I’ve said it a hundred times before…I’m a research junkie. When I’m planning a photo trip I spend untold hours online looking at images, checking out maps, getting weather reports, I even check Photographer’s Ephemeris to see what angles the sun will be at when I’m shooting. My efforts are doubled or tripled when I’m going to an area I’ve never visited before so I won’t spend hours on location wondering what to shoot. In short, I feel that this kind of preparation is just as crucial as knowing your equipment’s capabilities and limitations.
This trip came together pretty quick. A lot of elements that were previously pretty nebulous came together at once and made the trip possible. Unfortunately, or fortunately, some of the elements fell apart while I was on the road but that’s part of the story.
Item 1: I have recently gotten the urge to become proficient at night sky shooting. Problem is, my venerable old Canon 40D just doesn’t have the high ISO capabilities to do a proficient job at it so I’ve been on the lookout for a new camera. Research and budget constraints narrowed my choices to either a Canon 7D or 60D. I was able to find a screaming deal on a 60D which made the choice for me. Better still, I was able to modify the RRS L-bracket from my 40D to work with the 60D by simply grinding off a little nub that was hitting on the strap loop. Voila! I saved myself $130.
Item 2: A couple of weeks ago a photog friend of mine mentioned that he would be in Southeast Utah the weekend of Oct 20 (Photographer’s Ephemeris) to shoot some things he’d been wanting to shoot and I would be welcome to meet up with him. I found out where he would be on Friday night/Saturday morning and arranged to meet him near Moab, UT. That later fell apart and he couldn’t make it but heck, I always like going to Moab and it would be my first chance to see my buddy Bret Edge’s new gallery space.
Item 3: The weather was predicted to be favorable for night sky shooting so with new 60D in hand I headed west after work Friday night, pulling into town in Moab around 1:00am. I scoped out the gallery location on Main St and then headed up towards Canyonlands National Park to see if my other buddy was there. No luck finding him so I found a place to pull off the road and get some sleep.
Long story short: I didn’t shoot very much during the day on Saturday. I have several images of Dead Horse Point and Green River Overlook with cloudless skies so I probably won’t shoot there again till there is some atmosphere. I did manage to enjoy a beautiful sunrise at DHP, just without clouds. Maybe next time.
Saturday was spent looking for a nice sunset shot location and napping. I rolled into town around 7pm and spent some time talking to Bret at the gallery before heading out to Arches National Park for some night sky shooting at Balanced Rock. I woke up Sunday morning to another cloudless sunrise and decided on the spur of the moment to head south. Bret couldn’t get away to shoot, my other buddy hadn’t returned any messages or calls, and I had no clouds to make great new sunrise images so I headed south. Stopped in Blanding to find the Edge of Cedars museum was closed on Sunday. What to do, what to do?
I was sitting in the parking lot of Edge of Cedars eating a sandwich when the little man in my head started repeating “go to Bisti…go to Bisti…go to Bisti.” I figured what the heck, let’s go to Bisti. I have plenty of time to get there before late afternoon and I don’t have to be home till Monday evening so south I headed…and here’s where things got all twisted up.
As I said, I’m a research junkie and about 3 years ago I did some research on Bisti thinking I would be making a trip there. That trip didn’t come to pass for many reasons but I still had the information in my mind..I thought. I got to the parking area of Bisti with plenty of good light left and my first thought was “What the heck? This isn’t what I’ve seen in my friends’ images of this place.” The images I had in my mind were beautiful blue and pastel formations…everything I see here is either red or tan or brown. In fact, it’s all pretty ugly. But what the heck, I started walking towards the hills. Problem is, I didn’t remember well enough from my previous research how to find the locations I was looking for. I got no earthly idea where to find the cracked eggs! I got no map…no recollection…nobody to guide me to them…nothing. I walked around the hills and hoodoos for an hour before deciding I needed to get some images even if they weren’t what I was there for. I did manage to come away with a couple of images that I like but certainly not what I was hoping for.
Bottom line, I went against one of my oldest best habits and just showed up. I didn’t find the cracked eggs, the wings, the spaceship, or any of the things I want to shoot at Bisti. I need to get a good map or have one of my photog buddies guide me to the eggs. And there lies the moral of the story:
I’m sure you’ve heard the saying: If Life gives you Lemons, make Lemonade. If Life gives you Limes, find someone that Life has given Tequila and make Margaritas.
So, if any of my photog buddies out there have been to Bisti, know where the Eggs are, and have an over abundance of Tequila and a taste for Margaritas, let’s go to Bisti next spring. I’ll bring the limes and salt.