Mesa Arch Sunrise – Take Two
Canyonlands National Park, Utah
I was relatively new to photography back in 2012 when I photographed a Mesa Arch sunrise and I had been itching to shoot it again because now I look back at my ‘prized picture’ from that morning and all I see are the technical blemishes from a crappy Tokina lens and poor post processing from inexperience. Most casual viewers wouldn’t notice this stuff and the small print at my parent’s house looks great, but I notice and it bugs the hell out of me. And not only has my technical knowledge increased, but my gear has as well, particularly with the jump in to full frame.
As much as I wanted to reshoot the scene again, I had been avoiding it because not only had I already done it, but more importantly to me, the crowds around the arch at sunrise have only grown to a point of discouragement and agitation. I just didn’t want to have to fight a hundred other people for elbow-room…
I was speeding through Canyonlands National Park on my way to Grand Viewpoint for sunrise when I saw the Mesa Arch trailhead parking lot had only three cars in it. For a Saturday morning in the spring, I simply couldn’t believe it. I immediately changed plans to get another crack at a Mesa Arch sunrise as that usual discouragement shifted to hope – Only three cars meant there was most likely still some prime real estate left in front of the arch.
I made quick work of the five minute hike to see there were four tripods set up as I approached the arch, a small glimmer of civil twilight on the horizon. Being that I hadn’t had any coffee yet, I was disappointed in myself for forgetting headphones as I did my best to avoid the talkative, dad-joke-making guy that was able to snag the prime spot… I dislike the implied camaraderie between photographers at popular sunrise sites when I’m running on a restless night’s sleep from camping, no coffee or breakfast, and a stomach full of stale beer (or sometimes whiskey) from the night before. I don’t need to talk f-stops at 5:30 a.m with strangers who spent the night in some hotel downto… I am just not a morning person.
But no matter how tired I am, it’s always hard to stay in an irritable mood for long…