Since the opening of my gallery in Sedona eight months ago, I have been scheming and dreaming of getting that iconic shot of Sedona. I figured it should be a sweeping view of the red rock country, either at sunrise or sunset. Sunrise seemed the more appropriate time, since Sedona is known as a place of renewal and new beginnings.
My favorite hike so far in Sedona has been the climb up Bear Mountain, which rewards with a high overlook of Sedona. It’s a challenging hike that gains a couple thousand feet of elevation in only a couple miles. Originally I planned on trying to hike up after a clearing winter storm, but after slipping on some ice-covered red rocks, I decided this option was a bit too dangerous. So I changed my vision to a glorious sunrise, without the storm.
I did a couple dry runs up Bear in daylight, to be confident with the climb in the dark.
GPS is always there to save the day, but it feels a bit like cheating to me; I prefer to use some good ol’ fashioned route-finding skills to make my way to the summits.
Then, I waited. I needed optimum sky conditions, with just enough high clouds for a pretty sunrise, but not too many or the sun would be obscured. Finally, I eyed my opportunity when it appeared likely that high clouds would spread over northern Arizona from the west, while the eastern horizon remained clear of the obstructing clouds. It looked like a good recipe for a great sunrise.
I planned on getting up at 4 am; of course my biological clock woke me at 3:45. I was shaking with anticipation and excitement when I looked at an infrared satellite loop and saw high clouds spilling over northern Arizona, dissipating to the east as vertical motions descended. I drove the hour to the trailhead in total silence; ordinarily I would be playing music but absorbing myself in silence allowed me to practice the shot in my mind.
About half way up Bear, the horizon started to glow in intense red fire, and I knew the sunrise would be impressive. I reached my destination with about 15 ignites to spare, and started searching for a good composition. The spot I had previously scouted was not ideal since it appeared that the sun would rise outside the field of view. So I scrambled a bit and found a new location.
Finally, the clouds lit up and a magnificent scene unfolded in front of me. I kept taking a series of 16 exposures, using the multi-pixel shift function of my new Sony A7r4. A series of huge files
That I could print eight feet wide without losing any of the clarity of the scene.
By the time I reached my car, I was ready for a big breakfast of burrito and beer!