Sunset at the Celestial City – Grosvenor Arch, Utah

Grosvenor Arch - Utah - Gavin Seim_4

Sunset at the Celestial City – Grand Staircase National Monument Utah, Grosvenor Arch. Spring 2013, Gavin Seim

Grand Staircase is a secret hideaway of Utah – A grand place beyond most National Parks in beauty, in remoteness and in a wild hauntingly beautiful atmosphere. There is another wonder to behold with each new curve of it’s bumpy roads.

It’s not one of those parks you simply drive into on paved thoroughfares, hot dog carts lining the byways. We came in off HWY 89 and camped two nights within the park before we exited the other side. It was a slow winding gravel road with lots of hikes, pullouts and things to see, but no civilization except perhaps a bathroom here and there.

We made it up to the Arch late on our second day and waited for the sunset. The feature here was the double arch, but what struck me about this place was the way the entire structure stands alone out here. Columns of colorful rock sprouting from the ground in stunning display, set in a minimal non-dictating scene. It was a beautiful thing. It made me think of the distant view of the Celestial City from the classic novel, Pilgrim’s Progress.

As the sun set and the light danced on the rocks I knew I needed a panorama of this one. This was the last image I made as the light softened and fell behind the hill. It peeked from the clouds just before disappearing fully behind the horizon and left me in awe of creation.

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Released prints:

For Photographers. How it was made…

Technical Notes: 3 frames, Canon MK2, 50mm 1.4 @ f11, 1/15, ISO160, Induro Tripod
Processing:
Lightroom 4, Photoshop, Seim Effects tools.

I wished a little that I had a 6×17 film camera for this but I have not added that to my collection and digital does produce beautiful panoramas because I can take a series of images for more resolution.

I started the sequences early in groups of three, panning back and forth. You need to take your time with a pano. Once you have a visualization it’s time to refine. Make sure the camera is  level in relation to your subject, make sure you have clear start and end points panned. Space, line and composition are essential on a good panorama and should be considered well, along with the light and tone.

I wanted the tone rich and planned my exposure accordingly, placing the lit rock at about zone 7-8 which left rich shadows. I did a total of only six or seven and ended up using this final one just before sunset when the light was the most rich. The earlier frames had too much light in other areas and it was distracting. Don’t walk away too soon from a scene.

Once I picked the best sequence I used some simple edits. I applied the Super Gentle presets from Power Workflow3 just to give a bit of richness. Then I tweaked a little, did lens corrections and the like. I didn’t have to edit much. Next, I stitched the images in Photoshop, doing this a couple times with different settings to get the most natural perspective.

Finally it was the essential finishing touches. Mostly burning and dodging to bring out the details, but also a bit of hand work in the sky. The result is an image with lots of detail that will print large and well. This is my best image of the year thus far and I’m eager to officially release it.

Gav

 

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