Sunday, October 23, 2011

Monument Valley

Last Christmas my nephew gave me a travelers guide to Arizona and he said I should come out and visit, which he had said before, but I felt he was just being courteous. When he gave me the book I realized he was serious. I said OK lets do it! So, On Wednesday October 12, I left Baltimore with my nephew, Steven for a road trip to Arizona, his winter home after summer ball season. We were both looking forward to the road trip, as we had decided to make several stops at some iconic American West locations. After making it to Nashville the first day, we headed on to Little Rock where we visited the Bill Clinton Presidential library. That was interesting and gave us a little sight seeing time in Little Rock. After lunch we drove on to Norman, Oklahoma and stayed with some of his friends until Sunday morning. On Sunday morning we left at 6:00am and planned on driving all the way to Kayenta, Arizona where we had booked a room close to Monument Valley for sunrise on Monday. It was a pleasant but long drive and I was excited seeing the landscape transform from flat lands to amazing red rocks. I had done a little research on the road using my iPad and we decided that we would make our morning shoot from the back of the Visitor Center once in the valley. On the way there in the dark at 4:00am with a very bright moon we could see shadows of the rocks. Steven spotted one before we got into the park area and we stopped along the road. I was helping him with his new camera the Nikon D3100. It is a super little entry level DSLR with 14 mega pixels. In my desire to help him I forgot to take mine off of ISO 400 and got some very noisy shots of that rock, so I used some SnapArt to salvage the scene and make a painterly effect. I liked it so much I have applied it to the rest of the images I made there that morning. We were using the timer on our iPhones to count out our 3 minute exposure. Just one more great thing about the iPhone! The shot below is the one we made at that first stop. I loved the top down light on the rocks in the dark from the moon and the small trails the stars made with the longer exposure.

After entering the park in the dark, I scouted the spot behind the visitor center where there were already a couple more photographers and an Indian tour leader looking for his group which never materialized. He hung around a bit with us chatting a bit about what he does and great places to go.
I explained that we had decided to be here and we did not have much more time as we were on the road after sunrise heading for the Grand Canyon. We did not have any clouds in the sky but we stayed and made some shots as dawn turned into day. Definitely a place I want to go back to and spend a week! After sunrise we drove the loop through the valley, but that's another blog.