Here is a sequence of photos taken on a single winter evening at the foothills of the Sandia Mountains east of Albuquerque, New Mexico, showing the fleeting light of a sunset after a dusting of snow. Often, the primary difference between a good photograph and a great one is the presence of unique light. To increase the possibilities of getting great light, photographers often go out before sunrise and at sunset. The soft, horizontal light in the evening is often called the golden hour. This light allows the photographer to capture a scene that is more evenly illuminated without the harsh contrast of bright sun and dark shadows that are present during most of the day. FYI, the sunset glow photo was captured with a 300mm lens.
“Our Lady of the Canyon” photograph, in my Arizona Portfolio, was taken in Antelope Canyon, a small sandstone canyon carved by wind and water erosion over millions of years, located on the Navajo Reservation in Northern Arizona. This photo recently won 2nd place out of thousands of entries at the Hubbard Museum Fall Photo Contest in New Mexico. This location is known as a “slot” canyon and may only be three feet across when viewed from above, but is over 100 feet from the rim to the natural floor.
Reflected light bounces off of the canyon walls, resulting in tones from bright gold near the most intense light, to soft blues where the light is more diffused. At high noon shafts of sunlight pierce through the openings at the canyon top to the floor below. Wind blowing the sand into the canyon illuminates these sunbeams. Most often one simply sees a beautiful ray of light. But as captured in this fine art photograph, a figure of a woman wearing a headscarf and outstretched arms is very visible in the fourth photo of this sequence, “Our Lady of the Canyon.” In the actual photograph, if you look closely, you can see the streaks of sand falling. Long exposures and a tripod are required to capture the light in this canyon. Below are the photographs that led up to this once-in-a-lifetime image.