Mesa's Glow - Canyonlands, National Park, Utah

One of the most iconic and most challenging images to capture of the American Southwest is Mesa Arch in Canyonlands National Park. Why is it so challenging? It is not because it is difficult to find or get to. It is really all about its popularity with photographers; getting "the" shot during a small window of time (sunrise); and a very small area for photographers to get a good position. In fact, there may be space for only 10-12 people, and there are some that camp out overnight to get a prime spot. So, even when you get up well before sunrise, drive 45 minutes from Moab and hike to its location, you may well be totally shut out.

Once you get your spot, it is like you are glued to it. There is nowhere to move, as the second you do, the spot has been taken by someone else. Your choices are to (1) shoot many of the same shots as the sun rises above the horizon until it clears the top of the arch or (2) make sure that you shoot at different focal lengths that allow you to zoom in and out to the scene. For this photo, I zoomed into the scene in order to create a tighter look at the arch. It’s shape resembles an eye with the sun taking on the role of a waking eyeball.