Every Friday I will be posting a Photo of the Week. Here I’ll be sharing the details on how I got the shot, where I was, and the backstory that went into it. I hope you find this enjoyable, and helpful in your own photography.
The Delicate Arch is, by far, the most iconic feature in Utah. It arguably is the most synonymous chunk of rock to state in the lower 48. And for good reason. This rock formation is quite miraculous, and stunning when seeing it for the first time. My first time seeing this arch was in February of 2018, a month after moving to Utah. When we pulled into the parking lot, we were one of 3 other cars. To those not familiar with how crowded National Parks have gotten over the past 5 years, this is an anomaly. Normally, visitors are stuck in their cars on the road in, waiting for a parking spot to open up. So needless to say, we were excited to be able to experience this landscape in near solitude.
When the trail finally ended, and this arch was revealed, it took my breath away. Well, it was either the Arch or the last steep pitch of hiking before you reach the bowl area where this Arch sits. Either way, we had it nearly all to ourselves. There we two other groups there, and one of them was leaving. We stood there, snapping photos left and right. Running under the arch, taking pictures together, and some just of each other. It was incredible, to have this moment to ourselves without the line of other visitors waiting eagerly to take their pictures underneath the Arch.
But with this solidarity, came reflection. Shooting an iconic view point is always challenging for me. Not because thousands of people have also taken this same photo, meaning that mine will be no different than someone else, but because I want to do that landscape justice. So many professional photographers have captured iconic vistas, and I look up to all of them still. So when I’m standing right where they stood, with my tripod in the same position, I get nervous. What if my photo doesn’t look nearly as good as theirs, or why can’t I get my photo to look as good?
To me, these moments make me think of being a kid, playing in my driveway, recreating a famous basketball shot by Kobe. Crossover into a fadeaway jumper. I know, it’s a far stretch as a comparison, but that’s how I feel. Trying to recreate a moment that I witnessed a professional perform. Sure, the stakes are completely different, but I still try over and over again to nail that same moment and achieve some semblance of a similar feeling. So when I go to snap a photo of an iconic vista or landscape, I try to replicate what I’ve seen in the past to see if I can recreate that same moment of perfection. Some say that’s copying. But if we didn’t copy the habits and techniques from those who do it perfect every time, then we would never progress or become a professional.
Framing this photo seemed simple to me. The Arch, a perfect portrait, shooting through the center. With the overcast skies, and low light conditions, I increased the aperture to bring out the clarity of the whole frame. If I had the ability, putting a strobe below the arch to illuminate it more would have been preferable. But with this environment’s contrasting colors of orange, tans, browns, and blue skies, there is so much that can be done in post to bring this image to life. I chose to darken the background under the Arch to bring the focus back onto the arch, as well as increasing the luminance on the oranges. All while dropping the contrast and highlights to see more detail in the clouds and rock.
This picture, and most others, do not do this place justice. It’s just something you need to visit, and experience for yourself!