When in Rome, Don’t Do As The Romans Do
Don't forget to look down and around when photographing a famous site.
By Chris Meyer | January 11, 2011
We spent the holidays traveling around Arizona and New Mexico, fitting in a few hikes and sightseeing excursions as we went. One hike was Red Rock Crossing - Crescent Moon in Sedona, which ends in a view of the west face of Cathedral Rock. As Laurent Martr©s notes in his very useful Photographing the Southwest books, "this classic photograph has become just as clich© as, say, Delicate Arch". Adding to the feeling of "what can I do here that hasn't already been done?", trip timing required that we visit in the morning, rather than the preferred late afternoon.
Anticipating that I would spend most of my time photographing the far-off buttes, I mounted my Canon EF 100-400mm to my 5D and brought along a monopod for the hike. However, I was quickly reminded (thanks to the guard squirrel pictured at left, which initially blocked our path) that some of the most interesting shots to be had were nearby or literally at my feet - and not of the buttes. So when going to photograph a "destination", remember that it pays to keep an open mind - and carry an extra lens. Here's a few shots I took that day:
The view from afar, at the start of the hike. It had snowed just a couple of days before.
Reeds and bamboo provide interesting abstracts of lines and shapes.
The combination of snow plus foliage in various states also provides some opportunities for abstract composition.
There is also a mill with weathered surfaces to photograph along the path. I had to back up nearly to the creek to frame this with my too-long lens.
The rock outcroppings at the "beach" near Oak Creek contained numerous pools of frozen water, which presented numerous vignettes. (Again, having only a telephoto lens with me made literally shooting my own feet rather more difficult...)
Don't forget to turn off autofocus every now and then! These were crystals on the surface of one pool of ice, with the contrast cranked up in Photoshop's Camera Raw dialog.
Oh, yes - the reason we came! Cathedral Rock.
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