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The Golden Arches

Posted: Thu Jul 17, 2014 4:46 pm
by Lonnie Utah
I have shot and returned to this location many times, as it's one of the better sunrise locations in Arches. I've never really been thrilled with any image I've gotten in this area of the park (at sunrise anyway). This photo was no different.  I wasn't thrilled about it when I shot it, nor when I processed it (I thought it was "OK" at best), but the more I look at it and think about it, the image is growing on me.


The main issue for me at this location is the cluttered foreground and lack of strong/defined foreground. I've never been able to put it all together. For me, why this "works" or is growing on me, is I didn't focus on (non pun intended) a singular strong foreground element, and the closest foreground elements are somewhat far away (or at least apear to be far away @18mm on FF).  To eliminate my shadow from this photo, I had to "hide" the camera behind a small tree, set for 2 sec timer and lay flat on the ground before the shutter opened. lol.

And the particulars.

Focal length 18 mm
Exposure 1/8 at f/22
ISO speed ISO 200
Exposure bias +2/3 EV
2 Stop GND filter.

Re: The Golden Arches

Posted: Thu Jul 17, 2014 6:06 pm
by sury
Mere mortals like us would have framed that shot on our fire place. :)

I saw the image and was drawn by arches and nothing else registered
in my mind and I thought wow. Honestly I did not even look at the
foreground till you mentioned about it.

I want to thank you very much for providing the explanation on why it
did not work for you. It helped me to look at it from your point of view
and learn a thing or two about looking at it with a more "critical eye".

With best regards,

Re: The Golden Arches

Posted: Thu Jul 17, 2014 7:05 pm
by Lonnie Utah
The one thing that this image has going for it is nice pleasing colors. The primary colors of this photograph, the greens, oranges and blues both compliment and contrast to each other nicely. Something else I really like about this image, is it shows a lot of depth, which is something I usually strive for in these types of photos.

One of the other things I try to do in these types of photos is 1) Don't have any "protruding" or "distracting" elements that come in from the sides of the frames. 2). Don't chop off or bisect any major elements of the scene with the composition. As I mentioned before, in "busy" landscapes like this one, those two things can often be in opposition with one another and it can be difficult to achieve both. In this case, I'm not sure I achieved either one, altho I think I did better with #1 than with #2.

In order not to bisect the small tree lower left of the frame (near the bottom of the sandstone fin), creating a protruding element, I had to bisect the large sandstone massif on the right side of the frame. While I didn't like doing that, since I couldn't frame the entire sandstone fin containing the windows anyway, at least cutting off and bisecting sandstone on the right was a congruent theme with precedence in the image. I'm also sure that there was likely some other foreground element that would have protruded if I'd framed it more to the viewers right but I don't specifically remember right now.

My other issue with the image is I'm not 100% sure it's a balanced image. Again, it gets back to the massif on the right of the image. As is, the two arches or windows are roughly in the 3rd's of the frame. That's ok. I would have liked them more centered but this is close enough. The real issue with the massive with regards to balance is it's relative height and weight in the frame. I think it overloads that part of the image, and creates a bit of tension for the viewer.

In relation to that is the shadow area on the lower left corner of the frame. It doesn't have the same quality of light as the rest of the frame. Since it's roughly in opposition to the large sandstone massif I think it again creates a bunch of tension between those two elements. In my post processing, I brought up the shadows in the lower left as much as I felt comfortable without the fear of introducing noise or making it look unnatural. I actually darkened the lower right corner to make it balance more with the left corner.

Anyway, that's kind of my quick and dirty critique of my own image and why I don't think it sets the world on fire. Don't get me wrong, I think it's a great image (not that i'm biased or anything) and it looks as good as any number of the posters or post cards in the visitors center. It's just that there are some things about it that bug me.

Re: The Golden Arches

Posted: Fri Jul 18, 2014 12:48 am
by sury
All I can say is that I thoroughly enjoyed your description and it will take
sometime to process by my feeble brain. :D Thank you for the narrative
and more importantly, taking time for writing it. Though most on the forum
are seasoned veterans, it certainly has been enlightening to me.

I have been going back to the image to see what you meant and it started
making sense to me in terms of some of the frustration you feel/felt, though
frustration may be a strong word. Irritation, may be!hiccup!. For example, till you
mentioned, I did not see the incongruity of massive structure to the right in
relation to the rest of the arches.

With best regards,

Re: The Golden Arches

Posted: Fri Jul 18, 2014 4:47 pm
by RareTA
For my .02 worth I think it's just beautiful! I just wish it was my photo. I cannot stop looking at it.

Re: The Golden Arches

Posted: Fri Jul 18, 2014 4:59 pm
by mikehawthorne
the colours are golden the light must change from the time of day, you could keep taking photos forever of these rock formations.
they look as they were sculpterd by Henry Moore, BUT God always does a better job. nice shot.

mike hawthorne

Re: The Golden Arches

Posted: Wed Jul 23, 2014 9:14 pm
by Kalainen
I think this is a good well crafted shot. Some of your own critizism might apply to this image (might need more interesting foreground as you said), but I'm not sure if breaking image into pieces is always a best approach. If put to pieces, anything can be critized - and other way around, fullfilling everything by the detail might still not lead to perfect image. Don't overthink about it, it's a good picture. Still, I have to say I like you honesty about your own work. Accept the good and move on. Maybe go there again and try different composition at the same place with one bush at the foreground?


Toni Ahvenainen (1976)
Year of the Alpha - 52 Weeks of Sony Alpha Photography:
Flickr-account:[email protected]/