Viewing Turret Arch through the North Window is a classic photo among landscape photographers. It is a shot we have wanted ever since our first visit to Arches National Park years ago. Unfortunately it isn’t easy. Capturing the photo is easy, just a single exposure as the sun begins to rise. The hard part is getting to the optimal location. This requires a significant amount of scrambling up over boulders, and then up to and along a precarious ledge, all with a 20 pound camera pack weighing me down. With my limited balance and paralyzing fear of heights, this is beyond daunting and way out of my comfort zone.
During our last visit to Arches, we surveyed this shot. Me from below, and Kathryn (aka, mountain goat) from atop the ledge. She had no trouble with the scramble and the climb. She then took an iPhone shot through the arch. It was well after sunrise so there was no need carrying the heavy duty equipment. Upon her arrival back to solid earth she said that there is no way I would be able to do this. So, I scratched the shot off my bucket list.
Fast forward to our night sky workshop with Joshua Snow (really good photographer and expert in night sky photography). After taking the images we needed for our Milky Way photo, we waited around for sunrise. Josh suggested we photograph Turret Arch through the North Window Arch. Instant panic. “But, Josh,” I said. He could see the look in my eyes. “Look,” he said, “I have brought people in much older and in worse shape than you who are also afraid of heights. I can get you up and down!” I tried to say, “bbbbbut” again. He cut me off with, “I’ll put you on my back if I have to!” Josh is a big and durable guy and I considered this for a bit. In the end I did not want to hug him from behind.
I had no choice but to relent. Fear had to take a back seat to “the shot”. After quite a scramble and ledge walking, I made it up. On my own (sans gear – thanks Josh). No way was I climbing on his back. Now, onto the photography portion of our story.
As we were waiting for the optimal time to make our shot, people started arriving, standing, sitting, dancing in the arch. It is what tourists do. I was frustrated but I had no choice. I knew right then that I would be spending a bunch of time in Photoshop removing these people from my image.
Which one do you like better?
Remember, it’s all about the light!