Horseshoe Bend


I rose early to get my gear into the car and drive out to the bend. Thankfully it was only minutes from our hotel so it minimised the effort required to be up and out there. It’s hard to believe that something this huge and spectacular is just a few minutes drive from a small city.

To my surprise I was the first person to arrive. It was still dark, but the bright moon illuminated the landscape quite well. I made may way up and over a sand dune and down to the viewpoint and chose a composition that worked. It’s a massive space and at first it seems like anywhere will do, but I moved around until I found something balanced and somewhat symmetrical.

There were no clouds and the moon was slowly setting. The sun would rise soon but there would be no dramatic sunrise. The first light in to the canyon here would be harsh, so I figured the best light would be just before the sun crested the horizon.

Moonset pre-dawn-2
Horseshoe Bend by moonlight before sunrise. You can just make out some small boats and walking trails at the apex of the bend in the river. Perspectives are distorted by the image though, this place is enormous.

As it turns out, after reviewing the images I captured, the best light was actually during some of my earlier frames. The moonlight illuminating the bend, in conjunction with the use of long exposure, created a pretty spectacular scene with surprisingly beautiful colours. It became very orange and washed out once the sun had risen.

I sat for sometime and soaked up the view, admiring the size and grandeur of the place and waving at the other photographers that were starting to arrive and set up. Sadly it wasn’t long before the entrance of the first obnoxiously loud and inconsiderate horde of insta-selfie machines, there were a few knowing looks shared between some of the other photographers. In a matter of minutes this place of utmost serenity and peacefulness had turned into a touristy nightmare. I can totally understand the desire to visit this place, I’m there as well obviously. It’s proximity to civilisation doesn’t help either. I just don’t understand why so many seem to treat visiting places like this as though they are attending a sporting event.

I sat for a bit longer though, determined to hold my position for as long as I could bear it. I chatted with a few other visitors about their trips; what they had seen, and where they were off too next. It was fun to share with total strangers our mutual enthusiasm for such astounding wonders. When the first drone launched and started buzzing around the crowd of now hundreds of people, I decided it was no longer a place for me.


I headed back to the hotel room to pack the rest of our things and hit the road for our final stop of the trip: The Grand Canyon….

Grand Canyon-8437
Tara taking in the view from the Canyon Rim as sunset approaches.

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