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Thread: Monument Valley

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    Monument Valley

    I am going to Phoenix at the end of January on a business trip and plan on going up 3 days early for a little personal workshop at Monument Valley (too early to make the GetDPI workshop). I plan on staying at the View Hotel for a couple of nights.

    I am trying to get some insight to shooting in Monument Valley. Best times - sunrise or sunset?? Also, it appears you cannot travel (walk/drive) around on your own to take pictures, but needed to hire a guide. Am I reading that correctly?

    Any other insights, do's/don't or other locations around that area that are nice that time of year for would be appreciated.

    Tim

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    Senior Member Leicadoc's Avatar
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    Re: Monument Valley

    Canyon de Chelley is said to be worth the trip, not far south.
    Michael

    Leica and Canon

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    Senior Member kdphotography's Avatar
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    Re: Monument Valley

    Actually, Tim, you can drive around "the loop" on your own and stop at various locations to take photos. To get access to the back areas off the beaten path, you will need to pay a guide. Don Libby and I are seriously thinking about setting up a playdate there this summer...

    Have a great trip!

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    Re: Monument Valley

    Ken, in looking at your website - it looks like you also visited Horseshoe bend and Upper Antelope Canyon. Sounds like Upper Antelope Canyon is not at it's best in late January, but still looks like doing.

    A couple of questions:
    Horseshoe bend - what time is best time to shoot (sunset, sunrise or early morning) and what lens (35mm equiv) is needed to caputre the full view?

    Upper Antelope - what lens(es) would you suggest taking on the tour (35mm equiv). Any suggestions on which tour group to take or places to stay?

    Thanks,

    Tim

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    Re: Monument Valley

    Monument valley is great when the sun is low because of the huge number of panoramic vistas. I drove the loop with friends, and we spend several hours stopping and shooting. Mid day sun was really not very attractive, and being stuck on the loop prevented much in the way of creative angles to "use" mid day light. If your driving gets you there mid day then do the afternoon drive, and then consider doing it again early the next morning for a completely different "set of lights". Don't forget to check the weather and moon phase and angles. The public access point is actually one of the best views and may be the only "night shot" you can get.
    Also check photoguides for the area. There are some stunning views of public lands on the way in to MV. And definitely look up Mexican Hat. Stop and get a steak at the "Swinging Steak" (?) There is a cowboy outside cooking steaks on a huge swinging grill - one of the best dinners we had on the trip.

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    Senior Member kdphotography's Avatar
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    Re: Monument Valley

    Quote Originally Posted by timwier View Post
    Ken, in looking at your website - it looks like you also visited Horseshoe bend and Upper Antelope Canyon. Sounds like Upper Antelope Canyon is not at it's best in late January, but still looks like doing.

    A couple of questions:
    Horseshoe bend - what time is best time to shoot (sunset, sunrise or early morning) and what lens (35mm equiv) is needed to caputre the full view?

    Upper Antelope - what lens(es) would you suggest taking on the tour (35mm equiv). Any suggestions on which tour group to take or places to stay?

    Thanks,

    Tim
    Typical early or later in the day for Horseshoe Bend is when I recall being out there. It's an easy walk out. You need to go wide to take in Horseshoe (or stitch). I shot with a MFDB, so not real sure in "35mm terms" but I'd suggest in the 20mm range. (16-35, 17-40...)

    Again, much the same for Antelope. I used a Mamiya 35mm with a P30 MFDB. You'll want a good wide angle lens---you don't want to be changing lenses once you're inside the slots. Sturdy tripod, cable release. I liked www.overlandcanyontours.com ----they know what photographers want... There are a number of hotels in Page, AZ. Nothing too exciting---we stayed at the Holiday Inn Express....

    I really enjoyed myself at both MV and Page---looking to head back there again with Don Libby maybe in June... Have a great trip!

    ken

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    Re: Monument Valley

    Monument Valley is one of my favorite places to shoot as everywhere you look you see the footprints of John Ford and John Wayne. It's also one of the most technically challenging I've shot at. The major challenge is attempting to convey the sense of space and color. This area needs light to reflect off the sandstone buttes in order to capture the beauty of the color. You also need blue skies with plenty of clouds to incorporate in the image. While I like shooting Monument Valley in color it looks just as good if not better in black & white. Best times during the day to shoot is either sunrise or sunset as late morning into afternoon just sucks.

