Photo of the Week | Desert Canyon

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.

Camera: DJI Mavic Air
Lens: N/A
ISO: 100 4.5mm f/2.8 1/690s

It’s funny, that sometimes a photo can show you something you never realized was there in the first place. That statement couldn’t be any more true for drone photography. Almost every single photo you take through the lens of a drone is something you never would have seen, ever. The perspective that the drone allows you to capture with is unparalleled. Or at least, unmatched for the cost. To get this same shot, I would have needed to charter a helicopter tour for a few hundred dollars and pray I got the shot as we zoomed passed the canyon in the air. For about the equivalent cost, I can take as many photos from the air that I want, and go wherever I am able to. And with that freedom, I saw this canyon for the first time.

Back in late January, we discovered this canyon while exploring on some BLM (public) land down in Moab. Over this past weekend, we finally changed up our camping spot and tried to find one on the rim of the canyon. To our surprise, we weren’t the only ones with the same plan. Because the “tolerable” desert season is relatively short, April-May, dozens of other people were camped all over the places nearby. Eventually, we turned off a dirt road, drove passed the air stream and the group campsite, and finally ended up at the perfect camp site. A rock slab that overlooked the desert landscape, all to ourselves.

Shortly after we made our fire, and got camp all settled, I flew the drone up to see what was around. I had a relative idea that the canyon might be nearby, but since we weren’t close to the rim anymore, I figured we might have missed our opportunity. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Not more than a few hundred yards away, the canyon dropped a thousand feet below the rim for a spectacular sight. The spring rains and snow runoff have greened up the valley floor, with the footprint of an ancient river passing through the center. All of the layers in the walls are perfectly visible, showing the passing of time. The canyon steps off into the distance, as it eventually makes its way into the Green River. And far off in the distance, you can see the range that encompasses Capitol Reef NP.

It just goes to show you how much a drone can really take your ability to capture photos to the next level. Sure, I didn’t have to do much other than frame the shot and get the drone in place, but I can still take pride in how the photo turned out!

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