— Dane Creek

Six Minutes of Insanity

I’ve been in the Moab, UT, area for the last week on a workshop with Andy Biggs and Bret Edge. It’s been an interesting run of moody skies with lots of clouds, but no real sunrises or sunsets to speak of. Looking at my selects for the week they’re almost all in black and white: a sure sign we haven’t had much luck with golden light.

Tonight looked to be the same. It was snowing like crazy when we left Moab for Arches National Park. During our first stop I just took photos of everyone standing around in the snow talking about funny Internet videos.

We moved to Skyline Arch for our last stop of the evening. It had stopped snowing but the sky was completely grey. Here’s what things looked like at 5:15:31 PM, facing roughly east:

5:15:31 PM. (Photo/Neil Enns)

Yuck. For reference, here’s the sky to the west at 5:30:19 PM:

5:30:19 PM. (Photo/Neil Enns)

Yuck. But see that little band of light? That little band of light caused six minutes of total insanity:

5:56:21 PM. (Photo/Neil Enns)
5:56:21 PM: The light arrives.

5:59:25 PM on Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013. (Photo/Neil Enns)
5:59:25 PM: BOOM!

6:02:34 PM on Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013. (Photo/Neil Enns)
6:02:34 PM: It’s over.

I have never moved so fast when shooting. Ever. I had the wrong lens on the camera when the light hit (I was facing west, looking at the cloud band) and seriously considered throwing my 70-200 lens into the snow just to get it off the camera so I could mount the 24-70 before the light went away. At one point I was holding the 70-200 by its tripod foot in my teeth. Somehow I managed to get things wired up and took not one but two portfolio-worthy photos:

Skyline Arch, in Arches National Park, UT, is washed in golden light at sunset on Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013. (Photo/Neil Enns)
Golden light washes over Skyline Arch in Arches National Park, UT, at sunset on Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013. (Photo/Neil Enns)

Rock fins in Arches National Park, UT, are washed in sunset light on Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013. (Photo/Neil Enns)
Sunset light washes over rock fins in Arches National Park, UT, on Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013. (Photo/Neil Enns)

The fins shot was taken at 6:01:39 PM, less than a minute before the sun slipped behind the far mountain range and all the side lighting was gone.

I got very, very, lucky.