10 Most Meaningful Images of 2018: #9

Park Avenue Moment 10.01.2018 ISO 50 - f10 - 1/5 sec

Park Avenue Moment
ISO 50 - f10 - 1/5 sec

If there was an emergent theme for my landscape photographer in 2018 it was: Moment. Nothing illustrated that more than this morning at Park Avenue in Arches National Park in Moab, UT.

For the past two years I have participated in the Out of Chicago Landscape Photography Conference. In 2017 I ventured to Acadia National Park, and this past October to Arches as a participant. The conference brings 150 participants together with 15 of the best landscape photographers in the world. Having the opportunity to put life aside for a week and shoot with and learn from the likes of Nick Page, Thomas Heaton, Erin Babnik, Mike Taylor as well as many other passionate landscape photographers has made a huge impact on my photography and given me the opportunity to meet and make dozens of new friends. Chris Smith (CEO) and his team ensure that all levels of photographer have an opportunity to better their craft and enjoy excursions to some of the most beautiful places in the world. I would highly recommend attending any one of their conferences.

On this particular morning in Arches, I was with acclaimed nature photographer David Akoubian. David is as good a story teller as he is a coach and he does a wonderful job sharing stories from his years of photo education. That was useful on this particular morning on location at Park Avenue, a vista dominated by soaring sandstone monoliths. Shrouded in clouds, with light rain, the prospects for a moment looked poor. We arrived on location with nearly an hour to plan prior to sunrise, but with the prospect of no light, David began coaching us on monochrome options all the while weaving in stories of past excursions. The thinking was that the low clouds may provide some texture and movement for for either a stormy, gloomy capture, or a long exposure with cloud streaks (see my post from yesterday to get an idea of what I’m referring to) across the sky. With the prospect of scene changing light low, we were planning on creating a moodier, most likely, black and white image.

As sunrise approached however, we noticed two things: 1. the clouds weren’t that interesting and 2. there was a possible break in the clouds to the east. This break gave us hope, but it was pretty high in the sky, meaning we not only had to wait for the sun’s light to break through, but the opening in the clouds and the rising sun has to intersect perfectly. And so, we waited, which gave Dave plenty of time to tell stories and teach us how to use a zoom lens to capture intimate landscapes (like here and here). But, as he told his stories, he would occasionally take look to the east to see if the sun and the cloud break were going to cooperate. As his teaching and story telling went on, we could see and feel him get more and more excited about the real possibility of magical light happening, and when at one point he said, “guys, its gonna happen, we need to get set up!’ we all got excited about what was going to happen.

Alas, nearly two hours after arriving at Park Ave with little hope of magic, it happened. The sun broke through the clouds and lit the far end of the canyon walls and the Courthouse Towers in the distance. The sandstone walls came alive with beautiful orange and red colors, as if they were saying “Good morning” and “Thank you for being patient” to our group. The low clouds in the background provided wonderful contrast, which gave the lit walls a bit more pop. In all, the magic lasted for less than a minute as the sun quickly tucked behind the clouds again (and shortly there after the rain began).

For reminding me that photography is about capturing moments… and the stories that surround those moments… Park Avenue Moment finds itself on my list of 10 Most Meaningful Images of 2018.