A few weeks ago I found myself in Valley of Fire State Park once again leading a photography workshop. Valley of Fire has become a favorite location of mine for it’s unique and colorful sandstone geology. No other location, as far as I know, has such a rich concentration of dramatic sandstone in one place. The great thing about Valley of Fire is that you can simply park your car and walk out across the sandstone in any direction and find your own unique images. Running a workshop however requires getting clients to some of those “iconic” locations, and it’s my pleasure to do so. All the more so when the weather and light cooperate. Over the workshop the light certainly was dramatic at times!
The first image I from the very first field session we had as group. We hiked out to Fire Wave under partly cloudy skies in hopes that we might catch some dramatic light at sunset. Fire Wave has become a popular spot in the last couple of years. So popular in fact that the park decided to put in a maintained trail to the location. In the past, you had to know where to go and simply choose a route across the stone until you arrived at this small yet dramatic parcel of swirling color. We arrived well before sunset and waited and studied the light until it reached it’s most dramatic point about 10 minutes after the sun had set and the sky caught fire with dramatic light. I was immediately drawn to the symmetry between the shape of the clouds and the swirling sandstone in the foreground. The light was pretty intense and required a blend of two exposures to capture the full dynamic range of light –Nikon D800 DSLR, Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8, ISO 50, F11 @ 2 seconds for the sky and 8 seconds for the land.
The image above is from a incredibly surreal area of multi-colored sandstone near White Domes. The formation is unofficially known as “Crazy Hill” and it has become a favorite spot to visit for me in the past couple of years. In fact some of my finest images from the park have been captured at this location. I have been trying to capture a traditional take on this formation for some time, but the light and clouds never have cooperated, not until this last trip that is! Nikon D800 DSLR, 14-24mm f/2.8, ISO 100, 1 second @ f11.
I captured this image above after the workshop had ended. I had an early flight the next morning out of Vegas and considered driving into Las Vegas in the afternoon, getting a room and sleeping the rest of the day. I was exhausted after ten days of shooting, camping, hiking and finally leading a workshop. Instead I decided to stay the night in Overton and finish up the trip with one last session out in the sandstone. I stumbled on this location about two years ago and immediately fell in love with the swirling s-curve of color. it wash;t until this time around that I got good condition, color and some clouds to capture the image. Nikon D800 DSLR, 14-24mm f/2.8, ISO 50, 4 second @ f11.
On the way out of the park, the full moon was rising at twilight. I rushed over to Elephant Rock to try and capture the moon coming up through the opening of the arch. The sky to the east was bathed in a deep blue glow from the Earth shadow and a few clouds on the horizon were still catching some soft pink light. The moon was rising quickly and the stars were beginning to shine. I had time to only shoot three images before the moon was above the arch. Nikon D800 DSLR, Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8, 8 seconds @ F8, ISO 800.
I’ll be posting more images from the trip soon. In the meantime, we have some opening for a few upcoming photography workshops if you are interested in chasing the light with me in some of the most beautiful locations in the U.S.