Photographing Horse Shoe Bend is a must do for photographers who are exploring the Arizona landscapes. Just 4 miles outside Page Arizona near lake Powell, the access is just off highway 89. Throngs of tourists travel each day to to see the Colorado river meander in a 360 degree bend in this amazing canyon. If you are afraid of heights you may not want to get to close to the edge. Looking directly over the edge is inspiring but it tends to pull you down the closer you get. It is about a 1000 foot drop to the bottom and people have fallen off this edge but fortunately not as often as you might think. Several weeks ago a tourist from Greece did fall after the soft sandstone edge gave way that he was standing on. Be Careful!
This hilly hike in soft sand is about 3/4 of a mile long in direct sunlight so bring lots of water and wear appropriate attire, hats and good hiking shoes. There is a contract now for improvements to the access to Horse Shoe Bend with closer walking trails, shaded huts and water for the elderly and handicapped. Right now there are no fees to visit. When you're done here head back to a beach at lake Powell and cool off a bit.
About our shot.
Susie and I arrived around 1pm to scout the location.It was a warm hike to the cliffs and only took us about 15 minutes. We scouted the rim for a good spot to set up. There where several choices but decided on a spot right of center that gave us a really nice view and was little bit away from the main throng of tourists. We noticed the 100 or so people around us and decided that we would return early this evening around 5:30 to get this spot for a 7:47 sunset shot.
When we arrived there where several young people standing at the exact spot we planned our setup. First come first serve is the motto of the canyon. But after a few minutes they moved on for different view. I quickly positioned the tripod at the edge of the rock outcropping a breathed a sigh of relief that we where lucky enough to have this view. It's a little like going to a concert venue with open seating be early to get the best seat in the house.
My gear included a Vangaurd tripod, Canon 5D markIII, 16-40mm lens with #6 graduated neutral density filter from Lee filters. After about a dozen test shots for composition all we had to do was wait for 2 hours for the sun to drop to the horizon. It actually was beautiful to watch the canyon change colors and expand shadows as the sun was setting. Susie walked around the landscape but never to close to the edge, her fear of heights was not misguided. We watched people come and go and a line of photographers set up along the edge. We met a really nice young couple from Montreal Canada and watched them as they did a high wire fashion shoot of themselves just 15 feet from us. It was fun, and time passed quickly.
For this shot I did a series of images as the sun was setting. I knew the lens flare was a little to much so after the sunset I waited about 10 minutes to capture another frame without flare so I could blend the images together. Obviously this technique requires a tripod so the images can be blended seamlessly. Post production was done in Adobe CC with enhancement filters used by NIK filters. Some dodging and burning and here it is.
More info about Horse Shoe Bend: http://www.yourhikeguide.com/horseshoe-bend/