    The loop is 14 miles long and dirt. A normal 2-wheel drive is capable of making the drive so long as you take it slow and you're prepared for ruts and sand.

    Valley of the Gods is just west of here and about a 30-minute drive and reminds me of a mini Monument Valley. Gods also has a 17-mile dirt road however it's a bit more rugged than the drive in MV. Monument Valley is on the Navajo Nation and you'll pay a $5.00 entrance fee (per person) which is good for that day. Valley of the Gods is on Bureau of Land Management land thus no fee. Valley of the Gods acted as the secret hiding place for the helicopter in the TV show "Airwolf".

    Horseshow Bend sits at the bottom of several thousand feet cliff. Walking up to the overlook you need to look straight down to see the bend in the Colorado River. As near as memory served me this site faces west so a very large portion if not all of it will be in deep shadow until late morning.

    Slot Canyons - my lens recommendation is as wide as you got. Slot canyons can be as narrow as several feet and as wide a several yards. You'll experience all types of shadows and shades in a slot canyon. The best time to capture a slot canyon and all the color is when the sun is directly overhead. In addition to wide lenses (I'd only bring my 24mm for the M9 and end up wishing for wider) a tripod is also needed along with a shutter release.

    Just a couple thoughts on the subject and I hope they help.

    Don
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    Re: Monument Valley

    Thanks for the heads-up guys - VERY helpful. I already have the Swingin' Steak programmed into my GPS (sounds like my kinda place).

    I will be a whirl-wind trip

    Hitting Horseshoe bend in the morning, off to upper Antelope photo tour from 10am to 1pm and then race to Monument Valley to get there by 4pm (5:50 sunset) - then dinner at the Swingin' Steak.

    Next day Monument valley & Valley of the God's and then back to Horseshoe bend for sunset.

    Drive back through Sedona then back to Phoenix.

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    Re: Monument Valley

    Here are a couple of images from my recent visit to northern AZ. If you get a chance to visit Monument Valley, make sure you stay at the view - it is a GREAT place and worth the extra cost.

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    Re: Monument Valley

    Nicely done. You had some nice Monument Valley weather. I wasn't so lucky when I was there.

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    Re: Monument Valley

    Terri, the pictures I put up post very small (I posted them as JPEG 950 pixels with image quality of 6.)

    What is the best format to post larger or full size images (TIFF, JPEG or other)?

    Tim

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    Re: Monument Valley

    Tim, first I'm not Terri so my opinion might be different from hers.

    While the general size of your images "might" be small they open to a decent size when clicked on. I generally post my images in the same size neighborhood and always in Jpeg. You as the creator of the image need to protect your images from those who would gladly take from you for their own profit so you need to protect yourself and your work. So again, the size you posted seems fine to me.

    Regarding your images - they're wonderful. It appears you had great weather for your trip to a very special place and your images convey the feelings you have for it. Very Nice!

    Okay I'll shut up now and let Terri get a word in....

    Don
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    Re: Monument Valley

    I agree with Don. You can see the quality of the light etc and I would protect these from getting ripped off. Jack once did a test with one of my images posted at like 1000 pixels and uprezzed and printed it. you can get a lot out of a 1000 pixel jpeg. Sometimes I post larger but take the risk.

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    Re: Monument Valley

    Terry, sorry for misspelling your name.

    Don and Terry, thanks for the input and advise.

    Yea, the weather at Monument Valley was perfect. A little cold (18 degrees), but very little wind and spots of clouds. It sounds like the weather for the DPI workshop last week was less than perfect.

    I learned alot about the lighting, places to shoot and times of day for the next visit. A magical place to say the least.

    Upper Antelope was not the right time of the year to get the "spot light" affect, but it was nice to visit. I saw the movie "127 Hours" last week and visiting Antelope gave me a great appreciation for what he went through.

    Don, I ended up getting a Cambo RS1000 a couple of weeks ago - but haven't got out to use it yet. I got the Rodenstock 90mm HR and Schneider 35mm f5.6 XL Apo-Digitar and still looking for either a 47mm or 72mm before my Yosemite trip in April. I can always rent one from CI is needed.

