How the Art Happens - Shiprock Summer Sunrise

August 18, 2023  •  1 Comment

Shiprock Summer Sunrise

Shiprock Summer SunriseShiprock Summer SunriseFirst light of sunrise hits Shiprock, New Mexico

I have wanted to photograph this vantage point for a few years. A few weeks ago I got the chance to visit Shiprock, New Mexico at sunrise for the opportunity to capture this mountain from the air.

The day's adventure began at 4:30 am. The drive from Cortez, Colorado to this scene is about 45 minutes, mainly in the dark. I arrived just before sunrise and found a place to get off the highway and set up the drone. The sky was mostly cloudy but there were a few holes I would have to count on to illuminate the mountain and fin. Once I got into the air things started happening quickly. I realized I was way too close to Shiprock to get the full length of the fin in my photos. I needed to be about a half mile further south. The clouds were building on the eastern horizon and I was only going to have a brief few moments of sunlight illuminating the formation. I was also a little disappointed that the dirt road was so prominent in this composition. Sadly, the sky closed in and I was only able to capture one frame before the sunlight failed.

I thought about trying again the next morning but I woke to a cloudless sky which was not worth the drive. That's one of the difficulties with photography. For the most part, the event must actually happen and the photographer has to be there when it does. There are lots of near-misses in landscape photography. Sometimes Mother Nature chooses not to cooperate. Sometimes we don't get to the location in time. Sometimes there are other distractions like construction, cloudless sky, people, etc. But Earth still offers great opportunities to enjoy and capture its beauty.

For now, I will have to live with this version of "Shiprock Summer Sunrise" until I can get back and try again.


This is a stunning image! Such an interesting perspective and great use of the drone!
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Crested Butte, Colorado photographer, Dusty Demerson creates fine art photography displayed as prints and canvases and provides private photo tours in and around western Colorado.

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