03 May 2011

New photo tour added to Utah, USA: Arches under the stars

We've always wanted to visit the National Parks of Utah, and when we finally did in November last year, we were stunned by the incredible beauty. Sure, we'd seen many photographs from Utah before our visit - who hasn't - but it just goes to show that a picture can never beat the feeling of actually being there.

We were so impressed by the landscape and the photographic possibilities of Arches National Park and the surrounding areas, that we decided to organize a photo tour to this dramatic geologic marvel of the American Southwest.

Arches contains one of the largest concentrations of natural sandstone arches in the world. The arches and numerous other extraordinary geologic features, such as spires, pinnacles, pedestals and balanced rocks, are highlighted in striking foreground and background views created by contrasting colors, landforms and textures. It is truly a landscape photographer's dream.

Water and ice, extreme temperatures and underground salt movement are responsible for the sculptured rock scenery of Arches National Park. On clear days with blue skies, it is hard to imagine such violent forces, or the 100 million years of erosion that created this land. The more than 2,000 cataloged arches range in size from a three-foot opening, the minimum considered an arch, to the longest one, Landscape Arch, which measures 306 feet from base to base. New arches are being formed and old ones are being destroyed. Erosion and weathering are relatively slow but are relentlessly creating dynamic landforms that gradually change through time. Occasionally change occurs more dramatically. In 1991 a slab of rock about 60 feet long, 11 feet wide and 4 feet thick fell from the underside of Landscape Arch, leaving behind an even thinner ribbon of rock.

The park lies atop an underground salt bed, which is basically responsible for the arches and spires, balanced rocks, sandstone fins and eroded monoliths that make the area a photographer's mecca.

After we thoroughly explored the park and some of the lesser-known areas outside, we decided that winter would be the perfect time for this trip. First of all, winter has the fewest crowds. Arches NP is a very popular destination, and rightly so, and we want to avoid getting hordes of tourists in our shots. Also, in winter there is always a chance of snow. Southeast Utah is part of the Colorado Plateau, a "high desert" region that experiences wide temperature fluctuations, sometimes over 40 degrees in a single day. Winters are cold, with highs averaging -1 to 10C (30-50F), and lows averaging -18 to -6C (0-20F). From personal experience we can tell you that Arches in the snow is even more breathtaking, so it's worth the chill factor.

A nice advantage of photographing in winter, is that sunrise and sunset times are a bit more humane. :-) The light is also softer in winter and the air more clear.

Chances are that we'll be getting a couple of clear nights, during which we will try some night photography. Marsel will give a dedicated workshop on night photography, light painting and shooting stars and star trails, so that should be great fun. We have already selected a couple of good locations for this specific purpose and we're looking forward to our nightly sessions!

Balancing Rock, Delicate Arch, The Windows, Wall Street, Devils Garden, Landscape Arch, are only a few of the locations we will visit. But outside of Arches NP there is also plenty to photograph, like the countless bird's eye views of the regions many stone canyons and spires from the high plateaus of Canyonlands National Park. And for those that like hiking, there are even more landscape gems to discover. We already know where to find them, and what the best time of day is for photography, so we won't waste any time.

Moab will be our base from where we will start our daily excursions. It's a quaint little town, but it's got everything we'll need, including good food.

We expect this trip to fill up fast, so if you're interested in joining us - don't hesitate and book a spot on this tour. More information & images can be found on the photo tours page on our website. You can also download the detailed day-to-day schedule (PDF), with lots of panoramic images. Hope to see you there!

1 comment:

Christopher R. Gray said...

Greeting Squiverettes

I am in, see you then. The is a really unique Moab Photo Workshop

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