Clouds in the Window

Couple in the North Window, Arches National Park, Utah, United States of America

Beyond the window
Only clouds
Though comes the wind
To move them on

While they clear
We could explore
The world we’re in
There’s so much more

Or linger here
We may enjoy
What is revealed
While clouds move on

The Couple in North Window
Arches National Park
Utah, United States of America

Taken during travels, 2022

Getting this image required a fair bit of work, and patience.

It was Memorial Day Weekend, probably the first major holiday in the now essentially wide-open, post-pandemic USA. This is traditionally the opening of the summer recreation season and people were out in droves, shaking off their confinement (and their masks).

The couple in the window were there when I first arrived, but so were a slew of other visitors. I started by framing a wider photograph than this featured image, to take in much more of the arch. It was fairly busy with visitors, but I took some shots with the crowded window while I waited for it to clear. Some of those photographs loo pretty interesting, so I’ll probably get to them at some point. But I also knew so long as there were just a few people in frame, and none too close to the camera, it would be easy enough to Photoshop them out. Still, it’s more satisfying to have exactly what you want in the frame. So even after getting a few of those, I waited.

For a while every time the frame cleared, someone would step right in, and usually just in the side of the frame, close to me. People are sometimes conscious enough to not step in front of someone framing a photograph, but I had a really wide lens on the camera (a 10-24mm zoom set to 10mm on an APSC sensor, which is about equivalent to a 15mm on a 35mm film camera). Even people who think they’re out of your frame don’t realize they’re well inside it.

I  thought I finally had a clear frame when one fellow stepped in, just as I was about to release the shutter. I could see him in the viewfinder looking my way, waiting for me to take the shot before he went any further. So I pulled the camera aside and said, “Hi. Thanks!  But this is a really wide lens, and you’d do me a solid if you just took two steps back.”  He was immediately apologetic and took the two steps back. I told him there was no need to apologize and thanked him again. As I reframed, he was still just in frame so I raised my right hand from the camera, put an index finger up and said, “Just one more step.”  He smiled and obliged.

As soon as he was out, I rattled off a quick series of photographs, lowered the camera and gave him another gracious thank you. “No problem at all,” he said.

He walked to a spot a few steps closer and started framing a shot himself. That was good for me because I also had in mind this frame-within-a-frame formed by the arch itself.   So I stepped up beside him, narrowed the zoom to 17mm (24mm on a 35mm, so still pretty wide). And, miraculously, the couple in the arch stayed put and no one else entered the frame. Click, click, click.

Even after all that effort, time and patience, clicking the shutter a few times was just the first step in the journey to posting this photograph. A lot of photographic magic — often, most of it — happens in the editing process. Due to the extreme lighting conditions of the scene, this image required more process than most. A couple or three hours of meticulous editing using multiple software applications went into creating this final image. That’s an even longer story, and probably best left to its own post. Maybe when that wider frame I mentioned above inspires some words.  It’ll take a fair bit of work to edit that image as well.