Monument Valley 2000

January 13, 2009 ·

Michael Reichmann

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In April of 2000 I lead a landscape photography workshop inMonument Valley Arizona. The photographs on this page were taken by me during the 3 days of the workshop. 

If you would like to see the photographs taken by several of the workshop members please clickhere.

In December, 2000 IreturnedtoMonument Valleyas part of a broader visit toIndian Country. Obviously I can’t get enough.

A year earlier, in April 1999, I visited Monument Valley for the first time. A travel article and portfolio based on that visit can be foundhere.

The Photographs

Mittens Silhouette, 200

This classic view from the overlook at the visitor’s center has been photographed a million times, but it never ceases to please. Every sunrise shooting opportunity is a surprise happening. Some please tremendously, others disappoint. This one had a quiet elegance that perfectly matched the majesty of the vista.

Photographed with a Hasselblad XPan and 90mm lens on Provia 100F

Totem Pole Sunrise, 2000

I decided to include this second sunrise silhouette because it provides a transition between the first image above and the one below‚ in the first case because of style and in the second because of subject matter. 

TheYei Bi Cheiformation dominates the interior of the valley. AfterThe Mittensit’s likely the most photographed rock formation. 

This and the next photograph were taken a couple of miles, some 12 hours and 180 degrees apart.

Photographed with a Hasselblad XPan and 90mm lens on Provia 100F

Tumbleweed Dunes, 2000

This image was taken from the dunes area below theTotem Pole. We had been taken there by our Navajo guide,Tom Phillips(520-674-1960). A guide is a must to be able to visit some of the more interesting locations within the valley, and Tom is highly experienced in working with photographers.He receives my highest recommendation!

This shot, taken about 45 minutes before sunset, is almost hard to believe‚ it appears so surreal. I mistakenly over-polarized the sky because I was using such a wide-angle lens, but since the darkening adds to the drama I don’t really mind it.

Photographed with a Rollei 6008 and Schneider 40mm Super-Angulon lens on Provia 100F

Mokey Dougway Sunrise, 2000

About a hour northwest of Monument Valley onHighway 261lies a stretch of unpaved road called theMokey Dougway. (I have no idea why it’s called this, or what it means.

Hwy 261 itself is a normal paved road through the mountains, but for this roughly 3 mile section only the curves are paved. The reason is that it’s one of the steepest sections of roads I’ve ever encountered, with several 10% grades. Our rented 4-wheel-drive Chevy Blazers bucked and skipped their axels trying to climb this road in the pre-dawn light. The smell of burning transmission oil was most apparent. A scary but wonderful drive.

At the top of the pass (7,100 feet above sea level) is a wide look-out and parking area with a view of Monument Valley and surroundings some 2,000 feet below. 

We had scouted this location the afternoon before and determined that this might be a great sunrise spot. It was also along the way to our location for later that day,Natural Bridges National Monument

This spot and that morning’s light didn’t disappoint‚ as can be seen from the photograph above. I almost blew the shot though because I wasn’t able to use a strong enough split neutral density filter. It took a great deal of work in PhotoShop to pull detail out of the shadows without destroying the lovely colours in the sky.

Photographed with a Rollei 6008 and Schneider 300mm APO Tele-Xenar on Provia 100F

Coral Layered Sunrise, 2000

Not long after the photograph above was taken the brilliant colours softened, and just before the day began I took this frame. I’m always on the look-out for what I call "layered landscapes", and this is an almost perfect example of how atmospheric haze can produce soft yet vibrant images.

Photographed with a Rollei 6008 and Schneider 300mm APO Tele-Xenar and 1.4 extender on Provia 100F

North Window Panorama, 2000

I waited almost half an hour for the clouds to produce just the right pattern of light and shadow on the valley floor below this perspective from theNorth Window. If ever there was a scene worth of being called aLuminous Landscape, this is it.

If you click on the image above you will see, as usual, a slightly larger version.  But, if you have a fast cable or DSL modem (or a lot of patience) you may clickhereto view a version that’s 18" wide!

Photographed with a Hasselblad XPan and 30mm lens on Provia 100F

The Tear Drop, 2000

This image through theTear Dropwindow is one of the most famous views in the Monument Valley area. FromAdamstoMeunch, southwest photographers have interpreted this view and made it their own.

We visited in late afternoon when the sun was full on the foreground rock. At first I was disappointed by the flat light, but then realized that at any other time of day all that one would have would be a silhouette.

Photographed with a Rollei 6008 and 90mm Schneider APO-Makro lens on Provia 100F

Red Sandstone & Tree, 2000

The workshop group was finishing shooting sunrise nearYei Bi Cheiand were returning to the trucks to move on to our next location of the morning. Opposite where we were parked was an immense red-sandstone cliff face bathed in the warm light of the rising sun.

Several of us commented that when they saw a print of this shot no one would ever believe that this colour could be real. And I wasn’t even using Velvia!

Photographed with a Rollei 6008 and 300mm Schneider APO Tele-Xenar on Provia 100F

To keep the loading time of this page shorter, additional photographs from Monument Valley and area are to be found onthis page.

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Michael Reichmann is the founder of the Luminous Landscape. Michael passed away in May 2016. Since its inception in 1999 LuLa has become the world's largest site devoted to the art, craft, and technology of photography. Each month more than one million people from every country on the globe visit LuLa.

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