Due to our national government's inability to work together for the good of the people, I figured there was only one day left to visit the national parks. So...up early early on Monday morning to head out to Canyonlands National Park, and particularly Mesa Arch, to capture the sunrise. Pulling into the parking area at the Mesa Arch trailhead, there were two other vehicles in the otherwise dark and deserted lot. The trail map indicated a short, one-half mile hike to the Mesa Arch overlook. Of course, at this time, it was pitch black and I carefully proceeded along the unfamiliar trail. After what seemed like much longer than a half mile, I could finally make out the silhouette of the arch against the clear, starlit sky.
I had read about Mesa Arch and its popularity amongst the photography crowd, and feared that if I wasn't there early enough, then there wouldn't be a spot to set up the tripod. As it turns out, I was the second person there on this morning. Upon my arrival, I met Steve, a photographer from Ohio, who was on a several week solo tour of the southwestern US. After chatting for a while, we decided to set up before the throngs of people who were sure to come. It wasn't long before other people started trickling in and the crowd grew to around 40-50 people right up until sunrise. I had never been to Canyonlands or Mesa Arch, so wasn't really sure what to expect. To my surprise, the photo of the rising sun setting the underside of the arch aglow, turned out to be one of my favorites from the entire trip.
The beautiful light lasted only a short while, so after capturing a few shots, I decided to explore some more of the park to seek out other interesting things. The shot below is an overview of the arch after most of the crowd had cleared out.
By the way, check out my new friend Steve's website here: http://captainstevephotography.zenfolio.com
After a fun morning in Canyonlands, it was time to head back into Moab and prepare for the beginning of the photography workshop. That's right, the workshop hadn't technically started yet. After a quick meet-up and introductions, the group went to dinner, then decided a night shoot was a great idea. Besides, the national parks were sure to close the next day, so we wanted to get in while we could. Heading out to Arches National Park, just outside of Moab, we set up to capture some images of the Milky Way with Balanced Rock in the foreground. We also tried out a little bit of light painting of the rocks, until a friendly park ranger dropped by and asked that we stop. I guess the concern was that we may have been disturbing someone (or something), so we kindly obliged and went on our way. It was late and we all needed sleep anyway to prepare for the busy week ahead.