Rising Moon, Coyote Buttes North, Utah

Rising Moon, Coyote Buttes North, Utah

I've been unsure about posting this photo for a while because despite feeling there's something really wonderful about the light in this scene, I think it's subtle and either a figment of my imagination or easily overlooked.

As a bit of context, this photo was taken right at the end of my full-day adventure at The Wave and the Coyote Buttes North straddling the border of Utah and Arizona. The whole area was remarkable and full of beautiful landscapes like I've never seen before. But the day was marred by unfortunate light, dull cool (blue) overcast light which did nothing for the red-rock landscape.

As we hiked back the weather was looking like it might turn worse as the skies darkened and rain could be seen in the distance. But right towards the end of the return hike one of my favorite stormy-weather phenomena started to emerge - that rare combination of deep darkening skies and landscapes lit by direct sunlight slipping through a crack in the clouds somewhere. I often find that my favorite photographs are really examples of the best light, more so than examples of the best landscapes.

This effect was more pronounced when we were up on higher ground looking at distant rocks lit beautifully against darkening skies, but I couldn't make a shot really work. We dropped down into a wash and I finally found a scene that caught my eye where sunlight was just catching some red rock and this tree while the skies grew dark behind it. The full moon had already risen and fell in line nicely behind it as well.

I inadvertently shot this at ISO1600, so I introduced much more grain that I like to see (I missed this fact at the time). I did some noise reduction just on the sky where I could afford to compromise some detail for the sake of reducing grain.

You can see more photos from my fellow travelers Suad, John, and Scott as well, or check out our group photo pool.

Nikon D90 | Nikon 18-200VR@24mm | f/8 | 1/800s | ISO1600 | Handheld

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