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Utah Panoramics

The Wide-Wide West

Though my main landscape camera system is a Rollei 6008i I have always been partial to panoramic or wide aspect ratio photography. (For a more extensive look at this topic, click here). Since early 1999 I have been working with the new Hasselblad XPan system and because of its light weight and extremely high image quality have been using it in preference to my Fuji 617 camera, particularly for field trips where weight and bulk are an issue.

This page contains several photographs taken on a late January 2000 visit to Arches and Canyonlands National Parks with two other photographers, Alain Briot and Steve Kossack. You can read more about that trip and view additional photographs of mine by clicking on this link. There are also links below to both Alain and Steve's portfolios from this trip.

Canyonlands Sunset, 2000

Because three of our four days in southern Utah were filled with weather and unusual atmospheric conditions we encountered some remarkable cloud and lighting situations. Sometimes having the right gear and the right film helps.

I had a couple of rolls of Kodak 100VS in my bag, though I was shooting predominantly Provia 100F in both the Rollei and the XPan.  I decided to use the greater saturation of VS as much as I could because of the soft light that we'd been encountering. At the very end of an overcast day we encountered a few magical moments of light. It needs to said that this is a "straight" print, with no digital enhancement or colour saturation tricks.

(For a different photographer's image of the same moment have at look here.)

Photographed with a Hasselblad XPan and 90mm f/4.0 lens on Kodak 100VS

Clouds Under Dead Horse State Park, 2000

On our second day we had been shooting in the Island in the Sky area of Canyonlands.  As the light faded in the late afternoon we gave up on any chance of a sunset shoot and started our drive back to the motel in Moab. As we drove we saw in the distance that clouds were starting to form within the canyon. 

Knowing that the only area where we might be able to shoot from was Dead Horse State Park we drove as quickly as we could and arrived just minutes before sunset and the last light of the day. None of us had ever seen such a dramatic cloudscape, with the clouds moving swiftly well below the canyon walls. 

(For Steve Kossack's image of the same location have at look here, while Alain Briot has a slightly different interpretation.)

Photographed with a Hasselblad XPan and 90mm f/4.0 lens on Fuji Provia 100 F. 

Cloud Waves, Dead Horse State Park, Utah ‹ 2000

Moments after taking the previous photograph I reloaded the XPan, this time with Kodak VS100. The light was becoming so flat that I figured the increased colour saturation could only benefit any further shots.

Looking down into the canyon it was remarkable to see how quickly the clouds were flowing ‹ almost like water ‹ over the interior peaks. Just a few frames more and the light was gone. We drove back to Moab and our motel marveling at what we had seen and hoping that we had captured something of it.

Photographed with a Hasselblad XPan and 40mm f/4.0 lens on Kodak 100VS. 

Rock Art 1, Canyonlands N.P., 2000

The southwest has many well known as well as hidden locations for pictographs ‹ rock art, as it's called by aficionados. Alain Briot is one of these and he is an award winning photographer of this ancient art.

This particular panel, known as Newspaper Rock, is located in the Needles district of Canyonlands National Park. We arrived at the location in the late afternoon during a heavy rain. Because of the inclement weather and a desire to get out of the rain and back in the truck as quickly as possible, I took this photograph hand-held with the XPan and 40mm lens ‹ 1/30 sec wide open, as I recall. I'm knocked out by the resulting quality. I'd expected a snapshot but ended up with a very pleasing image of a remarkable location.

Photographed with a Hasselblad XPan and 40mm f/4.0 lens on Fuji Provia 100 F.

You may wish to look at Alain Briot's remarkable photograph of this same subject, taken at the same time.

Balanced Rock, Arches N.P., 2000

The fourth and last day day of our trip dawned with a totally clear sky; the complete antithesis of our previous three days. We decided to shoot in Arches again, but after the soft light and dramatic skies of the previous days we found the harsh desert light difficult to cope with. I chose to take the extreme contrast to the limit and produced this silhouette of the famous Balanced Rock

Photographed with a Hasselblad XPan and 40mm f/4.0 lens on Fuji Provia 100 F. A center ND should have been used, but with the sun silhouetted behind Balanced Rock the way it was I would have still gotten a hot center to the frame. I think it effectively accentuates the silhouette.

Wooden Shoe Arch, Arches N.P. ‹ 2000

One of the interesting things about shooting in the rain is that it's almost impossible to capture in a photograph. When this image was taken the rain was so hard that I hesitated to step out of the vehicle because I would have gotten completely soaked. So, I parked the car by the side of the road in the best position for the shot, rolled down the window and took this photograph hand-held. My first drive-by shooting.

Photographed with a Hasselblad XPan and 40mm f/4.0 lens on Fuji Provia 100 F.

Trona Tower Landscape, Utah ‹ 2000

On our last shooting day of the trip we made our way slowly back to Salt Lake City during the afternoon. We drove east for a while along the Colorado River valley and emerged at a place called the Trona Towers. Looking back toward the east and the Arches and Canyonlands area I saw a classic western scene, with the snow-capped La Salle mountains in the distance. I've cropped the XPan framing to remove some distracting foreground and feel that the widened aspect-ratio enhances the sweep of the panorama.

Photographed with a Hasselblad XPan and 90mm f/4.0 lens on Fuji Velvia, with polarizing filter

Special Note:

This picture above is 6" wide on-screen. If you click on it you will see a 10" wide picture, which nicely fills the full width of a 1280 X 1024 screen, and which requires just a touch of horizontal scrolling on a 1024 X 768 screen.

Because some people never get to see really large images, especially on-line, I have added a 18" wide by 5" high version which you can access by clicking here. This is how big an 18" wide print from an Epson 1200 or 1270 printer would be. It's a big file and really only worth doing if you have a large screen and a high-speed cable or DSL web connection.

This is an experiment. If you find it interesting and worthwhile I will do more of these in future. Let me know what you think by sending an email to me.

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Concepts: Camera, Canyonlands National Park, Velvia, Fujifilm, Photography, Image, Colorado Plateau, Provia

Entities: Moab, Salt Lake City, Kodak 100VS, Canyonlands National Park, Trona Towers, Colorado River valley, Michael Reichmann, Alain Briot, Steve Kossack, Alain, Steve, Utah, DSL

Tags: Hasselblad XPan, photograph, Kodak 100VS, trip, canyonlands national park, images, 40mm, wide, Provia, Briot, colour saturation, late afternoon, soft light, new hasselblad xpan, Balanced Rock, remarkable, Fuji 617 camera, January 2000 visit, colour saturation tricks, aspect ratio photography, view additional photographs, main landscape camera, Dead Horse State, high image quality, famous balanced rock, classic western scene, snow-capped la salle, DSL web connection, Salt Lake City, Colorado River valley, light weight, Kodak VS100, greater saturation, remarkable cloud, dramatic cloudscape, This picture, sunset shoot, heavy rain, extensive look, field trips