Pic of the Week 6/13/19: Capitol Peak Sunrise

June 12, 2019  •  Leave a Comment

Pic of the Week 6/12/19

"Capitol Peak Sunrise"

Date taken: 5/19/19

Location: Palo Duro Canyon State Park


Capitol Peak SunriseCapitol Peak SunriseMorning graces the north face of Capital Peak. © Ben Jacobi


Last month (I know I'm just now getting around to editing some of these images) I took my girlfriend Ashlee to Palo Duro Canyon. This was her first time visiting the "Grand Canyon of Texas" We arrived late in the afternoon with just enough time to catch the sun going down behind the canyon rim. I only pulled out my camera a few times as my shots we rushed and I thought it better if I just kept the camera in the bag. Once I've had more time to properly compose and think about my shot did I pull out my camera. After that short sunset shoot it was time to set up camp and get ready for bed. I had a big photography/hiking day planned for tomorrow. We turned in for the night and got well rested for the next morning. 

I knew I wanted to photograph the sunrise somewhere from the valley. I have shot the sunrise from the canyon rim and from the Lighthouse, but I have not done much work in the valley. Before this trip, I did some scouting and marked a few potential sunrise locations on Google Earth. While this is good for an overall idea of a shot, there is a lot of information that is lost when using Google Earth. The best way to scout is by sight. But our sunset shoot ran too long and we didn't get the time to scout some of the locations I had marked. 

There was one location I had marked that I thought would make for a nice composition. Not too far from the Lighthouse trailhead there is a bridge that crosses the Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River. Its hard to believe that this canyon was formed by this slow-moving, semi-arid river. But the spring has been quite wet this year and the river was much fuller than its usual status. My thought was to see if I could capture the river in front of Capitol Peak at sunrise. Golden early morning light would spill over the peak and bring it to an almost fiery state. We arrived on location and I was surprised to find the amount of vegetation along the banks of the river. I had to scoot my tripod along the bridge to find the angle that would reveal Capitol Peak and still showcase the river. Finally, I had decided on my composition and it was now time to wait for the light. 

We stood there on the bridge waiting for the sun rise above the towering Fortress Cliff behind us and as soon as the sun passed the canyon rim beautiful light began to inch its way down Capitol Peak. I told Ashlee that I would stay and shoot until the light started to hit the tops of the trees in our middleground. As soon as that happened we lost all the depth to our scene. The foreground and middleground remaining in the shadows keeps all the attention and focus on Capitol Peak and the river. This also helps give the scene more contrast and depth. Though we did not have the best sky for sunrise that jet contrail intersecting Capitol Peak does help lead the eye back to the unusual rock formation. With the right kind of light these sandstone rocks can glow like hot magma. Some of these reds rival and in some cases exceed that sandstone canyons of Utah and Arizona. After shooting the sunrise, we started off on the Lighthouse trail and enjoyed a wonderful day of hiking and photography. I hope to have more photos from this trip uploaded very soon. 


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