Saturday, May 14, 2016

Mesa Arch, Canyonlands National Park, Utah

Mesa Arch
Canyonlands National Park, Utah

This is a very famous arch to visit for both tourists and photographers.  You can see why, as the direction of the arch sits so that the sunrise lights up the background scenery beautifully and bounces off the foreground rocks to create a brilliant glow on the underside of the arch.

Even though we go to Moab often, I have never taken the hour drive to Canyonlands to photograph this arch, but I was determined to do so this time.  Not knowing exactly how long it would take to get there and hike to the arch, I drug Jeff out of bed at 4 am.

It was pitch black when we arrived at the parking lot, and we stumbled along the path with only the aid of our cell phone flashlights and the stars.  Luckily, it is an easy and short hike.  When we arrived, there were already several photographers who had staked out their spots and had set up their tripods in the dark.  This is a rather small arch, and there is only a very small amount of prime 'real estate' area available where one can view the sunrise from under the arch.

Since I was traveling light as far as photography equipment, I carried only my small Fuji mirrorless camera, one lens and no tripod.  I 'staked' out my spot in between the row of tripods.  During the next hour or so waiting for sunrise, Jeff counted at least 75 other tourists and photographers who showed up, all trying to edge their way to a good vantage point. 

Since we arrived very early, I had chosen a prime place to stand, but I found others pressing in and trying to edge me away from my spot.  I received some irritated looks when I wouldn't budge or let aggressive photographers try to set up their tripods in front of me.  I'm sure they thought an old lady with what they perceived as a little 'point and shoot' camera, had no business taking up that space.

I found I wanted to justify myself by saying,  "You know, I have a big fancy camera, a ton of expensive lenses, a tripod and a backpack full of camera gadgets, too, but I'm traveling light this trip and left all my heavy gear at home because I'm testing out a new, lightweight compact mirrorless camera."  Of course, I did not say any of that, but I wanted to!!

Quickly my thoughts turned to enjoying this beautiful spring morning.  We all watched with anticipation as the sky gently lightened toward the east, followed by the first sun rays appearing on the horizon, and then finally, the full sun bursting into view and rewarding us with a spectacular sunrise!  What a joy it was to witness this beautiful scene.......along with 75 strangers, all crammed together like sardines!!

We may have been strangers but we all had something in common at that moment, a love and reverence for nature and this beautiful world we live in.  Why else would we all get up in the middle of the night, travel in the dark and gather in this remote area just to witness this scene!

All around me I heard shutters from expensive slr cameras, cheap point & shoot cameras, cell phones and tablets clicking, clicking, clicking, like an invasion of crickets.  I remember a 'story' told in photography circles where someone asked a photographer his opinion about which camera would take the best pictures, and the photographer replied, "the one you have in your hands"!  Well, this is my favorite image I took with the camera I had in my hands!