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Every Year for two extended weekends at the end of June the small sleepy town of Manti, Utah transforms into one of the largest outdoor theaters in the world with well over 100,000 spectators each season and around 1,000 volunteers directly involved in putting on a play that displays important events in the History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and events from the Book of Mormon. Officially called the Mormon Miracle Pageant, but more commonly known as the “Manti Pageant” this massive undertaking to present a visual performance art feast for the soul has been happening every year since 1967. I first saw this at the end of a church youth conference when I was 14 years old and again at 21 years old right after I had returned from my church mission to Italy. Since then I have often wanted to attend, but never seemed to find the time. This year I wanted to make sure that my family would be able to experience it so we decided to make a day trip out of it on the last Thursday of the pageant hoping to avoid the larger weekend crowds.
The weather would prove to be a challenge as it had rained all week and was cloudy and threatening rain all day, but ultimately it resulted in a nice sunset although the streaming low clouds cut off what would have been a truly spectacular display of color mere moments before it was able to peak.
Trying to capture decent pictures of the Manti Temple during the pageant is near impossible as the best view is spoiled by 14,000 metal chairs, large scaffolding holding lights and audio gear and the pageant set pieces on the temple hill itself. Getting creative takes on new meanings here. Thankfully the temple sits up on a large hill and there are hundreds of trees around to help hide distractions. With that in mind here are a few of my attempts to get a shot.
The clouds had been low and pretty featureless all day, however as the sun began to set they exploded into a wonderful display of mammatus and streaking cirrus that I was barely able to catch as I only had my 18-200mm with me and had to run back to our seats and my camera bag to grab the 10-20mm so I could fit it all in.
With the break up of the cloud cover the fun really started.