brine shrimp that thrive in its waters, and provides critical habitat for two million annual migratory birds that feed on the shrimp and alkali flies. Historically, the native Kutzadika’a people derived nutrition from the Ephydra hians pupae, which live in the shallow waters around the edge of the lake.

When the city of Los Angeles diverted water from the freshwater streams flowing into the lake, it lowered the lake level, which imperiled the migratory birds. The Mono Lake Committee formed in response and won a legal battle that forced Los Angeles to partially replenish the lake level.

Tufa Types

  • Lithoid tufa – massive and porous with a rock-like appearance
  • Dendritic tufa – branching structures that look similar to small shrubs
  • Thinolitic tufa – large well-formed crystals of several centimeters

The tufa types vary interchangeably both between individual tufa towers but also within individual tufa towers. There can be multiple transitions between tufa morphologies within a single tufa tower.

The above is pieced together from Wikipedia.

Feature Image Details

The feature image is a panorama composite of five overlapping images stitched together shortly after sunset.

I used a Canon 16-35MM F4 L Lens at 17mm, ISO 100, for 3.2 seconds at F16 with a circular polarizer to increase the shutter time.

The polarizer was a purposeful error that took hours to correct in Lightroom and Photoshop. I should have used neutral density filters, and I have several, but I did not have them with me that evening. After considerable effort with Lightroom adjustments, I was able to get the look I wanted. The 3.2-second exposure did smoothe out the water as I wanted.

Polarizers have an uneven effect on blue skies and stitching multiple images together compounds the problem significantly.

Polarizer Tips

People misuse polarizers. I generally do not use them on sunny days, especially if I have a lot of sky in the image. Why? The polarizer will darken the sky in a very non-uniform manner that is hard to correct even in Photoshop. I used them on this occasion as a last resort.

I often use polarizers on cloudy days and did so on these images. Here are more images from the glen.

Additional Images Before Sunset

The interesting thing about the above image is the Godbeams are in the opposite direction of the sun. You can verify my statement judging from the bright light hitting the distant background. Prior to this, I had only ever seen Godbeams looking towards the sun.

These Godbeams are actually called Anticrepuscular Rays. Looking towards the sun, they are called crepuscular rays.

There were two other photographers at this location before I arrived. It severely limited my composition choices. For the above image, one photographer agreed to move long enough for me to grab that shot.

I could not get as much foreground in the feature shot as I wanted because another photographer was in the way most of the time.

Be first!

All of these images were taken within a 20-minute or so window.

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