Delicate Arch & Snowy La Sals

Delicate Arch & Snowy La Sals

full print size of 28.6x35.6 inches @304.8ppi, above displayed at 1/178
Copyright © David Senesac 2005   view detailed crop

geranium Arches National Park, Grand County, Utah
late afternoon Sunday May 24 2005, slide 05-L-55
Wisner 4x5 Expedition, 150mm Nikkor, Gitzo G1325 Mk2
Tango Drum scanned Fuji Provia 100F 4x5 film to 300mb RGB file
Adobe Photoshop 6.0 processed for accurate image fidelity
Lightjet5000 printed on Fuji Crystal Archive paper
signature bottom left          

It was the second day of suffering from what was to be several days of tendonitis to a tendon atop my ankle. So my 500 foot mile and a half hike up to world famous Delicate Arch was slow as I stepped carefully with a bit of pain. And mainly due to my misjudgment, we had dallied a bit too long at Park Avenue, another scenic area of Arches, so were late in getting going. Thus by time we reached the sandstone bowl at the top, shadows had already grown too much, preventing us from starting our work with the wide angle lenses we expected to use. Instead immediately out came my 150mm normal lens that was a blessing in disguise. The 150mm allowed an image, which maximized both the arch and mountains behind it. The following day we hiked back up earlier to expose some wider frames including the round lines of the curving bowl. But it was this image maximizing the primary elements of the frame, which made for a better aesthetic.

We had both been to this incredibly beautiful arch before and were delighted to be able to see it once again. The afternoon had presented some of the clearest skies I have ever experienced. The clarity of the air over long distances was absolutely dazzling. Besides the obvious requirement of low dust and particulates, it also meant the water vapor content must have been extremely dry. There was a quality to the light we captured this Sunday that just wasn't the same on Monday. And Monday was a better than average air clarity day itself. Setting up my big camera here was like doing so on stage because on any sunny fair weather spring afternoon there is certain to be a crowd of people sitting leisurely here atop the ridge of squeaky-clean sandstone. The small crowd thankfully accommodated our quick work for a couple shots by waiting until we were done to do their own picture taking standing beneath the wonderful formation.

Initially we both walked back and forth, up and down on the steeply sloping sandstone to size up the best perspective.

After homing in on the approximate spot, I fine-tuned my tripod position in order to put the aesthetic pyramidal Mount Tukuhnikivatz at the center of the arch opening. Second, I decided to emphasize the round nature of the arch by putting it at bull's eye center frame. The wonderfully glowing blue sky had an excellent complement of scattered clouds. But I needed to work quickly because a denser cover of clouds seen here at right frame edge was moving in over the mountains. Focusing was also an issue of compromise. I decided to use just slight tilt and get the arch itself critically focused top to bottom. The rest of the scene would need to just be at the mercy of what a view camera lens stopping way down to near f/64 can accomplish. Thus one can see fine detail on the sandstone wonder with other areas only slightly diminished from razor sharp.

This light brown red sandstone formation is Jurassic period Entrada Formation sandstone. 150 million year old tidal flat stratified sediment layers from the days of dinosaurs. The view here is southeastward. Difficult to distinguish between my camera position and the arch at lower frame, is the top of a steep deep bowl one would not want to slip and fall down into. No doubt many folk have dropped items down its smooth slope. Note how on each side of the lower arch is the same weak strata that has left a weathered crack. Sometime long in the future, that may be the surface it slides off from over the cliff immediately behind 300 feet into Winter Camp Wash. Further back behind a lower divide is Cache Valley and its juniper covered reddish sandstone ridge rising to about 5200 feet behind. At valley bottom one can see light yellow green from dense bottle plants, eriogonum inflatum which were peaking during our visit. Twenty miles distance at left is Horse Mtn, Mount Waas, Manns Peak, Mt. Tomasaki, and Haystack Mtn. Inside the arch at left is 12,721 foot Mount Peale, Tukuhnikivatz 25 miles distant, and then across La Sal Pass, South Mountain.

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   David Senesac

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