Photographic Notes on the Creation of Specific Images
#3 - Monument Valley Afternoon

Other essays in this series

Monument Valley Afternoon

This is one of the most famous locations in the world and an icon of the American Southwest.  As such I often say that it is easy to create a good photograph of Monument Valley because it is so dramatically photogenic, but difficult to create an outstanding image because so many good ones already exist.

This is one of my most recent attempts at creating another image from this location.  While it is not for me to decide what is the level of achievement of this image, I can say that I find it pleasing, in large part because it was taken in mid-afternoon, a time that is poses challenges for color photography because the light at that time is relatively flat and unsaturated.

What makes this image successful is the cloudy conditions present on that day. I waited until the sun lit the middle butte and I used the rocks in the foreground as leading lines towards this butte. I also selected a time when the clouds were grouped in the center of the image rather than when they were moving out towards the sides or the top of the frame. 

The combination of leading foreground lines, of the lit middle butte and of the cloud position is what, for me, creates the fundamental structure of this image.  My only regret is that I could not get just the middle butte in the light.   The two others were also partially in direct light and if I had waited any longer the clouds would have been gone.  One’s desires sometimes go beyond what nature can do.

Alain Briot

Essay and photographs Copyright © Alain Briot 2007
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