Dead Horse Point

 “Dead Horse Point ” | Photographed by Eric Vaughan

Dead Horse State Park, Utah

The Shoot

by Eric Vaughan

I fell in love with this spot on my first visit to Canyonlands back in 2008, just after I moved to Utah. This State park has been photographed so many times by great photographers that creating something special from this location I knew would be a challenge. On this particular trip in November the weather was terrible the entire three days I spent there. This storm hit just as I got there and the wind blew and it rained on & off the whole time. My last day there I woke that morning with it raining, wind blowing 30+ mph and nothing but clouds everywhere and asked myself why even bother getting up. Then after contemplating it, decided not to pass it up. I arrived at the park that morning about 45 min before sunrise, found my spot I had picked out and as I set the camera up I noticed that the weather was changing. It had stopped raining, but the wind was still blowing really hard. Then with my camera ready to go as the sun finally started to rise the storm broke and the sun came out and lit everything up. What I really liked about the light that morning was the small thin cloud layer just in front of the sun, which softened the light so it wasn't so intense. But on the rock in foreground that I was standing on, it has direct sunlight hitting it and bringing out all the detail. I got about a dozen shots off before the sun went behind the clouds again and I liked this one the best.

TECHNIQUE: I used a one stop ND Graduated filter on the sky to darken it some and make the sky more dramatic. I also used another technique that I like to use a lot in my landscape work, which is focus stacking. I shot three separate images, one focused on foreground rock, one focused on the rocks on the right and one on the background. Then I blended those in PS to make one tack sharp image with incredible detail.

TECHNICIAL: Canon 5D mark II, Canon 17-40mm f/4L, mirror lock up and Really Right Stuff Series 2 CF tripod.


-- Content copyright Eric Vaughan --