Rock Formations

On my most recent workshop to Utah, one of our outings was the iconic Mesa Arch (MA). If you are not aware of the area or know about Mesa Arch, it is one of the most photographed places of the area known as the Islands in the Sky District of the Canyonlands National Park, Utah.

There are a few good reasons why this particular spot attracts many visitors. Although it is approximately 40 minute drive from Moab, the site is straight off the main road. There is a nice easy loop to hike leading to this infamous Mesa Arch. It is indeed a BEAUTIFUL site to see. However, in the Spring and Summer, one must arrive very early in order to claim a spot in front of this arch. I have been here twice now and both times we were on the road by 4:30 am and by the time we arrived, there were at least a handful of people with their tripods claiming their spot to photograph the sunrise at MA.

As I was going through my images, I noticed that I do not have that iconic image… and I started to wonder why? I mean it is quite beautiful and I would certainly love to have my own version of this photo and have that memory of how magical the sunrise can be at this location. But then I came across images such as this one and I can tell you that this image indeed takes me back to that magical morning…..

The lesson I realized is that I do not always have to capture the exact same image that has been popularized. There are so many great images of what is known as “Mesa Arch” and many people have and still want to capture that trophy shot. There is nothing wrong with that at all. But, for me, having a different view of this area that continues to remind me of this particular morning – its crisp cool air and how the rising of the sun illuminated the mesas as they peeked through the fog… does not make me feel like I missed the shot.

The rock formations are what is normally seen through MA as the background of the iconic image. These formations are known as the Washboard Woman on the left, Monster Tower to the right of her and just behind them is Airport Tower.

What are your thoughts? Is taking the trophy shot is still the goal or would you be happy with your own version of that iconic place? Please let me know in the comments!