Monument Valley Panorama

Twelve vertical shots, stitched.

I was at Monument Valley again today. I come here several times a year by helicopter with passengers on my Southwest Circle Helicopter Adventure. I was here last month and will be back again next month. I’m always here on a Wednesday.

I land on one of the helipads at the landing strip at Goulding’s Lodge. Before my blades have stopped spinning, a shuttle van from the lodge drives up to meet us. The driver loads up my passengers and our luggage while I tie down the blades and lock up. Then he drives us all up to the lodge — a distance of about 1/2 mile — we check in, and we go to our rooms.

The next day, my passengers take a 3-1/2 hour ground tour of Monument Valley. I unwind, blog, and relax. Then I bring the luggage down to the helicopter (by van), preflight, and get ready to go. When they return from their tour at 1 PM, we head out to our next stop: Flagstaff.

The point of all this is that I don’t usually get to go into Monument Valley. Instead, I spend the entire 20 hours of our stay at the lodge or helicopter.

Now, I’ve been in Monument Valley many times. I’ve driven in twice and taken the tour at least three times. I highly recommend it. It’s the only way to really experience Monument Valley — and to take some really great photos. I just don’t have time to do a tour during our excursion. And since I don’t have a vehicle here — other than the parked helicopter — I can’t drive myself in for a brief trip.

Today, however, I asked one of the folks at the lodge desk to drive me in. All I wanted was a few shots from the overlook — which happens to be the best place in the park to shoot The Mittens with the late afternoon sun on them. She dropped me off with my camera and tripod. I then proceeded to spend the next hour shooting 85 images, many of which were destined to be part of panoramas. When she picked me up 90 minutes later, I was happier than a pig in you-know-what. I knew I’d gotten some really great photos.

And here’s the first panorama:

Monument Valley Panorama

You’re looking at 12 vertical images, stitched together with Panorama Maker 5 — which, by the way, I’m now pretty much sold on and will be buying when I get home and can play on a beefier machine. It handled this stitch job very well, probably because I shut down all other applications while it worked.

I had my 16mm to 85mm lens set to 50mm for these shots and they were taken 15° apart. You’re looking at a 180° view here.

The image had some exposure issues that I patched up sloppily in Photoshop. I’ll do a better job when I get serious about making these panoramas.

But I wanted to share this here. Although it’s not perfect, I think it’s a good step in the right direction. And I’m so proud of it that I put my name on it.

I also got some great shots of The Mittens by themselves. I’ll likely put those in my Photo Gallery one day soon.

What do you think?