Panorama Discovery


Mesa Arch Sunrise — Canyonlands NP © jj raia

During a 4-week southwest trip in 2014, after shooting a great sunset, I met two other photographers in Utah’s Canyonlands National Park. Jeff was from New Jersey and on a several month cross-country photo trip living out of a tiny Honda Fit, and Walter was a photographer from California living out of a giant Toyota SUV complete with a full-size mattress in the back. The three of us decided to meet up the next morning at 4am to get a preferred spot at Mesa Arch, one of the most iconic sunrise locations in all of the southwest.

It was there that Walter strongly suggested I should consider making panoramas instead of single frame images, and so I tried a simple three frame panorama of Mesa Arch which is among the favorites from the entire trip. I did a few more during the remaining weeks of the trip, but had totally forgotten about the one below.

Clearing Storm — Cape Royal, Grand Canyon, AZ © jj raia

Clearing Storm — Cape Royal, Grand Canyon, AZ © jj raia

It was discovered recently while searching through some photos in preparation for a talk about that trip, and wondered why I had no recollection of taking the frames for it, or processing it later on. Generally, when I see a photo of mine, it draws up the memory of its making and where it was, even if there is nothing in the photo itself to indicate the location. But even though I do not recall the making of this particular photo, I do remember several of the other single frame images from that afternoon. And more importantly, I have vivid memories of the entire time spent at Cape Royal on the north rim of the Grand Canyon!!

You would think that such a grand, north rim vista would be a huge draw for folks to witness a sunset there. But unimagineably, I was the only one there to experience the setting sun that day. Amazingly alone, on the rim of the Grand Canyon for a glorious sunset. Who woulda thunk it? Afterward, I made dinner in the empty parking lot, and probably would have done some Milky Way photography had it not been for the heavy cloud cover, but I was content to just soak it all in and spend the night there in solitude after an afternoon of memorable photography.

I was expecting to see a few more cars in the lot in the morning for sunrise, but mine remained the only one in the huge lot there. I had the whole place to myself from first light through early morning, with no need to jockey for position as the folks who came after us at Mesa Arch.

Morning after the Storm — Cape Royal, Grand Canyon, AZ © jj raia

Morning after the Storm — Cape Royal, Grand Canyon, AZ © jj raia

I was setting up for what would probably be the final photo of the morning, when a couple wandered by and sat directly in front of me, without any consideration that they might be interfering with the view! The sun had risen high enough by then to cast some shadows creating several layers illustrating the great distance of the view looking west. I am actually more upset as I write now, than I was then. Having just spent such a long time there without another sole, and capturing so many wonderful photos prior to their arrival, I simply asked if they would point to their left, and included them in the final frame. A true Kodak moment with the obligatory red jacket!! After all, they sat down in the perfect position, with the sunlight hitting them while against the broad shadow of the sweeping arm of the rim to our left. I left there full of excitement and anticipation as I headed toward the south rim.

To be continued next week…

2 thoughts on “Panorama Discovery

    1. Thanks for the kind words. You might want to see some of the over 200 blog posts from my former website Blog posts go all the way back to 2014 when it began with the trip just described through the southwest for four weeks. Originally, it was just an easier way to write in the journal which, up until then, was done with paper and pencil (I know, prehistoric). It was also a way for the family to know what I was up to while away for that month. I hope you continue to enjoy the posts; and if you have any suggestions on a subject to cover, please feel free to make a suggestion.


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