ALL JEFF MITCHUM IMAGES
This image is the epitome of patience and timing paying off.
The first time I saw Mesa Arch more than 20 years ago, I wondered at its mystery. My mind began to wander on how to create the piece, trying to figure out the exact right time to shoot it. Once I figured it out, it still took 10 years to get comfortable and try to master it through the viewfinder.
My morning of choice had to be a day when the sun would rise evenly under the arch. I had seen quite a few side-lit images that created unbalanced light. So, with the sun rising in the middle, the stage was set. But a major challenge still remained: In order to avoid lens flair, I needed a perfectly positioned cloud to soften the sunlight. A flying saucer-shaped cloud fit the bill perfectly. On 30- to 120-second exposures, the window to get things right is extremely limited.
They say a bird in hand is better than two in the bush. I'll take one properly positioned cloud in the sky instead of a sky full of clouds that are not.