Dead Horse Point Canyonlands Moab Utah Landscape Photography Photo Tour Tours

Sunrise over the Colorado River below Dead Horse State Park near Moab Utah

Persistence, determination, tenacity – all terms that apply to the way a landscape photographer has to go about his (her) business.  It HAS to be that way, or they will spend most of their time disappointed at the quality of their images.

This point was driven home to me recently on a trip to the National Parks in Southern Utah.  Sunrise can be so spectacular against the backdrop of red rock formations and I knew that the view from Dead horse Point near Moab was amazing.

Sunrise was 6am.  It takes nearly an hour to drive to Dead Horse from Moab, plus I needed my cup of coffee – so alarm clock set for 4:15a.

On my first morning there, I arrived at about 5:30a – enough time to locate some good viewpoints and chat briefly with a few other intrepid souls – all of us shivering behind our tripods and waiting for the light.  It never showed up.  The thin layer of cloud at the horizon soon became a sky full of light cloud cover – the photographers nightmare.

Second morning I arrived at 5:40a – located some additional foreground interest and made note of several other photo possibilities.  A significant portion of the sky was cloudy, but the horizon looked like it might give us enough sunlight for one of those magical moments.  The sun rose – lit the tops of the red rock like they were on fire – it was truly amazing.  Then it went away – gone, behind an endless wave of clouds.

The third morning I trudged to my spot – the tripod holes were getting well worn by now.  The sun rose, but was behind a bank of clouds.  Slowly the photographers around me packed up their gear and drifted away.  Looking at the cloud pattern and the wind-flow, it seemed possible that in the next few minutes it might pop out – but probably not for long.  This just might give me enough angle on the sun to light up some of the deep canyons that lay before me.  My stubbornness kicked in.

Out of the dozen or so photographers that stood on the ledge that morning I was the last to leave – and the only one to get a shot.  Some would say it was total chance, but really it was all about persistence and determination.  It might not be the best shot from the trip, but it’s definitely the one that left me with the most impact.