“Keep shooting. Bad weather may break. Still be at you locations. Best things come to those who wait it out.” wrote back Keith Kapple, an excellent Southwest photographer and an email pal, when I reached out to him, worried about the weather. I took his words seriously and it paid me rich dividends. The weather in the Moab region was muggy the two days I was there. But like clockwork, I got up at 4:00am, grabbed a quick breakfast at the 24 hour open Dennys and was in situ at 5:00am. On both days, the clouds parted just for some precious few minutes, on both sides of the days for me to take hope a memorable photo. Keith, a big thank you!
Unable to secure a photo workshop to join, availability or cost being the impeding factors,I spent a good couple of weeks scouting locations and times. But no amount of research can replace local knowledge. Connecting with Keith and Bret helped finalize a photo shoot itinerary.
Day 0: Seattle to SLC, Rent a car, Drive to Moab, Stay at Super 8.
Day 1: Arches National Park: Sunrise at Turret (0.75m round trip, 126 ft. elevation, 30 minutes round trip), Hike on Double arches trail (to scout for night shot), stop at Visitor Center, Back to Moab for break fast, Park Avenue in the afternoon Sunset at delicate arch. Stay after sunset and catch the galaxy against the delicate arch.
Day 2: Canyonlands National Park (1 hour drive): Dead Horse Point State Park, Mesa Arch (double arches night shot), Anasazi granary, Green river lookout, White Rim lookout
Day 3: Sunrise : Hike the Devil’s garden primitive loop with view of landscape arch, La Sal Mountain Loop (2.5 hours) Back to SLC
Planned itineraries are planned itineraries. They are merely a starting point. What happens out there has many other other forces at work. As it turns out, we were so dead tired on day three that we never woke up early enough to make it to Landscape arch. Which is not a bad thing. I always like to leave something for the next trip.
Equipment management is as important as schedule management on photo trips. You cannot carry too much, nor can you leave anything important behind. You have to have the right things at the right place, without lugging everything everywhere. I pack in three categories: For the trip, for the day and for the spot. More on that later. The first order of the day is to pack for the trip. I tend to start packing at least a week in advance, gathering my stuff in one place without putting it in the bag yet. That way I do not need to pull stuff out to check if, say, I had packed the compass. Only when I go two days without adding anything to the pile that I am ready to stuff it in the bag.
So here is what I carried.
|300S + D60
Batteries + chargers
Polarizer + UW
6 stop ND
|Miner Style headlamp with extra batteries
A backup camera is super essential. Shit happens. You do not want to be left with a shattered camera on day 1. So I judiciously packed my D60, hoping I would never have to use it. Finding the backup battery and the charger for the D60 took a day, but was worth the peace of mind. I was sure the primary lens would be the Tokina 11-16 super wide at 2.8. The Hoodeye was super valuable. Without it, it is impossible to check the photo on the camera viewer in broad daylight. This is the first trip I shot almost every frame using a tripod. I read a line that struck home a message: “I do not even start composing unless my camera is on the tripod.” I hope it becomes a lifetime habit.
I ended up not using the flashlights at all. I was planning on painting with the torches, but the nights were too cloudy to get a nightscape. Next time?
Finally Sid Gavandi was the best companion I could have had on this trip. Creative, unflappable, untiring, entertaining. He even drives like I do. I have travelled with a few friends in the past, and then there are friends I have travelled with only once. Sid, I will travel with you anytime…