No matter what time of year you visit Utah’s Arches National Park you know you’re in for a treat. Having visited frequently over the past 30 years I’ve seen the Park in many different weather conditions – but mostly some variation of hot and sunny with bluebird skies above. This past January, however, changed that.

frame 01-Arches N.P. Entrance, Moab, Utah [Portra 400]

I had the privilege of seeing Arches in some icy cold fog which – though wasn’t what I’d initially intended – turned out to be a uniquely beautiful time to see and photograph something different than what we might typically think of when Arches comes to mind. In hind site I count it as a blessing, a gift given me I didn’t know to ask for.

Utah Juniper, Garden of Eden, Arches National Park, Utah. A wonderful thing about photographing in the fog – neutralizing the background. On a clear, hot sunny day there’s so much visible distraction beyond the subject. This day presented unique opportunities to explore isolation – in isolation. [Ilford Delta100]
While photographing in Arches National Park, I left the F6 outside for an hour while I waited in the car – complete with heated seats. Upon getting out to check on the camera, frost had begun to develop on the strap. I’m having fun creating impromptu videos while out shooting to bring a little more of the experience to the story.
Garden of Eden Viewpoint, Arches National Park, Utah [Ilford FP4+]

Most of the work done with the F6 this trip was in the “Garden of Eden,” an area of the park lesser traveled (I find it curious that at least three areas of the park carry biblical overtones in their names: “The Garden of Eden,” “Devil’s Garden” towards the top of the one-way road and the “Fiery Furnace.” Are there more…?) The first morning out I came across this scene reminding me a little of Lord of the Rings, which lodged in my mind creating a curiosity and desire to return often through the trip to see how the fog and light were interacting with these elements.

Garden of Eden, Arches National Park, Utah. The level of detail held in the frozen boughs combined with beautiful wood grain of Utah Junipers provided endless interesting compositions.
Garden of Eden, Arches National Park, Utah. The level of detail held in the frozen boughs combined with beautiful wood grain of Utah Junipers provided endless interesting compositions.
frame 16 – Close Up Crop, Garden of Eden, Arches National Park, Utah. Though it was plenty bright enough – especially shooting ISo100 Delta – A tripod and Mirror-Up were used to assure as sharp and clean an image as possible. As always, Delta 100 developed in Ilford DDX does not disappoint. I can’t wait to wet print these negatives in the darkroom.

To see more imagery from the trip, including the frames made with medium format film, please visit bluehourjournal.com

Garden of Eden, Arches National Park, Utah.
Utah Juniper, Garden of Eden, Arches National Park, Utah. Through the various times visiting the Garden of Eden, the rock pillars would emerge then recede coinciding with density of the fog.
frame 19 – Garden of Eden Area, Arches National Park, Utah. Each time the icy fog lifted, fine, delicate crystals adorned everything. Kodak’s new Ektachrome 100 was superb for recording fine, accurate colored detail. [Ektachrome 100]
Garden of Eden, Arches National Park, Utah. Much time was spent examining this scene. Large areas of wood grain, contrasted with fine frost and frozen juniper berries produced delicate detail and unbelievably intricate negatives.
Frozen cottonwood tree near Windows Area, Arches National Park, Utah. Arches’ average annual precipitation is 8.7”, 221mm. Not much. So when it happens it’s a pretty cool thing to see. Something else noteworthy about this image is that it was made with a plain, old 50mm lens. Nothing fancy or exotic – just a normal focal length lens you can pick up very inexpensively. In fact, this 50mm lens is perhaps the most used lens in my bag. It’s small and sharp – easy to have on the camera most of the time. Further proof you don’t need to spend a fortune on exotic camera gear to enjoy photography. OK, the F6 is pretty exotic, but still… [Ilford Delta 100]
Nikon F6 and NIKKOR 50mm ƒ1.4D, a match made in heaven.
Garden of Eden, Arches National Park, Utah
Near Windows Area, Arches National Park, Utah. The depth of fog changed often during 4 days, sometimes completely hiding distant rock formations – other times allowing just barely visible hints. A down side to this is the dust appearing in otherwise perfectly smooth areas of beautiful tone. Time to brush up on the spotting skills.
Arches National Park, Utah. Something about the swirling, organic patterns in Arches sandstone came to life in the day’s flat light.
Winter on the rim of Dead Horse Point State Park, Utah
Utah Juniper, Dead Horse Point State Park, Utah.
I debated whether to include this photograph or not, but decided to. This was made with the Mamiya 645 on Delta 100 and honestly, is the reason I shoot medium format film along side 35mm. While I love 35mm film and my Nikons, nothing compares to the larger frame and tone of the larger piece of film. Glad I shot both 35mm and 645 this trip, and have this image on the larger neg. It’s going to make a great wet print in the dark room.
The F6 and Nikkor 50mm f1.4D. 12 years old and going strong.
frame 15 – Self Portrait, Dead Horse Point, Utah (January, 2020). I might look grumpy in this photo but believe it or not I’m as happy as a guy can be… just a little cold.