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Green River Overlook

Posted by
Don Smith (California, United States) on 29 April 2009 in Landscape & Rural.

I have to shake my head and wonder about the weather gods when I think back about this image made at Canyonlands National Park in Utah. I was in my hotel room in Moab as a 50 mph wind was throwing red dust everywhere outside. At one point I could barely see a block down the street. At 3pm, a steady rain started, and by 6pm, it was eerily calm. I decided to grab my cameras and venture into Arches National Park, located about three miles from where I was staying in hopes of capturing some rainbows.

As I was loading my car, a gentleman pulled up next to me with camera gear and related how it was pouring rain at Arches but he could see a "tinge" of blue sky to the west. The weather report called for rain through the night, but I was just looking for a 30 minute window at sunset.

I decided to forgo my journey to Arches and instead headed west towards Canyonlands. I had scouted this overlook the previous morning and felt it would look terrific at sunset with clearing storm light. I reached my destination about 40 minutes prior to posted sunset and was the only person there (confirming my beliefs that when the weather turns nasty, most people stay indoors). I quickly darted around the rim looking for some form of life growing through the red rock and spotted this innocent looking tuft of grass (think weed). The Green River snaked seductively below me and I just bided my time watching the sun dart in and out of the clouds with its rays getting warmer by the minute. The other design element I liked about this location was how the diagonal lines in the foreground slickrock leads the eye towards the S-lined river below.

This image was captured about 5 minutes before sunset. I used a 2-stop soft edge Singh-Ray split neutral density filter to help balance the sky and the foreground, and turned my polarizer until the rocks displayed this vivid color.

The next time the weather turns nasty, think of grabbing your gear and heading out. Wild weather usually makes for strong images. Also, don't take weather reports as gospel truths. Learn to read Doppler and satellite images, becoming an amateur meteorologist will help you in making better decisions with your photography.

Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III 1/5 second F/16.0 ISO 200 16 mm

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