This picture was captured during a week-long trip with two friends to the Southwest in early January 2015. Over the course of the week we traveled over 1700 miles, while visiting Zion NP, Bryce Canyon, Death Valley, Coyote Buttes South (i.e. the Wave), Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, Valley of Fire and a few other random locations in and around Nevada, Arizona, Utah and California.
Our only morning in Monument Valley was certainly one of the highlights of the trip. It was easily the coldest morning of the week and waking up for the sunrise was definitely a challenge, especially after staying up half the night shooting stars. It is a good thing that I was able to pull myself out of bed this particular morning as we were rewarded with the one truly epic sunrise of the trip – and all for the price of some frozen toes and fingers.
This picture, however, was actually captured shortly after peak color, as many of the clouds began fading back to gray. The sky was truly spectacular just a few minutes before this frame was taken. Unfortunately, I was shooting in a different location and had not yet found this particular composition.
Frankly, perhaps because it was taken after the peak colors had faded, the raw image was nothing special and, as a result, this image did not make the cut. However, after languishing on my computer for more than two years, I gave it another look and realized that the comp had a lot going for it. I also knew that my processing skills had improved in the two years since I took the picture and decided that it might be worth the effort to see if I could do anything with the raw image. I am glad I did. Along the way I learned a valuable lesson about periodically reviewing old files as this image is now a personal favorite.