Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Arches of Alabama Hills- Mobius Arch

Last October I had the fortuante opportunity to join a workshop in the Eastern Sierras with Guy Tal and Jack Graham.  The workshop started in the Alabama Hills area off the Whitney Portal Road leading out of Lone Pine California. We all rose at about four thirty to gather and caravan to a parking area that featured a view of Mt Whitney and the mountain range. Standing in the dark we were pointed toward the range to capture the sunrise.  Once the sun made it's appearance we were led on a trail that encircles three natural arches hidden in this un-earthly terrain. Mobius Arch and  others sit as a surreal frame to the distant snow capped mountains.  The group took turns framing this classic composition discovered many years ago. Hollywood film crews have made the Alabama Hills their backdrop for dozens of movies and commercials.  Many famous photographers have tromped these hills discovering more and more arches.  David Muench, for example has been capturing these arches since the early 50s.  He's discovered hidden arches, and deliberately left them un-mapped and un-named to protect the delicate rock surrounding it.  Galen Rowell has also taken famous images of Mobius Arch.  Although many before me have captured the arch, I was inspired to return after the end of the worshop to make my image.  I've been practicing throughout the trip with light painting and have been making images with dual, and sometimes triple light sources.  The third light source being the moon, of course.  I had been keenly aware of the moon and it's cycles for ten or so days now and had a good feeling of where and when I needed to be to take advantage of this natural light source. I rose at about two thirty in the morning to make the short hike.  I set up a Petzel headlamp behind the arch, and a large Mag-lite on the side below. The different angles and color temperatures of the sources helped make the image a little more surreal. The moon illuminating the mountain range helped make this image possible.

   I repeated the process with another arch, just a few hundred feet away, Lathe Arch.  Earlier in the day I attempted to locate more of the arches, as well as the un-named one, but ultimately failed.  Perhaps another day.  The only other arch I could find, was one nearby as well.  I'm not sure what the arch's name is, but I'll call it Heart Arch.  This was taken during the workshop just as the light was beginning to get harsh.  Some people may ask why bother taking an image that's been done time after time.  Indeed a simple Google search reveals many dozens of renditions of these arches.   I had visited Galen Rowell's gallery in Bishop and have seen these images of his. I guess you can think of it as an homage. What good is Beethoven's music if it isn't performed over and over? Think of this as my personal performance. 

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