Lake Powell – On the water and shooting

Richard Charpentier Arizona, Notes from Rich, Photography, RLC Design 5 Comments


A 3 exposure HDR taken from the bow of a rocking boat. Some cropping occurred when aligning the frames

Lake Powell is a massive body of water locked into an amazing set of canyons.  The fastest transportation on the lake is a power boat.  It’s also a hard place to shoot from.

Sunday was spent making our way up in excess of 30 miles to our camp site.  Ian running his boat, Jantina and I scooting along on wave runners.  As I made my way along I was blown away by the beauty of the rock formations, the monsoonal clouds popping up everywhere, and the lake itself.  I was also soaked to the bone.  Water spraying up with each wave, every bounce, every turn left me drenched once more.  No possibilities for photography on the ride in, and it was disappointing.  Hmmmmm…..waterproof camera housings?

Monday was spent getting a tour of the lake from Ian.  We didn’t cover a ton of territory, but we did hit some amazing spots.  Narrow canyons that curved back on themselves over and over again.  Wide open lake scenes, Rainbow Bridge, Twilight Canyon, Anasazi….and more.  I got some interesting video as we made our way up canyons……

The video will be part of the podcast.


Shot while moving over 30mph. No HDR opportunity, but I had a little fun with Topaz this morning.

With all of the amazing opportunities, I still didn’t get a ton of photos.  Why?  I was on a boat.  You know what boats do?  Rock back and forth, up and down.  HDR on a boat?  Yeah, that’s a tough one, but I’ve added one to this post.  Other options?  Get the right shot in a single frame, toy with Topaz or Nik, and any number of other post prodcution methods.

I’m thinking that a photographer visiting Lake Powell needs some time.  If I could have my “ultimate” prep work and trip on the lake, here’s what I’d do……

  1. Cover the lake over a few days with a power boat.  Get an idea of unique formations, lighting, cloud opportunities, etc.  Clouds implies going around monsoon season.
  2. Once the initial tour of the lake was completed I’d have a list of must visit spots, and notes on time of day preferred.
  3. Either kayak the lake sticking to shorelines for easy access to dry ground, or take a small motor boat that’s easy to maneuver in the tighter canyons.  Either way, I’m looking for a smaller boat, land access (for stable shooting), and making it a slow trip.
  4. Take 2 weeks to cover the entire lake.

There’s my initial thoughts on shooting Powell.  Maybe I’m just looking for an excuse to stay up there for a while.  😉

Comments 5

  1. I thing I speak for everyone when I say – we are jealous. I love the experimentation with the Topaz. Looks like a fantastic place to spend a few weeks!

  2. Rich,

    I’m a mere beginner but I thought I read somewhere that if you do one shot in RAW then you can have the camera produce one overexposure and one under by manipulating the original RAW image. That way you can do an HDR with only one shot and movement of the boat wouldn’t be a problem??? Is that correct?

  3. Post

    You certainly can do a single exposure HDR in Photomatix, provided you’re using a RAW file. However, chaining a series of exposures together yields better results 9 times out of 10. That’s why I’ve been playing with Topaz as well.

    I’ll do a single exposure HDR and pop it up on the site soon to share with everyone. Thanks for pointing that out, I get so forgetful lately.

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