What’s not to love about Utah? I’ve been visiting there for the last 20 years through backpacking and road trips including one of my favorite road trips through the four corner states on my motorcycle with some good friends. So when REI asked if I wanted to go to Moab film, I humbly accepted their offer while trying not to sound too giddy.
Flying in and out of Moab was an experience within itself. My layover in Denver was supposed to be 3 hours and it turned out to be 8. I was taking a small 17 seat aircraft to Moab and there were mechanical issues that was delaying the flight. The other passengers and I quickly became friends as we all tried to make light of the situation. Or maybe misery just loves company. Among the passengers were a group of mature women, all over the age of 50, who seemed like cool outdoor types. I knew I would have some down time in Moab over the weekend to potentially shoot another story, so I got up the courage to approach them. When I told them that I was filming for REI- their faces lit up, because they were all fans of the store (I run into a lot of people who LOVE REI). They told me that they were part of a group of twenty women who were meeting up from around the country, most of them not knowing each other, to road bike around Moab for seven days. By the time we arrived in Moab, the plans were set for me to start filming their story the next morning. Success!
I had two and half days to cover two separate stories. Both were a challenge to cover because the bikers are always on the move. I tried to get ahead of them, behind them and all around them to get the shots and squeeze in interviews when I could. I filmed most of my beauty shots with my Canon 5D, the interviews with my Panasonic Af-100 and my GoPro Hero camera mounted to my car for the road bikers and mounted to my bike for the mountain biker story.
The next day I woke at 4:30am to drive to Mesa Arch in the Canyonlands to capture a time-lapse of the sun rising. When I got to the location, I hiked for half a mile to the arch to set-up. It was pitch black and I was trying to frame up my shot before the sun came up. The only way I could compose my shot was to open the shutter for 30 seconds and shine a flashlight all over the arch and then look at the photo I captured. Wash, rinse and repeat for about 15 minutes I got the right framing. With a time-lapse you cannot change your camera position or settings once you begin- so it’s it a bit nerve wracking trying to find a locked position before the sun rises. I would be taking a picture every 20 seconds over the next 2 hours to create 7 seconds of video. With the help of a great iPhone App called, Sun Scout, I was able to see where the sun would come up. I locked in and wished for the best. Taking time-lapses is time consuming but rewarding if you can pull it off. But if anything goes wrong, the entire time-lapse is no good and your time wasted.
Mesa Arch is a popular spot for photographers. I was the first to show up but soon there came about 20 other photographers all huddled together like paparazzi getting their shots of Lindsay Lohan. So weird to be in this group of photographers in the middle of nowhere- clicking away. I met some great folks, including a cool guy who made his living as a paparazzi in LA. It was interesting hearing his stories and learning more about the life of a paparazzi. He took this picture of me when the work was done.
I raced back to Moab to film the road bikers all day and then that night filmed a time-lapse of the sunset at Delicate Arch in Arches National Park. It was about a 3 hour shoot and again I met some really great people as my camera clicked away. To get to the best spot of Delicate Arch you have to hike in about 2.5 miles. When I was leaving to head back to my car in the pitch black I realized I left my flashlight back at the car. Fortunately I met a guy who was also the last to head down and we hiked down together with his flashlight and light of my iPhone. We exchanged stories and it turned out he was a CPA from Texas on a two week trip around the Southwest. He was camping and taking pictures and going wherever the wind took him. I felt envious of his adventure.
That night I loaded the hundreds of photos from Mesa Arch sunrise on my computer and realized my camera moved mid way through and I would have to get up at 4:30am again to re-do it. When I make a mistake like that I don’t bill it as time worked on the project because well, it’s just not right. So it’s a double doozie when it mistakes happen. I prepped my camera for the next day and set my alarm for a few hours later to head to Mesa Arch again.
The Mesa Arch pictures went well. I then raced again to film more of the road bikers before I had to depart from the small airport in Moab to head back to Denver and then end up in Oregon that night to film the next day.
When I arrived at the small Moab airport they said, “You must be Larry. You are our only passenger.” What? That was crazy! Two pilots and me at the back of the plane so I would distribute the weight on the plane! I could write a whole blog post about this- but i’ll spare you and just tell you it one of the most memorable flights I have ever been on.
I arrived late in Redmond, Oregon and had to be prepared to get up early again to cover rock climbers in beautiful Smith Rock State Park. And that’s where the next post will start.