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Saturday July 14, 2012 was a dramatic monsoon fueled stormy day, something that’s been in short supply this year as we endure one of the driest summers on record following last years record wet year, Ah… Utah weather you have to love that the most consistent part of it is its inconsistency.

The storms faded with the day leaving a beautiful and mercifully cooler evening that held the potential for a very dramatic sunset hopefully something similar to this sunset I captured last year after a storm down in Utah Valley following a rained out hike with my brother and our families.  The clouds were looking very similar and I knew if it happened to clear towards the western horizon then the light and color was going to be great. But…my daughter wanted a bike ride first so off we went around the neighborhood for a little light exercise with me trying to push the pace a bit higher so we wouldn’t miss the sunset. We loaded up the family including my poor son who was recovering from a 24 hour flu bug and pretty much raced the sun from Salt Lake City up to Bountiful  (google maps link)  which sits just north of SLC and on the foothills of the Wasatch mountains and overlooks the Great Salt Lake. The light was streaming through the heavy cloud cover giving some great crepuscular rays and some subtle highlights and we drove up the mountainside to where the temple sits overlooking the entire area and parked at a nearby trail head. Just to the east of the temple is a mountain which offers a great vantage point if you can get up there, a few skinny trails (mostly deer trails) criss-cross the hillside and I scrambled up the first one I saw as I was afraid that the light was peaking and I was going to miss any chance of some color behind the temple, apparently I picked the steepest one because it dead ended at a rocky scrub brush covered knoll instead of intersecting with the main trail a little higher up which is on a small level ledge that apparently goes across most of the mountain and gives a great head on view of the temple (I’ll show that view in a later post).  Worried about the light I set up my tripod and started shooting.

HDR panorama from the mountainside east of the Bountiful Temple. 5 vertical frames of 11 exposures @ 1EV

My wife took a few shots of me up on the hill.

Doing what it takes! Two of the tripod legs were extended all the way, but the uphill leg was nearly fully collapsed, that’s how steep it was.

“Stand here so we can see Daddy if he falls”… (my poor son was still sick, but a sport for coming out anyways) See my downhill leg? It ended up falling asleep and I got a blister on the bottom of my foot from the extreme angle.

A close up of the Temple’s Spire. 11 shot HDR

Luckily the clouds had a small opening right at the horizon and the sun broke out (It was actually blood red but the software just won’t render it that way..) 11 shot HDR

The sun slipped below the horizon leaving a brief moment of color to catch.

The Sun sets completely – 11 exp HDR

As the sky darkens the lights of the temple came up.

One last shot with the temple lights on – 11 exp HDR

At this point I realised I wasn’t alone on the mountain, I looked uphill and saw another photographer walking down the higher trail and instantly recognized him as my neighbor and friend Eric Peterson who had seen the potential of the sunset as well and had decided to run up here as well. Here’s his shot from the evening.

My daughter grabbed a shot of Eric and I talking after we had come down off the mountain.

A fun night and some good shots but it wasn’t the sky I was hoping for so I was determined to come back. I’ll have that story in a later post.

Happy Shooting!