Candy Land or Eye Candy?

Over and over we have told you that the best time to shoot is during the golden hour, just after sunrise or just before sunset (or just before or after during when the light is blue). This is so ingrained within us, that we just don’t take our cameras out during the daytime. Why bother shooting, if the resulting image has harsh lines and  washed out color?

But sometimes if you are only going to be in a unique location during the middle of the day, you must seize the opportunity.  We tend to think of these photos more as “snapshots”. Capturing the moment, but without the drama of the light.


Driving On Cottonwood Road

Driving up Cottonwood Road, a designated scenic backway in southern Utah, we were venturing into new territory. The road was described in our post, The Great Ascent  as a long, winding, narrow, dirt road with much wash boarding (aka, a four wheel driver’s delight).  Our goal was to make it from outside of Page, Arizona to outside of Escalante, Utah, nearly 50 miles through the heart of the remote Escalante Grand Staircase National Monument. Our research indicates it should be really good, filled with unique rock formations. Because the road is difficult to drive, we wanted to drive it during daylight. This meant no sunrise or sunset shots along the way.  Daylight shots only – which pains me to no end.

We didn’t pay much attention to the scenery until we passed mile 14, the Yellow Rock location. It was only then, that the scenery became new. Somehow we were transported from a dusty, dirt road to the winding path on the Candy Land board game where Cottonwood Road became Cotton Candy and perfect white puffy clouds dotted the deep blue sky.

As we rounded the bend, off to the left, rose a unique grey horned rock. Against the grey clouds and blue sky, it stood out.

A candy Great Horned Owl?

An eye candy Great Horned Owl?

A few miles later, a white pyramid sculpture arose to the right (a coconut macaroon?).  Having not seen another car in miles, we just stopped in the middle of the road and jumped out.


A coconut macaroon?

A few more winding miles later as we drove over the rise. We both gasped. The rock formations indeed looked like we had landed on the Candy Land board.


Jeff offering tours of the delectable sculptures

Red and white striped pinnacles erupted along the side of the road. Hopping from color to color, we explored the delightful formations.


The Heart of Candy Land!


Pinnacles of colors and shapes

The road continued on, winding up and down the hills. Nearing mile 35, a big gum drop shaped rock formation arose.  Carved out of the top was Grosvenor’s Arch. The double arch was crafted from the same yellow rock as that found on our Great Ascent. Contrasted against the blue sky with the white clouds, it was quite picturesque and a bit mouth watering.


Yellow Gumdrop? Candy rock Mountain? or White chocolate covered pretzel?

Time always flys by when we are behind the camera. Six hours later, the path returned to pavement (and back to reality) as we arrived at our final stop and sunset location, Kodachrome Basin State Park. Unfortunately, we were still 3 hours too early for sunset and the candy magic had long gone. The light was harsh again.

Harsher light on Kodachrome Basin State Park

Harsher light on Kodachrome Basin State Park

And so we called it a day.

In this case, it is all about the light, the clouds and a little big of Candy Land magic.