King’s Crown of Sandstone
From the first time I saw photos of this place, I was immediately excited to go shoot here. The experience of white pocket is special. The nearest campground is 80 minutes and 2000 feet of elevation away. You drive most of it on a sandy, sometimes bumpy 4x4 trail. Plenty of people struggle to get there. In the month of so I’ve spent on location I’ve pulled about 7 vehicles out from being stuck in the sand. You hike a short distance on a sandy trail, and then you come over a rise to see it, an area about half a square mile of open rock surface. The slick rock terrain is truly like an alien planet, with pentagonal patterns of white or pink rock mixed with marble textured swirls of multicolored rock. In several spots the formations get really vertical and wild, like in this scene. The sign at the entrance says there are dinosaur footprints preserved in the rock, and you do see what looks like very large footprints. It’s otherworldly, so beautiful. I spent so many evenings at this spot waiting for a nice gradient of light to grace the scene, but clouds kept covering the area of the sky around where the sun sets, flattening the light. I was excited to see a nice gradient with a beautiful sky behind it, but was not expecting the clouds to light up a pinkish orange and add such color. When I looked up from my camera to see this sudden change, my response was audible. I immediately started my shot over, as I knew it would only last a short time. As quickly as I could I took my shots. It’s a 10 image stitch, 3 shot HDR, and a 5 shot focus stack. I was really pushing the time it takes to capture all of that, so I minimized it as much as possible, cutting it down to a 2 shot focus stack on the top row of the stitch, and only shooting HDR on the left third of the frame, where it’s needed. It was such a brief window of colorful light, it faded fast just as I was finishing. In the 2.5 weeks I was there, the best light lasted about 3 minutes! It was a risk that ended up paying off.