Arches/Canyonlands September

Discussion in 'Nature' started by christopher_ward|2, Aug 1, 2014.

  1. Passing through Utah in mid-September. Plan to shoot 4x5 B&W in Arches NP and Canyonlands NP. Would you use a 270mm Telephoto lens there? My standard kit would be a 75 ,150 and 210 lenses. With the orange rocks and green trees ,will a #8 yellow work well to separate the rock layers or should I use something else. I want to give the orange rocks punch without blocking up the trees and sky. Never shot near Moab ,no experience with the area and it's color palette.
  2. I've no knowledge of the location you are interested in but a couple of points about 4x5 lenses : there isn't a lot of difference between the field of view of a 210 and a 270 so I would personally not worry about that. Also, depending on the age of the lenses you are using the older 270mm telephotos were not quite the same image quality as the prime lenses. I'm thinking here about a comparison between prime Symmar types and telephoto Tele-xenar types. If you are thinking about a modern telephoto this comment would not apply. Again as a personal preference I think I would load up colour film as well as B&W and shoot both for each set up.
  3. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    I have been to Arches and Canyonlands exactly once, back in May 1999. Obviously you can use all sorts of different focal lengths to capture the landscape there, but at least to me, wide angles are more useful there.
    Back then, I was shooting 35mm slide film. I captured the image below with a 24mm lens on Velvia film. This is almost the entire frame scanned into a digital file.
  4. If the light is cooperating, the 270mm could be used for variety of abstracts (which I enjoy). Personally, I'd use 300 or 360mm for longer range, but it doesn't mean that you couldn't use your 270 (I'm presuming it's a Cook or some such).
    As to the filter, you need to be comfy using and knowing what you desire = previous tests will help. I prefer somewhat stronger (contrast) filtering and most likely would use an orange or even red (25) filter. To some that could be "an overkill". As I indicated, it depends on the mood, the clouds at hand, (or lack of it) and ultimately how you wish the landscape to look in the print. You can also reduce all of that with film (like Acros) running some tests even with a 35mm rig or 6x6, prior to departure. If still unsure, shoot one sheet with yellow and one with orange/red....and you can determine which you prefer later.
    Early morning light (similar to Shun's pic) can be v. special and having some Velvia on hand would give you satisfying results, as well. But, unless it's snowing (he he) you'll likely be elbowing bunch of folk that are also determined to get a WA shot without anyone next to it. Good luck on that and enjoy your trip.
  5. I will only have B&W film for the field camera this trip. My Nikon will be loaded with slide film. I am considering the 270 Telephoto to shorten the foreground and make the background more dramatic. It is a Rodenstock Rotelar 270mm f/5.6 ,a beast of a lens but very sharp. I think a #8 yellow may be to weak for a dramatic effect ,the #15 orange may wash out the orange rock but make for a very dramatic sky. I'm wondering if a #11 green might split the difference? Darken the foreground rocks and the sky but not loose the detail in the cedar/pine trees. The 50 ISO film makes a #25a red iffy at best with any wind. With Pola45 gone I would hate to guess wrong. The old trick of flashing the filter to see the effect may have to do.
  6. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    It was some 15 years ago, but I still recall that I captured that Windows image around 5pm. We arrived Arches around 3pm or so and it was a overcast day with very poor lighting. Eventually I set up by the Windows with the F5 on a tripod, as it looked like there was a chance the sun could show up for a little while.
    We sat around for about an hour and captured a few images with poor light. Eventually, the sun came out behind the clouds for literally a minute or so. I quickly captured maybe 20 frames before the sun set for that day.
    The lighting will likely be different in September.

  7. I have been there about a half dozen times. There are subjects for any lens you can imagine -- from details of the habitat to sweeping vistas. I would plan time to visit Dean Horse Canyon State Park - very near and on the other side of the road from the entrance to Arches. The large camera may be a challenge to get to some of the traditional locations, so plan your shoot well. Also the open canyon up the Colorado upstream from Moab offers some lovely opportunities. There used to be a great restaurant -- The Center Cafe, but alas it is long gone. I don't know where you can go for a rack of lamb in Moab these days.
  8. This might be 10% off-topic, but I want to add that despite the fact that I got married at Arches National Park, I am much more impressed with Canyonlands. I would urge you to spend more time and effort there. The tourists are far fewer and the photo ops are virtually unlimited, particularly the farther you are willing to hike.
    Back on topic, in my black-and-white film days, I found I liked the deep orange better than red - better separation of tones in the stones while retaining the powerful rendition of the sky.
  9. If you have a suitable digital camera, put it in B&W mode, and hold your filters, one at a time, over the lens while taking photos. Comparison of the images on the camera's LCD screen with an unfiltered image should give you a rough approximation of what the filter effect will be for the subject of interest, as well as an indication of the filter factor. There is an old story (I think told by Ansel Adams in one of his books) of Edward Weston's first trip to Death Valley. He used a yellow or orange filter for all his photographs with the manufacturers recommended filter factor, only to discover later, after developing the negatives, that they were all overexposed because the subject's color matched the filter's transmission.
  10. I also suggest spending time in Canyonlands if you have the time and don't mind hiking with your 4x5 and other gear. Especially the Needles district. A lot of spectacular stuff and not many people. There's a small campground you can use as a base there.
    But if your time is limited, the eye candy in Arches is more accessible, and of course the number of arches is unsurpassed.
  11. david_henderson


    Just be aware that there can be a lot of people around the major sites at sunrise and sunset and they can get in the way. For example North Window (Arches) Mesa Arch ( Canyonlands) and Dead Horse Point are likely to be busy in the mornings and at least the first two have limited ideal places so get there as early as you can. Likewise, Delicate Arch (Arches) is often a zoo at sunset. These parks are capable of being wilderness experiences , but often they aren't, and the problem is that it's pretty hard to find other locations that are quite as dramatic and well-structured as the ones everyone finds desirable.

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