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Saturday, June 9, 2012


My friend Wayne and I arose at o-dark-thirty from our campsite near Moab.  The plan was to arrive at Mesa Arch before sunrise in order to capture a photo of the arch’s famous orange glow that I had seen in photo magazines.  I had never been to this landmark before but I scouted the area the day before and found the trailhead.

We arrived on schedule before sunrise and followed the narrow trail that wound through the prairie and yucca.  It was very dark still, so we brought flashlights to light our way.

As soon as we reached the arch I immediately began setting up my tripod and mounted my camera to get the view I wanted.  I set the camera aperture and speed that I knew would get the exposure I wanted but knew I would have to take many shots in order to field the right exposure.  I was using a Bronica 645 medium format film camera, shooting 120 Agfa roll film at 15 images per roll.  Unlike digital cameras,  what you see in the viewfinder may not be what you get, so one must rely on experience and the camera’s meter to make the proper exposures.

As soon as the sun began lighting up the sky, I began shooting.  Before I knew it, I had almost taken all the shots available on my roll of film and the glow I was looking for hadn’t even started yet!  To make things worse, I had left my extra film in the Jeep back at the trailhead.  I started panicking.  I asked Wayne if he could go back to the Jeep and get the film for me. I wanted to be ready to photograph in case it was only a fleeting moment.  He obliged.  Meanwhile, the sun was getting higher and higher and Wayne wasn’t back yet, and I needed that film!  As soon as he got back, I loaded up the camera with a fresh roll and almost immediately, the arch started to get its first hint of orange.  Eventually, the whole length of the arch was lit up.  We were amazed!  No filter was needed, just slow ASA 50 film, a tripod and a cable release.  I composed the distant mountains between the arching rock and the sun to the left of my frame;  the arch framed the spires and purple clouds in between.  Wayne and I were the only people there.  Complete silence. It looked beautiful, and I hoped for a photograph that would accurately capture this special place and moment in time.         


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