The Bend - Horseshoe Bend, Arizona

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The Bend is finally here. I really wanted to take my time with this image. And I hope I didn't disappoint anyone, but there were a lot of feelings and emotions in this image and I wanted to make sure I got it all out. I will get to my thoughts and feelings in a minute, but like Miles M. says, if you are not a fan of my commentary quit reading at this point.


The Trip


Jave I have been talking about another bootcamp trip since the last one, and Jave's been itching to come out to the southwest for a while now. So we figured hey, why don't we go hit up Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon, and any other spots close to there. Either one of us had been to Horseshoe Bend or Antelope Canyon, so what the hell, lets go for it. Bootcamp Photography part 2 begins. Friday night Jave flies into Vegas. We sit and chat until about midnight, get a couple hours of sleep, and its off to AZ at 330 am. First stop, Zion National Park to meet up with the Zion killer John W. John has so many great images from Zion and Southern Utah that it makes me sick. Lucky bastard! We meet up with John and get skunked at Zion, but no biggie, that was a quick pit stop on the way to AZ. We head to AZ determined to catch some great light, although the skies were completely clear, and the forecast called for partly cloudy skies, our hopes for some great light were looking slim.


The Bend


We get to Page and meet up with Zia. Zia is the man you want to talk to for HUGE prints. We make our short hike to the Horseshoe Bend. Now, this is were all the emotions and everything else starts setting in. We are getting closer to the edge of the cliff, I'm guessing another 50 yards or so and Jave says "yo D, I'm scared of heights, what am I going to do?" I told him hold on, lets get to the edge first and see what's up. 10 to 15 feet from the edge is nothing, you can see the bottom of the canyon with no problems. 5 feet from the edge is like whoa.........scary. Less than 6 inches from the edge is SCARY beyond belief. I told Jave this is going to be tricky. He asks why..........I tell him to get the whole river in the frame, you MUST get inches away from the edge. I see the look in Jave's face like oh damn. It took me a good 15 minuets to convince Jave to come closer to the edge. I was scared myself, but we drove all this way to capture this amazing scene, it needed to be captured right and setting up close to the edge was the only way. The view is so amazing, its overwhelming to take it all in. The cliffs are super high and sketchy. I told him the easiest way to do this is, set all of our camera settings prior to setting up the tripod close to the edge.


set camera for auto bracketing - just in case, and for blending options

set ISO

get spirit level make sure horizon is straight as possible

set live view

keep my wireless remote in hand - this is a must at this location

set up graduated neutral density filter, I'm playing it safe with the hard edge 3 stop

take deep breaths before setting up close to the edge


now.........once I get everything set, I crawl closer to the edge, set up my tripod, set live view, and compose the image as best I can. I don't see all of the river in my live view..........damn it, I have to get even closer to the edge. I finally get all of the river in my live view screen, I'm ready to go. Wait........I have to place to grad accordingly. Ok, that's done. Now comes the wait. The clear skies slowly start to develop long streaking clouds coming from the east and heading west, we might be in luck. During this time I shot a small video clip to give everyone an idea of how we had to set up for our shot. I did some research, the drop from the rim to the canyon floor is 1000+ft. To kill time I lied down on the ground keeping my tripod within hands reach. There was no way I was going to be standing up looking over the edge waiting for the light to come. I just lay there just waiting patiently. The light is finally coming, we can tell that there is going to be some decent color this evening. Sure enough..............the light came. The sky was lighting up with all kinds of colors. It look like laser beams shooting across the sky. It was insane. Zia couldn't even believe the colors he was seeing. It was an unbelievable sight! The light came and it lasted 45 minuets after the sun passed the horizon. When we left, there was still color in the sky, and it was completely dark. I got the shots I wanted, once the light was gone and visibility was low, I was done. I wasn't sitting on the edge of that cliff any longer. It took a while for me to go to sleep that night. I was still fired up from the shoot, but I was in shock, and couldn't believe that I was that close to the edge to get that shot. My final thoughts on this image:


1. what are we doing?(us photographers) the things we do to get that shot.

2. I now understand why people do not get the whole river in the frame at this location.........they are scared to death, like I was, to set up their gear inches away from the rim of the canyon.

3. this IS by far........THE scariest place I've shot. Any images you see from here will not, prepare you for this place. It won't, you must witness the power of this place for yourself.

4. the most mentally challenging places I've shot.

5. I did it! ;-)


I wanted to give big thanks to Jean and Ellie for the support and info on this location.


I you haven't check out Jave's KILLER IMAGE from this spot, do so now!


Hope you guys enjoy this image, Happy Christmas to everyone, and thanks for the visit.

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Taken on December 11, 2010