It’s all about timing. When the sun is lower in the sky (sunrise and sunset), the light is warm and gentle on your subject. Mid-day light is brighter and will lend a harsher feeling to your images. Don’t photograph into the sun. Take your pictures of what the sun is illuminating.
Frame of Mind
Great photographs generally have one main subject which fills most of the picture. Before you take a shot, zoom in so that an arch, gnarled juniper tree, or striated sandstone fills most of the frame. Experiment with putting your subject off to one side rather than the center. Get low and shoot high or find a vantage point and shoot down. (Watch your step!)
Find Your Focus
Experiment with depth of field. Usually, you will want the entire scene to be in sharp focus, but try a larger aperture (f/4 or f/5.6) to force the background out of focus. Use a large aperture, focus on a single wildflower, and the crisp flower will “pop” against a blurry background.
shooting the stars
Night photography is really cool, and doing it right is really tricky. Having the right gear really helps. Invest in a good tripod as your camera will need to stay rock steady.
Aim towards the North Star so the star trails will circle around it. Exposures from 30-45 minutes gives a great feeling of “star circles.”
Know that inside the national parks, using any artificial light to “paint” a feature for a night-time photograph is prohibited.
Point and Shoot
A point-and-shoot or a phone camera allows you to concentrate on being creative. Just point, say “smile,” and click! With most phone cameras you can increase photo quality by touching the screen to focus on your subject.
Go with the Pros
Get the most out of your camera with some expert instruction and access to some off-the-beaten-path locations.
Pinnacle Helicopters offers specialized photography and videography services for both amateur and professional photographers where each passenger has a window seat. The aircraft doors can even be removed for unobstructed pictures. Photography flights can be specialized for specific locations and landmarks based on photographers’ interests. Sunset and sunrise flight times are available daily. 435-220-0041, moabhelicopters.com.
Redtail Air Adventures will create customized photography tours; just choose the place and time of day to capture stunning aerial photos of the area’s iconic national parks and dramatic backcountry. 435-259-7421, flyredtail.com.
Join Tom Till, Dan Norris, or Bryan Halle with Tom Till Tours to photograph Moab’s classic scenic wonders and lesser-known canyons, mesas, rivers, arches, and mountains at the best time of day and year. At night, shoot some of the best starscapes in the world with them as guides. Teaching and encouragement is also provided for all skill levels. 435-259-5327, 435-260-2885, tomtilltours.com.
If you are headed down south then take a tour with Ken Skulte with Serendipity Visuals. Ken can help you create amazing images in the Monument Valley area, help plan your trip, and has prints for sale. 602-738-0601, serendipityvisuals.com.