Arches National Park is truly unique, and merits more than a few hours of hiking, but I wanted to get underway to the Colorado National Monument before sunset, meaning I was stuck with harsh late afternoon light on Delicate Arch.
The trail to Delicate Arch is 3 miles (round trip) from the parking lot at the trailhead. The temperature was over 90 degrees and I went through nearly 2 liters of water.The hike begins easy and level, then gradually ascends up the rockface, on which the trail is occasionally marked by distinctive stacks of stones. After passing the first few trail markers, we unfortunately lost the path and ended up with this non-traditional perspective of Delicate Arch. Looking over a cliff, we had a fantastic view of the professional photographers who had remained on the trail, and achieved the perspective I was hoping for. (I had to clone stamp a few of them out of this photo) From that famous viewpoint, one sees blue and white Colorado mountains through and around the yellow-orange arch.
From this unique vantage point, I focused on capturing the peculiar shapes of Delicate Arch and the neighboring rock features by zooming in to isolate them in the frame, making sure to leave plenty of space around them. The rocks were painted a wonderful red-orange, but the bland blue sky was less than exciting. In Lightroom, I eschewed the colors and accentuated the shapes and textures with grayscale, and adjusted the curves to darken the shadows a bit while preserving the bright sky and the textures on the rockface. Some added vignetting really makes the rock features stand out and centers ones’s focus in the image.