P109H – Monument Valley from Hunts Mesa – Monument Valley Tribal Park, AZ

Here’s a less common view of Monument Valley. Although it may appear that this is an aerial photograph, it’s actually taken from the top of Hunts Mesa, located way to the south of the iconic mesas known to everyone. Getting to this location is certainly not easy and requires a knowledgeable guide. It also requires a 4-wheel drive vehicle. Even with the correct vehicle it was quite the rough trip because the “so called” road quickly turned into what looked more like a horse trail. I now know why we had to leave close to 3am to get to the top before sunrise. The road was so rough at points that it required small to mid size rocks to be moved and placed at the base of large permanent rocks, to be used as a ramp to get up to the next level. Other situations required me to sit on the high side of the hood, as additional weight, to maneuver over boulders and near cliffs. All in all, the trip to the top was quite exciting. As it turned out, we made it to the top with only about 15 minutes to sunrise.

The lighting conditions were perfect for a dramatic sunrise. The eastern sky was clear so the sun was bright, but the wind was fierce causing the high level clouds to quickly pass through, changing the shadows they caused to the point finding the right pattern was a challenge. By the time I reset the camera to expose another picture, the clouds and shadow casts had completely changed. I went through two rolls of film (four frames per roll) to make sure I captured a balanced photograph before the dramatic early morning light ended. This image I feel captures the essence of that morning, with evenly placed hot spots, softer filtered lighting and full shadows.

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