Grand Circle — Monument Valley

I am in one of the most beautiful places in the entire world!

When the sun came up this morning, I was speechless — marveling at the beauty of God’s magnificent creation.

Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, Utah

We had arrived at legendary Monument Valley, Utah, more properly Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park — Navajo name, Tse’Bii’Ndzisgaii meaning valley of the rocks — one of the most majestic and most photographed points on earth. Monument Vally is a region of the Colorado Plateau characterized by a cluster of vast sandstone buttes, the largest reaching 1,000 ft (300 m) above the valley floor. It is located on the Arizona–Utah state line, near the Four Corners area. The valley lies within the range of the Navajo Nation Reservation. Monument Valley has been featured in many forms of media since the 1930s. Director John Ford used the location for a number of his best–known films (John Wayne’s Stagecoach), and thus, in the words of critic Keith Phipps, “its five square miles have defined what decades of moviegoers think of when they imagine the American West.”

I stood with one of the His Light Workshops photographers later this particular afternoon, and he remarked wistfully that we were so privileged to view some of this beautiful country that few people in the world are actually able to travel and see. All the His Light Workshops photographers met last night for orientation, and there are probably 25 or so of us. When we were told that we would meet at The Mittens canyon rim location 2 miles away at 5:00a.m. the next morning, I knew this photo shoot was going to be serious! I took in a deep breath and thought, “Lord You have surely are taking me on quite an adventure here.”

And what an adventure it truly was today! All of us were loaded into 4-wheel suburbans at 5:30a.m. and driven by Navajo guides several miles into some places in Monument Valley that are only available with special drivers and 4-wheel vehicles. We spent several hours in the first location between two buttes, facing the sunrise. A bitter but refreshing cold chill until the sun started peaking over the red rocks. Wow! A view like this on the first morning photo shoot just after sunrise lets you know something very special is going to happen for everyone. And it was just the beginning. It was an absolute pleasure to watch these other photographers think through their shots. It was so exciting for me to be able to watch some photographers live in person that I have learned from through their books and online training. Think Bill Fortney, Jim Begley, R.C. Concepcion, Matt Kloskowski!

I must have shot hundreds of photos with my Nikon D7000 and I am sharing just a selection in the gallery here. We spent hours and hours traveling around the Monument Valley floor today — varied lighting and exposure, a real challenge. There is a deep level of learning that takes place when you shoot for these many hours with others who are professional photographers. Jim Begley showed me how to shoot panoramas — hand held, by the way. Bill Fortney showed me how to capture the ripples of the sand dunes and he actually put my camera on his tripod for the shots. Then Bill talked to all us about our Nikon cameras — I loved this conversation. He has represented Nikon for years and truly is a Nikon legend. I got to tell two of my favorite photographers, Matt Kloskowski and R.C. Concepcion, how much I appreciate their books and teaching online. And I just have to say how much fun it was to focus on God’s creation and say again and again, “Lord, You are truly amazing. Your beauty causes me to praise and thank You!”

So there I was standing on John Ford Point looking out over his favorite view of Monument Valley. And I have to say it’s one of mine also. And I could understand why it was so important, so loved for inspiration, creation, and definition. For a moment I stood in the same space. Every detail forming an impression. Then, I started shooting what I felt out there on that lone rock gazing out into another world altogether lovely, painted with color and light.

Of course, I took many HDR (high dynamic range) photos and I just cannot wait to work with them all in post-processing. I will also be learning more HDR from R.C. Concepcion in a few days at our workshops sessions at Page, Arizona. I also took quite a few more artistic photos like the one shared in this gallery, an area called “The Sun’s Eye.” Some of the most beautiful photos come from taking time at a location and working the photo to get the very best view, composition, and exposure.

So, tomorrow I am up at 4:00a.m. again to shoot the sunrise. Then, all of us are off to Page, Arizona, to shoot The Slots at Lower Antelope Canyon for a few hours. And, then we’re off again headed to Bryce Canyon National Park. No sand under our feet. As I said at the beginning of this post, I am on a serious adventure. But let me also say this — I am having the time of my life. I am loving every second of it and I trust that the Lord is going to use my writing and photography for His glory.

Always be ready for the adventure. I can hardly believe I’m on this one and I am so thankful to all who made it possible for me. Still thinking about Ephesians 3:20 — “Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine according to the power that is at work within us.”

Today’s photography adventure was one for the books — loved the people, the fellowship, and the incredible locations. As I lay my head on my pillow, I am till savoring the experiences we all had today.

♥ God bless you in the great adventure of knowing Him!


Featured Image Courtesy of Bill Fortney, His Light Ministries, captured in Monument Valley, Utah.

myPhotoWalk — Grand Circle Red Rock Adventure — Featured Posts

The Grand Circle is a beautiful, expansive region located in the Southwestern United States. Encompassing portions of five states — Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, and Nevada — the Grand Circle contains America’s largest concentration of national parks and monuments, linked together by nationally designated Scenic Byways. Some of America’s most extraordinary scenery can be found within the Grand Circle — Grand Canyon National Park, Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Lake Powell, Arches National Park, Monument Valley, Utah, and Antelope Canyon, Arizona.

Bill Fortney, a world renowned professional photographer and Nikon legend, founded His Light Ministries upon John 8:12 (NKJV), “Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.'” He conducts His Light Workshops in spectacular photography locations such as Monument Valley, Utah, Glacier National Park, Montana, and The Great Oregon Coast.
Bill Fortney, His Light Ministries

— myPhotoWalk

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