HDR Photography in Moab, UT and Beyond!

Photography was so good my first time here, last year, I’ve been looking forward to coming back to Moab, UT.

Dead Horse Point Photography

The large attractions here are Arches National Park and the “Islands in the Sky” section of Canyonlands National Park.  Another worthy place, and one that I didn’t have time to check out last year, is Dead Horse Point. It’s a small Utah State park on the way into Canyonlands.  Seeing plenty of cool photos from here, I made it my target for sunrise to see what it’s all about.  That’s when I got the photo above.

Views from the point there are stunning for about 270 degrees so it’s a place that should be great for sunsets too.  This morning was very easy, there were maybe 6 photographers there and nobody was even close to being in anybody’s way. Lots of different views are available and changing lenses early & often will get you a pile of great RAW files to process at your leisure back home.

How I Used a Fisheye Lens for this Photo

Some of you who follow me remember that I broke my wide angle lens at Bryce earlier this year dropping my camera in the parking lot.  Instead of replacing it I’ve been waiting for Olympus to release the Super wide angle 7-14mm f2.8 Pro lens and using, in the meantime, a 7.5mm fisheye for some of my grand vista shots.

Sometimes the distortion of a fisheye gives me a fun, whimsical look, but that gets old fast.  To use this lens for more conventional photography I have to be careful to have my camera perfectly level. My Manfrotto tripod has built-in bubble levels on all axis which I carefully used to get setup for the photo above. When it’s level, the horizon is flat and I can take in a tremendous field of view. To get the sunburst effect on the rising sun all I did was stop down the lens to f 11.

Making the HDR Photo

For this sunrise shot today I took 5 brackets, 2 stops apart. (-4, -2, 0, +2, +4) and processed them in Lightroom using the Perfect HDR Workflow while sitting in my Jeep.  Fortunately this shot didn’t require any intricate work because I didn’t have my Wacom tablet with me. To get added depth in the image I used Topaz Clarity which I love for my HDR work because it’s new imaging technology doesn’t leave ugly halos which have been the most common problem with much of the HDR photography I see online.

The Road Trip Photo Gallery

Moab was just my first stop. There was so much fabulous photography on this trip and as I finish processing photos, they’re added to an online gallery. There are already some great shots from Arches NP, Valley of the Gods, Monument Valley, Aspen, CO, and the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest in the White Mountains of California. So, if you’d like to look at some other HDR photos of these places, they’re all in the Southwest Road Trip-October 2014 gallery on SmugMug. Enjoy!

Many of the photographs were posted to my Google plus stream while I was on the road and include little stories, fun facts, and processing notes. If you’re an American Southwest buff or interested in tips for your own HDR work, you’ll find it on my G+ stream with those photos.

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