Horseshoe Bend Canyon

Horseshoe Bend is a horseshoe-shaped bend in the Colorado River, located just outside of Page Arizona. The canyon is becoming more and more popular and there is word that they will be installing a platform and railing around the iconic viewing area. On one of the nights that I was there it was incredibly windy with gusts up to 30mph. The dirt and sand were blowing right into my eyes and the force was making it difficult to hold my tripod still. Since I was using a longer shutter speed and trying to bracket my shots I worried greatly that my images would not be sharp–many were.

I had to get close enough to the edge so that I could capture the entire bend without distracting foreground rocks in the way. Also, I had to watch out for other people-especially those with backpacks that stood near me. I didn’t want anyone bumping into me or my tripod. I was shocked by how many people allowed their young children to get dangerously close to the edge. I was also shocked at how many folks took selfies right at the cliff’s edge. Last year at Palouse Falls a tourist taking a selfie plunged to his death at the ripe old age of 25. My heart broke for his family and his girlfriend that was standing next to him when he fell backwards.

I had borrowed the Canon 11-24mm f/4 lens from my friends at B&H before leaving as I thought that my rock shot from Alabama Hills and this Horseshoe Bend shot would require a wider angle than 14mm to get what I had envisioned. Turns out that my friend had borrowed my Canon EF 14mm f/2.8L II USM Lens and it was wide enough, he captured some nice stuff.

For the image above, I waited for the setting sun and decided to create a starburst effect. I set my aperture to f/22 and zoomed in a little more. I bracketed my shots manually and then in Lightroom I merged them together. After three sunset attempts at this location these two shots captured on different nights were my best.

Image © 2017/Denise Ippolito Photography

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22 Responses

  1. Dennis Bishop says:

    I admire your creativity in getting that starburst. (Not that I’m surprised that you came up with the idea.)

    Thanks Dennis, I appreciate your kind words but I didn’t have much of a choice as it was blaring at me 🙂

  2. Love that starburst and the ultra wide view! I echo your shock at how close some folks get. Here in Ontario photographers have plunged to their deaths at waterfalls along the Niagara Escarpment because they get too close to the edges of the gorges. I often travel to these locations alone when I photograph them and safety is always the number one priority.

    Thanks Andrew, good luck being alone at the bend!

  3. James Saxon says:

    I was amazed how unattentive some folks were as they got close to the edge. Very nice images, I have never been there for sunset but it sure looks good in your images. The star burst image is great, I have not seen any images with that effect.

    Thanks so much James, I really loved the wide angle view that the 11-24 allowed.

  4. Lovely –
    Your starburst is amazing. The rays look almost solid, as opposed to ephemeral.
    I love the rectilinear nature the 11-24 renders. It’s high on my wish list.

    Hi Brent, I think that is from blending my exposures. I liked the way it came out like almost an outline. Yes, that 11-24mm is sweet and also on my Christmas list 🙂

  5. Ginger white says:

    Beautiful as always! Glad you were careful!

    Thanks Ginger, I tried really hard to be careful but you never know when a rock or one of the ledges will give way.

  6. Liz Lauer says:

    Great stuff. Glad to see you enjoying the AZ landscape.

    Hi Liz, I can see why you are drawn to the west-it is beautiful!

  7. Michael barnes says:

    You have to get so close to the edge to get the full horseshoe bend in the frame. I used a Sigma 10-20 on a Canon 60D. Once again your shot is better than my picture.

    Hi Michael, I read today that a few years back one of the ledges gave way and someone plunged to their death from Horseshoe. I am glad I didn’t read that before going 🙂 Thank you for your very kind comment.

  8. Signe Thorsen says:

    Beautiful, Denise! What amazing photos of Horseshoe Bend.

    Hi Signe, thank you so much for dropping by and commenting. I appreciate it!

  9. Tony Botelho says:

    Love the captures of Horseshoe Bend, truly amazing! I do remember standing on the edge trying to get it all in and that sinking feeling in my stomach that it was a long way down. I’m happy that I didn’t know then about some of the ledge giving away.
    I can’t tell you how many times I have been to Mesa arch or Delicate arch and have seen children standing on the edge without any adults close by, crazy.

    Hi Tony, thank you for your kind words. I know what you mean, I am scared to death for them. It would take a slip of a foot and over they could go. One guy brought his dog to the edge, I thought to myself- does that dog really care about the view 🙂

  10. David Steele says:

    Once again one of the best, if not the best, I’ve seen of this location. Lovely photos, especially the starburst.

    Hi David, Now I am blushing, thank you so much. It truly means a lot!

  11. Belly crawled to the edge a few years ago. Fly an airplane but this was different. My wife and her friend were there the day before. A few people had already died from that ledge in the last few months. Maybe intentional. My advise, be careful to get that shot! I?
    I have it!

    Hi Jerry, Thank you for taking the time to comment. I watched a video of a guy belly -crawling, of course that was after I got home. It was a bit scary!

  12. Tom Rostron says:

    Wow these are Awesome Denise. I love the one with the starburst

    Thanks so much Tom, I appreciate it.

  13. Lovely shots of the Bend, Denise! . .My brother was at the Grand Canyon. Children were so close to the edge that he had to leave for fear of their falling!! Unfortunately, children can’t pick their parents!!

    Hi Marilyn, yes, it is odd how folks will drag the kids kicking and screaming all the way to the edge as if it is important for them to see. Thank you for your kind comment on my pic.
    hugs, denise

  14. Jim Fennessy says:

    Beautiful images. Your images just keep adding more locations to my bucket list.

    Thanks Jim, much appreciated!

  15. Francis says:

    Beautiful image – I think Ansel would have been pleased with it as well. I hope he had better weather conditions.

    I Francis, thank you so much. I appreciate it a lot!

  16. Really nice. We have been to Canyonlands and the Page Az area but did not visit Horseshoe Bend. We will if we get back there again!

    Hi Martin, thank you very much, you will love it!

  17. Sharon Hallowell says:

    I wanted to wait until I could open this on my computer….Holy Cow! What a wonderful image with the starburst! It was fun marveling at the stories of being on the “edge”. Scary for sure!

    Thank you so much Sharon, I appreciate your taking the time to look and comment 🙂

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