Travel: Arches National Park – Part 2: Monochrome

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Arch & La Sal – Arches NP, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

Part 1

As I mentioned in part one, the lighting for photography was pretty terrible during the few hours that I was at Arches National Park. Still, the place was nothing short of amazing! I wanted to capture it all, and found that black-and-white was often a better choice than color. I think if I had been there closer to sunrise or sunset, color would have been the way to go. Because I was up against the harsh midday sun, monochrome seemed to better express the abnormally stunning landscape.

On the X100F I used my Acros and Acros Push-Process film simulations, except that I had the dynamic range set to DR400. I often chose Acros+R to simulate the use of a red filter (making the blue sky darker), although the results are closer to what one would get with an orange filter in real black-and-white film photography and not a red filter. On the X-A3 I primarily used the B&W+R film simulation with the highlights and shadows set to +2, which seems to give the right amount of contrast in most situations.

All of the photographs in this article are camera-made JPEGs. If I had relied on RAW and used Lightroom or some other software on my computer, I’d probably still be editing the pictures. Instead, I saved a ton of time and relied on the camera’s great JPEG processor. I’m happy with the results. I didn’t capture any portfolio worthy pictures, but all things considered, I managed at least a few decent photographs that I’m proud to show here. I just hope for the opportunity to return and photograph Arches National Park in better light.

If you ever have the chance to go, I highly recommend this place. It’s so unusual, filled with seemingly impossible formations and brilliant colors. It’s a landscape photographer’s playground. Or just a great place to wander in the wonder of nature. I enjoyed my short visit to Arches National Park, and I cannot wait to return, hopefully sooner than later.

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Park Avenue – Arches NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Queen Nefertiti – Arches NP, UT – Fuji X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

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Beanpole – Arches NP, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

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Mt. Peale In The Distance – Arches NP, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

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La Sal Range – Arches NP, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

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Monochrome Rocks – Arches NP, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

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Gossip – Arches NP, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

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Balanced Rock – Arches NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Balance – Arches NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Graboid – Arches NP, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

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Monument – Arches NP, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

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Window Arch & La Sal – Arches NP, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

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Bird Flew – Arches NP, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

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Monochrome Arch – Arches NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Rock Window – Arches NP, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

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Mt Peale – Arches NP, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

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Tree In Rocky Terrain – Arches NP, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

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Window Arch In Monochrome – Arches NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Cairn & Arch – Arches NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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The Desert Is Unforgiving – Arches NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Three Stone Peaks – Arches NP, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

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Monochrome Layers – Arches NP, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

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Over The Desert Ridge – Arches NP, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

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Hidden Human Head – Arches NP, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

Travel: Arches National Park – Part 1: Color

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North Windows Arch – Arches NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

I moved from California to Utah almost two years ago. One reason that my wife and I chose Utah was its proximity to many great National Parks. So far we’ve made it to a few, but not nearly as many as I would like. Last week the opportunity came to take my family to Moab, Utah, to see Arches National Park, and so we went.

When I was a kid my family visited Arches National Park, but it had been nearly three decades since I was last there. In fact, I was near the age of my two oldest children. Even though it had been a long time, the park seemed familiar, and I was constantly saying, “Oh, I remember this!” It was really good to return, and to share the experience with my family.

The weather was quite pleasant. It was sunny with blue skies. The temperature was little cool but not cold, far from scorching hot like it gets in the summer and not freezing cold like it was that same day at my house near Salt Lake City. We were there midday, so the lighting was about as awful for photography as one could find. The shadows were deep and the light-colored rocks were reflecting the brilliant sunlight. Trying to balance the exposures was a tricky task, because it was easy to have blocked-up shadows or blown highlights or both.

Arches National Park is simply amazing! The odd red rock formations seem like something from another planet. The place looks fragile and even sometimes impossible. It’s a grand landscape in a harsh and barren desert. It’s worth seeing, if you ever find yourself in southern Utah. If you do go, make sure you download onto your phone the GyPSy automated tour guide app. It’s the best few dollars I’ve spent on an app ever.

I brought along a Fujifilm X100F, which is the camera I most enjoy using, and a Fujifilm X-A3 with a Jupiter 21M lens attached, which is my telephoto option. I used DR400 on both cameras because of the harsh light conditions. I used Velvia, PRO Neg. HiClassic Chrome and Eterna film simulations for these images. All of these pictures are straight-out-of-camera JPEGs.

I don’t believe that I captured any great color images at Arches National Park, but I do think I got a few decent exposures. It just wasn’t a good lighting, and photography is about light perhaps more than anything else. I do hope to return sometime in the near future, and maybe I’ll be able to photograph the place under better conditions.

It’s very difficult to capture anything remotely unique when visiting a heavily photographed location. Thousands of pictures are made inside Arches National Park every day. I always attempt at unique, knowing full well that I will probably fail. Are these pictures art? Maybe a couple of them. Mostly they’re snapshots, simple memory aids for my family. I hope you appreciate what I captured and that you enjoy these pictures.

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Close Knit Rock Family – Arches NP, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

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Cliff Dwelling – Arches NP, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

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Outdoor Kids – Arches NP, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

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Birds Allowed – Arches NP, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

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Green Tree, Red Rock – Arches NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Down The Steps – Arches NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Under The Arch – Arches NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Kids In The Window – Arches NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Looking Through Windows Arch – Arches NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Turret Arch – Arches NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Trail To Turret Arch – Arches NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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South Window Arch – Arches NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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A Harsh Dry Land – Arches NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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The Red Desert – Arches NP, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

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Reaching – Arches NP, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

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Hot & Cold – Arches NP, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

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Delicate Arch – Arches NP, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

Part 2: Arches National Park in Monochrome