Monument Valley is a Navajo Tribal Park, established in 1958, located on the border of Arizona and Utah. Monument Valley has been the location for over 16 major movies and scores of commercials. The valley is little changed since 1938 when John Wayne and John Ford came to film Stagecoach. A 14-mile graded dirt loop road allows easy viewing of the most well-known monuments.
I was surprised I was able to make an image like this one, given how threatening the sky looked as we made our way to Monument Valley. We were driving north on U.S. 163 heading for Monument Valley and the sky did not look good. Dark clouds hung low overhead with bolts of lightning piercing through them every once in a while. I thought for sure our drive through Monument Valley was going to be a washout.
Once we got to the park though, the clouds parted, and there were patches of blue sky around. We decided to take the self-guided tour through the valley so I’d be able to stop when, where, and for how long I wanted. I started driving the rental down the dirt road, which was as dry as a bone. In one place, it was mostly sand and very tricky to maneuver the vehicle without going over a ledge. I stopped a number of times to get pictures of the Mittens, Merrick Butte, and Sentinel Mesa. We eventually made our way around to this view. At first, the light was nothing special, but then the sun broke through the clouds lighting up Meridian Butte and Rooster Rock (in the distance). The only thing that would have made it better would have been if Yei Bi Chei was in the sun also (Yei Bi Chei is a Navajo Spirit associated with a nine-day ceremony. The rock formation reportedly resembles the fire dancers who appear on the last day of the ceremony). This photo has been one of my favorites for a long time. It was probably the first time I had captured dramatic light on the landscape.
Rooster Rock, Meridian Butte, and Yei Bi Chei
Camera: Canon Digital Rebel (300 D)
Lens: Canon EF-S 17-55 mm at 44 mm
Exposure: 1/100 sec at f/8, ISO 100
Date Taken: September 15, 2007
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