Pic of the Week: 6/22/17
Date taken: 6/22/16
Location: Horseshoe Bend Page, AZ
It was exactly one year ago today I was in Page, AZ staring over the incredible overlook of Horseshoe Bend and Lake Powell. I was just starting day 3 on my vacation to explore and photograph areas of New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, and Colorado. The previous two days I traveled from Wichita Falls and stopped my first night in Gallup, NM. The next day I drove to Grand Canyon National Park and shot both the south and north rim of the canyon. I stayed in Page, AZ that night to be ready to photograph Horseshoe Bend at sunrise the following morning.
When my alarm woke me up I sluggishly arose from bed. I had a very busy day yesterday, but this day was going to be the busiest. My plan was to hit Horseshoe Bend, Antelope Canyon, Monument Valley, and Canyonlands in one day. Like I said, it was going to be busy day. I sat myself upright on the bed and let out a deep sigh and tried to collect my thoughts. I was excited for today’s shoot and all the awesome places and landscapes I was going to visit. So much so that the night before I checked the sunrise time I forgot to switch my time zone and ended up an hour behind! I planned to be on location at Horseshoe Bend finding my perfect composition and staking my claim so no one would interfere with my shot.
Horseshoe Bend has become quite the photographer’s hotspot. With simple access and no entrance fee, it is easy to see why some many photographers visit this iconic landscape. So after realizing my timing error, I quickly ran over to my hotel window and pulled back the drapes. To my surprise there were some patches of clouds and a light blue sky outside. It was already blue hour and I needed to get on location. Had I followed the correct time schedule I would be finalizing my composition and getting everything ready to shoot. But sadly, I overslept and needed to get moving! I frantically gathered my gear and dressed myself, no time to shower or even brush my teeth I could do that once I got back to the hotel. Luckily, my hotel was on 2 miles away from Horseshoe Bend which made being late a little easier. I arrived at the parking lot and parked my car. I grabbed my gear and started hiking to the overlook. At first I was a little worried, all I could see was the rocky sandstone I was walking on. It looked like it stretched out for miles. “Did I miss the entrance or was I supposed to go another way?” I thought to myself. But I pressed on and eventually I could see the gap between the cliffs—I had made it to Horseshoe Bend.
I immediately picked up speed and started towards the cliff edge. Peering over my shoulder I could see the yellow glow of the sun, eager to greet the morning. I was almost at a jogging pace when I finally reached the end of the trail and the full extent of Horseshoe Bend came into view. There was no time to admire and enjoy I needed to set up and get ready fast. When I arrived there were only about a dozen other people around and the one place I wanted to be (which gave me the perfect view and composition) was already taken by another photographer. I considered sliding in next to him, but then I saw his 360 degree camera rig and thought it better etiquette to find another location myself. So I did and I just barely got my camera out in time when the sun broke the horizon and the distant Vermillion cliffs ignited in a bright fiery glow. I started shooting frames every few seconds just waiting for that perfect balance of sunrise light, color on the clouds, and soft shadows in the foreground. Then the sunrise light started to fall on the nearby cliffs surrounding Horseshoe Bend.
This time was just simply magical with such spectacular color variation and light. The red glow of the cliffs help add more depth and drama to the scene and the wonderful curvature and cool colors of Lake Powell complimented nicely to the warm sky. The only thing that could’ve made the photo better was a higher vantage point. If you look in the bottom right corner you can see a brownish rock. This was the rock I ideally wanted to be on and where the other photographer had set up. But I still came back with a winner.
I finished up the shoot and headed back to my car with a big grin on my face! On the way back I ran into another photographer and we got to talking. It turns out, he was at Horseshoe Bend the day before shooting sunset (what most photographers prefer at this location) and he claimed that it photographers were lined up all along the rim of the cliff. He estimated there were 300 photographers, imagine the madhouse that would’ve been! I was very grateful for the images I shot and even more grateful I didn’t have the same shot as 300 other photographers. And although this landscape may be “overhsot” I still believe I came back with something genuine and unique of one of the most dramatic landscapes I have ever captured.