A less than perfect shoot

As we mentioned in the past, picture perfect skies may be great for a postcard, but they lack interest for the photographer.

The other night we headed to shoot a unique location just south of Page, Horseshoe Bend. We’ve shot this before at sunrise, midday and sunset. At sunrise and sunset, the canyon is dark so the story becomes the sky. With lots of clouds all day, we were hoping for one of those amazing sunsets where the clouds just glow in reds and oranges.

As we approached the turn off for the parking lot, the parked cars overflowed from the parking lot, through the turnoff and onto the highway where they were lined up for a quarter mile. In the distance, a stream of people could be seen heading over the hill towards the site. The site has become so popular which did not bode well for getting an optimal spot near the edge.

Horseshoe Bend is a unique U-shaped meander in the Colorado River – much like the shape of a Horseshoe. The edge sits over  1000 feet above the water. The objective is to capture the whole bend in the photo – the job for a very wide angle lens. This means setting up on the “edge” for the best photo.

As we approached, we could see the rim lined with photographers from iPhone enthusiasts, and iPad vacations to serious Pros. All the good spots were long gone. We found a tiny niche and just sat – trying to enjoy the locale and seeing if the sky would make the trek worthwhile.

Instead as the sun got lower, the clouds disappeared.  Minutes before sunset, we decided to take a shot – what the heck, we were already there.

Unfortunately, with that many people, it was not possible to get a clean shot – even at the edge of 1000 foot cliff.


Crowded – even on the edge. Note the sets of shoes on the left and the iPhone photography on the right.


Yes, I can crop them out… but gosh, wouldn’t it be nice if I didn’t have to?

The Day After

The next day we returned to show Rachel the difference between evening and daytime. Although the sun is harshest during the day, it is also the only time one can see into the canyon without deep shadows. Fortunately, on this day, the sun was filtered through a layer of clouds and not as harsh.



1000 foot view down to the Colorado River

The other surprising difference was the parking lot was near empty and only a 1/10th of the photo enthusiasts were present (in the photo below – can you imagine 10 times the amount of people parked on the precipice?)


The night before, there were 10 times as many people. Note, the fellow on the far right doing the selfie. He even stopped to comb his hair a few times to make sure he had the right look!

Best of all, we were able to get a few nice shots with no others ….

Rachel, taking her turn at photographing the view.

Rachel, taking her turn at photographing the view.

Enjoying the Day

Enjoying the Day

Day versus night, once again, it is all about the light.