Mesa Arch ~ an International Photographic Icon…

by Joe Bridwell

From Mesa Arch Sunrise

People come from all over the world to Canyonlands, Utah, to shoot sunrise at Mesa Arch. Yet, I rarely see a picture which shows Washer Woman Arch, Colorado River breaks, and White Rim Sandstone.

Google recently changed its cover photo size. I searched through my Lightroom catalog to find a compelling image to use as a new CFAM cover image.

Very early one morning, I shot a landscape panorama of Mesa Arch. This image shows 3 raw shots merged into 1 pano. Basic lighting elements are there. In the foreground there are the shadowed backside of Mesa Arch, a basal reflector, and a still-glowing underbelly of the arch itself.

From Mesa Arch Original

For the most part, the shadowed backdrop of Mesa Arch helps to form the eyelid. Light reflecting from the basal rocks was too bright. Light reflecting from the basal arch was not strong enough. And, through the distance, both Washerwoman Arch and the Colorado Breaks needed sharpening.

For cover shot impact, I worked up the image in Lightroom. I usually set white balance, contrast, highlights and shadows, clarity, and vibrance then do a medium contrast curve.

Lightroom also contains a Targeted Assessment Tool (TAT); perhaps the most brilliantly versatile painting tool of Adobe Camera Raw. When applied in HSL (Hue, Saturation, Luminosity) panel, you gain exquisite color control of regions where you want impact to skillfully draw one’s eye.

Our cover image acts as an eyelid to let me look through a frame and see the gorgeous aspects of the Colorado River below Canyonland’s high mesas. Sunrise emphasizes early morning colors, highlighting the base of Mesa Arch. Where it directly strikes the right edge, eye-catching color changes from amber to gold.

But, it’s Washerwoman and White Rim Sandstone _in sharp bas relief_ which acts as a compelling magnet for each viewer’s eye…

Enjoy, Comment, and Share!

About Joe 

Photographer, author, teacher with enhanced skill creating Award-Winning Photos. Joe uses Luminosity Masking and CFAM-Creating Fine Art Magic for his work!