    Tim

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    Re: Monument Valley

    Quote Originally Posted by timwier View Post
    Yea, the weather at Monument Valley was perfect. A little cold (18 degrees), but very little wind and spots of clouds. It sounds like the weather for the DPI workshop last week was less than perfect.
    We had the light, just no clouds.

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    Re: Monument Valley

    Quote Originally Posted by timwier View Post
    Here are a couple of images from my recent visit to northern AZ. If you get a chance to visit Monument Valley, make sure you stay at the view - it is a GREAT place and worth the extra cost.
    Nice enough colors and compositions, but you seem to have turned the "clarity" up a bit too high. Notice the halo aberrations surrounding the prominent formations.

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    Re: Monument Valley

    Hi Tim, Terry and Don.... let's leave Ken out of this ...

    Great images indeed...
    I was in Monument Valley 4 or 5 yrs ago but only for a few hours and am going back June 7th, 8th and 9th...

    I'm going via Salt lake City this time as opposed to Phoenix, though the drive up from Phx was a great one.

    Tim, the slot canyon, was it close to Monument valley...? I'd love to try my hand at shooting one.

    One other question (there may be more...) I fly in to Salt Lake on Jan 6th at night and will be back in SLC the following Saturday 10th..

    Apart from MV, do I 'try' to do some of Canyonlands or Arches...? I'll have two dawns and a dusk to shoot, plus the high lunchtime light for a slot canyon (if I can find one)..

    Don, as Ken says you are the 'Zen Master' on these parts and it is also because of you and your excellent reports that I too am on the verge of buying my first Cambo...

    So any tips that just save or maximize time are always welcome... 'long trek to get here but worth it...' or 'just off the road so everyone shoots there..' etc..

    Very best to all...

    Steve

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    Senior Member kdphotography's Avatar
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    Re: Monument Valley

    Steve,

    If you're headed back to MV first part of June, we're just going to miss you! I'm headed to MV and Hunts Mesa on June 19 and then over to Antelope with Don. Tours already lined up. Page, AZ is not far from MV...

    ken

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    Re: Monument Valley

    Hi Steve

    Page AZ is within a couple hours drive from Monument Valley and since you're coming from Salt Lake you will more than like drive right through it on US 89 that is unless you take the interstate south and decide to go through Zion or further south and bump past the North Rim. Yeah, there's a lot of choices...

    Canyonlands and Arches are both in Moab which is several hours from Monument Valley but very doable. I'd recommend the Green Rive Overlook in Canyonlands.

    While you're at Monument Valley you might also want to check out Valley of the Gods which is less than an hours to the east. Monument Valley has a 14 miles road you can drive on and Valley has a 18 mile road; both roads are dirt and in some places primitive. Speaking of roads I'd strongly suggest renting a high clearance vehicle.

    Sandy & I are running up to Bluff UT next week for a couple days and will be shooting in and around Comb Ridge and Valley of the Gods. I'll be returning in June to finish up before meeting Ken in Page for slot canyons.

    Not too sure how much of a Zen Master I am but thank you all the same for the thought. Also congratulations on the Cambo! I'm still working on Ken to get his and I feel he's beginning to weaken.

    Let me do some more thinking and I'll add more later.

    Don
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    Re: Monument Valley

    bummer....!

    All this inter galactic, time space continuum internet thing and we can't even sort ourselves out for some great shots and a couple of beers...!!!!! By a week...!!!

    It will happen soon though, even if I have to go to the west coast...

    Don, thanks again for your advice and keep working on Ken... he is such a gear hog that we know he 'needs' one.

    Yes I've done the 14 mile 'loop' before in MV and it was in the late PM but it was with family and we all know how that works. So this time I'll do a bit more research and get probably 4 or 5 sunrise/sunsets there.

    Glad you mentioned Valley of the Gods as last night it went to the top of my list of things to do outside MV. I'll stay in Moab I guess, big and easy, any recommendations of where to stay.

    For MV I'm staying in Mexican Hat, complete with swinging steak grill..

