The first park a friend and I visited on a recent trip to Utah was Capitol Reef National Park. While making images at Bryce National Park (as seen in my previous post) seemed easy, I cannot say the same was true here. But, the experienced photographer has learned to accept and work with the lighting and sky conditions given … especially when there is little time at a place. Such was the case on this trip with Mother Nature providing just a few short moments of photogenic opportunities during our less than day and a half stay. Adding to the challenge, many of the features at Capitol Reef require hiking or high-clearance 4WD vehicles and it takes time to get to them.
We had an adventure on the morning after our arrival as we ventured into the desert back-country to find the Temples of the Moon and Sun. Setting out in the dark, hours before sunrise we turned around at the first of two options when we were met with a river crossing. In the dark it seemed to be deep, swift moving and down a steep embankment. At the alternate route we were confronted with 3 bridges that consisted of narrow metal planks and no side rails to protect us from the dark abyss below. We were afraid but forged ahead … before realizing we were steered in the wrong direction by a misleading map! Now we had to go back over the bridges to get back on track! We got to the Temples just as a brief, bit of color appeared in the sky. And, by the time the sun came up over the ridge that was casting shadows on the temples the sky was a bald blue and the lighting was harsh.
We decided that first light on the Temples would be better in the spring when the sun is at an angle that is not obstructed by the ridge. The last two weeks of October would be a good time to visit other areas of the park, to take advantage of golden cottonwood foliage. Having never visited Capitol Reef before it was a fun visit to get acquainted, and one that we learned from.
In November a fellow photographer friend and I took 4 days to visit two national parks in Utah … Capitol Reef & Bryce Canyon. “Everything is far apart out here in the West” someone once told me. They were right … the trip included 6-8 hours (more or less) to get from one place to the next, so a lot of our time was spent driving. We ended up with an evening plus a full day at Capitol Reef and an afternoon and morning at Bryce. Of course the quality of the light and cloud interest are always important ingredients for a landscape photographer so we could only hope to be lucky during our visit. Thankfully, on our last morning we were blessed with beautiful diffused light. This is when my favorite images were captured and all but 3 below were from those early hours. The canyon had the look of an enchanted fantasyland filled with castle walls, towers and passageways.