Last Saturday, I visited Mt. Nebo State Park, which is just outside Dardanelle, Arkansas. The mountain is approximately 1,300 feet tall and driving the twisting road with several hairpin curves can be quite nerve-wracking. But once you reach the top, you are offered some amazing views of the Arkansas River Valley below. One of the things that makes Mt. Nebo unique is that it is one of only two state parks that provide launch sites for hang gliders.
People have lived on Mt. Nebo since before the Civil War. In the 1890s, a resort hotel was built to house the passengers of the steamboats that travelled up and down the Arkansas River. Even today, the top of Mt. Nebo still contains a mixture of both privately owned and state-owned property.
One of the most popular locations on the mountain is the area known as Sunset Point. Sunset Point is located on the western end of the mountain, of course, and provides an unobstructed view of the sun as it sets behind the surrounding ridges. But it wasn’t until this trip that I realized that this area can provide for great photography even in the middle of the day.
I shot this image at approximately 11:00 in the morning. The sky was very hazy from the humidity and the overall lighting was rather unappealing. What caught my attention, though, were the incredible clouds that had begun to pop up in the area. I don’t normally like to shoot during the middle of the day, but I just couldn’t pass up this fantastic opportunity, bad lighting or not. I just had to find the right composition.
I began by taking several shots that included the clouds and the distant ridges, but the less than ideal lighting and the haziness made the images look very flat and two-dimensional. So, I began to look for something I could put in the foreground to add some depth to the image, and I finally hit on the idea of using the rock formations that made up Sunset Point itself.
To create this photo, I used the smallest aperture on the lens, f/22, to ensure the image was sharp throughout. Even at that aperture, the shutter speed was still 1/125 of a second, so you that give you some idea of how bright the day was. Using my 14mm lens, I was able handhold the camera, crouch as low as I could so the camera was close to the foreground rocks, and take the picture.
Settings: Canon 5D Mk II, 14mm, 1/125 sec, f/22