    I'm trying to find a slot canyon over that way but feel I might be too far east. Also I'll take the I15 to Spanish fork, then the 6 the 191, th3 70 etc straight in to Valley of the Gods at dawn..!!! Shoot drive on and catch some sleep around mid day etc..

    There is nothing quite like driving through the night to arrive at a place as the first glow in the sky starts...

    Again thanks guys...

    Steve

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    Re: Monument Valley

    If I may, I looked at my maps and routing guides I use when planning a trip and came up with this suggestion...

    Spanish Fork to Moab is 183 miles
    Hit Canyonlands and or Arches for sunrisre and great early morning shots

    Moab to Mexican Hat is 125 miles with Valley of the Gods just east approximately 20 miles.
    You'll be on the 191 south most of the way and travel through the small town of Bluff UT. Just west of Bluff and shortly before the 191 makes a turn south is a place called Sand Island. This side trip won't take any time at all - go in and see the rock art there.

    Mexican Hat to Monument Valley is 21 miles.
    While here and after you've driven in the Valley of the Gods and MV you might want to take a peek at the "Goosenecks of the San Juan"

    Monument Valley to Page is 142 miles
    Here you can made a fast visit to Upper or Lower Antelope as well as the Gooseneck of the Colorado River. You'll also pass over the Glenn Canyon Dam and pass by Glenn Canyon on your way north.

    Page back to Salt Lake City is the longest stretch at 370 miles.

    Personally, I wouldn't fly into Salt Lake City unless there was some sort of reason for it on this trip. Or I'd fly in there and out say Flagstaff which is 125 miles south of Page.

    Please let me know what you think of where you're staying in Mexican Hat as I've been thinking of staying there as well; beside I hear they offer great steaks.

    Good luck on the trip and let me know if I can answer any other questions.

    Don
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  22. #22
    Don Neyhard
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    Re: Monument Valley

    Hello Don & Steve--

    Mexican Hat--my most favorite place--Stay at the San Juan Inn, drink a cold one while overlooking the San Juan river and forget the steaks--Have the absolute best Navajo Tacos in Navajo land. I can't help myself and must have them for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner knowing it will be quite some time before I make it back on the next trip. And it would be hard to find a more central place to some of the best shooting around.

    Good shooting,

    Don

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    Re: Monument Valley

    Thanks Don! I'm headed to Bluff this Tuesday for a quick down and dirty shot in Valley of the Gods and along Comb Ridge and will be staying at the Desert Rose. I'll be returning in June for a longer period before meeting Ken in Page.

    Not sure which sounds better - tacos or steak...


    Don
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    Re: Monument Valley

    Don H,

    thanks for the tip... they sound great...!

    Don l,

    Enjoy your quick excursion tomorrow.....
    I am going via SLC not PHX to see a good friend and to carry on shooting close to the salt flats after I've been down to MV, see link to pics http://www.stevebrickles.com/client/utah/ the first three were on the I80 west of SLC, or close to it.

    I think going via Page might be a stretch too much (I'm slowing down now that I'm hitting my mid 40's). The way back from Page I know after my last trip to Bryce and Zion.

    So far, with your help I think I'll do Dead horse point plus valley of the gods then MV for a few days then Sand Island on the way back up the same way I came in...

    After my last trip I think if I plan too much I won't have time for some of the amazing Utah shots literally on the side of the road...

    Steak or Tacos then.....

    With my expanding waistline I think I'll have both... be rude not to..

    S

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    Re: Monument Valley

    I completely forgot to mention Dead Horse State Park! Beautiful spot and one I try to get to whenever I'm in Moab. Sorry 'bout that...

    Tried to eat at the Swingin Steak this past Wednesday and was told they didn't open until 5. Seeing as how we didn't want to miss sunset and we'd be closer to Bluff we ended eating at the Cottonwood Steak House. I hope to try the Swingin Steak in June when I return.
    Don Libby
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    Re: Monument Valley

    Great stuff Don...

    Do you like fishing....?

    I ask because the more I think about it, the more I'm being reeled in to your route you advised...

    Slot canyons... cannot do Utah twice and AZ once and not shoot a slot so to speak..

    I see my game plan changing a bit...

    Steve

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    Re: Monument Valley

    Used to fish a very long time ago now I just enjoy enabling others.....
    Don Libby
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