The Wave

"The Wave", for those who don't know, is a small area of wind-swept sandstone deep in the Utah / Arizona wilderness that has become a prime destination for nature and landscape photography. It's also very challenging to get to, as access to the land is granted to a maximum of 20 people per day, and it's a pretty good hike (especially with 40lbs on your back) across slickrock and sand, originating in Utah and ending in Arizona, and the road to access the trail head doubles as a flood plain, making it weather dependant too.


Last spring we attempted to get access through the Bureau of Land Management's daily access lottery, after already having attempted to win passes months before. To get access this time we entered the lottery back in November and, though I didn't win, someone else in our group did (John), and with that our whole Southwest was set underway around this date.


John, Suad, Scott, and I set out relatively early in the morning and arrived at the wave itself, seen here, around noon after making one lengthy side trip along the way. Noon is prime time to see the wave as there are not strong shadowed areas and the colors really light up well. We were cursed with a bit of overcast weather for this hike (and the whole trip) which meant the light was very flat - meaning no harsh shadows which expands the window during which you can easily shoot the way, and comparatively dull colors. Since the colors were so muted I made sure to switch to 'cloudy' white balance to restore some of the color. We were all in place ready to shoot when the sun broke through the overcast skies and fired off some shots before the sunlight disappeared and this is what I came away with.


This is a very common perspective on the Wave and, having seen it, I can also understand why. It's the natural vantage point for shooting the wave and lends itself well to photography. So I'm starting here, with the most recognizable perspective, and I should be adding to this shot with additional shots of The Wave and other places withing the Coyote Buttes North Wilderness.


Nikon D90 | Sigma 10-20@16mm | f/7.1 | 1/320s | Tripod

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Taken on February 6, 2009