Before really starting this blog post, I've got to comment on that video production is a pretty difficult task. The vlog above took me about 10 hours to put together. I'm certain that some time can be drastically cut once I really learn how to use Adobe Premiere Pro (I literally just bought it 3 days ago). The vlog's not perfect, but I do hope to hone in on getting a good format going for the travel vlogs.
On January 16th, I made the drive to my first destination of my grand road trip: Arches National Park. It's been something like 15 years since I've last been there and, to be honest, I don't remember squat from back then! Basically, I may as well call this my first visit to the park ever. The park provides a nice scenic drive from end to end with large, sweeping landscapes with the Lasal mountains ever present at all times.
I highly recommend watching the vlog first as I won't be repeating everything said there in this blog post.
The Devil's Garden campground is located at the other end of the park from the entrance. It's $25 per night to have a spot. Since I came during the winter, it was easy getting a spot but, it does come at the cost of dealing with bitter cold temperatures. The bathroom unit is heated, and it also has a clean water tap, which is a really nice luxury to have. It's funny to notice that the bathroom is always warmer than the tent!
Despite it never snowing during my time there, the deceptively warm pictures were taken in very cold conditions. Everyone in the park was bundled up. There were moments during high noon when the sun rays would make things bearable without a jacket, but those times were fairly short lived. Even worse, if I had broke a sweat during a hike (thereby getting wet), the cold winds were really going to punish me later.
Honestly, I had a difficult time making compelling imagery in Arches. My novice ability really does show in my pictures. Photography is something that can be picked up easily but, as we all would expect, it's difficult to master. I think that most of my pictures are good enough to bring back home to just quickly show off to family and friends. However, I highly doubt that any of these would even sell for a dollar. Take note that many of the images here, like the four right above, have minimal processing done to them as I just didn't see much magic in them, but I still wanted to show what I was seeing. Perhaps I should just turn on JPEG + RAW to makes things easier...
So during my third day at the park, I decided to double down on the Delicate Arch. I understand that thousands of other photographers have taken pictures of the same arch, and that mine may not be all that unique. But it's mine, and I get to say that I was there. Also, it's not like every person you meet is going to know that one photographer's image of the Delicate Arch. I might be the first photographer they met with a picture of the arch. Who knows, right?
For those who are inclined on getting a long hike in, the Devil's Garden provides a ~7.5 mile loop with many branching paths to different arches. I personally think that this hike is done with friends. Friends can also pose as models to really give a sense of scale any image. These arches, while not as cool looking as the Delicate Arch, they are large, and fun to approach right under. I unfortunately didn't really get much from my hike. I was doing the hike midday though, so I guess if there was more ideal light, I may have been able to see a photographic opportunity.
As I mention in the vlog, I came across another photographer, Carl. (Not a working professional, but a retired chemistry professor who takes a lot of pictures!) Meeting him on the third day really changed my experience at Arches. He reminded me to get closer to things, to really put in the effort to get a different angle. It seems so obvious, and everything I've read has said this, but I honestly just... forgot. That's probably what really sets the pros apart from the amateurs; they don't forget the basics.
One thing that Carl pointed out was to always look out for reflecting pools. In the morning, he was looking at sheets of ice that would later melt during the day. I took advantage of this and saw some pools at the bottom of the sandstone bowl below the Delicate Arch to get the above image. I haven't seen a picture of the Delicate Arch in a reflecting pool before though, let's be honest, I didn't try very hard. So I'm really pleased with what I've got here!
To get below the arch, Carl and I found a way on some slick rocks in the "first" bowl. We were careful not to tread on the dirt (you could see hundred of footprints though), and we stepped in the steps of others. I would later find a route, when I went for sunset, that would keep me only on the slick rock and never the dirt. I was simply just able to hug the perimeter of the rocks. It does take longer but we've got to respect the dirt!
Despite "completing" my first destination of my grand road trip, I'm still anxious. Will something go wrong? Will the weather be bad? Will my camera(s) break? Well, I can already answer the weather part: it's going to be raining and snowing in Zion National Park for the next four days. That's not doom and gloom though, I see fog, and I think that's a ticket to an interesting photo!
I hope that y'all will be looking forward to what I produce next in Zion National Park!