Return of Wild Utah

There is a part of every state that few see. However, in the state of Utah, there is an entire section the size of most states few folks ever see, and that is where I enjoy going. Two years ago, Muench Workshops spent five days bouncing around through the outback starting in Goblin Valley and venturing out into Capitol Reef National Park.

We photographed sunset in the Cathedral Valley following one of the best meals ever assembled in the field. Hondo Guides have spent a lifetime catering to folks in the outback and it really showed. What we discovered that night was how long our batteries lasted in the gazillion candle-watt flashlights we used, how long our camera batteries would last during multiple long exposures, and what apertures to use for stars to show. We set our cameras up on tripods about a quarter-mile away from the Temple of the Sun, set the mode to bulb, the ISO to the lowest possible, and the lenses to their optimal apertures.

For most of us, the shutter times were very similar so we could synchronize our exposures and take turns lighting up the monument. This year we plan on finding more equally dramatic locations to paint with light. What is exciting about doing it all over again is that the cameras are much better at high ISO’s giving us the opportunity to take night images with shorter exposure times, while getting much brighter stars. This makes a huge difference since we were taking 20 min exposures back then, just to get enough light in the sky at 200 ISO. Now with a useable 800 and 1600 ISO, we can shoot many more compositions.

We also visited some very remote rock art. In fact, the panels we photographed are 60 miles from the closest gas station. We used fisheye lenses to capture the entire arc of the mesa walls that the rock art was painted on. While lying on our backs in the cool desert sand and composing the shots others were painting the walls with flashlights.

Rock art, Temple Mountain Utah

We enjoyed the experience so much last time, that for this fall trip we have decided to spend the entire night out under the stars rather than rushing back to a hotel. This will give us the chance to not only take pictures all night but drink more of the greatest cowboy coffee in the West. I have many great memories of the last trip but what stands out the most is the chance to look at such exclusive landscapes in the company of people that really live for the adventure.

This year a third pro David Porter will be joining us. David will be demonstrating his fill flash technique that can be used in the middle of the day. I call the technique Night for Day. One of my favorite movies is Clint Eastwood’s “The Eiger Sanction”. If you watch the film carefully you will notice that this technique was used frequently to emulate night climbing.

Life is so very short. Take pictures of it.

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