P153H – Mesa Arch at Sunrise – Canyonlands National Park, UT

This was my fourth morning trying to capture the sun within the arch. The previous three days were disappointing because there was a dense layer of clouds to the east and thus the sun did not make an appearance until way after the “golden light” had passed. There was actually another reason why the scene was a disappointment those previous three days, and that was there were so many photographers at the site that getting back far enough for my panoramic camera would have been a challenge with all these other photographers around. I find out that there were a couple photo exposition tours going on where this arch was on their “must have” list. Although some of the photographs I took were okay, I really wanted a clear horizon to the east so I could get the sunburst.

I had one last morning to dedicate to Mesa Arch before my plans had me going in another direction. Once again I awoke at 4am to get ready and drive to my destination. Like the previous mornings, the stars were bright but it was too dark to determine if clouds occupied the eastern sky. I wouldn’t actually know that until I arrived at the arch.

To my surprise, the eastern sky was clear, and better yet, I was all alone. Here it was the best morning in at least the last four days and no one else experienced it with me. It was so nice being able to move and adjust my compositions without having to worry about blocking someone else’s shot. Not knowing exactly where the sun would rise, I had to make several adjustments to capture the sun along the top edge of the arch so it would produce a starbust. No filters were used with this image. The bottom portion of the arch turns naturally orange from the sun hitting the cliff below the arch. The arch actually protrudes over the edge of the cliff. Regardless, you still have to work fast because the sun rises much faster than you think. In addition, the early morning light quickly fades away from orange. Within about 10-15 minutes the orange color becomes increasingly more yellow and the affect is gone.

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