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on Mar 12, 2012 in Landscape Photography

The Shadowy Side of Monument Valley

When you drive the loop in Monument Valley, half the time your subjects are front lit and the other half, they are back lit. Because your subjects are so large, if you’re on the backlit side, you have a whole lot of time with no direct sun to work with. Because your subjects are so large, you’re missing some large photographs. The rock of Monument Valley isn’t all red. It’s every shade of red with a whole lot of veins of gray and black sprinkled in. When you shoot the face in full sun, you loose a lot of those veins and to me, a lot of the character that is the Valley. So I do tend to haunt the shadow side thinking about bringing out the character that is the Valley.

Here’s two approaches I use when going to the shadowy side. They both have one thing in common, HDR. To pull out the character in the rock, I need that range of clicks while also preserving the detail in the sky. After that, I want something in the sky and this is typical, I’ll put either clouds or the sun. I want that element for both the white aspect of a B&W photo as well as space and visual depth. The sun can add drama when done correctly. I posted this photo of an example of it not being done correctly. What’s wrong with it? I forgot to clean the front element. That dust on the front element is what’s creating all those circular UFOs in the sunburst. What a pisser! Understand that if I didn’t use HDR, you wouldn’t see any information in the rock, it would be all black. While there are times when that is cool, when working the shadowy side of the Valley, I tend to want to bring out the character in the rock.